Is online matchmaking becoming a bit of a scam?

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: At the dawn of the year of the lord 2008, Arvind Swaminathan collated a few news items to show how Information Technology whizkids in different parts of the South seemed to be in trouble on the road, in water, and in real life (Can’t drive? Can’t swim? Can’t behave?).

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the authors of Freakonomics might have a good explanation, he wrote, on why we are seeing so many mishaps involving “software professionals”.

“Is it just a coincidence? Is it because there are so many of them around in the southern cities that the statistical possibility of their being involved in a mishap is higher? Is it because the media are beginning to take closer notice of their target audience? Or, cruel me, is it because, while they may be earning pots, they still haven’t mastered driving, swimming, sitting or behaving?”

I have a slightly higher regard for IT and what it has done for our City than Arvind. Still, as the financial year veers to an end, three news items, all datelined Bangalore, have caught my attention in the last three days. And to “Can’t drive? Can’t swim? Can’t behave?” I have been tempted to add “Can’t marry?”

# The first incident involves an Infosys employee Amit Budhiraj, 32, who allegedly smothered his wife Rinku Sachdeva, 28, with a pillow and then hanged himself on Sunday. The two had tied the knot last year after a three-year live-in relationship. In a suicide note, Budhiraj alleged that he took the step after he came to know that Rinku was having an extra-marital affair with a colleague at Standard Chartered Bank. But her father says it was just a clever ruse to protect the reputation of his family members.

# The second incident involves a techie who has reportedly been stalking his ex-girl friend. Apparently, Nisha met her Ajay (all names changed) three years ago. They begin dating each other. After a trip to the United States, Ajay suddenly decides to renounce the world and become a monk. Nisha tries to reason with her techie boyfriend but he has made up his mind. But a monk refuses admission to Ajay. Meantime, Nisha has married Nitin, who reportedly sends Ajay an email that his wife had not gotten over him. Soon Ajay starts bugging her.

# The third incident involves SR of a software company. He befriended SV, the great grand-daughter of theatre legend GV, last June. Impressed with her frankness and family background, he decides to marry her. But her smoking and friends’ circle gets to him. He decides against matrimony. But when she allegedly threatens suicide, he rushes back from the United States. When he again says no to marriage, SV reportedly starts blackmailing him, and even lodges a complaint with the police.

The common thread through all the three incidents is that they involve software types.

Which leads to the obvious questions: Are only SWEs having marital problems and boyfriend/girlfriend problems in Bangalore, or are we hearing more about them because we have trained our ears in their direction, because there are so many of them around? Or are the media reporting more and more of their travails, like growing suicides or rising divorces, because they belong to the socio-economic category advertisers love to reach out to?

But all that is old hat.

The new bit that is common to all three incidents is that all three couples who have been in the news in the last three days met through matrimonial websites like shaadi.com and jeevansathi.com.

It stands to reason, maybe, that lap-top toting techies in Silicon Halli should have dialled up their life partners on the world wide web using the office broadband.

Maybe, given the amount of time we spend at the computer, this is just the easiest, most convenient way of finding our “beau” (or dovvu, as M.S. Sathyu learnt to his mortification). Maybe, it’s nice to be seen to be in charge while finding a friend or life partner of the same wavelength. Maybe, everything else is so old-fashioned.

Maybe, it’s hep to say you met online.

Still, what is the statistical possibility that three couples in the news all met the same way? And, what does it say about the efficacy of the online matchmaking progress that all three couples in the news are in the news for the wrong reasons?

Of course, three couples amounts to just three tiny drops in the mammoth ocean of matrimony.

There may be hundreds and thousands of couples more, couples who met online, who are living happily ever after. There may be hundreds and thousands of couples more who met the conventional way, whose marriages are on the rocks, who are silently swallowing physical and verbal violence, who are just living together for the sake of society, etc?

Still, you have ask: does the magic wear off once you switch off the modem?

Is online matchmaking what it is touted to be—easy, global, reliable? Or has it become a bit of a scam of those who have been there, done that, and are looking for a cheap thrills?

Is it better than arranged marriages or “love marriages”? Or, like classified newspaper advertisements in the past, has it become the last resort of those without social skills; a last throw of the dice for those who weren’t smart or lucky enough to bump into someone they would like to spend the rest of their lives with in reallife situations?

Maybe it is a sign of the new, confident, rising, shining India that men and women feel empowered and emboldened to unload the baggage of a bad marriage openly, without inhibition.

Maybe, but how likely when the weekend scoreline reads 3/3?

(Full disclosure: Palini R. Swamy has been happily married for 18 years. He met his match offline.)

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16 Responses to “Is online matchmaking becoming a bit of a scam?”

  1. SM Says:

    To marry or not to marry is a personal choice. I am sure they have had their own reasons for deciding not to marry. How is that related to they meeting on marriage portals ? Dont boys/ girls opt out of matches made off line ???? I think the media should stop poking their noses into personal lives. What if someone did the same to them.

  2. govinda daasappa Says:

    i feel it is due to the over-exposure the media is giving for the techies. earlier, everyone enjoyed the news … And as said in the article, newspapers like times eye at their tech readers. hence more news about bangalore infrastructure, electronic city, roads, techies…. Now since it is a news that sells, the reporters want to report anything related to them..

    there are extra marital affairs in the villages. and most (half) of the murders in villages are because of extra marital affairs. and remaining pertain to caste conflict, and petty fights. but these murders go unnoticed, and news from city gets reported.

    and i read on the hindu: one relative of rinku said “enough, we do not want to comment anything .. leave us alone, you have done enough to tarnish the image of rinku”

    times of india has reported about the suicide note.. but the hindu has reported ssaying that they dint get the details of suicide note…

    But morally, should the media not put a self censor when reporting such personal matters. rinku might have had a extra marital affair or not, we dont know. what if she dint have any such affair, and it was just an allegation by amit budhiraj?

    a person while dead deserves the same reputation as when he/she was alive. just because a person is dead, we shouldn’t make any unconfirmed reports.

    now imagine the position of the colleagues at standard chartered….

    now i would like do make a comparison to old type of marriages and new type of marriages.

    old marriages:
    the boy and girl would never meet. their elders would meet. some elderly person would act as a link between the two families. And the marriage would be between the same caste and same sub caste and whatever else.

    when the elders heard that the boy/girl was from a particular place/village/geographical area, they would simply not go further.. brides and grooms of certain places are still branded to be bad or not of good characters.

    next when the elders met, they made sure which family the other belonged to… they used to take the village heads or caste heads with them. the village heads knew the village heads of other place. they would discuss if they were distant relatives and which persons they knew.

    after this, both sides would enquire about the other family, their background with their known people in other places, and their distant relatives and friends… a positive reply about the boy/girl/s family would mean a green signal.. and there would be marriages.

    new method.
    love marriages, meeting through brokers, through common friends, web marriages, same workplace marriages.

    in both marriages types, there are similar problems.

    remaining things, i’m not experienced :) …

    note: all these things i have said above is through the acquired knowledge of what my ajja-ajji, uncles, people around me told, what i read /heard in media, friends……

  3. SumneNeeve Says:

    I am sorry, but are you saying that none of these would have happened if these people married through other means? I dont understand what is the point this article makes?

    Arent online matchmaking a form of arranged marriages?

  4. kssomeswara Says:

    Match making either online or traditional or the usual long love affiar should have one thing in common i.e. mutual understanding. When it comes to marriages between different groups or even in marriages of same cast, sect etc. it is the personality cult that is hurting the family. Now, any marriage mishap we have the media which highlights the issue in high decibels and they themselves decide if’s and but’s of the case. No one can judge individual’s mind. The suicide note may not give real mind of the techie who supposed to have killed his wife. Only mutual understaning 100% will save marriages. In such cases the people around will confuse the troubled ones with out of board advises. No such advise even by counsellors work unless the concerned persons takes positive view of their problems.

  5. Nastika Says:

    It takes 2 to tango. If software ‘types’ have this problem, why did their partners have aproblem too?

  6. mayura Says:

    A online matchmaking service is just a service which brings boys and girls together. It does not guarantee whether the marriages which happened as a result of these coming together is bereft of problems in the future. The same is true of arranged marriages also. So why blame the online matchmaking service for this. Also why single out techies for this treatment…are there no such cases in other professions.

    In the first case, the couple were live in partners for 3 years before marrying. If they do not realise they cannot be compatible and have a happy married life, it is their judgemental error and has nothing to do with the marriage portal.

  7. Nutan Says:

    It sounds scary to find 3 out of 3 Techies here have unstable minds..

  8. captainjohann Says:

    The recent killing and suicide by the infosys guy has not highlighted the real problem of MENTALILLNESS amongst the softwaretypes due to odd working hours. Also the women are not ready to be a doormat anymore with they also earning.

  9. Prashant Krishnamurthy Says:

    My grandfather used to reel out an aphorism: “Kuni-laarada soole nela donku anda-lanthe” (crudely put, the whore who couldn’t dance blamed the floor). This is a bit like that. If fully grown individuals can’t conduct their lives properly, can’t avoid temptations, why blame online matchmakers?

    Websites are only the latest arena for roving eyes to catch their prey, but one suspects that this is a two-way traffic. Both sides know what the other is looking for and both know what they are getting into. There is demand and there is supply. It should keep the techies happy because market forces are at play although increasingly flesh market forces have also joined in.

  10. Anonymous Guy Says:

    “Palini R. Swamy has been happily married for 18 years. He met his match offline.”

    ‘Arranged’ offline or ‘Love’ offline? We need to know these things – since he has used 3 incidents to draw a conclusion.

  11. Amrit Yegnanarayan Says:

    3 out of 3 is bad? I can quote 1000 out of 1000 where marriages worked out, whichever way it happened – online, offline, arranged …This is misuse of stats.

    On the humorous side, if you check some of the online matchmaking sites, the demand seems to be for “good natured software engineers”:)

  12. Thyampanna Shettru Says:

    “‘Bahu pathni vallabha”s , “kammanna”s, “love marriage”, live-in relationships (“ittukoMdavaLu”) – None of them are new. I have been hearing, seeing, reading about such cases ever since my school days. And, I didn’t see any perticular pattern either – It varied from rich man to school teacher to bank clerk to construction worker.

    ‘IT’ is just an easy target, ashte!

  13. Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi Says:

    The purpose of online networks is to facilitate the actual meeting of a man and a woman who show interest in each other, as quickly as possible.

    Unfortunately, 98/% of all matrimonial/dating sites make things more complicated by getting members to type up reams of boring stuff about themselves and what they want in others. Think eHarmony, Match.com or any other indian matrimonial website. This totally kills the very purpose of quick facilitating and instead drags the inevitable by months!

    To register for a dating / matrimonial website, users need to upload good quality three pictures of themselves: A close-up, a long shot and a side shot.

    150 characters introduction is sufficient and tells me all I need to know – to be interested in a first meeting- about the other person’s attitude towards life. All this talk about dreams, aspirations, emotions, family ties, who they want to kill, etc., can be discussed during the actual meeting and not splattered all over the page.

    For a man, looks are most important most of the time. For a woman, wealth, power, personality and looks matter, not necessarily in that order.

    Is it so difficult for these website companies to comprehend ?

  14. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    This is an utter waste of time. churumuri needs to make a resolution not to post anything on IT.

    And I need to stop responding to them.

  15. Goldstar Says:

    I had a feeling Churumuri would post an article on this… Only I expected Arvind Swaminathan to comment on it.

  16. Kannada Kandha Says:

    Thyampanna Shetru said it right. All of this has been happening for a long time. However, the ease of “finding a match” using the internet, certainly should not be discounted.

    Check out the top 100 sites accessed by India.

    http://www.alexa.com/site/ds/top_sites?cc=IN&ts_mode=country&lang=none

    Scroll through this list and see how many dating/porn sites make it to the top 100.

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