The Arranged Marriage

“I’ve thought about marriage before in a couple of relationships I’ve been in in the past. I thought I probably could be married to this person. We sort of even discussed it. It seemed kind of real then because there was already a flow to the relationship. You felt like what would marriage be except some kind of formalizing of this bond. But here is like going from nothing to everything. It’s like one of these commercials for cars. They go from zero to sixty in two point three seconds or whatever There’s no starting point. It’s all of a sudden You’re going at sixty miles an hour and you don’t even know how you got there.”

– A young man on arranged marriage vs. choice-based marriage.

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Arranged marriages are counter to the relationship ideology held here in the United States. We are all about choosing who we want to love. The idea of a partner chosen by your parents might send chills up many people’s spines. But there are cultures where a person does not have that choice.

I’ve wondered what is the mental state of a person in such an arrangement? Are they angry with their society? Do they feel cheated out of a real opportunity for love? Do they resent their partner? Are they less happy than people who got to choose someone they loved? What keeps the couple together when things get hard? What is the glue to arranged marriages?

I needed these questions answered so I could answer another question that I’ve been wanting to find an answer to. I zoomed to Youtube to watch a documentary on contemporary arranged marriages. I’ve linked to it below.

It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. The arranged marriages in this documentary did involve choice. The people weren’t betrothed at an early age and then wed once they could bear children. Some of the subjects in this documentary dated normally before they got involved in an arranged marriages. They had their choice of suitors. One woman placed an ad in a newspaper looking for a husband, and received over two hundred letters from men. She had a choice in them

I did figure out that the glue to many arranged marriages was tradition. Children wanted to make their parents proud by finding a partner that continued the traditions of their cultures.

One scene where this was evident was a car ride between two friends. One girl was adamant that her partner had to be Indian like her because it would be easier to live with her partner. Her friend struggled to understand why she couldn’t accept someone else. The other girl said that it would be so annoying to explain her culture to an outsider and proceeded to attack her friend’s Indianness for not seeing it the same way.

While the documentary was informative, it didn’t give me insight into the mental state of a person in an arranged marriage. So I did some heavy research and googled the subject. The first entry was this article.

Here’s a snippet from it.

” We found absolutely no difference between participants in arranged marriages and those in free choice marriages on the four measures we included in our study. Regardless of the nature of their marriage — whether their spouse had been selected by family members/matchmakers or had been personally and freely chosen — the participants in our study were extremely (and equally) happy with their relationships.”

This is just one report. I was unconvinced so I went down to the fourth entry on google where I found this article.

“They are seen by many as business deals that have little to do with love.

But arranged marriages are far more likely to lead to lasting affection than marriages of passion, experts claim.

According to research, those in arranged marriages – or who have had their partner chosen for them by a parent or matchmaker – tend to feel more in love as time grows, whereas those in regular marriages feel less in love over time.

Relationship experts claim this is because arranged matches are carefully considered, with thought going into whether potential partners’ families, interests and life goals are compatible.

This means they are more likely to commit for life – and to stick together through rocky patches.

Those who marry for love, on the other hand, tend to be blinded by passion and so overlook these crucial details. ”

It’s very possible that those in arranged marriages are lying on these surveys and are saving face for their relationships, pretending to be happy when they are miserable. But then perhaps the same could be said of choice-based marriages. People will always lie to save face and look good in front of others. Lying is more convenient than telling the truth. Just look at politics.

But if everyone was honest with their answers, then it seems to me that these two types of marriages are not so different after all. They both end up with the same destination. They just go through a different process of weeding undesirables to get to the ideal partner. This does stem to many other questions, but now I’d like to focus on the question that led me to look into arranged marriages in the first place.

Is love a choice?

I’m still trying to discern how best to find an answer to that question. There is a lot of material I may have to shift through from love psychology to human biology. I’d also have to find a working definition for love which is much harder than it sounds. Love between two people today is not the same sort of love that existed in two hundred years ago. If I do find an answer, I’ll write about it on here some day.

Moo?

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Is sexual attraction biological or social? The real answer is some sort of mix, but I’d want to test that. The only problem is how do you separate biology from society? Only a being with absolute divine power could do that sort of heavy-lifting.

I came with this experiment that I would do if I had divine power.

I’d take a thousand straight dude of various ages and put them in a space ship. Why a spaceship? They’re going somewhere. But not before I use my special machine. This machine would have the power to zap all their memories and social experiences regarding romance and sex. All these guys would forget what the ideal woman looks like. They’d forget how to love and who they’re supposed to love. They’re back to zero, only instincts. And then I’d wipe their memories of women entirely.

I leave their sex drives in tact because I need them for my experiment.

Then using my great divine power, I would create a planet. I’m not very original so it’d be just like Earth. The only difference being women have been replaced by cows. This would be an entire world where man and cow are lovers. I’d use my divine power to give them a cloning machine too because I’m not allowing half-cow half-human creatures. None of that while I’m in control.

I would transport all those now sexually primal men here to this man/cow love planet. Normal guys from our normal version of Earth with our normal human man on human woman loving. They’d get off the ship and see billboards with men kissing cows. On television, they could see relationships develop on bad television between man and cow. They’d see cows walking around hoof and hand with a man.

I wonder if after sometime in this man/cow love world if these guys would start warming up to the idea of a cow being their soul mate. Would their primal instincts drown out all the social noise and remind them that they are supposed to be into human women?

Is societal pressure so strong that men would ignore their instincts and do what everyone else is doing?

These are the types of things I think about when I’m on long car rides by myself.

The Guys Who Finish Last

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This post was inspired by Scott Alexander’s Radicalizing the Romanceless. Scott Alexander writes these articulate very well-researched and rational essays. If you have a spare half hour, I urge you to check out this article and his entire site.

Now for the galactically feared, globally reviled, universally despised – Nice Guys

WORKING DEFINITION

Let’s define Nice Guy.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition (Number One on Google).

“A nice guy is an informal term for a teenage or adult male who is gentle, compassionate, sensitive and vulnerable.”

Here’s geekfeminism.wikia.com’s definition. (Number Two on Google Search)

“Nice Guy™ is a term in Internet discourse describing a man or teenage boy with a fixation on a friendship building over time into a romance, most stereotypically by providing a woman with emotional support when she is having difficulties with another male partner. “

The first one is the one I’ll be using for discussion. This was close to my own personal definition. The fixation on friendship aspect is foreign to me.

THE ORIGIN

Where do Nice Guys come from? What causes a young man to go down the dark trail of being nice for romance?

Shyness, introversion, and lack of self-esteem. If you’re not good at communicating with people, you might drift towards relying on being nice to entice potential partners. Nice guys might also be practicing The Golden Rule. They would like a girl who is pleasurable to be around and shows interest in them and so they do the same to girls they like. A personal example of this, I once left love poetry in this girl’s locker that I liked in high school. If she had done the same for me, I’d have been over the moon. But that was not what she wanted.

Parents should always bare the blame for everything that happens ever. A teen boy could go home and get love advice from his mother. She might instill her son with what she values in a partner rather than what girls his age value.

I’d also say society is unsure of what the contemporary man should be. We’re trying to help women take center stage after being shafted for far too long. Traditional gender roles break down. Where does that leave men? What is expected of you as customs and culture change? I have yet to get a definitive answer to this. This lack of knowing trickles down into dating. What role are you supposed to play? Some men can’t figure it out.

It also might be in the nature of the guy because he’s a genuinely nice emotionally sensitive person.

CONFLICT

“She’s just hit the nail on the head with what bothers me about the Nice Guy (TM) rhetoric, those whines from some men about how it’s so unfair that women won’t flock to be with them when he’s a “decent” bloke who doesn’t do nasty things to women, and what more do they want? Well, colour us as unreasonably demanding, but women do tend to want a little bit more than a guy who simply refrains from being nasty like it’s some great sacrifice.

These whines that this young woman refers to stem from shattered expectations of young guys. They were nice to girls and then were shockingly rejected. And then it happened again. Maybe even a third time after that. So now they have to answer a question. Who is to blame for these rejections? Women or themselves?

Women get the blame by a lot of dudes. They develop toxic opinions about women. Women-blamers are on a lot of dating websites. He’ll greet a girl with a nice message. He’ll do it twice. If there’s no response, fuck her, yet another stupid stuck up bitch. She’ll get a nasty last message. He’s entered the dangerous loop where women push him away because he’s bitter and he’s bitter because women push him way. I wonder what happens to these sort of guys….

Some guys blame themselves and use it as motivation to be better. They’ll start working out. Others give up because they think women aren’t worth any additional effort. I had a conversation with one of my younger cousins about that. He’s around fifteen. I asked him if he was talking to any girls. And he said no, they’re not worth his time. I laughed as he was so young to be that cynical about romance.

And others just complain.

“I’m a nice guy. I treat women right. Why can’t I catch a break? I’d be a good boyfriend. Give me a chance.”

These dudes think girls wanting more than a nice guy is an unreasonable demand. I get why. Everyone says so, even some women. Movies and television say the good guy gets the girl. Writers love this story. It’s so easy to write. That’s why you see it all the time. The virtuous man gets love and every man has an equal chance at it.

But love is inherently unfair. Nobody is an equal opportunity lover. People love with regard to race, age, marital status, creed, color, sex, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and a lot hell of a lot more. Virtuosity is not taken into account until later if it is taken into account at all.

Why would society lead these men to believe one thing when another is true?

Because girls are supposed to want the virtuous man. But they’re people and they aren’t a certain way. I get their frustration with the situation. Having to bring guys down to reality and being hated just for not being attracted to someone. It gets worse when some of these nice guys aren’t as nice as they advertise as I mentioned above.

SOLUTIONS

The tension on both sides is palpable once anyone mentions a Nice Guy. How can things be smoothed over? What should be done with Nice Guys? Like most dating/relationship issues, there is no smooth solution. I have nothing.

Because if you give someone advice on what women want, you don’t have any authority to do so. Not even women can tell you what a particular girl wants or needs from her partner or what you may need to do. It’s hard to articulate exactly what you want. There’s a lot that words fail. It’s very much on the person to pick up signals. You can’t coach that.

So no solution. Life sucks for some people.

Maybe I’ll have a solution to this in 2020.
—-

My Cold Shower

My second-favorite scene (My Finale’s ending montage beats this out) from one of my favorite shows, Scrubs. This was so heart-wrenching at the time. I’m glad JD and Elliot ended up together in the end. But at the time, I’ll admit I teared up. It was one manly tear.

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The Zone

For Day Two of Valentine’s Week here on Cynic No More, I’m going into a familiar place for a lot of people. It’s caused a lot of pain, grief, and allowed trite quotes to be liked on Facebook.

The Friend Zone.

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Note here. When I say the word “men” or “women” always assume that I don’t mean all men and all women. Goes without saying but that I’d say it either way.

I. THE SITUATION

If somehow you don’t know about or been a part of this phenomenon, let me give to ya real quick.

Two Friends. One starts to develop romantic and/or sexual feelings for the other. The other does not return the feelings, liking things as they are. Leaving the friend with feelings in a situation

There are variations to the story. Some people wanted romance the entire time but felt more comfortable being friends before hand. Others develop feelings as time went on.

This is a rather sucky well-known situation that has led to many vitriolic blog posts from men and women alike. MTV made a television show out of this.

Much of the frustration comes from the passing of the burden of the feelings. Guys complain about friend-zoned all the time. Women feel attacked for not being interested in someone. Or they see the friendship was a ruse set up to trick her into sex.

The usual way it goes is it’s the guy getting friend zoned. I don’t doubt that happens to women, but it appears to be rarer. My female friends have never mentioned being in the friend zone to me. I never overheard the girls in the front of my homeroom back in high school talk about this as I eavesdrop. They more vented about men wanting only sex without commitment. Perhaps women are more likely to keep these happenings to themselves? Or just not share them with me?

II. OUTCOMES

Quite a few ways this can end.

The Guy Remains the Genuine Friend
The most agreeable ending. The guy recognizes they’re incompatible. He stays in touch and is happy to see her pursue love in other places. Their friendship remains strong. His feelings dissipate or kept in check for the sake of the friendship.

Image: FILE PHOTO: 70 Years Since The Casablanca World Premiere Casablanca

The Guy Cuts Off All Contact
See ya later! The friendship is over! The guy decides he’s not going to suffer and watch a person he loves, love someone else. I had a co-worker who went off about this during late-night shifts. She was a little socially awkward and was bullied by the girls at her school. So she opted to get guy friends. Without fail, all of them fell passionately in love with her. Upon her rejection of them, they all hit the road. They took away their late night texting sessions. They stopped their Skyping. They pretend like they didn’t know her.

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The Guy Plots
Some day he will escape this zone and her love will be his! The guy who remains the friend for today and plots his rise to romantic partnership silently in the shadows. Rarely works out.

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The Girl Ignores
He just couldn’t get the clue. Maybe she felt he betrayed her trust by pursuing her. Maybe she realized he wasn’t that great a friend after all. Ignored. Blocked. Removed from the Steam Friendlist.

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Mutual Split
It’s painful for both of them and so both decide to never see each other again. The downer.

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They Get Together
The girl decides why not give it a chance? The relationship works. This is the cutest outcome. Genuine love. Every time I see this happen for someone, I start giggling on the inside. Story tellers adore this ending.

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III. CONCLUSION

The drama here is that there is no real compromise between friendship and romantic relationships. A suitable in-between would shut everyone up. Friends with benefits is not it. I have not seen that go anywhere good. If you try to trickle down some romance into friendship, that begs a simple question. Why don’t you just date them?

I don’t think anyone should date someone due to pressure but neither should someone be a part of a friendship that isn’t fulfilling for them. There are limits to friendship. To desire more from a person is not wrong. Wanting to be the one who makes their beloved’s eyes light up and their heart melt is an admirable desire.

The Friend Zone breeds negativity. Close friendships end. People become bitter. Some develop toxic thoughts about the other gender.

All because a friend liked a friend more than they ought to.

Dating Pool

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/feb/01/looking-love-wrong-equations-mathematics-sexual-partners

This is an article about using math to find love. Mathematician Peter Backus estimated his number of potential parters by setting up the following criteria.

1. How many women are there who live near me? (In London; 4 million women)

2. How many are likely to be of the right age range? (20%; 800,000 women)

3. How many are likely to be single? (50%; 400,000 women)

4. How many are likely to have a university degree? (26%; 104,000 women)

5. How many are likely to be attractive? (5%; 5,200 women)

6. How many are likely to find me attractive? (5%; 260 women)

7. How many am I likely to get along well with? (10%; 26 women)

26 women in the world for Mr. Backus. Rough pickings.

The author of the article stated that Backus was limiting himself too much. She ran the numbers with less strict criteria and came out to a thousand potential partners. I loved every bit of this. I know that it’s bad to create a checklist when looking for a partner, but I’m intrigued by this estimation process. I like numbers. and I’m not currently looking so it doesn’t hurt to make criteria so long as I don’t take it to heart.

So why not make my own equation for my potential partners?

1. How many women are there who live near me? (New Jersey; 4.5 million women)
Half the population is women. About the same number of women live in London as New Jersey, which is crazy.

2. How many are likely to be of the right age range? (19-26)(8%; 360,000 women)
This age range seems fair. While 18 is legal, that’s too close to high school for my liking. I picked 27 as the cutoff because that sounded old.

3. How many are likely to be single? (50%; 180,000 women)
Approximately half of women are single. Straight forward.


5. How many are likely to be attractive? (15%; 27,000 women)

This was a far more difficult. I wish I knew what the mathematician meant by attractive. Girls you find pretty? Girls you find hot? Girls that aren’t repulsive physically? Does he include average women? I stuck with his percentage.

6. How many are likely to find me attractive? (15%; 8100 women)
This one is harder to know. Unless I survey a sample size of women, I can’t figure that out. So again I stuck with his assessment.

7. How many am I likely to get along well with? (0.02%; 16.2 women)
I picked 1/1000. Don’t know if that’s too high or too low. It does feel very rare for me to get along extremely well with someone regardless of gender. 1/1000 is rare.

The final tally is 16 potential partners in the entire world. I think I might have made a mistake here or there.

Oh well. It’s only an estimation.

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