Information parity and loss of loyalty

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.

This week’s newsletter is inspired by a conversation with an ex-colleague about why loyalty ain’t a hallmark virtue of this generation’s employees, unlike the previous. I’m going to extend this argument in the context of relationships.

Like many women in the world, I’ve a history of dating men who suffered from incessant commitment phobia - Men who went out of their ways to jeopardise potentially long-term relationships. This was not just with me, but was the case with all women they were ever with. These men didn’t know how to suck it up and make it work. The irrational teenager, the crazy critic inside me thought I wasn’t worth sticking out for, but I eventually realised it wasnt me. It was them. To be brutally honest, I aways knew it was them. I just refused to see it because it somehow felt like it was about me too. 

Don’t you sometimes look at a friend and think - Why is he/ she hung up on someone who so obviously isn’t into him/ her? Have you ever wondered what it is about some people who struggle to let go of relationships that aren’t worth preserving? Are they such believers? Do they suffer from low self esteem? Are they not confident of finding someone else? I think the problem is that some people are such passionate problem solvers, that they take fixing the relationship upon themselves even if that’s not the problem to be solved.

I bet you’ve seen this happen with a lot of “normal” people around you, who are pretty sorted on their own, yet, lose all sense of rationale when in love. They are committed to making dysfunctional relationships work, and are blind to the fact that the other person may not love them anymore. Let me tell you that this happens more often with people who have fairly sorted lives, outside of their love lives. It is their need for control that keeps them more sorted. It’s the same need for control that makes them take responsibility for fixing problems in a relationship, even when it’s not worth their time.

What if they knew right at the start of every relationship it wouldn’t last? Would they be just as invested in making relationships work? No, they wouldn’t. That’s when they would disengage a little, and that’s when the balance tips over onto their side. When disengaged, they don’t pay attention, they’re distracted and start looking elsewhere. The awareness of possibilities outside of this relationship further reduces loyalty.

Today, people aren’t invested in relationships to begin with, thanks to the generation of casual swiping. The cost of entering a relationship is at an all time low, thanks to the illusion of infinite swipes. But this also means loyalty is at an all time low as information parity prevents you from really committing to any relationship. That’s also one of the many reasons why polyamory is on the rise.

If I knew that I’d meet my husband on the next swipe, I’d probably not bother wasting my time with exes. But thankfully, given that I am from the pre-swiping generation, I had no such luxury. I lived every relationship like it were my last. But this is exactly the opposite of what lots of people do today - they live relationships as if their best relationship is waiting on the next swipe. The awareness of the next swipe makes it impossible to commit to the current one and stay invested. I mean, I would do this too if I weren’t already this highly leveraged, so I’m not pointing any fingers. This is just how it is.

This illusion isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s here to stay, it’s here to grow. Just so you know.


More from Shapely Gal

I’ve been doing too many things to keep track anymore. It may not really be a good thing though. Anyway, here’s a little sneak peak into the many projects I’ve been working on:

  1. Singularity - Dating/ matrimonial apps have made us zombies reducing us to a few bullet points or data attributes. Its’ re-enforcing templates that we’ve wanted to break away from. While attributes make discovery easier, the question is do we ever find out who someone really is? If there weren’t a template, what would we tell people about ourselves? How would people respond if they heard something unexpected? That’s what I am trying to test through a new project called singularity in which I want to record people talking about themselves and about dating when they don’t have to fit into a template.

  2. The Ghosting fund - You aren’t the only one who gets ghosted. I get ghosted too. People sign up with me, and sometimes leave without saying goodbye. They don’t even want their money back. So, what I’ve decided to do is use this money for a good cause. I will be subsidising Quickies by 20% for people who are dealing with the bruises of ghosting for the rest of this year.

  3. UNBOXED - Rahul and I had yet another conversation last weekend. This time we spoke about dating’s changed over the last decade. Hopefully, I’ll put out snippets over the week.

  4. Arrange your own marriage - This week, I put out a video on the process of identifying the right channels for partner search. I am starting to lose a bit of laptop camera fear, although it’s a shame the quality of videos haven’t necessarily kept up.

  5. Marriage Market FAQ - Lots of people asked me about how to get around the COVID small talk on a date, so I decided to make a video to address the issue.


Sneak peak into …

What I’m reading:

  1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - This is an interesting book that follows the stories of several generations of a Ghanan family separated at birth. Although this is just one story, one narrative, surely, I am learning lots about slave trade, apartheid and racism that is deeply rooted within and across cultures. I think this reading is especially relevant for me to better understand the death of the George Floyd and the emotions its triggered amongst so many.

  2. I’ve also been reading lots of terrible bios. Here’s a link to one such.

Quit playing games with my heart.

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.

This week’s newsletter is based on failed alliances, thanks to people who bail saying they aren’t ready yet.

Some of you may know that I assist people in managing their presence on various matrimonial platforms. One morning, I received this message from one of my clients’ matches:

“dear Miss X, good morning,iam Mr Y, HSR layout Bangalore father of Z. kindly talk to my son Z who is in Los Angeles California usa XXXX XXX XXX and my cell no,at Bangalore XXXXX XXXXX ask your mother or father to speak to me.as i was a senior officer IAS rtd and give me your parents address and phone number please and send me details of your job biodata salary cell no please urgently please from Mr Y HSR layout Bangalore father of Z.”

First of all, I was slightly concerned with the “urgency” of this message. Secondly, it was clearly poor judgement on my part to have sent an expression of interest to Mr Z here. But I won’t take the blame fully because the profile said it was created and managed by self.

Anyway, I responded on behalf of my client saying if Mr Y doesn’t mind, my client would like to speak with Z directly and only involve parents on either side if and when things move forward. Unfortunately, when my client contacted this Z fellow, he responded saying he wasn’t even interested in having an arranged marriage because the thought of living with a complete stranger was scary for him.

Whatever.

In several other instances, I’ve seen women trying to soften the blow on men by trying to convince them that they want to take things slow despite their biological clocks or whatever screaming otherwise. It sucks. It absolutely sucks balls. I mean why should anybody have to convince another person about having to get married, let alone a complete stranger?


Ladies, the onus of raising men is not on you.

I’ve noticed a pattern with men - they’re simply shit scared to get married. They’re worried it will tie them down as if they’ve got a lot of game. While women are confused about whom to marry, men are confused if they should marry at all. Of course, not all men and all that but quite a sizeable number are pretty scared. They’re scared of their parents. They’re scared of their potential wives, and their future lives.

Does this fear have anything to do with not having confidence to make decisions in general? Does this fear have anything to do with a clear path being laid out for them since the day they’re born? Does this fear have anything to do with the unknowns beyond lines they’ve never crossed? I don’t know. But guess what guys, you’re not alone. Women are scared of the unknown too. Marriage is just as scary for women too. But that doesn’t entitle you to be on a platform pretending to be ready for something that you’re clearly not or because you’ve have issues telling your daddy about it.


Actually, its not just men.

Someone women are like this too. I’ve another incident to share.

I’d been speaking to one of my aunt’s friends, who is looking to get his daughter married. Although I almost never make introductions without speaking to the person looking to get married, I took a chance. Given how much I’d spoken to the parent, I assumed the parent and the daughter communicated just as much. So, I introduced her to one of my clients, but it turns out she didn’t respond properly to the guy because she was upset with her parents for having given her number to strangers. Thanks to her, at least three people were left feeling utterly embarrassed.

Why can’t people just talk to their parents and ask them to back off if they don’t want their parents to be sharing numbers with strangers before they unknowingly break a few hearts like this? Is it that hard to imagine the pain (albeit momentarily!) you’re putting other human beings through?

You may think it’s not your problem, but can you please quit playing games with our hearts already.


I am not the enemy. You are. Your inability to speak up is your enemy.

Those of you that I’m talking about are surely mad at me already for accusing you of breaking hearts, but imagine how much trouble you could’ve saved by just talking to your parents about what you want in the first place? Think about it.

I don’t hate you. I don’t hate your parents. I don’t hate nobody. But it’s important to talk. Speak up. Communicate clearly about what you want and what you don’t want. It might hurt to start off with, but believe me, you’ll cause far lesser pain in the world, including to yourself. That’s all.


I am going to let you in on a secret if it makes you feel better, ok?

I don’t endorse marriage. Freedom is a high price to pay for life-long companionship, especially if you’re a loner. So, it’s completely normal to find the idea of marriage daunting. Marriage means two of you taking one step together as opposed to being able to take two steps on your own. Every aspect of your life requires coordination. It’s not always easy. But remember that when you barely have the strength to move one step forward, sometimes, you can count on your partner to hold your hand while you make the leap together.

This is hard to appreciate when things are going well in your own life and you’re sprinting through personal milestones. But if you ever do pause, or things slow down for you, think about it.


More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the projects I’ve been working on since the last time I wrote to you.

  1. UNBOXED - This spur of the moment experiment with Rahul Kolle has resulted in an interesting 80-min video-cast/ podcast about relationships and communication. Here’s a link in case you want to watch (or listen!) We might just make a series out of it. Who knows.

  2. Arrange your own marriage - Last week, the course covered FAQ that one must reflect on even before entering the market such as when to get married, how long it’ll take, etc. This week, I’m going to be talking about identifying the right channels to find oneself a partner.

  3. Marriage Market FAQ - I am running A/B tests with this particular project to see if people feel less shy to “Ask Priyanka” vs “Ask Auntie”. So, I’ve been running the FAQ series simultaneously under two different channels. I am not sure how long I plan to run this test as yet, but I bet it will have larger repercussions depending on the results.


Sneak peak into …

What I’m reading:

  1. Matilda by Roald Dahl - This is yet another of those children’s classics that I’d never read before. It’s strangely cute.

  2. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - just started reading this book yesterday. Recently, I realised how little I know about so many countries in the world. So, I decided to start reading at least one book from every country. There’s something fascinating about learning through stories. Although I am very aware that it is a single story, from a certain perspective, but one that you’d never have if you never read these stories.

  3. Pandemic has changed dating once again it seems, but what about people who want to start dating?


The Zoom date

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.

This week’s newsletter is a piece of fiction, although not entirely. This edition is inspired by how quarantine has changed the way we love. Or…has it?

10:00pm
Friday

After the weekly call with my stakeholders, I put my headphones down. My ears were sort of numb from the constant chatter. I stood up and stretched like a cat. I broke my knuckles. A disgusting habit, I know. But that’s when I realised that I’d been hunching for two hours straight and now my shoulders had given out. I really miss my standing desk at work. But right now, I’m hungry. It’s 10pm, and I have no energy what so ever to cook myself anything.

To distract myself from the daunting thought of having to feed myself, I pick up my phone lying next to me. I try unlocking the phone with my face, but it doesn’t work. Dark circles? Excess quarantine fat? I don’t know. My phone doesn’t recognise me anymore. I wearily type my 8 digit password while wondering why I couldn’t just have a 4 digit one. As usual, I tell myself that I’ll change it before the next time.

I click on LinkedIn, half hoping there will be a Inmail from a recruiter. But no, zero messages. But there’s one notification. Could it be a recruiter who’s viewed my profile? No, damnit, it’s a random connection liking some arbit rant by Brigitte Hyacinth. Ok, muted. I click on Twitter - turns out outrage for the day is #Rs20. Someone’s got to fix Twitter’s trending algorithm. Now onto Instagram - urrrrgh, why is everyone baking and cooking so much?!! No respite from hunger at all. No notifications also.

Reluctantly, I click on Shaadi.com half hoping for at least a rejection notification - just any sign really, that the universe can see me. But what do I see?

An expression of interest!!!!

Wow. Speechless. Who says I don’t appreciate small joys?

With a wide grin on my face, I open the message…

“Hey, I liked your profile. If you’d like to chat, here’s my number!”

Yes, yes, yes, I do.

But wait, it’s 10:30pm - too late to text I think? Okay first thing tomorrow. Or may be later in the afternoon? Just so I don’t seem desperate you know. Oh but wait, the interest was sent 3 days ago. So, I am good baby.


11:00am
Saturday

The following day, I text her and she responded quite promptly. We spent the next two days texting through the day. You know, the general warm up type of conversation, nothing groundbreaking - weather, work, quarantine life, little bit about family, hobbies, etc. Turns out she works late into the night just like me, so figured it would be easier to get on a call when both of us are free. We agreed on a time, and I called her promptly. We talked about movies, books and a little bit about friends. We spoke for over an hour. Promising, I would think.


9:30am
Monday

I texted her wishing her luck for the rest of the week (Well, it’s better than sending her a meme about quarantine, aren’t we all bored of that by now?). Again, normal conversation through the day - work, life, etc. with a sprinkling of what our future plans are type of exchange. Around 8pm in the evening, she texted saying she’d finished work early, and asked if she could call. I started panicking. I wasn’t particularly busy or anything, but I couldn’t stop worrying about why she wanted to speak about on a weekday night. Rather, I was worried that it might be going too well.

Why’d that a bad thing, you ask?

Usually when things go really fast, they die almost just as fast.

May be I am overthinking. I should stop.

Just then, the phone started ringing, and I picked up. The voice on the other side seemed cheerful. I quickly forgot about my apprehensions. We chatted about work, as usual. Then we quickly moved on to TV shows, that were worth binge watching over the weekend. We both decided to watch Money Heist together, so we could discuss it with each other having missed the bus when everyone else watched it.

The conversation was going reasonably well - there were no awkward silences, we seemed to have quite a few common interests and we’d already spoken for nearly an hour. Naturally I felt something. I felt a strong desire to connect physically. But given quarantine and all, I suggested that we do a video call on Friday. In fact, I didn’t stop there, I told her that I’d come dressed up as if I were meeting her for dinner date. She laughed, and said “Well, see you on Friday at 9pm then.”


I think the New York Times had an article about how quarantine has opened up a new world of dating for introverts. I remember reading the article and wondering if it was even real. In fact, some of my single friends have have been complaining of far lower supply of WhatsApp profiles from parents as well. I had simply not seen any evidence of promise on any of the dating or matrimonial apps I’d been on until last week.

Now that I had the chance to be featured on one of these articles, I started scouring through almost every piece of literature I could find on the internet about how to make your quarantine date interesting. There were tonnes of games one could play, watch movies together, have a meal together, people sent each other hand-made meals for the date and so on. But it was only our first date, so I needed to do something simple, yet memorable.

I’ll be honest, I am tired of being in the market. My family and I’ve been at this on and off for well over 5 years. I’m a little sick of putting myself out there every other day, answering the same questions over and over again or carrying the burden of initiating a conversation. I just want to kick back and have a wife, and nothing to worry about. Is that too much to ask? Is this the fate of sons whose family deity is Hanuman? I don’t know, but I am determined to win this time.

After some research, I decided that we should have dinner together. I sent her a Zoom invite for our dinner date, and texted her saying that I’d like to take her to a Mexican restaurant, and it would be great if she dressed up and brought along something that had a semblance of Mexico in her meal for our date. Of course, I’d do the same. She replied with a blushing smiley.

That’s a good thing, I guess?


8:30pm
Friday

I finished work early and cooked some rice and rajma, thanks to someone’s recipe on my Instagram feed. I took a shower, dressed up in a white full-armed shirt…

Okay, the button around my belly will pop out if I don’t hit the gym soon enough.

But that’s a worry for another day. Now, focus.

I setup my laptop on my desk and place a tall glass of water next to it and dunk a branch of the Gulmohar leaves like a vase in a restaurant. Cool, huh?

Wait, what if I drop the water on my laptop in panic. Terrible idea. I abandon it.

I sit on my chair in front of my desk with a plain wall behind me. The lighting is terrible. So, I shine my Ikea table lamp on my face. Now, too bright. Okay, we’ll just have to go with lesser light. May be I can turn the other way around. Ah, this is great.

It’s 8:55pm now. I run to the kitchen, serve myself hastily, add a little bit of salsa from the fridge, throw in some stale tortilla chips from the cupboard. Fuck, it’s expired I think. I run back to my desk. Phew, one more minute left. I quickly open the Zoom link, and settle in to make sure I’m not keeping her waiting or anything. She’s not here yet. Good. I click a picture of my plate, in case. It looks pretty good, I think. I’m only missing Guac, but the chips make up for the look.

Okay, it’s 9:02.

Clearly, punctuality isn’t her thing.

I figured while I wait, I could quickly scroll through that article about 36 questions you can ask someone on a date to bring you closer instantly. You know, that way, I can also seem cool about waiting. Or wait, should I just leave the meeting and join after 5min, so I can be the one who’s late? Yes, that’s it. Mastermind. Mwahaha.

I leisurely go through the first 10 questions, but then I’m too caught up in my power struggle charade to be able to concentrate, so I give up.

It’s 9:10 now.

10 minutes late is quite fashionable I think. I rehearse a little line about how I got late perfecting my garnish. I click on the zoom link…

Shit, she’s still not here.

Ok, I better text her. I pick the phone, and send her a message on WhatsApp - “Hey, have you reached el restaurante yet?”

No double tick yet. Itching for the message to go through and get delivered.

Strange, she’s removed her DP.

Now, I’m getting a bit antsy. I refresh and click back on WhatsApp.

Still no blue tick. Heck, no double tick either.

Shit, I hope she hadn’t got Corona and died off. No, she texted me just day before agreeing to meet me on Zoom. I’m sure it takes longer for you to contract the infection, suffer and die. So, no. Not corona.

May be she’s still not done with work? At least she would’ve texted saying she’ll be late or rescheduled.

What if she forgot?

I think I should call her.

Damnit, she’s not reachable.

May be her internet died. Yes, that’s it.

It’s 9:30. My rajma is getting cold. I better eat. Sigh.


10:00 am
Saturday

I woke up feeling completely spent. Suddenly I remember the proceedings of the night before, and look for my phone within my blanket.

2 notifications of WhatsApp. Phew.

Okay, it wasn’t her.

There’s still no blue tick.

And no, DP either.

Hmm has she just blocked me?!!

No.

No.

No no no.

I go back and re-read the last few messages we exchanged.

No awkward conversations. All pleasant smileys. No messages unanswered.

Oh wait, I can ping her on Shaadi. I click on the app and quickly go to my inbox. I try to text her. But wait, why does it say this member cannot be contacted?! She’s cancelled her invite?!!!

I go back to WhatsApp again. Re-read our messages. Okay, now I see it. She had started responding in mono syllables and smileys since our last call. Did I say something weird on the call? I tried to recount our conversation but couldn’t remember anything strange.

I did tell her that I was unhappy with my job, and I was looking to change careers. Did that scare her?! I mean, why should it? She’s not my mom. She’s an engineer turned photographer herself, so she should understand better than anyone else.

Why won’t she just reply?!

Did she just ghost me? This sucks. This sucks so bad. If there was just someway to know why she did it, I’d feel so much better. In fact, she could just dump me on my face, and I’ll be fine.

Wait, no. Lets put things into perspective - she sent me an interest. I wasn’t even that interested, but I was bored, so I accepted her interest. Come to think of it, she wasn’t that good looking.

Or was she? I forgot her face.

I went on Instagram to try and find her picture.

Damn, her account is private.

No, I am not going to send her a follow request. I’ll seem interested, which I’m clearly not. Right.

Instead, I decided to google her so I can get some latest news on her. I didn’t find much apart from some passport photo level pictures uploaded for professional purposes. I went back to WhatsApp, scrolled through once, and then deleted our chat with a heavy heart. Every time I do this, I feel a bit lighter, because a piece of me just dies, and evaporates with each chat.


11:00 am
Saturday

I started watching Money Heist on my own anyway. May be through the 4 seasons, I’ll figure out a way to get over this heartbreak too. I say heartbreak because I put myself out there, and god knows if I’ll ever have the strength to chat up another stranger again, let alone have the heart to want to spend the rest of my life with her. I am already on the wrong side of 30s. Suddenly I panicked, and picked up my phone. I click on the Shaadi app to find another match because you see, there’s no time to waste.

But as luck may have it, I inevitably clicked on the chat tab and found her being “Online now”.

Sigh.


More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the projects I’ve been working on since the last time I wrote to you.

  1. R&P - It’s an experiment I am trying with a friend, Rahul Kolle, who is almost a decade younger than me. We chat about lots of random things that lay at the intersection of love and communication, and post recordings of our conversation for public viewing. We had our first conversation last week, and we’ll soon be posting snippets of this conversation. It’s super fun, I promise.

  2. Arrange your own marriage - After kicking off this course with an awkward intro video last week, I am more convinced about the value of this course. I won’t let my shyness or inability to record/ edit videos from creating and sharing this content, thanks to the positive feedback that I’ve received from a few people so far. This week’s videos will be out on Thursday, so stay tuned.

  3. Marriage Market FAQ - I launched the first episode of this weekly FAQ session on Youtube last week, and I’ve recorded a few more weeks worth of videos, so quite excited to be doing this.


Sneak peak into …

What I’m reading:

  1. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. This is a heartfelt story of a Syrian couple who’ve lost everything back home in Aleppo and are now in pursuit of a new home in England. This book traces their journey across Europe, and the love that holds them together through nothing but loss and trauma.

  2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery - I can’t believe I never read this book earlier, but I feel like this should be everyone’s 10th standard graduation present, especially for Indian kids.


Polyamory

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.

This week’s newsletter is inspired by the need for unbundling passion, breaking traditions, freelancing and polyamory. And true to theme, this is a bit polyamorous - I serve you bits of several seemingly unconnected things.

Where I come from

Growing up, I had a distant cousin who dabbled many different gigs for a living. This was way back in the early 2000s, before freelancing was even a thing. I think my family was quite concerned about her not holding a main stable job. The unspoken goal in life was to not end up like her.

I come from a fairly traditional household. I don’t mean orthodox. We are big on traditions kind of like Hritik Roshan in K3G. My father is a very traditional guy who likes his routine and rituals to no end. Tradition is so deeply imbibed in us that it almost feels wrong to not order a soup (by2), masala papad, gobi manchurian, kulcha and a mixed vegetable kadai exactly in the same order, when I go to a restaurant.


Breaking free.

When I got married, I started exploring new cuisines and it wasn’t easy to follow my inherited ordering template. This was also a time when microbreweries became a thing in Bangalore and delicious appetisers became more accessible to decent people (LOL!), so sometimes you’d never get to the main course.

(We have other problems now - not being able to decide, etc. but hey, freedom does comes at a cost.)


Embracing the appetiser culture.

For the longest time (may be the last 70 years or so here in India), we’ve accepted monogamy as the way we do things. Nothing wrong with that. But the problem with it is that it makes any other form of relationships seem abnormal.

Take polyamory for instance. Sounds like the English cousin of adultery no?

But… it’s not quite.

For the uninitiated, Polyamory (from Greek πολύ poly, "many, several", and Latin amor, "love") is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved. It has been described as "consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy”.

The need for polyamory is fairly simple - it’s absurd to expect one human to satisfy all needs of another human, so some people like to hedge their bets with multiple partners. It’s sort of like a choice between filling your stomach with a bunch of different appetisers, which is okay.


Maybe it’s not that simple.

Although we come from the land of Draupadi, her many husbands and their many more wives, today, polyamory is at best a blackmarket scene in India. When you don’t talk about something openly, it becomes harder to learn who’s in and who’s not. As emotionally and logistically complex that polyamory can be, challenges that plague this market are fairly basic - alignment of intent and discovery.

A poly friend once told me that if a couple wants to find love outside of their marriage, the man is most likely to find women who are cheating on their husbands and the woman is most likely to find men who are single - either yet to be married or divorced. This is ideally not what poly people are looking for, but they settle for what they can get.


My appetiser story.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about work, and we instantly connected. I definitely saw material for a side project because I knew he had a full-time obsession already. So, I didn’t hesitate to propose a little exploration together. That’s the thing about connection, you don’t really know where it’s meant to take you or how long it’s meant to last, you just know that you find someone interesting enough to start walking with them, and you’re comfortable figuring out what comes off it along the way.

Unfortunately, it turned out that my friend wasn’t in the same place as me - he wasn’t looking for a side project. He was looking for a full-time partner. He couldn’t afford to explore, not after having his heart broken once. His opportunity cost was far higher than mine. So, as life may have it, there was no alignment of intent and we didn’t pursue the partnership.

Strangely, it reminded me of the challenges of finding love in polyamory.


Solving discovery in polyamory

Knowing that I am in the relationship space, my poly friend said that it would be so cool if there were an app to find people who are genuinely poly, and all you ever had to worry about is building good communication within the group. I promised to think about it.

Just as we were leaving, I asked her if easing discovery would steal from the joy of falling in love, to which she said she didn’t think so.

But I wasn’t so sure.

At least, not until my side-project heart break story.

I mean, had there been an app that connected partners looking for side projects, I would have never connected with this friend at all, because he wouldn’t have been on one such. However, even though our collaboration didn’t work out, my conversations with him were a beautiful thing, I wouldn’t trade them for the efficiency that an app would bring.

When you’ve experienced instant connection, it’s hard to have an app arrange that feeling for you. You can be on an app where all you ever share with others is intent, pining for connection like you’ve experienced once before. So, if you’re polyamorous because you enjoy the experience of falling in love, being on an app to find love is the worst thing you can do.


More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the projects I’ve been working on since the last time I wrote to you.

  1. Wasted Characters: Every morning, I hang out in the market, reviewing prospects for my clients on M.B.A. and it’s such a jolly way to start my morning, I tell you. Some bios are truly entertaining. So, I made a video about it called “Wasted Characters”.

  2. Arrange your own marriage - After designing the course, I decided to put this content out for free because this is just basic info that anyone looking to get married must be familiar with. When people sign up with me on my paid advisory program, I prefer that the basics are sorted and we explore advanced frontiers together that are personal, and won’t be covered by this course.

  3. Marriage Market FAQ - This is a weekly FAQ session that I host on social media (Instagram/ Twitter/ Youtube) to help answer questions on the arranged marriage market.


Sneak peak into …

What I’m reading:

  • The stationery shop by Marjan Kamali - This is a love story set in 1953 Tehran that is depressingly familiar, yet not really. It’s about young love, and how its memories are hard to erase, may be because we don’t want to erase them.

  • How Corona virus is changing the dating game - Exploring possibilities with lower expectations is always a good thing. This is the story of only a small number of people, while most others have carefully stayed away from the market to give themselves a break, which is much needed sometimes, I tell you.


Our obsession with love marriage

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.

This week’s newsletter is inspired by a bio i saw on Shaadi.com which said “Love marriage is one of my biggest dreams in life, so I am hoping to fulfil that dream here”.

Among the many things we aren’t allowed to do growing up in Indian homes, falling in love tops the list. When something is taboo, it becomes alluring. All the repressed energy needs an outlet. So, we try, but mostly we fail, but admission of failure is the last thing we’ll do. Instead, we convince ourselves that we’ll still have a love marriage even if the world doesn’t think so.


“Did you have a love marriage or an arranged one”

“Love”

“Sweet, where did you two meet?”

“Ummm we met on Bharatmatrimony”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, but we dated for sometime, fell in love and then decided to get married”

“Of course”


What is and isn’t love marriage?

I am nobody to define what is and what isn’t a love marriage either, but I believe there’s a difference because of which there is a classification and specific nomenclature. For the purpose of this newsletter alone, I’d like us to be clear on the difference.

Primitive definition: One is love before marriage and the other is love after marriage.

Nuanced definition: When two people unexpectedly (key word!) end up enjoying each other’s company so much that they enter into a relationship that becomes long-term, legal and binding, it’s usually called a love marriage. 

On the contrary, when you go onto Shaadi.com/ Tinder/ any platform which promises to find you a romantic companion and you fully intentionally pick out a partner that you eventually end up getting married to, it is NOT love marriage.

Just because you tested something before buying doesn’t make it love marriage. Sorry. 

Arranged vs Love marriage

If there were ever a vote between the two, love marriage would win hands down. Despite this, over 80% of Indians have an arranged marriage. Why? Because arranged marriage is what you have when you don’t love, and not necessarily the other way around. Love is elusive, which is partly what makes it a bit more attractive. So, I don’t blame you if you want a love marriage.

Who is to blame then?

When I was 13-14, my friends and I watched this Tamil movie called “Minnale” (which was later re-made into Rehna Hai Tere Dil Main). The movie is about a girl who’s about to meet a prospect from the arranged marriage market. She ends up falling in love with him, only to realise that it was a case of mistaken identity. Having fallen in love with the “wrong guy”, she struggles to get married to “the right” guy from the arranged marriage market. Eventually she runs back to the guy she fell in love with.

Two major ways in which this movie completely distorts a young teenager’s reality:

  1. It’s possible to fall in love with someone in the arranged marriage market

  2. Love marriage trumps arranged marriage

Dil Chahta hai proved the first point with Saif and Sonali Kulkarni. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam proved the second point with Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai. Dil Se proved the second point too with Shah Rukh and Manisha Koirala. It may be a different movie in your case, but I bet some movie ruined reality for you in ways it’s been impossible to recover from. 

The problem with teenage is that you’re old enough to watch such movies but too young to be discussing reality with. During an impressionable age such as teenage when reality isn’t within reach, you extrapolate based on fiction.

What is reality then?

Now that you’re older, you probably already know this. May be you’re in denial. May be you’re not.

Love marriage does not trump arranged marriage, nor is it the other way around. Love or not, most marriages more or less end up the same way over time. Sure, my parents didn’t dance for “Dhol Bhaje”, but their lives are no different from uncles and aunts who had a love marriage. It’s not any different in case of our generation either.

Life (rather the lack of it) eventually reduces us to 2.5 X 8 X 2 Ft, and love (or the lack of it) reduces life to lunch and the logistics around it. Admission of this truth brings us closer to reality, but honestly, who wants that? We want crazy things to aspire for, else what’s the point of living.

So, love marriage is what we shall have, and love after marriage is what shall evade us.


More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the projects I’ve been working on since the last time I wrote to you.

  1. Arrange your own marriage - I finally managed to get a draft outline of this program. If you’re in the market or just have an interest in it, I’d love to get some initial feedback on the broad content covered. Drop me a note if you’d like to get a sneak peak into the topics covered.

  2. Youtube channel: I set this up last year to put out videos answering frequently asked questions about the market. But I realised I was too camera shy, and so gave up. Having used humour to come out of my nervous shell, I have now mustered the will to re-start recording and uploading videos onto my channel. So, if you haven’t already subscribed to it, I’d love for you to do so now as a way to encourage me. Thanks much.


Sneak peak into …

What I’m reading:

  • Ask Polly - How I love this column on The Cut, and I wish I could have my column on the Mint Lounge back. We all need validation once in a while to know that we’re not alone. Somehow drowning together comforts us more than not drowning at all.

  • Domestic wars - I found this piece especially relevant now given that most of us have had to take on more than our usual share of household chores at home and how that has impacted our relationships at home.

  • Little Miss Shy goes online dating - I read this random book that I received as a gift from the husband. I’ve not read the Mr. Men series as a child, I probably didn’t have the context to appreciate the book. But I’m pretty sure some of you could relate to it better.


That’s it folks.

P.S. - This newsletter will be published on Wednesdays going forward, and so that way I’ll know what day of the week it is.

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