Market equality paradox

Over the last seven years of being in the business of love and marriage, I have extended spells of working with one particular gender followed by another, but the last one month has been fairly mixed. So, this week’s newsletter is about interesting patterns I’ve noticed while constantly switching perspectives between men and women.

Despite being a woman, I find myself being very unbiased. It is not a stance I have intentionally cultivated, but it serves me very well in my work everyday. This perspective allows me to take a step back and study patterns in interactions.

Career vs carrier

Over the last month, I started to notice that most men who came to me had a version of the same question: how will my career choices affect my chances of finding a partner. In fact, I even ran a poll on twitter right after to check if I was imagining this pattern, but turns out quite a few others see the correlation.

Women tend to be very efficient with career planning, thanks to being child bearers and primary rearers. So naturally, women believe that their career impacts their marriage (rather the other way around). But you may wonder why men are asking me this question.

The mode age group of people I interact with is between 27-32. Most women within this group are more or less settled in their careers, or at least know where they’re headed. On the other hand, even at 30, men aren’t quite sure. Most of them are either looking to move abroad, or trying to get into GOD FORBID… product management.

Either way, they’re at least 6-12 months from being able to prioritise anything else in their lives. Yet, they want to ace both career change and partner search all at once. In the process, most men fail to do both, and cannot quite fathom why.

We live in a treacherous world of modernity laced with traditional values. Women want status quo (read financial stability + freedom). Men want women. But the problem is, both sides view the other side from their own rose-tinted lenses.

Women think that by having a great career or tonnes of money is enough for a man to want them just because they value that in men. Men on the other hand have no great expectations from women in terms of their education or career, and hence, assume that the other side has none from them either.

But, why do we think like this?

I think this has something to do with gender equality. No no, I am not suggesting that women go back into the kitchen. NOT AT ALL. I think the basis of gender equality is that all genders are equally able, and that people cannot be denied opportunities or be discriminated on the basis of their genders.

But somewhere those lines got blurred into us believing we’re all the same. We may be equal, but we’re not the same. Whether it is evolution, or social conditioning, there are some differences between us, and we’ve our own idiosyncrasies. Whether these are desirable or not is a different matter, but they exist.

Even if we didn’t acknowledge these differences at a broad level such as gender, they very much exist at an individual level.

On a related, but unrelated note, I just realised that this could be one of the reasons for people preferring that husbands be a few years older than the wives. Hopefully that will give the men enough time to “settle down” in their careers.

To marry, or whom?

Another big difference I’ve noticed between men and women is in terms of what keeps them from exiting the market. Most women I speak to have no doubt that they want to be married. They may express a desire to date and get to know their partners before they marry, but they’re not afraid to commit. However, they struggle to no end when they’ve to choose one man. Men on the other hand have no trouble deciding who they want to marry, but where they struggle is making the decision of setting down at all.

Classic anecdote that I hear over and over again:

The better men are on dating apps, but the problem is, they don’t want to settle down. Men on matrimonial apps are too eager.

If you just took a step back and think about what I told you earlier, this may not seem so strange after all.

Empathy will serve us well

The marriage market is two sided. When you want to buy a bar of chocolate, you can’t go to the kirana store guy and say that you’ll dance for 5min in return. Now, you could spend all your life looking for a kirana store guy whole accept this trade, but it’s usually a choice between one and the other.

Understanding what the other party values about your offer, and the other way around matters more than anything. People who understand this exit the market fairly quickly, and the best of them don’t even enter the market.


More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the various projects I am working on:

  1. Self-Love: This has been an incredibly tough year for all of us, especially people who set out to find love. I’ve realised that what people miss the most in their lives is to be seen and heard, and having a witness to their existence. While we are ready to be just that for someone else, why not for ourselves? Through this course, I want to invite you on a journey to becoming a witness to your own life before you become one for someone else.

  2. Insta Reels: my baby and I’ve been jamming together. Turns out this is a great way to get work done while entertaining a toddler.

  3. Aunty Vs Algorithm: Finally published my conversation with the very awesome, Urvashi Goverdhan about how to get to the first date. This is a comprehensive dialogue on how to read the cues along the journey of getting the first date. If you are a single man who hasn’t dated much, let me assure you that this is GOLD. So, go watch off, if you haven’t already.

  4. Podcasts: Over the last month or two, I’ve been invited as a guest on a few podcasts, thanks to Sima aunty. Here are two that have been released:

    RareErth - English

    Aralikatte - Kannada

    … and there’s more to come.


Sneak peak into what I’m reading/ watching/ listening to:

A beginner’s guide to Japan by Pico Iyer: In a world where travel is restricted to emergencies, my heart longs to be tucked away in a little Japanese town. I want to cycle down clean roads lined with fields, little eateries with their flashy boards in kanji and quiet little 7/11s.

What’s wrong with you, Karthik? by Sidvee: Yes yes, I am reading two books at once. Ever since I moved back, for whatever reason, I haven’t had a chance to start loving my Bangalore like I used to, so I am hoping this book will help repair the loose ties with nostalgia.

Shapely Gal song of the month: This song by Ed Sheeran has played on loop all month long. Why? I don’t know. Can you believe I passed off free tickets to a concert by Ed Sheeran in London in 2017?

Ginny weds Sunny: Someone recommended I watch this movie, and I am glad this movie was yet another date point in my insight about men being confused about settling down, and women being confused about who settle down with. No, this isn’t a must watch, I just have very low standards these days.