Rupam Kaur: Traditional matchmaking fraught with prejudice

By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANSlife) For Rupam Kaur, an Indian-American physician, the pursuit of finding love a second time took more than the traditional formula of meeting with suitors via a matchmaker. Having found her partner on the dating app Bumble after a divorce, Kaur says that the “traditional concept of arranged matchmaking holds a lot of prejudiced and preconceived notions”.

Kaur, who incidentally has featured on the popular Netflix show ‘Indian Matchmaking’, believes that sometimes one needs to “self-arrange” a match, taking both control of your own destiny and finding someone on your own terms.

In an interview with IANSlife, Kaur also shared that traditional matchmakers were limiting potential options for her, due to the relatively smaller database they bring to the table. Her story in itself is a testimony to Indian communities slowly seeing the new horizon of online dating, with apps playing matchmaker. According to Priti Joshi, the Vice President for Strategy for Bumble, a platform that enables women users to make the first move on the app, Rupam’s first move changed the course of her life. “We were so happy to see how much Rupam’s story has resonated with Indian women around the world, and our team is overjoyed that Rupam found love on Bumble,” Joshi told IANSlife.

Excerpts from an IANSlife interview with Rupam Kaur:

As an Indian-American, the concept of marriage, specifically traditional matchmaking, must have been part of your childhood? Did it impact your worldview about marriage at all?

Kaur: As an Indian child albeit Indian-American, marriage was always stressed as a life goal and given utmost importance. We weren’t allowed to talk to boys and definitely not date! Yet somehow we were supposed to be married by a certain age. I bought into this belief when I was younger and got married at a relatively young age for American standards, but after going through a divorce and becoming a single mother, I realised that matchmakers with traditional beliefs were limiting my options of finding a partner. I decided to shed these beliefs. I had hope that there was someone for me who was progressive minded and wouldn’t judge my past life. I just had to navigate myself through it. For me, downloading and using Bumble was a great decision, it gave me a chance to take control of my destiny and find someone on my own terms.

Do you think Indian communities, through the process of arranged matchmaking leave out a lot of people – women with children, divorced people, people marrying in their 30s or 40s?

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Kaur: Yes, unfortunately I’ve learned this is the case as the traditional concept of arranged matchmaking holds a lot of prejudiced and preconceived notions. For instance, in my case, when I was finally ready to start over again, I was constantly told by matchmakers that I had to ‘compromise’ and settle in with the options I was provided with. The reason was simple, as a single mother, I would only have a chance at “being settled” if I checked all the ‘socially acceptable’ boxes. I am sure, there are many women out there who are not even provided with that one chance to take control of their own lives. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by supportive family and friends who have respected my decision of finding love in a non-traditional way.

What attitudes do you see across the Indian diaspora/communities about dating apps? Are they warming up to dating and dating apps?

Kaur: Indian communities, especially the younger generations- Gen Z and Millennials – are more open to the concept of dating apps and finding love in a non-traditional way, although the pressures to marry remain. Currently, with the global pandemic, virtual dating too has gained momentum as individuals are looking to build meaningful relationships while staying indoors.

I found Nitin, my fiance using Bumble filters like Education and Religion as I was looking for a meaningful long-term relationship and was keen to find a like-minded partner. This narrowed down my search and directed me to the profiles with similar interests. Just like me, people have warmed up to finding love and long-standing relationships on dating apps. While the option of arranged marriage is something that is preferred by the families, healthy conversations around dating apps is slowly and steadily changing this opinion. I also believe dating apps allow you to “self-arrange” relationships. We can take our family values and incorporate them into finding a like-minded partner using a larger database than matchmakers have.

In desi settings, women are often never given the sort of autonomy or authority to take control of their love lives and find suitors. Is it about time things changed?
Kaur: Yes! Desi women have taken authority in their lives in so many realms whether at school, workplace, or home. We should give up the expectation that it is only on the woman to compromise or adjust with what they have, whether in life or relationships. I strongly believe that the foundation of a meaningful relationship lies in kindness, respect, and equality. Therefore, I decided to do it my way – ignored the naysayers, and the aunties from Denver to Delhi, downloaded Bumble on my phone, took charge of my dating journey and created my own love story. If I could do it, anyone can.

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What was your family’s reaction to you finding a match on Bumble?
Kaur: I was introduced to Bumble by a friend two years ago when I was ready to give myself a chance to fall in love again. It took me quite some time and many first dates to find the right one, but this never demotivated me as I didn’t lose hope. When my family got to know that I found my “forever” on Bumble – my mom exclaimed, “divine happenings do happen on Bumble!” I think she’s right! My daughter’s reaction was pure excitement when she got to know about the proposal, and she started screaming, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” They and I couldn’t have been happier!

About your wedding and all that we didn’t see on screen..

Kaur: There was a lot which went on off-screen! I was travelling to New York when I matched with Nitin. My first date with my fiance was an amazing 24-hour date – we spent the whole day together starting with brunch and hiking and finishing up with dinner at a steakhouse. It was one of the best dates I’ve ever had. As I was dating him, it was always important to me that my partner respected my past, accepted me as a mother and shared the same life values as me. He is the most caring, loving, and kindest person I’ve met, and I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. We got engaged during the pandemic and were married in a small, socially-distanced ceremony with a tight group of family and friends. They say love will find a way – and trust me it does. Falling in love is such a wonderful feeling and there is no reason for it to turn into a contest.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at siddhi.j@ians.in)

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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