But while doing research about arranged marriages, I’ve made a surprising observation: These seemingly different kinds of matrimony may be beginning to converge.
Couples who ostensibly marry after spontaneously falling in love increasingly do that with some help from online dating services or after meeting through hookup apps.
I believe that most people in communities where arranged marriages predominate still feel that parents and other close relatives are qualified to select marriage partners.
Some young Indians consider their parents as more objective than they are about this big decision and more adept at spotting compatibility.
In my view, all parents seeking to arrange a marriage for their sons and daughters do so with the best of intentions.
They don’t always get it right, but they frequently do.
Online dating and matrimonial sites, such as e Harmony, Ok Cupid, and The Right Stuff are proliferating and becoming more accepted.
While these sites and apps don’t use the word “arranged” in their branding, it’s hard to deny that they do “arrange” for people to meet.
An important difference is that third parties—dating websites and other matchmaking services or their staff—handle the “arranging” activities.
The internet, higher education levels, and cultural and economic globalisation are also making single Indians freer to do their own searching for future spouses than their parents were.
And some traditions that limit choices for single people, such as parents placing newspaper ads to announce eligibility and interest, are becoming less common.
They are the norm in India, comprising at least 90% of all marriages.
The practice also remains relatively common elsewhere in South Asia, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and East Asian countries like Japan and China.