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From meeting for the first time at the wedding, Indian women and men are now finding their own mates. Here’s a look at what creating your own relationship means.
The room was full of anxious family members. Would he say, ‘Yes’? (It was understood that she would). He did say yes, and her family was happy that she had found a ‘good boy’ – a respectable family, a stable job, no ‘bad habits’ – what else could a girl ask for?
This familiar scene would have played out in innumerable Indian drawing rooms and perhaps continues to in some cases, but increasingly, the ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ want more. Someone who understands what ‘I’ am all about. Someone who’ll buy into my dreams (and let me into his).
Yet, even as we desire to be the arbiters of our own destinies, where are the opportunities to meet and identify the right partner? For Indian women in particular, this becomes all the more important – more and more of us are for the first time coming to understand that it is perfectly ok to have and express our own desires and needs; we want to not just become part of another family, but to create the families we want.
While matrimonial websites cropped up as an alternative, these are really geared more to the needs of parents than the new age Indian woman (or man). In fact, many urban youngsters are sometimes embarrassed to have their profile on a matrimonial website, but lack other choices; in India, if you don’t fall in love while you are in college, or with a colleague, our options to meet men in safe contexts are still limited. Dating and like apps tap into a more superficial element of our human nature and it does work on our instant gratification, but again, what if you are looking for something more?
With this context, enter enterprising businesses that tap into our need for meaningful, long-term relationships. One such venture is SoulCafe, an initiative driven by Sophia Jose, an entrepreneur who strongly believes that long term relationships should be based on compatibility, life values and personality traits of the individuals. Sophia, with her decade long corporate career behind her and a passion for human behavioural studies has used her IT background and human behaviour learnings to build SoulCafe, a platform with a difference.
Talking about the genesis of SoulCafe, Sophia says, “In the past decade we have seen Indian women reaching new heights, but when it comes to finding meaningful relationships the options are still very rudimentary or superficial. Hence we wanted to build a platform that isn’t about just match making but towards relationship building. To find soul relationships, we first need to look at our own deepest nature, and especially those features that are core to us. Putting your real nature across is the only way to find those who are likely to recognize and appreciate the real you and those are the ones with whom you can find long-term connectedness. This is the underlying philosophy SoulCafe is built upon.”
The platform gives users recommendations based on aspects that matter themost – Personality, Life Values and Interests.Since conversation is the key to connectedness, they have enabledactive group conversation forums.
With dating still being a relatively new concept for many Indians, safety is always an underlying concern for women, and SoulCafe takes this seriously. Sophia adds, “Talking to many single Indian women, we came across many horror stories of their experiences on dating sites currently in India.”
To this end, they have ensured that registration requires a valid Facebook profile with a minimum number of friends,and filter out fake profiles using a series of system validations.They also have ‘red alerts’ where guests can report abuse. They are currently in beta phase, but have already struck a chord with women audience, with a 1:1 ratio of male and female users.
Its perfectly fine to be single, but if you are keen to find the right partner and want to do it on your own, many of us have models for dating, beyond what we’ve seen on American sitcoms. Here are some thoughts for the woman who would like to search for a partner by herself:
Start with yourself: What we look for in a partner is extremely individual, and it’s entirely possible that what is considered a great choice by everyone else (‘seven figure salary’ ‘great sense of humour’) may not be important to you. Knowing what you want is the first step to using a relationship platform successfully.
Accept that a trial is ok: It’s ok to meet men online and chat, meet up a number of times and walk away if you feel this is not the one for you. We need to accept that it is not a failure if a date doesn’t ‘go somewhere’. A trial is not a waste of time – but make sure you do it prudently through a safe and secure platform, which also does the job of finding the “right options” for you, to start with.
How open should you be: Personally, I believe it is good to be a little flexible on interests but a lot less so on values. Interests change and can be acquired too but values seldom do.
This post was supported by SoulCafe. You can also follow them on their Facebook page for more relationship insights.
Image of finding love via Shutterstock
Founder, Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations
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