A Foreign Affair

I think a lot of our ideas about attraction and “mating” are very specific to our culture.

Recently, I watched two documentaries on Netflix that gave me some food for thought about how we, as Americans, think about attraction and marriage.

Meet The Patels, centers around an Indian-American actor who is on the cusp of 30. According to his cultural expectations, this situation is unacceptable. So, after some thought, he agrees to let his parents intervene with his love life.  And ultimately, he agrees to a modern-day take on pursuing an arranged marriage.

What I found fascinating about the film was the idea, that marriage is such an important part of his culture and community, that the older generation didn’t leave partnering up to chance.  In addition, there seemed to be an intentional goal of passing on the traditions, morals, and values of previous generations.  It also appeared that this “rite of passage” was/is so important that people created a process to ensure that like-minded individuals could meet and marry each other. I also liked the fact, that the community was vested in making sure that the potential couple was vetted for compatibility, character, interests, etc.

Granted, I say this as an outsider to the Indian/Indian-American community, so I don’t have a grasp on the nuances of reality of this idea. But some of the concepts presented were interesting and compelling.

I grew up in the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” pandemonium, which although good intentioned, brought a lot of confusion and hang-ups to the single, Christian community.

To that end, there is a tendency for many singles to “date in a vacuum”, which is isn’t particularly beneficial.   I think there’s tremendous value in having the previous generation pour into our lives.  And I also think it’s very valuable to have married couples weigh-in on our dating decisions. Through this interaction, there’s an opportunity for people to share their mistakes, successes, and the tips that have helped them weather the storms of life in a partnership.  I feel that we need this knowledge and I wish it was more freely offered and given.

The other film (Love Me), profiled American men, who after various failed attempts at finding love in the States, decide to take a chance on a “mail-order bride” from another country. Yes, this concept is extreme and some of the men are “interesting”.  However, this film made me think.  It made me question the concept of attraction.  In fact, the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” comes to mind.

If we’re honest, there is some level of reciprocity in relationships. The value of  the”goods” is often determined by culture.  Meaning…what we find physically attractive, the amount of value that we place on physical desirability or the ability to provide, etc. is often determined by the society around us.

So, it was interesting to see men, who some would not find desirable in the US, being desired and valued elsewhere. Granted, I realize that the ideas presented in this film are complicated at best. (I am not advocating the mail-order bride arrangement.) However, it did make me think about my American concept of attraction.  Is possible that I, we are missing out on good people because they don’t fit our preconceived notions of what is desirable in our culture.

What are your thoughts?  If you’ve seen the movies, weigh-in.  Even if you haven’t, what do you think about today’s approach to dating and marriage?

Meet The Patels

 

Love Me

Advertisements