How do you find a partner when you’re not even allowed to date or even socialise with the opposite sex? This was one of the many dilemmas faced by some of the singletons on the Muslim episode of Strictly Soulmates on BBC3. You can still catch all 3 episodes which have aired so far which follows single people of the Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish faiths on their journey to find a partner (I believe previous episodes will be available to watch up until 21st Feb 2012). The final Jewish episode airs tonight.
Traditional Asians (for international readers, Asian = Desi or South Asian) are notoriously fussy when it comes to their search for a partner. Religion, caste, height, age and job hold more importance in a partner compared to people of other cultures. With the size of pool they have to choose from already small (being of the same religion often being the minimum requirement), when you add in some of the other ‘must-haves’ I mentioned above, it’s no wonder many of today’s British Asians are finding it difficult to find their last love. Few other cultures have these added factors to complicate the dating game. It’s a needle in a haystack.
Where do all these preferences come from? Well, religion comes from your parents. As an Asian, 99% of you will follow the religion of your parents. They’ll make sure of that the day you are born, as will you with your children. As a result, the majority of you will be restricted to a partner of this religion.
Height and age? Girls, in general, find men who are taller and older than themselves more attractive. Understandably it’s an important part of attraction. But there are plenty of exceptions in the general population. When it comes to Asian girls, however, a far smaller proportion of them will date a guy who is younger or even the same height as her. From my own experiences of meeting many single, Asian women during the past year of OD-ing on dating websites and singles events, personality, and sometimes even looks, is often way down the list after religion, age and height (and I’ve not even mentioned money! But that’s a whole different subject ).
Me being a bit of a wannabe-geek, I got curious and decided to attempt to translate these restrictions in to very rough numbers. As an example, I’ll use a fictional character named Mukesh (or Mike, as he prefers his co-workers to call him). Mukesh is a 25 year old Gujarati Hindu living and working in London. He loves his mum (don’t we all?) and mentions it to every dating prospect. He want’s a girl who is younger than him but no younger than 20. He doesn’t want a divorcee but doesn’t care too much for religion or caste, but his mum does. She has demanded he find a Gujarati Hindu who works or studies within the law industry. Mukesh will listen to his mum “cos he loves and respects her” and won’t complain about a bit of emotional blackmail that will affect the rest of his life.
Let’s compare Mukesh to James, a 25 year old single white male with no narrow age restrictions, religion, job or even race. All he’s concerned about is: a) we get on well. b) she’s not ugly. His dad doesn’t care who his son marries as long as his son is able to continue in his job managing a successful international media company. He is very much at the other end of the scale in terms of flexibility.
Some numbers now. There are 800’000 Hindus in the UK (a rough upper estimate) with around 50% of them in London leaving 200’000 female Hindus. How many are in their 20′s? Using source 3 (in the sources section), I see that there are around 2m females between the ages of 20-24 in the UK. With the UK population approx 60m, that makes it 3.3%. 3.3% of 200’00 is around 6’500. This is already a worryingly small figure in comparison to a pool of women well over 1’000’000 (source 4: the number of people in London between the ages of 20 and 35 is around 2m) that James is open to.
I’m genuinely concerned for Mukesh with his mum’s preferences making this figure even smaller. She want’s a Gujarati girl who works/studies law and who can cook (I’m starting to wonder if my figures are horribly wrong and this whole post is a massive fail).
6’500 vs 1’000’000. If you’d like to visualise that, it’s something like this:
A massive difference. Not a lot of work was put in to getting those figures so they are very lazy estimates. There’s also a huge chunk to be excluded from that figure such as: women already in a relationship/married/divorced, not looking, height, ugly (for James), the girls own preferences, sexuality, location, etc etc
How much do these figures translate to an actual real life dating difficulty for Asians? I can only speak for the number of single Asians I know and how many of them have, in my opinion, far too many preferences and tick-boxes. I feel there are far too many.
I’d like them to play the numbers game better and vastly increase the size of their pool of potentials by relaxing some of their preferences. Why care so much for age when an extra 3 or 4 years either way will mean nothing in the long term over the 60 or 70 years they hope to be married for. There’s no logical reason for caste in this day and age and I invite anyone to challenge me on that.
Consider any other personal preferences you may have, whether it’s no divorcee’s, no kids, no one from a particular career, whether they own a car, whether they can dance, vegetarianism, etc. Ask yourself how important they really are on top of all the others that are mandatory or inherited from your family.
Are you finding it hard to find a partner? Would you say you have more ‘tick-boxes’ than your non-Asian friends? Have your parents added another level of preferences on top of your own? What are some of your own preferences apart from the usual things like religion?
1 - http://projectbritain.com/religions.html
2 - http://www.londontopic.co.uk/religion.htm
3 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_United_Kingdom 4 - http://www.data4nr.net/resources/population/541/