Indian Matchmaking (IM4D)

So a few weeks back, after over a decade of turning to the legal age for marriage and after endless failed quests (mutuals, dating apps, social media, chatrooms, bars, clubs, gyms, cafes, supermarkets, flights, Volvo buses) to find my life partner organically, I finally gave in to the age-old way Indians have been living ‘happily ever after’ since forever; the arranged marriage route.

Some quick insights on the go-to-market (GTM) strategy in the arranged marriage market. The primary audience here is the parents of the prospects. It is believed that no matter what class, caste, creed, or religion, one occasion when Indians spend lavishly (at times, even by taking debt) is their child’s wedding.

There are basically two channels to enter this market:

1) Offline– This happens via mutual of parents/ relatives/ close family friends; basically family’s social network. This was the traditional way marriages in India had been happening for decades. A slightly more structured way here is via marriage brokers. One of the brokers who came to the limelight recently was Mumbai-based ‘Seema Tapadia’ via the Netflix show ‘Indian Matchmaking’. Different parts of the country have different renowned offline matchmakers. For example, in the case of New Delhi, one of the more famous ones is by the name Sycorian. Such brokers are majorly used by business families (MSME owners in India) or in some cases first generation corporates (parents were in a business setup).

2) Online– The Indian arranged marriage market was disrupted by digitization long before the global dating market. In the 1990s, with the internet boom, a number of players entered the fragmented high-ticket-sized Indian matrimonial market to streamline it with technology. Three major players stood the test of time for decades and have been the incumbent of millions of Indian weddings across the globe. They are:

a) Shaadi

b) Jeevansathi

c) Bharatmatrimony

Jeevansathi is where I met her. Actually not her, but her mom as arranged marriages in India are mostly arranged by parents. I had a brief conversation with her mother, and she invited me to her place as they stay less than a kilometer away in south Delhi from my present flat. Since it was Sunday, I suggested that I could visit that day itself since I had bandwidth. Her mother said that the girl was going out with her sister that day, but anytime post seven in the evening on Monday (the next day) would work for them. Despite being a Monday, I said “7:30 it is”.

The next day and a half was a roller coaster of emotions for me. This girl met all my prerequisites and more. There is a concept in Hindu marriages of matching certain stars in the guy and girl’s astrological charts. There are a total of 36 aspects in the horoscopes that are matched. The higher the score, the more compatible the match. Although I am a ‘first-principles approach’ guy and am not a believer of astrology et al, still our score was a whopping 32 out of 36 on this! In essence, meaning highly compatible or destined to be together.

As I am ahead of the curve, in the past mainstream people in this society have suggested that I should probably see a psychologist. I have just been too cheap to spend the money. Also, paying someone to talk to me is such a disrespect to my entire intellect. Anyway, guess what this girl does? She is a practicing clinical psychologist.

What are the odds? I had even prepared a joke for my next standup around ‘seeing a therapist’ (dating a person who by profession is a clinical psychologist). Imagine, the millions I could save and make with calmness in my mind.

Monday evening finally came, and I don’t think I have been this excited in a long time. I could literally feel the butterflies in my stomach. I reached their place, her mom opened the door and welcomed me into their drawing where her dad was already present. I complimented the interior design of their place. After a few minutes, her mom called the girl.

In a second, I realized what I had been missing my whole life. And the best part is that till now, I didn’t even know her name. She walked into the room wearing a traditional Indian suit. And I am not even kidding, but she could have easily been a poster model for that suit on billboards all over the country. Certain people light up in certain clothes, it was like the suit lit up by her wearing it. And not just the suit, but the entire room was suddenly filled with such an uplifting aura.

I continued the conversation with the parents. In fact, I would have spoken five times more than all three of them combined. So much so for first-time jitters. After some time, the parents went to the other room and I continued to converse with the girl. I suggested that we take a walk. We went to a nearby park, and it was definitely a walk to remember.

First, off the bat, I guess I told her multiple times how pretty she was looking, especially her facial features. And she was like, “Hadn’t you seen my photos?”. Well, she definitely looked a lot more gorgeous in person. She is an advanced yoga practitioner and as she did international schooling all her life so was trained in various dance forms including Latin ballroom, jazz, and contemporary. She works out seven days a week. She was also into DIY stuff like pottery. She asked me about my hobbies, and I was like,

“Well, I love to sleep”.

She then asked me what exactly I was looking for in a marriage. I replied, “I am looking for calmness in life”. Given my lifelong keen love for psychology, we discussed almost everything I knew in the field, from Maslow’s Hierarchy to Herzberg two factor theory. Time in her company just flew away, we completed countless rounds around that park till it was late and we finally called it a night

Anyway, coming to the MBA concept of ‘Indian Matchmaking Four Dimensional (IM4D)‘. This framework is inspired by KF4D assessments used by a global leader in talent strategy; Korn Ferry. They use it to assess potential candidates for job fitment. In IM4D, the top two quadrants represent the prospective candidate. The bottom two quadrants represent their family backdrop and societal preferences.

Depending on the decision maker, weightage might be placed more heavily on one quadrant or even certain traits/ competencies/ experiences/ drivers in that particular quadrant.

One can do a weighted average of the importance of each of the four quadrants in accordance with the level of importance for them, and then score a candidate on 0-10 for each quadrant. The cumulative score would be the score of that candidate in this pre-filter assessment.

For example, someone might give 20% weightage to the ‘Self-Made worth’ quadrant, 30% weightage to the Personality quadrant, 40% weightage to the ‘Family Worth’ quadrant, and 10% weightage to the ‘Family Parameters’ quadrant.

Also, there can be must-haves or red flags; for example around religion, caste, horoscopes, height, never married, no business families, no permanent health issues, no smoking, et al.

Numerous world-renowned personalities across ages, industries, and sectors from the wealthiest to the most intellectual have said this time and again:

‘Choosing your life partner is the most important decision you make in your life.’

The critical point is that this framework IM4D just talks about pre-filters like the ones for potential fitment for a job. Numerous candidates might clear the filters. In the ideal scenario, the actual interview for the chemistry and compatibility for a matrimonial union happens post this stage for which behavioral characteristics play a big role. That is in a big way dependent on the personality type.

That brings me to 32/36 stars girl. Has destiny finally shined the light on me? Has the top stage of Maslow’s hierarchy been reached? Have I finally found the calmness I was missing all my life? Have I finally met my ‘JeevanSaathi’?

Well, I mentioned that she is into DIY stuff. I also pointed out that we called it a night as it was late. Well, her late is 11 in the night. She sleeps by then. Around the same time, I used to step out and my night begins. She is a pureplay oxytocin person; in fact, she herself said that she likes to live a very vanilla life. I guess dopamine is like air for me, an absolute necessity to survive. As mentioned in ‘Target Market‘, oxytocin people have higher compatibility with oxytocin people.

The next morning I got a text message from her mom saying that they had an amazing time but feel that it won’t be a compatible match. And in a matter of seconds, it all ended.

I was talking to a friend about this and he said you didn’t even know the girl, and barely had one conversation, then what exactly hurt you? I replied,

“My own expectations”.

So I am back to my only place of closure for over a decade, my writing.



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