Love, Advice

I want to make my parents happy, but how do I get out of an arranged marriage?

If I got a bag of hot chips for every time my mom mentioned how badly she wants me to get married, I would …actually be incredibly happy with my unlimited supply of hot chips.

Dear Madame Lestrange,

I’ve had it up to here with my parents trying to set me up with guys. For one, these guys are never what I’m actually looking for. They’ll try to get me to stop being religious, or stop being career-oriented, whatever you can think of, a potential has probably asked me about it.

It’s getting to a point where I’m exhausted because I want to make my parents happy, but at the same time – wtf. I’ve never dated exactly because my parents told me that they’d find someone for me.

I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so exhausted.


What the Hell


Dear What the Hell,

I understand this struggle too well; both the pressure from parents and also the ridiculous number of potentials who are just…nothing you remotely want in a partner. A lot of us understand it, unfortunately. Even those of us who have been navigating the world of dating deal with similar frustrations of potential men/women consistently disappointing expectations and desires. And the parental pressure!!

If I got a bag of hot chips for every time my mom mentioned how badly she wants me to get married within the next year, I would …actually be incredibly happy with my unlimited supply of hot chips.

So first, I’m really happy to hear that you aren’t willing to just go for the first guy your parents sent your way because they think he’s a good match.

My parents agreed to the first partner they were set up with and didn’t meet or talk to each other until they were married, which is fucking weird (I mean it worked for them/others but still…no).

So it happens. And I’m glad that’s not you.

Second, I get that you want to make your parents happy! But why is having them find a partner for you the only way to get that accomplished? If it is important to you to follow their expectations (like partner must be x religion), you can still get that done without them.

My suggestions:

  1. Sit your parents down, let them know your frustrations, and that you want to take a break from their search right now. They will understand. They might be disappointed or upset that you’re halting the marriage process (because parents), but if you tell them respectfully what’s going on and your totally legit reasons for wanting to take a break, they will respect that.
  1. It’s hard for parents to filter out guys that don’t fit what you want because some things aren’t necessarily common knowledge. If a guy is hoping for a girl who isn’t very religious, for example, he might let his mom know. But chances of that getting passed down through the web of Mom/Auntie-based matchmaking? Probably pretty low. The image family members paint for their eligible bachelors and bachelorettes don’t usually include things like “He expects you to not work because he’s a sexist loser who doesn’t think you should have a say in your life’s responsibilities.” So, if you decide to take a break and then jump back into the matchmaking, keep that in mind. Maybe try to establish some kind of fast-filtering system in which you ask certain questions within the first few conversations to figure out early which guys have unrealistic expectations of you as a wife.
  1. After taking a break from the exhausting world of getting set up by your parents, try to find someone on your own. WARNING: It can also be exhausting and terrible… for a while (or maybe for you it won’t be!). There are a ridiculous number of dating sites and apps out there for any specific thing you’re looking for. I met my current SO on OKCupid and he’s perfect for me. You could also use your friend network, which is arguably more reliable than your parents because certain pieces of information will actually trickle down to you through this. Like I would straight up tell a friend that So-and-So Dude was specifically looking for a wife to stay at home. That shit trickles down through the friend network. I think there are a lot of benefits to doing the search for yourself because it puts you in control rather than your parents. Your parents mean well and they want you to be happy. But that doesn’t always mean that they’ll do a good job of finding the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. You are the best person for that job. Trust yourself with it.
  1. I am a strong believer in the “you will find someone when the time is right” philosophy, but only so long as you aren’t actively working against that. The perfect man won’t fall into your arms if they’re crossed behind your back. But TAKE THE BREAK. It will help you work through your exhaustion and get a better idea of what it is you will or won’t put up with in the search. It isn’t unreasonable to have a relationship that fosters your career-focus and religiosity. And it isn’t unrealistic. You will find it with time!


You’re welcome,

Madame Lestrange


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