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Dating, Relationships, Marriage and Sex in Bangalore, India

Believe it or not, last week I went on my first date since December, 2009.

Every time I say that – or in this case, write it – it looks shocking to me but somehow it really doesn’t bother me.  Back home in Spain, I had such amazing friends and such a great time just hanging out with my daughter that I never went out looking for a boyfriend.  And to be fair no one was beating down my door in Spain either.  I mean I am 40 years old so not exactly a spring chicken, am I?  Yet here in India my age doesn’t matter and I have more attention being paid to me by men than I have in a decade!  Definitely more attention than I want.  And generally speaking I have a feeling that it’s not for my personality and brains but because of my fair skin and blonde hair and – let’s be honest – in part because of the perception that Indian men have about western women.

BUT that short-lived burst of romance after my mega-long dry spell started me thinking about dating, relationships and sex …and the differences between how things are here in India and what I am accustomed to from Spain and California.  These are yet again more black and white, night and day scenarios given just how different things are here in India.

First, Let’s Talk About Dating

I find it so interesting that there are still chaperones to accompany young people on dates today.  The first time I saw this “live” was at the park here in front of my flat.  I was sat on a bench people-watching and the cutest young couple walked past me, appearing very much in love and moving quite slow while they looked at each other and talked…followed closely by someone’s grandma!!  I assume it was the girl’s grandma accompanying them to ensure that no hanky panky went on because she was eagle-eyeing them the entire time and was never more than three paces behind them.  I don’t even think my Mom’s generation still had chaperoned dates so this is something completely foreign to me yet I bet 100% effective in keeping hormones at bay 🙂

So far in my limited experience of three dates with one man it seems to me that Indian men enjoy being gentlemen in what for me are the “old fashioned” terms.  This includes collecting a woman at her door for a date, holding doors open for her, paying for the date, and ensuring that the woman is taken care of whenever they are together.  As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t date much in Spain.  But back in Los Angeles things were very different.  Women drive to the date and meet the man and when the bill comes, the cost of dinner or activities would commonly be split 50/50.  Men there still like to ensure that the women are happy and taken care of, but that feeling of chivalry didn’t seem as strong in California as it does here.

Relationships & Arranged Marriages

Obviously I have zero hands-on experience with a relationship in India but what I do know without a doubt is that relationships are taken much more seriously here than in Spain – and they are fundamentally different from the U.S.  In Spain, the divorce rate is relatively low compared to the U.S. which boasts the highest divorce rate in the world.  Relationships in the U.S. can begin and end so quickly there are even drive-thru wedding chapels in Las Vegas!  Yet here in India, this country has (I think) one of the lowest divorce rates in the world at just 3%.

When I first arrived and started to learn more about arranged marriages I was fascinated.  I originally thought that this was a practice employed more in rural areas but it is commonplace in all areas – rural and urban – and between upper, middle and lower class families alike.   A friend told me that close to 70% of all marriages today are still arranged marriages.  And from what I understand the arranged marriages have a much lower divorce rate than “love” marriages.  My only doubt with all of this is if people are genuinely happy, which is why they stay in their marriages or if there would be such a stigma placed on the family by the shame of divorce that this alone inspires people to stay married even when they are not happy.

If I ever finally do have a relationship I’ll come back and follow-up on the topic 🙂

And Finally…Sex

I detest the fact that because Indian men consider foreigners “easy” that they will hit on us expats purely in hopes that they might get lucky.  But generally speaking it is true that white girls are easy when compared to most Indian women.   It’s not right or wrong.  In my opinion, it’s just different.

I am still shocked whenever I learn that one of my Indian friends, especially a male friend, was a virgin until they were 24, 26 …28 years old.  Honestly I just can’t imagine it.  Where I grew up in southern California, if you entered university a virgin and people found out about it you were ridiculed.  However, after living in Spain off and on now for the past 18 years I appreciate and respect the value system there much more than where I am from.  Kids in Spain are much more responsible than in U.S. and they typically wait until they are in university and more mature to start engaging in intercourse.

I do realize I might be crossing the line with this subject today and that sex is a topic that is not supposed to be openly discussed …but that seems to be changing.  There is a new Indian talk show that is all about sex that recently started and I’ve seen blogs on the major Indian newspapers websites that are all about sexual topics.  So does this mean that attitudes towards this topic are also changing?  It could be!  My single Indian friends all seem to have an open and playful attitude towards it.  But even with that open attitude, I know there is no way on the planet that a single one of them would ever discuss this with their families!  Haha.  So it’s probably safe to say that there won’t be a sexual revolution happening anytime soon in India …but you never know.

XOXO from Bangalore

© Angela Carson and Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

I started Angela's Bangalore from my hotel room on the very first day I moved to India in 2011, while struck with jet lag! It was my very first blog, the country's very 1st luxury travel blog. Now I'm rocking YouTube as @ExpatAngela, hope you'll subscribe.

This article has 34 comments

  1. Teresa

    Well after reading that Ms Angela I am on the next plane out. I don”t need anyone to open the door for me as I can do that myself, but there are few things in this life we need a man for, and it all seems to be happening around you!! So hair clips and brushes in hand (as there are lots of weddings, arranged or not who cares) I am on that plane out baby.
    Keep up the good writing, also you will have to do a Ibiza blog…. now that will be something to read !!!!!!
    lolxxxxx

    • angela_carson

      hahahah omg I can totally picture you grabbing you super trolley and hitting the Indian wedding hair and makeup scene Tess!! I love it.

      But trust me, at first the attention was fun but it gets so old so quick, and then it’s just bothersome and cuts into the night. You know when you are having fun with friends and some guy comes up trying to bust his move??? Why why why do they do it? haha

      Anyway, grab your brushes, clips and Pablo cuz we’ll need him for security with you in ‘da house here 🙂 xoxoxo

      • perkboy

        hahahhaa, i lv this article, can we just have sex and forget abt rest, its very simple.. i m not a tradition follower but i m in those people who dont give a shit abt wat tradition and etc and etc and etc, its just fookin nonsense people in indian are so fookin desparate that i get scared too, is she hindu or muslim ir catholic or godforsaken trojan, sex is part of life and not livin plz grow up,, say if made lv to this article lady so wat, we both wanted it, but is it possible to live without expectations,, now u reply wat i mean,,

        • angela_carson

          I’m glad you liked the article but honestly do you live in India? Cuz here there are various sets of rules that need to be adhered to here and the “can’t we just shag” rule isn’t one of them sweetie! I’m Californian by birth, European by residence … and I don’t get the whole system here either but I know it works here for some cosmic reason 🙂

          • Aks

            The system works because it evolved over a period of over 5000 years and is not based on dogma. Therefore there was no need for a revolution. If you must know, the history of sexuality and related topics in India were way more evolved and documented well before civilization in the British Isles (and America wouldn’t be discovered till 1500 years later). The Kamsutra and the temples at Khajuraho are just the famous examples of the rich heritage.

            However during the colonization by the western European empires (such as British, Portuguese, French and Dutch) they were shocked to see such explicit imagery(thanks to their Christian upbringing), that they destroyed most of the brilliant artwork. The Persian rule prior to that had already started this change in the Indian society.

            Post colonial India saw the western notions of modesty clearly ingrained in the society. Now the westerners after having realized the true value of all these, come back to India and criticize the lack of sexual freedom which they once helped stigmatize in this very society.

            P.S. :- Bangalore is in no way a representation of India or its culture. Being the IT hub of India it is merely the cumulative effect of professionals trying to embrace western etiquette to impress western clients along with retired military officials again trained in western etiquette.

  2. Arun Prabhu

    Angela, I’ve read most of your blog and love the writing for being refreshing and fair.

    That said, I’m afraid I can’t say the same about this bit.

    For one thing, Indian couples do not go around with chaperones. I’m sure you saw what you did.. but this is something of an oddity in this day and age. I’ve never seen a chaperone in my life !!!

    In relation to arranged marriages, they are fairly common in India…but have begun to morph into an arranged – love kind of thing. The parents identify a bunch of likely possibilities, who hang out with each other, date, and then decide whether to take the plunge. The choice is as much of the couple involved as it is their parents. The family merely serves as an elaborate matchmaking service.

    As for divorce …you’ll find that it is all too common in the urban Indian context… as sadly are marriages of convenience. While I don’t know how this stacks up to LA or Spain, neither I, nor the vast majority of my Indian friends would put up with a bad marriage to avoid “shame”. The reasons for the persistence of marriage in India are mostly economic (one partner has no financial alternatives, and alimony is difficult to get) or Personal (Children. Being a single parent is hell here.)

    Finally,,sex. Most men i know (and there’ll alway be a bunch of bad eggs in every bunch), do not consider white women easy or hit on everything that moves. We just happen to be attracted to tall, intelligent women who can hold a conversation… and you happen to fit the bill. So yes, you will generate interest , but it will usually be for all the right reasons.

    More importantly, and this is the bit i seriously disagree with, we DO discuss sex in polite conversation with friends and family. Admittedly, there is a conservative fringe who may not be too comfortable with the topic, but the same is true of all emotional topics.

    I’d be happy to point you to a whole bunch of popular culture which deals with the topic in subtle, amusing, funny or deeply analytical ways..written by Indian poeple, for Indian poeple. The sexual revolution is very much underway.. and not a moment too soon IMO :).

    • angela_carson

      OMG you are crazy, that is loooooong! Rock on!

      Okay, so here’s my happy rebuttal my friend. First, you and I play in circles that are outside the “norm” when you consider the size of this country and I so often consider the women I used to work with and the stories I heard at lunches which are NOTHING like scenarios you and I encounter — like the night we met. I used to speak with people who had never had a cocktail, only been with their partner, etc… so… I LOVE your comments but I guess I still write considering the more conservative view as the mainstream, if that makes sense??

      And thanks for ego boost but I can’t tell you HOW MANY times people have told me the comment about white girls being easy. Even the guy I mention who I was on a date with gave me a mini account of Indian men and their ideas which is partly mirrored in my comments 🙂

      Funny, no, how there are so many ways to view virtually anything 🙂 I love it. Thanks again for the comments!! Now get back to work, haha! x

      • Naveen

        Hi Angela, Well I have two points to state regarding the notion “Indian men think white girls are easy”,

        1. India is a country which was ruled for 700 years by Iranian Muslims and then for 200 years by vicitorian Brits both the cultures being oppressive and hypocritical about women and sex, We in India even after 60 years of our independence from those cultural influences are still reeling in those after effects of oppression, where seeing bare thighs and cleavage is stimulating for Men, because we never so frequently see women in short skirts and flaunting their tits. Since western women are the source for these kind of visuals Indian men are more aroused (forget about our movies and heroines, they are like “quasi” strippers for us). Along with this in western civilizations women are more independent I mean in most cases you wont be confronting a woman’s father or brother for pursuing a women or even asking her for one night stand, where as here one would be killed in some cases

        2. US and other western countries are the main source (unfortunately) for porn and all other sexually stimulating movies on internet or books for rest of the world including India, Like In my life I was first influenced very much by Sharon Stone (Basic instinct) and other western movies before I was exposed to Porn (mostly involving Caucasian women) so for most of the Indian men visualizing their sexual adventures (in this case Caucasian women should feel proud) with white women is a fantasy fulfilling,self actualization thing. And also I think f*king lords wife is self empowering, with respect to Brits/Muslims (our past Lords) being white and their women ….winning them (may be Indian men have that subconsciously in their minds !?) lol . Also in India and other tropical countries being fair skinned means being rich because they wont be compelled to work or do mean jobs in daylight, other wise even the fairer would get tanned (ex: western Indian women).

        • angela_carson

          Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation … unfortunately I agree with you. Although I wish most of it wasn’t true, at least the part that directly affects me in my life here. –angela

  3. abstractpsyche

    Thanks for throwing some positive light on arranged marriage and the part about not having sex until getting married or into a relationship completely. This might sound “old fashioned” or “girly” according to westerners, however let me try..:-
    Imagine this, after 22 or 23 or lets say 24 years of no-sex life, a guy/gal gets married in a posh setting. Its the first time for both of them and the heat,tension,excitement is enormous. Like a raging inferno. Its the first time that they’re with another person of the opposite sex. Both of them are ready to do anything to please one another. Need I say more?
    People don’t want to talk about sex openly over here, not because its a taboo or whatever, but because they don’t want to scare the opposite sex. If you observe clearly, guys talk about it amongst themselves, same goes for women.
    Coming back to arranged marriages, they do work out much more than love marriages. Besides seeing the position of the planets,zodiac signs,weather blah blah blah, the entire procedure of getting to know the guy/gal by the gal/guy’s parents and marrying them usually takes around 4-5 months (depending on the science of planetary positions and well the rest). The wedding is in the last month, so meanwhile the guy and gal get to know each other. You call this waiting period as dating or betrothal or everyday picnic with ‘The One’. However, before all this happens, SWAT teams and Task Force teams are sent out to check if any of them have skeletons in the closet. And the marriages that don’t work out properly, either didn’t get the verification done (properly) or have been seriously tricked.
    Btw, tips for dating in India:- 😉
    1. don’t burp or do anything man-ish
    2. talk slowly
    3. enjoy being pampered 😉
    Girls here are pampered sooooo much where ever they go. (after a while they get restless and see the minus points of getting pampered.. but that’s beside the point)
    Have Fun!! 🙂

    • angela_carson

      Okay, you had me worried for a minute towards the end of the wedding night paragraph, thought I was going to have to censor you but — nope — you stopped at just the right point 🙂 hehe Thanks for that!

      You also posted a very looooong comment, thanks for taking the time to post it 🙂 And thanks for the tips, I can put you at ease now and say that I am super girly and over prissy so they’ll be no burping or manly notions from my side 🙂 Though I might a bad word every now and then like a trucker !!

  4. clivejd

    Indian men believe that women love “old fashioned” chivalry on a date…. Ha ha ! Quite lame actually… I’ve known many women who’ve said they hate the extra chivalry show…

    Regarding the fact that you’ve had loads of men approach you the past few months.. You got the reasons spot on… White and blonde… Men here love white women cause they think they are easy and will sleep with them right away… Haha ! I personally never had a thing for white women… So ur safe ! 😀

    One lil thing… Divorce rates in India is at 1.1 %. When u said 3%, I began to wonder… Since when did so many people enjoy splitting up here. :-).

    • angela_carson

      It’s funny, I don’t have a single girlfriend who doesn’t love being pampered and doted on … unless we don’t really care for the person we are with at that time and then it certainly would be annoying. For me…bring on the chivalry cuz in my book it’s not lame at all 🙂

  5. Maria Sipka

    Angela – I’m convinced that you should get a writing job in India. Nobody cracks me up as much as you do. Girl – do what you love and clearly what you’re amazing at! Skip the tech jobs and the geeks 😉

    • angela_carson

      Maria, I love you for that! Thanks so much. I am doing my best but probably need some advice from a professional to sort out how to attack this better. BUT, one of the major newspapers in town has brought me in as their weekly featured blogger on page 7 of the main newspaper 🙂 Every Monday they give me 1/4 or 1/3 page and run about 1,000 words of mine + a photo…I put a photo in my Q3 bangalore folder in FB of this past Monday 🙂 And here is link to a previous article: http://epaper.dnaindia.com/dnabangalore/epaperpdf/06062011/5bangalore%20main%20edition-pg7-0.pdf Baby steps, the DNA gig is a great “foot in the door” and I am thrilled to have it but would love to be doing more.

      Hope all is wonderful with you and JC, big kiss to you both xo

  6. Tom

    Have you tried joining an expat club like http://www.owcbangalore.org/ ?

    • angela_carson

      Hi Tom, actually I am purposely avoiding expat clubs at the moment. I have 3 expat friends, the rest are Indians and I am having the best time 🙂

  7. Murali

    With all these insights that you are getting about Indian men (I wouldn’t say these are right/wrong, for we are just too big a wobbly mass to not encompass any certain characteristics/mannerisms :D), you should not be let to go out of this country again, we need to preserve our exotic-aural-mystic-demeanor!

    • angela_carson

      haha, thanks! Well, I have a lot more insights about the Indian man but in an effort to stay positive I try not to share my opinions about the things I don’t like very often 🙂

      • joel

        i think you should more of the negative things on Life in India, because , frankly people here dont exactly take offense to certain things that foreigners take offense to. There’s a massive culture difference & with you bringing out your perspective, i think we can understand stuff better, well atleast thats my thought. You’ve got a rocking blog, so much fun to read, esp the parts on the men, so true. Kepp it up! Cheers

  8. Prem Rao

    Really enjoyed your blog post- thanks to DNA. Shall follow your blog with great interest! The problem about writing on life in India is that it is vast and multi-cultural that it’s becoming very difficult these days to generalize. It’s really made up of many layers of people of differing backgrounds, education, awareness and knowledge- with one unifying goal- to get ahead for themselves!

    • angela_carson

      I totally agree! I always right from “my” point of view and from my own personal experiences or something that I heard first-person… and trust me, just with that there is enought to write and write and write about as you very well know 🙂 Thanks for the kind comments. Good luck with your writing as well, hope you keep reading here… — ang

  9. Aunty Jee

    Angela, the young guys in the first few comments are trying to give an impression of a “forward India”. The vast majority of Indians live in rural villages, towns and 2nd or 3rd tiered cities. There is no such thing as dating there. Marriages are arranged mostly without the “getting to know one another period” that one commenter tried to pass off as the norm.

    Dating, divorce and love marriages are becoming common in large cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, but throughout most of India they are not common at all. Indians will stay in miserable, even abusive marriages due to the stigma of divorce.

    Also, as an American woman you might be surprised to know that in the US there are many young men in college and beyond who are virgins. Its easier for women to get sex than it is for men. When Indian men go to the US they think “land of milk and honey, we’re finally getting laid!!!” only to find out that what to speak of getting laid, they are unable even to get American women interested in them.

    And its not just nerdy Indian guys. American men themselves have a hard time attracting women. There’s alot of lonely guys out there.

  10. Abdullah K.

    @ Aunty Jee
    Spot on. What with couples getting murdered in some parts of India for the ‘sin’ of falling in love and all that. However given that the commenters here have access to the internet (which is a still a privilege in India), the kind of marriages they talk about is probably the norm in their world.
     
    For the record, it is not AS easy for women to get laid either, if they do not rank above a certain attractiveness threshold (which varies, depending on the part of the world they live in). The idea that “women have it easy, but men have it hard” is a stereotype created by those who feel that ‘free market’ dating is inherently biased against men. It is one sided, they consider only the attractive women while at the same time believing that they are a ‘catch’. There are millions of ‘plain’ women who are as lonely as the nerds you speak of.

    • angela_carson

      Hey there, great points. I look a certain way and honestly didn’t consider women who weren’t gifted the pretty gene. Fair enough. –angela

  11. Naveen

    Thanks Angela and I wish you a great life here till you stay with good memories, wish that you would have intellectually enriching conversations with many people and you find more people who appreaciate your wisdom more than anything else and you find more exciting and inspiring things about Indian culture every day. God bless

    Naveen

  12. Nathan

    Dear Angela,

    I’m speed-reading your blog with great interest. I have lived and worked in a few Asian countries and I am deeply concerned with the dating situation in Bangalore. I am worried about being lonely 🙁 Having lived in Myanmar in the past, dating in India sounds much too frighteningly familiar, perhaps even worse. Am I destined for a lonely two-year stint in Bangalore?

    Gratefully yours,

    Dan

    • angela_carson

      Hey Dan,

      Glad my blog can help out a bit in your ramp up to Bangalore. As far as dating, this is going to sound very superficial and very rude but in my personal experience it is true. Out in the world I play in, it really depends on what you look like and if you have cash to play and have fun. I’ve been out with guy friends of mine and Indian girls have had beers sent over to them. They are fair skinned white guys who are very good looking and that is attractive here for Indian girls. Alternatively, if you can wine and dine and charm girls, you are in too. BUT I can’t offer any feedback on other social circles sadly… I’d suggest you go and read the blog by Pencil Girl and pose the question to her…she can tell you more 🙂

      Ange

  13. Nathan

    Hi Ange,

    Thanks for the speedy reply. I am moderately attractive, however slight below average height for an American man, have a good sense of humor, and my skin is fair except for the constant suntan. Wining and dining is not my thing (used to be) so I suppose we’ll just see what happens and not worry too much.

    I’m relocating to advance my career and that is where I should place my greatest priority but I cannot help but think about two years of solitude and lack of female companionship which I have grown accustomed to in most other parts of Asia.

    Nevertheless, I enjoy reading your blog, appreciate your candor and look forward to getting out there myself in a few months and adding another sausage to the fest. Thanks again and I’ll give Pencil Girl’s blog a read too.Take care.

    Dan

    • angela_carson

      hahhahah, love the sausage fest comment. I’m single and have a great time here. If you are funny and charming you will be fine. Don’t worry. I don’t do the expat club thing but lots of people I know do and it is like the Chia Pet of friends – you’ll be able to instantly grow some friends. Go join Bangalore Expat Club run by a cool guy named Viren who I really like. You’ll be set 🙂

  14. Pingback: My Expat Story: One Year In Bangalore – Relationships « Angela's Adventures in Bangalore

  15. Karthick

    Came across your blog cos one of your friends used to be my teacher in school. That being said, its definitely an interesting read. As an indian married to a tall, white and blonde American, it made me smile at times, made me shake my head at times. Your commentary on indian guys, while very humorous and amusing, is a little skewed. Do they think western, scratch that, do they have a pre conceived notion that White women are easy? Yes. I will say Indian women arent any better. By the same token men, from around the world are all the same. Bangalore, of all places is not the right sampling space for the same reasons that San Quentin wouldnt be right for a study about honesty. 

    Im looking forward to reading more of your work and im sure i will have my 2 cents to add.  

    • AngelaCarson

      Hi Karthick, thanks for taking the time to comment and for your fun addition to the conversation here.  I think maybe it’s not Bangalore so much as my circle of friends and social habitat that has skewed me.  I have learned a lot since I wrote that way back in the summer of 2011 … lot’s has happened since then as you can only imagine.  Keep your 2 cents coming, always very happy to hear a new take on my skewed perceptions 🙂  Cheers to you and my “virtual twin” who is your wife 🙂 -angela

  16. Nash William

    Angela,

    There have been several occasions when even tall, beautiful women were turn-offs for me quite literally. If the woman doesnt appeal to me in keeping up with my interests, there's a fair chance that I will outright reject her. Never mind, the skin color or the killer looks! 

    I only wish that more women would atleast lie and try out some crazy and fun outdoor activities with me. Dating isn't all about getting laid, is it? If I had to do that, I would rather just walk up to the woman and get down and dirty and not waste time about it.

    Indians are not coy as they may seem or even conservative about intercourse as they project to the West. There is a teeming and dynamic underground swinging scene( this is a first-hand account) in most Indian metros where people are libertine in their indulgences.

    It's a sin to talk dirty in public here  but most nouveau, self-proclaimed libertine Indians don't mind exploring these gatherings with utter disdain for their espoused Indian culture, tradition and moral values.

    If they got to do it, why don't they just do it?

     

     

     

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