Disaster or Fairy Tale: What Makes Blind Dates and Arranged Marriages Work?

If you’ve been watching Married at First Sight on Channel 4, this isn’t news to you. For those of you not in the know, this controversial reality show pairs you up and, going beyond the usual set up of a blind date, marries you! You clap eyes on your intended on the day of your wedding. Very medieval, yes, but also quite thrilling and a relief for these 30-somethings who long to settle down.

The show is controversial and intriguing, resonating beyond the 30-somethings to the mature dating scene, the over-50s braving the waters (or who have always been in the waters and loving it!).

The show doesn’t do it lightly, of course. They have a panel of ‘experts’ doing the matchmaking: a psychology professor, a psychologist, an evolutionary anthropologist, a social visual anthropologist and a vicar.

Between the five of them, who would think they weren’t in good hands?

These men and women are in their 30s, awake to their ticking biological clocks, or simply now settled enough in their careers to realise they want companionship.

But in India--right now, not historically!-- women as young as 25 years old get matched up by their parents to men deemed suitable and very likely to make them happy.

These matches still happen regularly, and successfully! Matched couples meet, and if there are no objections from either party, are happily engaged, and they can prolong their engagement as much as they want. In the meantime, their parents are secure in the knowledge that their daughter or son is no longer alone and will be taken care of.

Quite a few men and women in mature dating wonder and wish that their parents meddled at least a bit--or that they cooperated with the meddling. Who knows what could have transpired?

Blind dates

Isn’t that the same idea behind blind dates? Friends and family set you up with a man or woman who’s a good match for you.

You meet with him or her, and you judge your chemistry and compatibility from there. Afterward, you can walk away with no hard feelings, with possibly a new friend even.

Mature Match and other dating sites have this option of showing you ‘random’ matches--profiles that match yours. Sometimes the nice man or woman you’ve always wanted is right under your nose. You only needed him or her presented to you.

Chemistry AND Compatibility

Compatibility without chemistry = a friendship.

Chemistry without compatibility = a fling.

You can’t cheat with just one. If you give it a chance, chemistry or compatibility develop, yes. But that’s why you don’t marry at first sight! That’s why you date.

These are the foundations of real love. Chemistry is attraction. Compatibility is the meshing of your interests and passions. The more you share, the less conflict.

But if there’s conflict, sooner or later, the relationship fails.