Our recent wedding anniversary

When I had Covid last year, I watched several episodes of Indian Matchmaking. I’m always interested in shows about relationships (for obvious reasons), and I’m especially interested in how non-American cultures approach romantic love.

Arranged marriages hold a particular fascination for me; if you have the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course you know that I reference the book “First Comes Marriage“, which holds, at its premise, that friendship is the essential ingredient for marriage success. So when Netflix made the suggestion, I clicked and got hooked.

Here’s what stood out for me:

The matchmaker, Sima, after hearing the list of criteria from the available bachelor or bachelorette, says, “If you get 60-70% of this list, keep moving forward.”

Every time she says it, the young person’s face falls. But the parents, who are often present at these meetings, nod approvingly.

“I was hoping for 100%,” the young single says.

“You won’t get 100%, and if that’s your requirement you’ll remain single forever.”

Notice that she doesn’t say, “You will only have 60-70% of these criteria forever.” No. She says that’s the minimum you need in order to move forward and continue to get to the know the person.

Perfection is Impossible

The older generation knows what we across the globe – from America to India – have forgotten: perfection is impossible.

In one episode, a woman named Viral goes out on a blind date with a lovely, sweet guy. She calls the matchmaker afterwards and says, “It’s 80% there but there’s no physical attraction.”

Matchmaker Sima pauses, sighs, and says, “Very few people get to 80%. Viral, do you think you’re superficial? I think you’re giving too many marks to beauty. The person should be good at heart. He should be down to earth.”

This is solid, safe advice. But most people reject it. Conditioned by a culture that tells you that you can “have it all” and “don’t settle”, many marriage hopefuls walk away from a good match because it’s not perfect, especially if the “hook” is lack of physical attraction.

“I’m Not Attracted!”

When people share this hook with me, it’s often in hushed tones suffused in shame. “I feel so superficial but I just don’t know if I’m attracted to them.”

The first line of action is to remove the shame. Of course you believe that physical attraction is the most important thing and that without it the relationship would be doomed. Everything in our culture sends you that message everywhere you look. No need for shame! (If you struggle with lack of attraction, please read through this Collection and sign up for the free compilation of interviews with people who broke through their attraction spike. This spike is also addressed in depth in the course.)

Those of us who have been with our partners for decades know that attraction grows over time and perfection doesn’t exist.

We know that 80% is an excellent starting point.

We know that it takes years, decades even, to grow into the ease and flow that we all long for (and the more trauma you each bring to the relationship, the longer this will take).

We know how rare it is to find someone with whom you have a shared connection, to whom you feel attracted in the true meaning of the word, and with whom you have a sense of home.

We know how fear can distort perception, and we know the immense, priceless value of working through the fears so that you don’t walk away from true love. Not Hollywood love. Not Disney love. But real love complete with its imperfections, opportunities for growth, and a lifetime of the fulfillment that arises from creating a deep, abiding connection that can only happen with time with the person who is your home.

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