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  • Aneesa Khan & Amira Hassan

What Not to do in Dating According to Indian Matchmaking Season 2

Since 2020, viewers worldwide anticipated the arrival of season 2 of Netflix’s [arguably] controversial reality TV series—Indian Matchmaking. This series kicked off with veteran cast members from the previous season alongside some fresh new faces all with a mission to find their perfect match in a not-so-perfect world.

Season 2 of “Indian Matchmaking” was released online last month to an overwhelming response on social media. It was no surprise that many of the same cliché South-Asian tropes were again conveyed through “Sima from Mumbai.” The independent woman being “too picky,” the men obsessing over physical appearance, and the quintessential character seeking a romantic partner who’s basically going to mother him. The difference is that instead of being articulated in the real world, these clichés are depicted through a reality tv show platform. And despite the title of this genre, editing plays a large role in the actual realities of the events displayed on-screen. This season is giving endless drama, several awkward dates, and peculiar interactions [just to name a few]—and these are all under the guise of compromising for the sake of culturally accepted norms.

With all of that in mind…here are some lessons we learned in this season of Indian Matchmaking:

Don’t conceal how you feel

This show utilized the common trope of wanting to pin someone as a hero or villain. But, in Nadia’s case, she is neither—this is just what dating is like for a South-Asian woman who follows her heart. Nadia wanted verbal reassurance from Shekhar, regarding his feelings, but she never got it. Through the viewers of the show, it was apparent that Shekhar had feelings for Nadia, but instead of admitting it to Nadia, he admitted it to the camera once Nadia chose to pursue Vishal. And that call where Nadia told Shekhar how she was pursuing Vishal was painful to watch. She articulated her frustration, and even though Shekhar found it to be unjustified, he took everything she said with grace.

Everyone has a different love language, and this is evident through Nadia’s dating struggles shown in season 2 of Indian Matchmaking. The most important lesson of all is that just because someone shows their affection for you in a different way, it doesn’t mean that the affection isn’t there at all. For Shekhar, his love language is actions—he showed his interest in Nadia by flying to New Jersey to meet her family and even bringing some thoughtful gifts [after all you can’t go to someone’s home for the first time empty-handed!]. For Nadia, her love language is words of affirmation, and this is what she wanted from Shekhar. Nadia and Shekhar’s individual misconceptions of disinterest halted their relationship’s potential.

Nadia’s immediate gravitation towards Vishal was due to their shared love language: words of affirmation. Meanwhile, with worrying side glares at Nadia and Vishal hitting it off, Shekhar was showing his affection for Nadia with these actions. While Shekhar constantly showing up for Nadia made it clear to the audience that he wanted to pursue her, it was partially good editing. The other part may be that Nadia refused to see who she thought to be conventional and good for her, which was Shekhar. In this way, it’s important to give voice to your feelings when considering a serious relationship before you realize your mistakes after millions stream them.

However, despite Nadia’s straightforward approach, he had a strong and negative reaction towards Vishal once he expressed his disinterest in her. There never seems to be a “right” way to reject someone, but from my perspective, Vishal’s way to do it was pretty close. He flew out to reject Nadia in person, and although a heads up would’ve been nice for Nadia, Vishal had the decency to do this face-to-face. But, Nadia has every right to be frustrated, following her heart has been tough, yet she persevered through it all. Yet there she was again, not getting the happily ever after that she had wanted so badly. So even though she did not take Vishal’s rejection well, it was less about Vishal, and more about Nadia’s frustration being projected onto Vishal. So props to him for not concealing how he feels, but there certainly is more room for Nadia to grow in her dating life. Again, it is less about who is the hero or villain, and more about representing an accurate depiction of what dating is like for South-Asian women today.

Don’t prioritize looks over an emotional connection

Photo Credit: MEAWW

During Vinesh’s date with Mosum, the conversation flowed and his family enjoyed her company—however…it wasn’t enough for Vinesh. Comparatively, Vinesh’s siblings, who accompanied them, enjoyed Mosum’s company and thought that she and Vinesh hit it off. After just one date, Vinesh articulated that his connection with Mosum lacked the sexual chemistry that he desired. Later, when recapping his date with Mosum with the family, his family expresses their collective interest in her.

Vinesh then goes on a date with Meena and expressed that he is extremely attracted to her. Through Vinesh’s forward body language, you can tell that Vinesh is immediately hooked on to Meena’s appearance. I mean the man literally could not stop staring at her, even as they at! In this way, the editing style of the show took control of the depiction of the date. The fast editing transitioning to slow editing made it evident that Vinesh was more invested in Meena during the date than she was in him. Meena’s expressed disinterest in him comes as a full karmic circle moment, considering that Vinesh had rejected Mosum off of attraction and now Meena was planning on rejecting Vinesh based on the same principle.

The distinct contrast between these two dates protrudes on the screen. While Mosum and Vinesh had so much to talk about, Vinesh made it clear that he would much rather prefer an awkward date with Meena, someone he found “more attractive.” Even after their date, Vinesh admitted that his conversation with Meena was much more surface level than his conversation with Mosum was. This adds to the overall lesson from Vinesh’s journey this season: Don’t prioritize looks over an emotional connection. Vinesh was quick to judge Mosum and Meena after one date. While instant physical attraction may be key to some, sometimes it might not be there at first, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t slowly progress. Physical attraction is also a quality that has the potential to develop over time if you’re patient enough.

Don’t compromise your boundaries and standards

Throughout this series, the controversial matchmaker would advise her clients to always make compromises and often complained about “people ordering too much on the menu and expect to get a platter of everything they want.” While compromises are crucial for maintaining long-lasting relationships, this is something that should happen way down the line instead of it being straight upfront. She would then go on to tell her clients to always pursue the person whose biodata met 60-70% of the desired qualifications—which is essentially a “C-Grade” according to Cardiologist [and Taco Bell enthusiast!] Arshneel Kochar.

In season 1, we witnessed Aparna Shewakramani being villainized for expressing what qualities she envisioned her future partner will possess. Social media fiends from around the world came after Aparna on various platforms to hate on her for having standards set in the first place. Aparna is for sure someone who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and unfortunately, this sort of set the stone for her being labeled as someone who is “picky.” When Sima asked Aparna what her “criteria” was for her partner, she stated that she wanted someone who is “relaxed, introverted, and intelligent.” To any person, this is a reasonable list–but to the matchmaker, this wasn’t gonna cut it. Instead of honoring her choices, she would say something along the lines of “No, you need someone jolly.”

Photo Credit: Hauterrfly

After the release of season 2, people on social media didn’t shy away from expressing their thoughts on Viral’s dating approach in Indian Matchmaking. When listing her criteria for her perfect partner, Viral was written off as “Aparna on steroids” by some or the #ToxicGirlBoss. “GirlBoss” is a mainstream term [popularized by Sophia Amoruso in her 2014 autobiography] which Urban Dictionary defines as someone being made to appear as a feminist idol or inspiration for profit—despite the numerous flaws of the person.

Labeling someone as #ToxicGirlBoss undermines the qualities of their personality. The mere concept is a flawed one because it’s on the premise of capitalist success hollowing women’s empowerment. It’s unfortunate to see such a negative reaction towards women who possess the qualities we deem positive in a man but negative in a woman. When a woman established her boundaries, she’s perceived to be cruel or demanding making her less “likable” in the dating world. Today, we are witnessing examples of how this narrative is changing, but the traditional approach in the matchmaking field clashes with this viewpoint.

A matchmaker should be on the side of someone they are helping…not accuse them of being “picky” or “superficial.” This mindset is regressive and further entertains the idea that we can’t have what we manifest the partner that’s meant for us. Comparing complex people with subjective outlooks and personalities to a “menu” is a pretty reductive concept—unfortunately, this notion was continuously promoted by the India-based matchmaker.

Aparna reclaiming time for her self-growth and Viral remaining persistent with her requirements are refreshing moments in the show that represent people no longer needing to conform to what society deems acceptable.

So if you want to build a legacy for yourself, build an empire with your partner, or even go on a solo journey in life—that’s perfectly okay!

Don’t close yourself off to a world of possibilities

Photo Credit: Reality Titbit

Dating in this modern age is unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. In many South Asian cultures, pre-Millennial and Gen-Z generations dating was fairly nonexistent [at least in the general sense] and anyone who actually dated probably won’t willingly tell the story of how it all began. This lack of transparency tends to influence following generations in the way they communicate their inner thoughts. Expressing emotions—in any shape or form—can sometimes be a very vulnerable thing, especially in cultures where it’s not the norm.

Modern dating can oftentimes feel like nothing but endless awkward first dates or confusing talking stages. Compared to the past, there’s an evolution in the way many approach dating today as it’s taken on more of a relaxed and casual courtship. Instead of the traditional formal courtships, we’ve witnessed a rise in “Hookup Culture.” Nowadays people are more likely to engage in physical and emotional connections without additional commitments toward exclusivity. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this practice—so long as there’s some level of transparency that’s present. There are many psychological reasons behind this phenomenon, but there’s a reason behind people dating more than one person. We date more than one person to not only find the person we’re most compatible with but also learn more about ourselves in terms of what we want and need.

Photo Credit: Bustle

In Shital’s case, she recounted her dating history where she usually kept things super causal because she initially wasn’t interested in any long-term commitments. In the past, she expressed how she’d never go for the “the nice guys” and would sometimes reflect on what they’re doing in life—and even envision what a potential future with them would look like. Seeing her younger sister getting engaged before her is what prompted her to reach out to the matchmaker to find her perfect match. She was reluctant at first because of past wounds and expectations of what a relationship should look like. Nevertheless, she took a chance and went through with this process.

After going on some dates with a few of the matches, Shital learned more about what she wanted in her romantic encounters, bringing her much closer to who she wants in life. While it may not have worked out with some of them, Shital learned to open her heart again and be more welcoming toward another connection. As a result, she is now in a committed relationship with a Radiation Oncologist named Niraj Mehta [someone she met through her sister].

Photo Credit: Reddit

Meanwhile with Arshneel, he may not have had an extensive dating history [due to his faith and geographical location], he took a chance to go through with the matchmaker and matched with someone who was born and raised in India. In the show, Arshneel displayed indecisive tendencies and this was most likely a result of his past encounters where his love life was hindered by his faith. He reached out to the matchmaker to seek a girl who is from a similar background to prevent cultural differences. He went on a date with Anjali [a finance professional from the Bay Area], but the edits displayed a lot of awkward moments. After much consideration, he went on a date with Rinkle who’s a dentist from India currently residing in Chicago. Arshneel admitted that he was hesitant to do on a date with someone who’s from India, but ended up clicking on their dates.

Sometimes, many of us feel like we are unlucky when it comes to love and end up closing ourselves off from the rest of the world so we don’t experience a world of emotional pain. If there's anything we learned from any cast members, it’s okay to have that underlying fear because it's part of us growing into the person we’re meant to be in life. Everyone has a different timeline so no need to fret about the journey of others! In hindsight, be true to who you are and become your authentic self. After all, whatever goes around will come around.

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