Being British Asian, the role of the “matchmaker” is perhaps more familiar to me than to others. Usually, what you hear about south Asian matched relationships is the extreme end: forced marriages, weddings between strangers, loveless pairings built on shame and subterfuge. But for plenty, the tradition is much closer to a suggestion – a kindness – and what you should do for those you love.
I kicked against any type of matchmaking when I was young. Not for any grandiose reason; I simply did not trust the judgment of my relatives. I thought they had truly terrible taste (one of them remains a huge fan of Mrs Brown’s Boys) and I felt their picks were about them and their image of who I should be, rather than what I wanted.
But recently I decided to matchmake my friends. I couldn’t bear listening to these two brilliant people sink into another sadness after yet another bad experience via an app. He would say it, she would say it, shell-shocked: “I thought they were one of the Good Ones.”
I, too, have previously thought I could spot the Good Ones (previous “surefire” signs include: is nice to his sister; does charity at Christmas; has read a book written by a woman once). But this was nothing more than superstition, a crude way to make sense of something unfathomable: finding love in our weird modern world.
And it is weird. Online matches are inspired by boredom, biases and superficial preferences. Meanwhile, true compatibility lies in our values, temperament and other digital dark matter – the human stuff that can’t be transmitted online.
How did I do? There are few things as satisfying as hearing that two people you matched are happy. I imagine it was beginner’s luck, because I am no expert. The stuff of love is too elusive to be mastered.