Gone are the days when women would worry about missing the marriage bus if they did not get hitched by a certain age. Today, the woman is prepared to be on the shelf for as long as it takes her to find a guy who ticks all the right boxes. If the guy falls short, the woman doesn’t mind checking out more prospective partners before she finally finds someone who fits the bill every which way. While the what-women-want-in-a-man list has undergone a sea change from, say, what it was a decade ago, the number of things on that list has only increased. The guy must pitch in with household chores, believe in gender equality, have a sense of humour— the list, trust us, is quite exhaustive.

While some may think that women have become too fussy and too demanding these days, women argue that their demands are not over-the-top. Nirupama B, senior client partner in marketing services, explains, “I would want to be with a guy who is ready to see unconventional side of a woman and does not look for exit signs. Things such as the girl having more guy friends than girlfriends or a girl who loves swigging a chilled beer occasionally should not unsettle him. He should be comfortable with the fact that freedom is already hers and he is not the one who will grant it to her; he should know that sharing household chores with her will not make him any less of a guy.” She adds, “The acceptance of men and women being equal should not be seen as a special distinctive quality of a man, which sets him apart from the society but as a universal truth which needs to be necessarily realised.”

Sharing a horrid experience, Nirupama says, “I once met a guy, who said his expectation from the girl was that she keep him happy and be respectful to his parents, and there was not a mention of how he would treat the girl or her parents. Well obviously, that was the last time I ever spoke to him.” Vishnupriya K, media person, couldn’t agree more. “While it is acceptable that one should not expect perfection from their partners, there are a few things that one cannot ignore. So, for me, the first thing that matters is whether the guy respects me and my ambitions. It is very important because it saves us from getting into conflicts later. For instance, I might want to go on a long trip after getting married and I would expect him to support me even if he can’t come along. But if he expects me to take care of his family and pick up the spatula in the kitchen right after the wedding , then there’s a problem,” she explains.

While women say that most of the qualities are for the sake of compatibility, a few others say that the list will whittle down over a period of time. Research analyst Sowmya G says, “Initially, when my matrimonial search started, my list was elaborate. Some of the qualities I looked for in the guy were simplicity, honesty, good sense of humour, ability to cook, mutual respect for both genders, musically driven, appreciation for art, spontaneity, generosity, financial stability. A year or so later my list became smaller. Having been on this matrimonial expedition for three years, I now only look at the most important things, like his motivations, aspirations, hobbies, his outlook on life, his views on things that matter to me. So, ultimately one must know what a must is and what is not and be willing to take the chance because the beauty of a marriage lies in its little surprises. It’s like peeling an onion. One may discover new things in each layer. But for every layer to be beautiful, one has to be lucky.” But all of them agree on one thing — that the so-called right age of getting married no longer exists. Nirupama explains, “I believe it’s perfectly OK to follow the dream and wait it out for the perfect person to come along, irrespective of how long it takes. The key is to follow your heart and instincts and you would never be let down. To each his own.”