How Do I Choose Between My Guy and My Family?

How Do I Choose Between My Guy and My Family?

Evan,

I am Indian girl and my boyfriend is an older black man. We have been together for 2 years. He is a great guy – sweet and caring and thoughtful. My culture is so strict and doesn’t want us to date outside our race. He is trying to be patient, but I feel he may be getting tired of the secretive relationship. He has three kids, which doesn’t bother me. I love him and feel like I am in love with him; I could see myself with him forever. He used to see a future with me, but lately it feels like he may not be in love with me. He says he still loves me and cares for me and always will. We still are intimate every now and then. If I follow my heart I feel I have disappointed the family, and if I try to please the family I feel I have disappointed him. I don’t know what to do and am so torn. –Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Besides your name, there are a few pieces of information I’m lacking. And since I don’t have the full story, I can only leap to some conclusions. Forgive me if I get something wrong, because I really like my advice to be responsible.

There are two separate questions here.

One has to do with whether you should let your parents come between you and your boyfriend.

The other has to do with the strength of your relationship with your boyfriend.

If you can work out your differences with your partner, no one else has a right to say anything except, “Congratulations, I’m so happy for you!”

Let’s keep them separate, okay?

In the case of a traditional Indian family not approving of an outsider to the tribe, this couldn’t be more familiar. You can substitute any subcategory (Jewish, Greek, Chinese, African-American) and the tensions would all be somewhat similar.

Once upon a time, I wrote this piece about whether a strong ethnic family identity should have any bearing on a happy relationship, and the years have only made my opinion stronger.

No way!

True love is really, really hard to find.

You’ve got one life to live.

Far be it from ANYBODY to tell you whom you should and should not date because it doesn’t suit THEIR purposes.

Parents can have a say when it comes to your boyfriend being a drug addict, or physically abusive, or commitment phobic, or chronically unemployed.

But if you’re in a long-term happy relationship with a man who treats you well and has never done anything to betray your trust, then it’s absolutely crazy to break up with him because he’s a different color, ethnicity or religion.

If you can work out your differences with your partner, no one else has a right to say anything except, “Congratulations, I’m so happy for you!”

I wish that was the end of the story.

Except your email really left on a down note.

“He used to see a future with me.”

“He’ll always care about me.”

“We’re intimate now and then.”

Wait, when did this guy go from being the sweet and thoughtful boyfriend to being the man who is pulling away from you?

Is he pulling away from you because he doesn’t want to be married to you?

Or is he pulling away from you because he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life fighting against your family for his right to be in your life?

Those are two completely different things and only you can answer them.

I’ll just tell you this, before I go.

Fight for what you believe in. If your relationship is worth fighting for, then notify your family and tell them to get on board.

And if this man is pulling away for other reasons, let him go quietly. You can’t hang on to a man who has already let you go.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    LANY

    Anonymous, you need to not blame this issue on “culture”; that makes it a lot easier to forgive your parents for being closed minded and caring more about perception and “what other people will think” than about your happiness.  (Yes, I’m making an assumption here, but as an Indian woman I think I’ve seen enough of this in our “culture” and others to recognize that it’s typically a “what will the neighbors think!?” more than anything else). 
    I asked my parents once if they would prefer I date an Indian boy, after bringing home a series of nice Jewish boys, and some of the whitest men to descend from the Scots and Irish.  Their response: “we want you to be with someone who treats you well and makes you happy.”  That is the ONLY acceptable response, in my opinion. 
    Forget “disappointing” your family; respecting them doesn’t mean living the life that they want you to live.  And if they respected you as your own person they wouldn’t dictate the terms of your life.  If you don’t recognize this now, you’re going to spend a long time in the career they want to have, married to the person they want you to marry, living YOUR life on THEIR terms.  Is this really what you want?  I 100% agree with EMK about notifying your family about living the life YOU want – but this is something you need to do regardless of your boyfriend and why he may / may not be pulling away.  Good luck.

  2. 2
    Heather

    Anonymous, I agree with Lany.

    I’m divorced and I was dating someone whose parents did not approve of him dating divorced women, no matter the reason.  They felt that divorce was trashy and saw me always as just “less than.”  This guy’s parents, unbeknownst to me for a while, started pressuring him to dump me.  We’d been together awhile and any and all comments he’d make about our future together, faded away, and the excuses started in.

    After almost two years together, he confessed, late one night, that his parents were “pressuring” him to dump me.  Keep in mind here that the guy was almost 37 at the time.  I’d done nothing to my knowledge, to offend them; the guy even admitted as much, saying that they considered me to be a nice, kind person.  But the fact that I was divorced, was something they could not get over.  For the next two weeks, the guy and I were distant, rather formal with each other.  I finally confronted him with how hurt I felt, like I’d been stabbed in the back and lied to.  We argued, and he left.  That night, he publicly announced on Facebook that he was single, before bothering to contact me again.  I had to find out by logging into Facebook, that we were indeed done.

    It became a nasty breakup, and to this day, we live a few miles apart and cannot even have a civil conversation.  He continued to contact me after I told him that I wanted no further contact, and slandered me behind my back.

    But I learned my lesson.  And one of the first things I try to ascertain about a potential partner, is how involved the parents are in the guy’s life, and also how far away they live.  If the guy seems to still be tied to his mama’s apron strings, it’s time to let him loose.

    Please don’t let your family potentially ruin a good relationship.  Family is important, but they have no right to dictate your life.  However, if the guy is slipping away, it’s probably best to let him.  You don’t want a man who doesn’t want to stick it out with you.

  3. 3
    Julia

    As someone who spent 2 years as the American partner in your situation, I would urge you to consider how your boyfriend feels. I date a Pakistani immigrant for 2 years and he kept me a secret from his family the entire time, this included a 4 month visit where we barely saw each other. It is incredibly painful to be hidden, I can imagine that is a big part of why he is pulling away. 

    Anonymous, its time to pull the trigger and tell your parents and introduce him. The truth is they will never accept someone they don’t know. There is also a wealthy of bloggers writing about american-desi relationships, you might find strength from that. The truth is though, if you can’t find the courage to tell your parents, your relationship will never progress. 

  4. 4
    Anonymous

    OMG I was with a woman for 1 year who was from a similar culture and deeply enmeshed with her family. When we met, she told me she was “very close” with them, but as I got to know her (and them) I saw how tragic their family relations were. First I met the sister. Instead of being happy that we were deeply in love, and being happy for us, as soon as my girlfriend left the table to go to the bathroom, the sister told me with a strained smile that I better not hurt her sister. 11 months later, I met the father and he was even worse, controlling and possessive of his daughter like a jealous boyfriend. Creeped me out. Even though I only met him at about the one year point right before the breakup, he was equally as unsupportive of our love and was emotionally manipulative and abusive. He tried to do damage to me behind my back (and succeeded). The only person who was remotely kind to me was the mother, but she had ways of drawing my girlfriend back into their family drama. My girlfriend was so devoted to her birth family that the toxicity seeped into our relationship and she was always placed in positions where she had to choose between the parents or our relationship. She always chose the relationship. She just couldn’t extract herself from the toxicity. Couldn’t be emotionally present with me because she was always worried about them, what they think, what they wanted. Over the course of one year, we did not spend one single holiday together. Not one. Between her work and her family, there was very little time for ‘us’ and in the midst of our last misunderstanding, I just let her go. The issue was a smokescreen for the real issue which was the fact that she couldn’t have her family as it was AND have me and start a family at the same time. It wasn’t worth working it out with someone who could not pry herself out of this cycle of enmeshment and live a healthy adult life. I wanted to start a family, but I could not see myself being able to raise children with the interference of her family in our relationship. She and I never became a team, a unit or a partnership because she could not transition into adult boundaries with regards to her family. She always had an excuse, that it was her ‘culture’ causing this, but frankly her culture and her family’s interference violated my rights as a free human being and my ability to design my own life with the woman I loved. In the end I did not even feel loved or cared for and was tired of being slighted. Her family was like a cult. If you defy or disappoint the leader (the father), you are shamed, punished with silence, ostracized or attacked. I don’t think she will have a chance at a marriage or starting her own family until her father passes on. And worse, she exhibited many of the same controlling behaviors of the father. But now that our relationship is over, at least I have a chance with someone else who values me and is emotionally available. I will always love her and I pray for her every single day that she will one day free herself.

  5. 5
    SS

    Very good advice so far.
    Your parents have to get over the race thing and you have to make it clear to them (and to your boyfriend) that he is the person you want to be with. If I was unsure that a man is 100% committed to me and is going to be swayed by his parents’ unwarranted objections, I’d pull away too. I don’t want to be in a long-term relationship or marriage with someone who is being torn in multiple directions and is still making relationship decisions based on what his parents think.
     
    My only red flag here is the future of this relationship, regardless of race. What are his plans for you? What do you want from him? Do you want to be married and has he had that discussion with you? Although it’s clear that the race issue is the No. 1 concern your parents have about your boyfriend, his age and his children could also be compounding the issue, and your parents might think that the entire package is a bad idea overall for you. It’s obviously your decision at the end of the day, but if there are warning signs about him that have nothing to do with race, you might want to pay attention to those as well.

  6. 6
    amy

    I’m going to go against the grain here and say that if your family is that important to you, if having them in your life and being part of their culture is that important to you, you’d better just find an Indian man you love and marry him.
    It’s hard to break away from your family and culture — much harder than everyone who doesn’t come from that tight-knit community knows.
    The question really – regardless of your current beau — is, what do you want? Do you want to remain tight with your family and part of their culture? If so, choose a man they will approve of.
    IF you can bear excommunication or strained relations, date someone not from your culture.
    It’s all well and good to say that your family “must” come around and you “must” choose true love, but that’s all dependent upon how close you are to your family and culture.
    The truth is — you must choose.

  7. 7
    Heather

    SS,

    Very well put.  Nobody’s going to want anyone whose parents are pulling the strings in the relationship.  My parents tend to take a very “hands-off” approach to my relationships, unless they see signs of abuse or something clearly wrong with the guy, thankfully those sorts are rare anymore, in my life.  They will give advice if I ask, but otherwise they stay out of my business.

    The way I explain things to people now is, “I don’t need a permission slip to date; neither should you.”  If parents/family/whomever is making it that difficult for you to date, you need to get away from them and learn to stand up for yourself and what you want.

    And it’s also why I refuse to date men who live at home with their parents, anymore.  Because usually that seems to be the case, the parents are over-involved and I don’t need that drama.

  8. 8
    Anonymous

    My girlfriend from another culture hid me for the first 6 months of our relationship. Big red flag and indicative of a horrible family dynamic. I will never allow myself to be treated in such a way again by anyone. Oh the irony, the excuse she gave for breaking ip with me was that she accused me of purposely keeping something from her, which I wasn’t, but by that point I had witnessed enough hypocrisy front her whole family to last me a lifetime. They all lie to each other and no one is their real self. These people want to be held up on a pedestal, but treat you like garbage. I cant tell you how many times i was put down because i was American. Run for your life and instead give your love to someone who can reciprocate and not weigh you down with what other people think, including their invasive family.

  9. 9
    priya

    Beside what is wrong and right and how things should be…in reality indian woman are scare to against their parents wishes because immediate  family is  strong support system for them.They are ill ,unemployed, in any problem its their immediate family stand behind them.
    So everytime this situation comes up real question is this relationship worth loosing  one’s support system?What if this relationship doesnt sustain? then its lost on both front itsnt it?
    I wish more and more indian families become more liberal and allow their daughters to date and marry men from other race.
     
     

  10. 10
    Fusee

    I agree with the general advice of standing for oneself and one’s personal path to happiness. However I think there is a bit of oversimplifying in advising to just “inform her parents of her choice”, and overlooking of the serious sacrifices that such culturally insensitive communication would involve.
     
    Yes love is hard to come by. But jeopardizing family unity and support for the uncertainty of love is foolish without careful consideration of all aspects.
     
    1. Is the prospective partner really worth shaking deeply embedded cultural beliefs or possibly having to say goodbye to ones family? I’d suggest to be more certain than simply thinking that “He is a great guy – sweet and caring and thoughtful”. That’s not enough. He needs to be the one you want to be with after having dated enough people to be absolutely sure. Sure, you should not submit to your parents’s choice but how about finding someone whom you love and that your parents would also love? Also, independently of parents’ opinion, differences in cultures, relationship experience, etc is serious enough to consider carefully and make sure they can be overcome.

    2. Usually the main work when starting a new relationship is building trust, respect and mutual understanding with the new partner. In this kind of situation where cultural/ethnic/religious issues are so central, I believe that the primary work is going to be building trust, respect and mutual understanding with ones parents. Crazy to contemplate in our individualistic western mindset where family unity is a concept we could not care less, but when part of such a traditional culture it is going to be the foundation to build before considering dating someone outside of ones parents’ approval’s range.
     
    I do not have experience myself with these issues. My parents would accept anyone who would treat me well and that I would consider compatible to my values. However I came to believe that parent’s approval is important when ones parents are reasonnable people we care about having a relationship with. Now,what is reasonnable? We can blame the letter writer’s parents for being close-minded, or we can be culturally sensitive and realize that this “close-mindedness” is the symptom of something that they are not necessarily to blame for and that we can empathize with. After all in the western world we are also submitted to deep cultural beliefs about what an adequate partner is and what success is.
     
    In this situation I believe that these parents’ close-mindedness could be gently challenged and that everyone could potentially grow from such challenge, but this would involve more than “simply informing her parents of her choice” and run into the sunset with her boyfriend. Such insensitive behavior in the name of “living ones life” will only trigger more misunderstanding and possibly hatred instead of allowing people to build tolerance and unity.
     
    My suggestion to the letter writer is 1. reflect carefully on her relationship and whether it is precious enough to fight for, 2. if yes, sit down with her parents and – before introducing her boyfriend – start a (possibly long) process of progressively deeper discussions around what makes someone a solid partner and in what ways traditional views still make sense in a more globalized world.
     
    And see what happens.
     
    Basically I’m into following ones’ happiness, but before doing anything drastic first asking oneself what is long-term happiness, and what is worth sacrificing for it. Ones family can be as precious as love. This is love too.

  11. 11
    Heather

    @ Fusee,

    Oh absolutely, I do not believe in just blithely discounting what family may say about a potential partner; my parents had a bad feeling about my now ex husband and I wish I’d listened to them a bit more, in retrospect.  Parents and family can sometimes provide good input as to that other person. 

    But when it comes to just refusing to accept a family member’s partner, just because of race, religion, sexual orientation, the kind of job they do, where they live, etc, that is just intrusive and overstepping boundaries, IMO.

    Family is definitely precious, absolutely.  I just mean that when a family becomes overbearing and not allowing a person to make their own personal life choices, then that’s when things get toxic.  If you feel you have to hide the one you love, from family, that’s a bad sign that the family environment is toxic.  And it sends a bad message to that loved one, that they’re not “good enough.”

    It took a good while for me to recover from basically being told that I was trashy for leaving an abusive marriage, and that I’d been looked down upon, the whole time, while being treated like I was part of the family.  In fact, I wasn’t even happy about meeting my current boyfriend’s family, until I did meet them.  I was dreading it, after the last disastrous experience I’d had with a guy’s family.  Luckily for me the family does accept me, but that can really sting, to be treated as “less than” because your partner’s family objects to you on such a basic, personal level.

  12. 12
    Julia

    I think it might also be useful if the writer talked to her parents about dating outside of the desi culture in general. This is a very small pool to date from, especially if you live outside of Edison, NJ. The reality is there might not be many suitable men from her ethnic/religious background. Also I would like to know if the writer has talked to her parents about their expectation that she might have an arranged marriage and please don’t jump all over me about the statement, arranged marriages are still the norm in desi culture and I know about a half dozen desis who have married this way.

  13. 13
    La Miss

    Anonymous, this is my story:

    I am a non practicing Muslim with a very religious mother.  I was in a loving relationship with a man from another culture, race, and religious background.  We got to the point where we were discussing marriage and my mother pressured me for me to pressure him to convert.  I did.  And he didn’t like being pressured – especially into hypocrisy.  Those arguments snow balled into other things – were we right for each other?  Could we bring up our children under such conditions?  Was our love strong enough?  And so it ended.  He met and married someone else soon after.  And I spent a long time tormenting myself.  The hardest thing was figuring out if we weren’t compatible for real reasons, or because I’d allowed myself to be run by needs that were not my own.  My mother loves me, she’s a wonderful woman who wants the best for me, and because of this when she saw me hurting she realised her mistake and encouraged me to fight for him, irrespective of whether he wanted to convert or not.  Alas, it was too late.  Today I’ve learnt, dusted myself off, and I’m heading towards another loving relationship with a man who is not only not Muslim, but not religious.  It turns out I attract – sorry Evan – choose – men who are not religious, because I’m not religious.  I learnt my lesson the hard way.  Fight for the things YOU believe in, for the life YOU want to live, and the man YOU want beside you.  Because guess what, it’s your life.  It always gets better, but believe me, when you’re crying with loss and loneliness, it’s only you who will truly feel it.  I only hope you have a family who love you honestly.

  14. 14
    Fusee

    Hi Heather #11: I definitely agree and empathize with your negative experience. I’ve never experienced it myself as parents of past (and present) boyfriends always accepted and loved me, but I’m careful about the possibility of being rejected for any reason under the sun, but possibly because I’m originally from another country. I feel perfectly good enough. I actually know I’m an exceptional woman (ok, with some weaknesses and flaws : ) and would not let any rejection affect my perception of myself. But I also know that some of the things I bring to the table could be seen as deal-breakers and I accept that fact.
     
    Like you Heather, I’m also not interested in having a relationship with a mama’s boy or someone who would let their parents do the thinking for them, but I also appreciate my boyfriend’s closeness to his family and his listening to his parents who are open-minded and not intrusive. Therefore I would have been ambivalent in progressing further into the relationship if his parents would have objected. Thankfully they are reasonnable people, they do not hold predjudices against people from other backgrounds than their own, and if they had we would first have worked with them in finding out where their objections were from and what we could do to appease their fears.
     
    My comment @10 was more geared towards people in cross-cultural situations where apparent close-mindedness might come from a lack of exposure to others and to other ways of thinking. Having deeper discussions would allow to challenge these thoughts and maybe realize that acceptance is possible. I would try that approach first before either giving up their prospective partner or saying f*ck you – I’ll do as I please with no consideration of your feelings.

  15. 15
    RW

    #13 La Miss: I’m sorry.  That is a terrible end to the story.  As someone who is married to a non practicing Muslim herself, I know how hard it can be.  Luckily for me, neither my husband nor I are religious, almost to the point of being atheist and we were able to establish some very clear boundaries at the beginning of the relationship.  We are respectful of each other’s traditions and neither would dream of asking the other to convert.

    To the OP: I am also going to go against the grain like someone else did earlier and tell you to think very, VERY carefully and to be sure that this is what you really want.  You will sacrifice a large part of yourself.  Not because your future husband won’t be tolerant and open to all things Indian but because, quite simply, he is not Indian.  He will do his best but he won’t understand nuances, of behaviour, of traditions and of a myriad other things.  You will spend your life bridging the gap between your culture and his.  It can absolutely be done and is worth it for the right person but you have to be sure that it is what you want.

    I give this advice having been there and done that.  I am an Indian who married an Arab recently and the two years leading up to marriage were the happiest but the most difficult years of my life up to now.  I did not keep my relationship a secret because that is simply not the understanding I have with my parents.  We are open with each other to a fault.  I told them in the second month because a) I knew it was serious and not something I was likely to change my mind about and b) I wanted to give them time to get used to the situation.  To give them credit where it’s due, they made one strong attempt to dissuade me and once it was clear that I wouldn’t change my mind, they went along with it.  Not entirely happily but they went along with it.  Religion was the biggest hurdle and it took them months to get over that.  In the end, I got what I wanted: they were supportive and will always be but initially, I broke their hearts.

    The important thing to remember is that marriage is not just about you.  It is supposed to be a melding of two families and your family will factor into the equation whether you like it or not.  For better or for worse, Indian family bonds seem to be especially strong.  I agree that true love is not easy to come by and if that is what you have, by all means pursue it.   But also remember that your parents want what is best for you.  Try to remain sensitive to the fact that you’re asking them to make a sacrifice for your happiness (imagine how much easier the situation would have been for them if your boyfriend was the wonderful person he is but was also Indian).  There are many details missing from your email so it’s hard to compare your situation to mine but I will say this with absolute certainty: you are not doing yourself or your boyfriend a favour by keeping the relationship a secret.  All hell will break loose when you spill the beans but the longer you keep it a secret, the harder it will become: for you to actually say something and for them to accept it.

  16. 16
    Nicole

    I’m enjoying this discussion but I wish people from other cultures did not insist that “American” family bonds are somehow less significant or are substantially “weaker” than in other cultures.  It’s kind of like the whole “we value education more.”  No, not really.  We actually do take care of our aging parents, it’s just not a given that they will live with us(and trust me, a lot of old people in this country are really stubborn about giving UP their independence), although some of you would be surprised how often we do have multi-generational households, or at least pour a lot of money into caring for our elders (just ask the average Baby Boomer, frequently supporting elderly parents AND struggling children about that).  Good parents do provide their kids with a lifetime of support.  And they actually will sometimes do that with no strings attached, as long as you are trying to be a responsible, self-sufficient human being.  

    The main difference that would still be a sweeping generalization considering how many races, religions and ethnicities make up an “American” family is that in many of those groups, your parents do not expect your choice of mate to be something that they control, can veto, or that you are required to get their approval of.  They want you to be happy, and taken care of, but they don’t normally pull this whole “if you do this I’l banish you nonsense.”  It is not seen as such a source of shame upon them if you choose “badly” (unless you have a racist or xenophobic family).

    Clearly for a lot of Indians (in India), parents still have a lot of influence in the choice of a mate. It is seen as part of your familial obligation.  Some parents still expect you to have an arranged (but not forced) marriage.  And if you choose your mate, it might not be a done deal unless they give their blessing.   But the fact that my mother and father don’t expect to choose my husband or have a right of refusal, and will not emotionally blackmail me into picking someone they prefer (even if I’m making an awful choice), does not mean that our parent-child bond is not as strong as yours.  

    There are a lot of adjectives I could use to describe the fact that in some cultures, it is seen as acceptable for a parent to withhold love, affection, and support to you if you don’t bend to their will.  But that would be a bit hypocritical since I think it’s pretty insulting for so many people to think that we value our families and parents less.

    I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t already been mentioned, but as a minority female, I would not marry into a family if my partner was going to allow his parents to be a toxic influence upon us, if his parents had really racist ideas about my own culture, and if the person could not draw boundaries if the family was particularly difficult.  Since any children I have would likely identified by others as the same race as me, it’s important to think about what kind of partner and extended family can handle that.  You can’t have a partner who will sit silently by while you and your kids are subjected to racist (overt or subtle) attacks by his family, friends, or strangers, and that level of empathy for something that the other person can never experience seems like a rare thing to find.  

    I do say that I consider myself fortunate to have parents who raised me to have free will and use good judgement since that is how they raised me.   

  17. 17
    RW

    Nicole I didn’t say “American family bonds are weaker or less substantial”.  I’m not sure what part of my post suggested that.  This? 
    “For better or for worse, Indian family bonds seem to be especially strong.”  If I take out the “especially”, will that make it better?
    Why would you assume that this means that yours is not strong?  I find it very interesting that you immediately jumped to that conclusion.  Maybe there’s some back story of which I’m not aware.
    Re: Indians in India…HUH??  I don’t see the relevance.  When the OP said “I am an Indian girl”, I assumed she was a girl of Indian descent living in North America.  Maybe I assumed wrong. At the very least, it applies to me and that was the context in which I was speaking.  When I said, “I’m an Indian married to an Arab”, I meant “a Canadian of Indian descent married to a Canadian of Arab descent”.  I thought the North American part was obvious.  My apologies.  Our parents don’t “arrange” for us to marry anyone here.  At least the educated majority don’t.  There are always outliers.  Even in India, this behaviour is on the decline.  However, there are many who choose that path for themselves; they choose to be offered viable options through parental connections because they don’t want to wade through the murky world of dating.  That doesn’t mean their parents have some sort of hold on them.
    I will admit that Indian parents prefer their children to marry others of Indian descent but honestly, I see nothing wrong with that.  It is not because of some superiority complex but because they are afraid of losing their culture.  They would like their grandchildren to be able to speak the same language they grew up speaking in addition to English and to embody the same good values they grew up with.  This is the same in any culture, I’m sure.  So if their children found amazing spouses of other cultures who respected this thought process, they would welcome this spouse with open arms.  In turn, they would expect their child to show the same respect for the culture he/she has married into.  You cannot blame them for being reticent and scared to begin with though, especially if they are first generation immigrants.  Let’s face it, interracial marriages add an extra dimension of difficulty, more so if there are different religions involved.

  18. 18
    RW

    In retrospect, I can see how “Indian parents prefer their children to marry others of Indian descent” will appear to some as racist.  I will clarify.  It is less a matter of race than it is of religion.  Christian Indians will happily marry other Christians.  Muslim Indians will happily marry other Muslims.  I don’t know much about Buddhist or Jewish Indians but I imagine it is the same for them.  Sikh, Hindu and Jain Indians have little choice but to marry other Indians if they want to stay within their faiths.  It is to those last two that I was referring when I made my comment.

    1. 18.1
      kin

      dude, its totally racist. you should not judge a person by his/her caste color etc.. a human should be seen as human. 

  19. 19
    Heather

    @ Fusee,

    I agree with you, 100 percent.  When I recently flew to the Midwest to meet my guy’s family, I was scared spitless.  I almost panicked when the plane left the gate!  I thought oh NO, now I’m going to be 1,000 miles from home, and if they don’t like me, I am so screwed.  I was even kind of hiding behind my guy when we came out of the airport to meet his Mom who came to pick us up!  I was scared but determined that if this didn’t go well, I was going to end it with my guy.  I will never again be in a relationship where the guy’s family doesn’t like me for whatever reason.  I deserve better than open rejection, or being stabbed in the back.  And I wasn’t going to put him through all that, going between me and them.  Because family usually wins out, and I knew that in the end, I’d probably be the one getting hurt.

    Thankfully thus far, his family likes and accepts me as is.  My family accepts my guy as he is.  My family wishes he went to church, but they also wish I went to church, but since I’m adamantly atheist, it is so not going to happen!

    Someone also posted that it’s hard if you’re dating someone of a different religion, and especially if their family is deeply rooted in that religion.  That is why I no longer date Christian men, because I know that will cause big problems for me down the road.  Conflict with the guy, his family, the whole kit and kaboodle.  I just make it clear, no church-goers, nobody who is really “into” their religion.  It just won’t work.  Yes, it narrowed my pool a lot but that’s fine.  I know me and what’s best for me.

  20. 20
    Gina

    I am an African American woman who was once married to an East Indian man his family accepted me; however, the relationship failed because he was a momma’s boy, womanizer, and had a gambling addiction. My family always accepted whomever I wanted to date as long as they treated me right. 

    If the OP has that strong of a tie to her family, it is better for her to find an Indian man.

  21. 21
    Kathleen

    I brought my black boyfriend home to meet my white parents in Australia approx 25 years ago.  I hadn’t told them he was black but remember vividly racist comments my dad had made in the past. Im a strong independent woman and this man was my number one priority. I figured if my parents had an issue that was their problem I didn’t depend on them since I left home in my late teens. My dad nearly crashed the car a few times driving us from the airport but we did survive.

    I can imagine this man in the topic question would become disenchanted with being a shameful secret after 2 years.  

  22. 22
    Nicole

    @RW, the back story is that I see the comment written by a lot of people of Indian descent.  That is all.  And I’m aware that not everyone has an arranged, marriage, and in fact, very few Indian-Americans that I know has had one (actually, probably only one).  My Indian born friends have a mix of  arranged and “love matches.”  Don’t act like arranged marriages aren’t something that is a possibility for Indians (although less common if they are born and raised in the West), and some people of other cultures use it as well.

    It’s just been a long time since that kind of marriage has been commonplace in Western cultures, excluding royals.  It’s a valid point of comparison that the pressure put on some of us to marry someone the same color is less, although if I had kids, I’d prefer for them to marry someone of my race too.  My parents actually probably care less than I personally do.  I’ve also noticed a hierarchy with some Indians…so a white guy might be okay but a black guy wouldn’t.  

    But you can pretend that I know nothing about it if that makes you feel better.

  23. 23
    henriette

    I feel for the letter-writer but I feel more for her secret boyfriend.  I certainly would not want to marry, or even fall in love with, someone whose family would never accept me.  If I were advising him, I’d say, “run!”  Advising Anonymous, I’d say if you truly care about him, let him go so he can find a woman who can proudly date him out in the open.

  24. 24
    RW

    Again, I think I’m being misunderstood.  Not saying that arranged marriages are not a possibility.  They often are, even here.  But not because parents emotionally blackmail their children into anything which is what you were suggesting.  Again, does the emotional blackmail happen?  Yes it does.  But not in the majority of cases.

    >> I’ve also noticed a hierarchy with some Indians…so a white guy might be okay but a black guy wouldn’t.   
    Yes, agreed.  I’ve seen this too.  It’s a very bad thing and I hope we see it change in our lifetime.  But Indians are hardly the only culture to suffer from this prejudice so I’m confused about relevance.  Are you saying that Indians suffer especially from this particular prejudice?  Maybe, but that hasn’t been my experience.  I’ve seen it everywhere.

    I’m not trying to start a fight but I feel that you are bringing things you’ve read or experienced elsewhere and applying incorrectly to comments here.  Maybe you weren’t even responding to me but I assumed you were because 1) you posted right after I did and 2) no one else made comments about “family bonds”.  

    Maybe we should just agree to disagree and leave it at that even though I’m not really even sure what we’re disagreeing with at this point :)

  25. 25
    Heather

    @ Henriette,

    Yes absolutely, the boyfriend should take off.  As adults, we do not have to sit and take any kind of abuse or insults from anyone, at any time.  I had a very hard time trying to bite my tongue and taking the higher road, when my momma’s boy ex-boyfriend broke up with me, because I so wanted to write his momma a letter to say, “Well I’m sorry that YOU think I’m not good enough for your son.  However, MY Mom thinks that YOU are a stuck up, rude, nasty bitch!”  It’s very hard to be rejected for no truly valid reason.

    Thankfully, my current guy’s family is all the way back in Ohio, hours away from here.  And his Mom is really not the overbearing type.  She’s a Mom, and Moms will always do things for their kids, but she doesn’t boss him around.  I will never again date anyone whose parents are that involved in their lives.

  26. 26
    Karl R

    Anonymous said: (original post)
    “We have been together for 2 years.”
    “I feel he may be getting tired of the secretive relationship.”
    “He used to see a future with me, but lately it feels like he may not be in love with me.”

    I strongly suspect that you’ve already screwed this relationship up beyond your ability to save it.

    You’ve spent two years telling him (by your actions) that you’re not serious about him.

    Anonymous said: (original post)
    “I could see myself with him forever.”

    If you were actually intending to be with him forever, there is no reason to keep the relationship a secret from your family. The secrecy only makes sense if you expect (or intend) the relationship to end without your family ever learning about it.

    Anonymous said: (original post)
    “If I follow my heart I feel I have disappointed the family, and if I try to please the family I feel I have disappointed him.”

    You’ve convinced yourself that this is a choice between your family and your boyfriend. I don’t believe that’s actually the case.

    If you had told your family, and they disapproved, then it would be a choice between family and your boyfriend.

    But you haven’t even given your family the opportunity to demonstrate that they are enlightened individuals who can see how wonderful this man is.

    Instead, you have been making a choice between your boyfriend and secrecy. And for two years, you have chosen secrecy every single time. Your boyfriend is less important to you than a secret.

    For two years your actions have consistently told him that he has no future with you. He’s finally beginning to believe the message.

    Wouldn’t you walk away from that?

  27. 27
    AS

    As a fellow Indian woman I can relate to this dilemma. Having a secret relationship is hard work and can cause a strain on a relationship, which I am guessing reading between the lines may be the case here.
    It’s a horrible situation to be in, but ultimately it is your life and you have to do what is going to make you happy. My friend was in a similar situation – an Indian woman in her late 20s, with an English man who was 18 years her senior, divorced with 3 kids. At first her family threatened to disown her but eventually when they could see how much she loved him and how much he loved her and they came round. They have now been happily married for 10 years and have 2 children of their own. Good luck and remember – it’s your life and you have to do what’s right for you, not anyone else.

  28. 28
    SeeClearly

    Some great posts so far.   I was in a 3-year relationship with a Pakistani Muslim man whose strict parents would not have approved of our connection.  I say “would not have” because they never knew about me – he kept me secret the entire time.  This gave rise to lack of trust on my behalf, a feeling of not being supported by him, divisiveness because he felt he had to choose, a feeling of being “not good enough”, etc. etc.

    But to back things up a bit:  As a modern, North American-born woman (and atheist), I now reflect back and realize that I should have declined to date him in the first place.   Because a person who is burdened by all those family and cultural expectations (and I pass no judgment) is not and would NEVER become “ready” for a relationship with me.  In fact, I think it was a huge red flag (that I  missed completely) that a man like that was even interested in a true relationship — if he was, then there were many, many other women more closely aligned with his family’s expectations.   He chose me (and I chose him), because we were both emotionally unavailable. 

  29. 29
    Kathleen

    Great points Karl #26

    Its also an interesting observation to me the Anonymous describes herself as a girl not a woman.

     
    I agree with Henriette. I hope this man finds a mature woman who is proud to be with him. Lack of acceptance will kill relationships if it hasn’t already.  

  30. 30
    Dagaz

    I do not think it is so much of cultural or racial issues.
    I was married twice to the guys from the same country as I am and both times it was a nightmare with their not-accepting parents and relatives (first time because i am not Jewish, second time because I was 7 years older than my husband). Every time I was publically humiliated or offended intentionally by their relatives, I have tried to talk to my husband(s), and every time the answer was kind of “they are my family, I need to live with them”. Same story about my current BF – some of his relatives don’t even want to meet me after 2 years us being together. And he doesn’t want to “fight” with them.
    Oh well.
    I was in their shoes, dating foreigner or someone whom my parents didn’t like. And I was fighting with them for a while. Not because of my man, but mostly because of respect to MY CHOICE. And yes, after a while my parents accepted it.
    The point is, Anonymus – it is how do you respect your own choices, your path, your life. Start from here. It is NOT your job to live a life to make parents or relatives happy in their way. Live your own life and find your own happiness. And fight for it, if needed.
    Otherwise you will live always in silly compromises, which sooner or later will destroy you.
     

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