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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
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.