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

I’ve searched your blog for the answer to my question but couldn’t find it. I started reading your blog in 2013 and it helped me get rid of an alpha male in my life and encouraged me to try online dating. I met a wonderful man online who is successful in his career, affectionate, generous with his time, etc. He treats me so well and our compatibility is incredible. I have never had a relationship go as smoothly as this. I lost my job last year and with his encouragement and support, I got through a difficult time. A few months after meeting we became exclusive, online profiles deleted, and we’ve met the majority of important people in each other’s lives. I told him I was in love a few months ago, but he admitted he doesn’t feel that yet.

My boyfriend and I are both from the same ethnic background, practice the same religion, but our families come from different regions of the same country. He never mentioned (even though I asked on our 3rd date) that his parents are completely against him marrying an “outsider.”

In the last month his parents have been pressuring him to get an arranged marriage. We got into an argument about this a week ago. He told me he wasn’t 100% sure that he wanted a future with me and needed time to think because he’s been the happiest with me. He knows his parents won’t approve (I sent him your blog answer on that too!) and isn’t sure if he wants to make them unhappy.

This has been the longest week of my life. I have not been contacting him, even though he’s sent a few texts. How long do I give him the space needed? Should I even wait? I was single for years before I met him. I really have been the type of girlfriend I always wanted to be with him. Calm, understanding, and busy with my own life! I work full time (again), have an art career on the side, and constantly going out with my friends. I have been so happy with him and believe he’s worth the wait. But I wonder if he hasn’t made a decision after a week, is silence an answer?

Varsha

Dear Varsha,

I’ve written about this subject many times.

But I guess I’ll take another crack at it, in hopes that newer readers who are too lazy to click on the above links will challenge their beliefs and make healthier relationship choices.

No matter how much your boyfriend loves his family and no matter how much their hearts are in the “right place,” it’s not their life to live.

First: I’m glad you enjoy the blog. I’m glad you got over a jerk. I’m glad you tried online dating. I’m glad you found a wonderful man who has stuck with you through thick and thin. That level of aptitude is something you deserve credit for — and something that will come into play if your current relationship doesn’t work out.

And make no mistake, there is a distinct chance that this one might not work out.

Let me share with you my line of thinking:

1. I am not minimizing or judging the outsized role that family plays when it comes to various ethnic weddings — in this case, an Indian wedding. I have multiple white friends who married into Indian families, and, almost universally, these families made it hell on both the bride and groom — all in the name of cultural purity, tribalism and tradition.

I will say, however, that no matter how much your boyfriend loves his family and no matter how much their hearts are in the “right place,” it’s not their life to live. If he chooses to sacrifice true love — which, as we know, is hard enough to find — just because your families come from separate regions of India, I have no sympathy for him — and nor should you.

2. That may sound like I don’t understand the enormous pressure you feel to please your respective parents. I do. I just don’t care. As I wrote just recently, if my Mom told me that she “forbid” me to marry my Catholic wife or would disown me if I made that choice, SHE would be the one making the choice to ruin our family, NOT me. Thus, there is nothing for you to do here, Varsha. No reason to blame yourself. No reason to figure out how to strategize. This is your boyfriend’s battle — to figure out if he wants to be an independent man capable of making his own decisions or whether he’s going to be a puppet of his extended family and deny himself the joy of marrying someone of his own choosing.

3. I’m not against arranged marriage, per se. Reva Seth wrote an amazing book called “First Comes Marriage” about what Westerners can learn from arranged marriage. I’m only against arranged marriage for people who DON’T WANT ARRANGED MARRIAGE.

As to what you do — silence vs. no silence? — these are all games and you are above playing games.

I’m not against arranged marriage, per se. I’m only against arranged marriage for people who DON’T WANT ARRANGED MARRIAGE.

Be an adult. Pick up the phone. If you agree with me, tell him your spin on what I outlined above. You love him. You want to be with him. And while you’d love to make both of your families happy, this is a defining moment for him as a person. Will he capitulate, and break up with a devoted girlfriend, just to make mommy happy? Or will he stand up and tell his family that he made a decision and he really hopes they can get on board.

If he chooses the latter, I am confident that his family will eventually come around to support him.

If he chooses the former, you have not lost the man you thought you lost, and you should not waste another second of time pining for this guy.