Friday, June 12, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "Are Indian women braver than Indian men when it comes to telling traditional parents?"

(Img via Rob Bye)

Sharing a letter/observation from a reader....

Hi Alexandra,

I have noticed a sad trend in your "Ask Firangi Bahu" section and elsewhere, of letter writers and commentators sharing heartbreaking stories about Indian men leading on both non-Indian and Indian women for years, promising love, a future, and marriage only to unceremoniously dump their girlfriends to have arranged marriages to women of their parents' choosing.

Coincidentally or not, all of the Indian women I know married to non-Indian men either came from supportive families or actually had the courage to be permanently disowned from their racist families. The only exception to this was a relative of an Indian friend who dated her Indian boyfriend for five years and then left him to have an arranged marriage.

Maybe my sample size is too small, but it does seem overall Indian women are braver than Indian men.

Life and time march on. My hope is that the women who are heartbroken by these cowards move on and find men who love them unconditionally.

However, I am inclined to think that the Indian men who could so cruelly and cravenly abandon the women they claimed to love are unlikely to make any woman happy. They may please their parents by marrying an acceptable woman from their "community" yet their prior behavior speaks volumes about their dearth of character. If they were unwilling to defend and love the first woman in their life, are they capable of doing that for the woman their parents choose for them?

Here is a summarized after story in one of these situations. I do not know what happened to the foreign woman who was misled for years, I hope she found a much better man. But I do know the desi man is miserable with his arranged marriage wife. They are the unhappiest couple I know.

My message to any Indian man considering dumping his girlfriend because she is a foreigner or from the "wrong" caste/religion/ethnic group and your parents will be displeased if you marry her is to think long-term about your future. Will you regret your decision? You may make your parents happy today but what will you do to the woman you made so many false promises to? How will you feel in five years? Do you really want to marry someone your parents choose for you? Why did you mislead your girlfriend if ultimately you would just use and throw her away like trash and then have an arranged marriage? What kind of person are you? How will you feel in twenty years? Will your parents - who you made so happy today, even be alive then? If you have emigrated outside of India why is it still important to you to marry someone from your so-called "community"? Finding a person who truly loves you often happens only once in a lifetime, are you sure you really want to give that up? When you are old and dying will you be proud of how you have lived your life?


What do you think, dear readers? 
Do you know someone who was dumped for an arranged marriage?
Do you think Indian women who are in intercultural relationships are braver than Indian men who are in the same situation?
Do you think Indian men who put their parents' first will put their new wife first in the marriage? Why or why not?



  1. No, I don't believe in any of that. You can get dumped in the west. And I don't believe there is only one true love out there waiting for you, that is romantic trash, in my opinion.

    In my experience, Indian people are very pragmatic. Many Indian families have no car, no A/C, no fridge, no washing machine, they rely a lot on family members and friends for daily help. So obviously when a guy gets married he looks for a partner who can fit in his life, never mind what the parents have to say.

    1. Wtf? The Indian families who have no car/ac/fridge/washing machine are never in a position to get involved with a foreigner. They are normally village folks who spend all their lives in their villages. The guys being talked about in this discussion are from upper-middle class/rich families. That's why they could afford to go abroad in the first place.
      Indian people are not very pragmatic. In fact 70% of them have no mind of their own and follow the herd. Well you can call them pragmatic if putting social stature, how you are percieved by others and financial wellbeing above your true feelings/love is sensible to you.

    2. Sikander, thanks for confirming what I have been suspecting for a long time ; in most the windian couples featured on the internet, the Indian men come from very rich families, hence the problems encountered by their middle-class western wife/girlfriend.

    3. Maybe some are rich, but I believe there are a lot of middle-class too.

    4. i was in this situation with my indian boyfriend. he promised me he will stay with me, anywhere in the world (we met living abroad). but when the time came, he left to india, not coming back, i suppose he is having an arranged marriage soon, cause he has a strange behavior all the time. to cut the pain i decided to stop talking to him, he made me miserable. think twice before dating an indian man.

    5. i was in this situation with my indian boyfriend. he promised me he will stay with me, anywhere in the world (we met living abroad). but when the time came, he left to india, not coming back, i suppose he is having an arranged marriage soon, cause he has a strange behavior all the time. to cut the pain i decided to stop talking to him, he made me miserable. think twice before dating an indian man.

  2. It is difficult to say that Indian women are braver than Indian men when it comes to telling their traditional parents because the sample sizes are not equal. Compared to men, the number of women who go abroad to study/work is very small. Most of these women are from modern, progressive & financially well-off families. That's why it appears that their chances at a successful interracial relationship are more than Indian men.
    When it comes to men, even middle class families since the past decade or so have started to send their sons abroad to make money and improve their financial position. These people are not that progressive and want their sons to marry a girl from back home of their own choice who will look after them in their old age. In most of these arranged setups, the girl comes from a known family of distant cousin of friend of neighbour etc(you get the idea). The point is, they are scared of forming an alliance with a complete stranger family and like to have as much assurance as possible that the girl is from a good family because that uncle who has known them for years vouched for them.
    If the NRI son finds a girl for himself abroad and asks his parents to marry him to her, they are very sceptical and predisposed to not accept the relationship. If the son stands his ground, two scenarios can arise - either they accept the union sooner or later(which happens most of the times) or they disown the son and cut off all contact forever(very rare to happen).
    The sons who bow down in front of their parents' demands are usually mollycoddled and sheltered since childhood and can't take the parental pressure/emotional blackmail for long. Then there's the other kind of guys who like to play around and have fun while hiding behind excuses of their parents' unwillingness to accept their relationship. These men are to be avoided. They have no intention of ever talking to their parents about their relationship and will lie to the girl endlessly just to keep her around for sex/fun.Those who stand their ground are the ones who are independent and strong both financially and emotionally. Their promise to their love is forever binding. My advice to the foreigner girl would be to carefully observe and look for these characteristics when dating an Indian guy. It will give you an indication of what their intentions are regarding your relationship.

    1. Very well written, I agree with everything you've mentioned. The most dangerous ones are who makes false promises with no intention of getting married and seek arranged marriage per their convenience.

    2. Agreed. That is true - there are much more single men going abroad than single women.

  3. wow what about the divorce disasters in western culture?? though I am not defending my Indian countrymen who dump their gfs after a long relationship. the bitter truth or fact is that Indian marriages don't run on the fuel of love, instead they run on the fuel of compromises. They go for arrange marriage because they can't survive financially and socially without their parents. so they just yield to their parents choice. If they are financially and socially specialty financially capable than they can go for their wish.
    So love relationship with an Indian (I am indian too) is bad idead.

    1. Western divorce rates are an irrelevant deflection to this discussion but if you want to start a new thread I will write you a long essay enumerating the Indians I have met who should be divorced but are not because of societal expectations. Infidelity, alcoholism, abuse, incest, the list goes on and it is shocking what Indian women are expected by their culture to endure.

      I disagree with you that Indians need their parents' support to survive financially and socially. If survival is defined as a comfortable home/lifestyle and community acceptance than parental support may be necessary. Yet if survival is defined in its most pure form a couple can survive in the most basic accommodation and be pariahs to a group of narrow-minded bigots. They can surround themselves with the support of relatives and friends who accept and love them, who needs selfish parents?

      I have Indian friends who have been disowned by their parents because they made the apparently unforgivable mistake of marrying the person they love. Are they surviving? They are thriving and could care less about their backward parents and other relatives. One Mumbai couple I know started their married life in a slum but were happy and completely self-made people. They have worked hard and now are middle class.

      It may be convenient to have the support of parents but it is far from necessary if a couple is committed and willing to sacrifice.

      - Rebecca

  4. That is a great discussion but only one thing I wish to say: I do not want to be raised the way Indian women are raised and taught that they have to love the man / husband who will be chosen for them by their parents. I am not part of herd, I am a human with feelings and opinion, I am not waiting for my parents or anybody else to tell me who I should marry or love. Wish good luck to all the people being prisoners in their marriages. The day I learn how it will be possible for me (I can not even imagine it) to love and make love with unknown for me man that same day I will understand and accept the arranged marriages.

  5. @ Rebecca
    No madam, parents are not selfish.
    They work day and night to give their children a good life.
    The difference between east and west is like difference between black and white.
    I.e. we wear white outfits in death ceremony and in west people wear white in marriage ceremony.
    Same way in west if people live with their parent's , it is considered taboo. whereas in east or in India you don't live with your parents than it is considered taboo.
    I will iterate one thing if you are earning good and are not depended on parents partly or completely, you can go with your choice.

    PS. I am not defending or justifying anything.
    PPS.. sorry for my bad English, its not my native language.

    1. Parents who are selfless want their children to be happy. Parents who are selfish are only concerned with their own needs and desires and do not care if their children are unhappy. Therefore parents who object to their child marrying someone who he/she loves for ridiculous reasons like nationality or religion or concerns about what others think are selfish. How can you not understand this?

      Of course parents work hard to provide a good life for their children. What was your point?

      I am an American woman who has been married to and Indian man for a decade and let me explain something to you. The difference between east and west is not black and white. Yes there are cultural difference and superficial variations like clothes and taboos. But simply people are people. All people experience a range of emotions and all people are faced with similar major choices in their lives. I have been fortunate to travel to several countries around the world and although languages and religion may divide us on the surface I have met amazing and not so amazing people in every place I traveled to. I found many more similarities than differences.

      Where are you getting your information? I will not speak for Europe but there are plenty of Americans who live with their parents during some part of their adult years, especially when the parents are elderly. I have always admired people who provide care to their parents during often years of disease and degeneration.

      No need to apologize for your English, it is impressive that you can communicate in a language besides your native language.

      Do not be afraid to defend or justify anything, just have the logic and reasoning to back up your arguments.

      - Rebecca

  6. I'm an American woman and my husband is Tamil with traditional parents. We're lucky that our relationship as not challenged by his parents - in part because he and his parents have a relationship based on respect and trust, and because our own relationship was just as practical as it was romantic. Still, going through the process of 'coming out' to his parents was enlightening. Although we had no major issues, I wouldn't be surprised if an Indian man's decision to have an arranged marriage is based more on things like 'practicality' and 'honor' than emotion - with 'bravery' (sometimes, but not always) having little to do with it. This might be because traditional societal practices tend to favor and benefit men, and men are in charge of taking care of their families -- so the son AND his family risks losing a lot if the son breaks from tradition. A woman, as a 'tradable good' that goes from one house to another after marriage, probably has less to lose in defying their own families since they have to leave them anyway to go and live with their in-laws. I personally think it's a little cheap to say that a decision is always 'brave' or 'cowardly' when there are so many other hidden factors at play (although some decisions definitely are brave and cowardly)! Even if there are good reasons, it's never fair for one lover to lead another one on -- unceremoniously dumping them after months or years of stringing them along... That's not right, either. Those people should try to clarify their values and life goals (to themselves and to their lovers) as early on as feasibly possible. I wish all struggling couples the best!

    1. I agree with you. (Pad)

  7. @ Rebecca
    Hmm Indian society is changing, no complete India is in changing. Today the old traditions and rules and modern thoughts both exists together.
    So its a matter of luck if you bump into conservative or modern family.
    Even in my family we have 3 inter-state marriages.
    But general perception here is that you can go with your choice if your capable enough.
    BTW parents are not selfish no matter what they impose on us.

  8. I'm really amused how people generalise based on one experience or other. Bravery/ cowardice has nothing to do with nationality or your race. It is only the physical traits that differ amongst all us humans yet we do all have the same things surprisingly.
    Why do you think the divorce rate is less in India? Because of various reasons but I'm gonna highlight two important ones.
    1. Most women are dependent on their husbands
    2. They are scared of the society.
    Unlike U.S, Canada, China, Korea, Singapore amd Amy other countries dignity of labour is still not there in India. The average Indian woman actually wants to leave her husband if he is abusing her or because of alcoholic or any other reason. Which sane, rational person wants to stay in that kind of marriage? But she has to earn a living. If she is educated she might be lucky to get hired as teacher with a meagre amount of salary even without the proper credentials but it isn't easy making a decent living doing underpaid labour jobs. The highly educated woman working in a private or public sector in India will want out of this kind of marriage
    They are very scared of society and its finger pointing because they might actually make it hell for her which in her opinion isn't better than getting divorced and hence tries to make her marriage work. Some highly educated, logical and working women are actually not putting up with any kind of nonsense and wanting out of abusive marriages, society be damned like the average western woman.
    As for living with parents, I personally don't see how or what culture has to do with it. If parents and kids both are comfortable living under the same roof and getting along nicely then it is nobody's problem. It doesn't matter whether it is the east or west.There can't actually be a norm for it. In my opinion it is actually something to appreciate.
    Brave ppl, cowards, alcoholics, rapists, gangsters, loving, kind, unkind, cunning, innocent, sincere all kinds exist every freaking where. Human values have nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or nationality.

  9. What do you think, dear readers?
    - I do not think I agree with the reader's observations.

    Do you know someone who was dumped for an arranged marriage?
    -Yes. Many. Some are inter cultural but some are Indians from different states.

    Do you think Indian women who are in intercultural relationships are braver than Indian men who are in the same situation?

    - Nope. I have known plenty of women back out due to family pressure and arranged marriage and marry someone within 2 months of breaking up.

    I think we do have to take into account that there are more Indian men dating foreigners than Indian women due to various reasons. My feeling is that there is lesser pressure on men to conform and be the good boy than women. Men may have more freedom and can afford to be 'disobedient' than women. Thus, they are more likely to date foreigners because dating does not spoil their arranged marriage prospects unlike for women who will be affected if found out. Also, many women take all these factors into account before dating and just would not rather date foreign men. I have met so many Indian guys dating foreginers but Indian women dating foreigners are very rare but they seem to be getting common lately. I am always on the lookout for intercultural couples.

    Do you think Indian men who put their parents' first will put their new wife first in the marriage? Why or why not?
    - Obviously not because they don't really learn to stand up. If they cannot stand up for someone they love, why the hell would they stand up for someone they barely know. Instead they might redirect all the anger and resentment at the new wife instead of at their parents.

  10. I was in a very complicated relationship with an Indian man who unfortunately could never make up his mind or stand up for himself. I don't know whether it was because he wasn't really love me and never meant to be seriously with me or because he wasn't mature enough and too afraid of his parents since he seemed to be quite dependent on them financially. I think he was raised in an emotionally unstable family. During relationship he would turn to be very temperamental and detach whenever I tried to confront him whether he was seriously with me or not. I was stupidly waiting for years for him to change but it never happened. An other Indian friend told me that my Indian man was never doing anything no matter whatever he did for me unless he was honest to his parents and family about me, and I think my friend was right. While with me he behaved like he was my bf but behind me he behaved like I was not exist in his world. It hurt so much. Really. I am not from India but I am an Asian too but I live in the country where parents, relatives, and society are less selfish and ready to work together to make ones' love come true. I am Asian and my family is quite strict but they reject the idea of bigotry and unnecessary culture. Thank God. Now I wish my ex luck. Wish he would be happy with the girl whom his parents pick for him. If he isn't happy, bad luck for him. To all foreign girls out there, please please please think thousand times before you decide to date any Indian men if you don't want to end up broken hearted. Indian men are fun to make friends with but not for love especially if you seek for long term relationship.


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