Friday, November 20, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "We are dating but he is getting married to somebody else..."

Sharing a letter from a reader...

"I saw your article online. I was pleased to hear all of the positive things you said and felt quite relieved that you have an email address. I met a young resident doctor on the Surgical floor that I am working in. He wasn't really my type, initially. I didn't think he was handsome at all. But when we went out on our first date, and I got to know him better, I find that he is such a precious jewel. He is from the South and has his strict beliefs. He wears a red string around his waist. I am a devout Christian woman, and I am saving my virginity for marriage. 

As we spend more and more time together, I ask him where exactly we were headed to, if he wanted to be in a relationship with me. He was very open and honest and told me the sad news. He said he likes me and cares a lot about me but after he will be done with his residency here, with is in 10 months, his parents have arranged a woman for him to marry. He is not engaged yet, and he has not met the girl. When he starts his fellowship in 10 months, he will meet the woman who his parents have arranged for him. He wants to consent to this for fear of being dis-owned by his family and his parents not talking to him as long as he lives. 

He asked me if I wish to continue on our path to love and spending time together, even if I am aware that in 10 months, we both shall part ways. 

 I mentioned to him that there are couples I know who intermarried and who's parents forsake them but eventually down the road, they reconnected again. With tears, he explains to me that even though that's a possibility, he cannot imagine not speaking to his parents. He talks to them everyday and has a very strong, deep connection with them. He explains that in the first few years of marriage, couples will encounter marital problems and will seek their parents love, counsel and comfort in those tough times. Also he added, that they are getting old and not in good shape, if anything were to happen to them, he couldn't take the thought of not being able to talk to them and care for them.

I asked him if there was anything I could do to be acceptable to his parents, and he said any guy would be so blessed to have me and I am more than "good enough" because I possess all the qualities to make a husband very happy. But he said, "My parents are very shallow minded and that is such a shame." When I told him, we should end things now before it gets really tough later, he paused and tried to hold back his tears. He didn't say a word. But I can tell he was deeply hurt. He continues to send me text messages and he invited me for dinner tonight.

When someone broke into my house a few nights ago, he couldn't sleep, and was constantly checking on me even when he was at work. He said he was so worried, he cares so much about me, and has feelings for me. All my Indian female friends are protesting to leave him and not ever talk to him again. But at the end of the day, I'm thinking... you leave a guy when he disrespects you, cheats on you, abuses you, or drains all your money and energy, and hurts you. He hasn't done any of these. In fact, he brings out the best in me. Everyday, he inspires me to not settle for less, but to go back to school and try to be a doctor. He thinks I'm too smart to be a nurse all my life. He calls me when he hears that I had a bad day at work through his sources of information. He constantly checks on me to make sure I am okay and happy. And he may not say it, but I can feel it in his heart that he loves me and doesn't want me to leave right now. I've dated assholes, jerks, players, users, etc. I can smell them from a distance. I have become so familiar with their ways. But all I can sense in him is love, peace, deep sadness, and a feeling that he will miss me when this is all going to end. I don't know if he is trying to figure things out. 

I really am overwhelmed by this. I want to fight for my love for him but I have such fear of the unknown and scared to death of what might happen to me once he leaves. I am terrified to think that I might not be able to deal with it. 

I need your input and your advise. Please help me I am in a state of confusion. I don't know how to move forward from here, whether to leave him now or just make the most of the time we have left together. And I'm grieving. It's almost as if I dated someone with Leukemia and the doctor tells me he only has 10 months to live.

I feel so disabled and paralysed I don't know where to go from here. Thank you."


Dear readers, have you ever been in a situation where you love someone knowing that it will end in heartbreak?
Any red flags here?
Do you think a lot of desi men are trapped in double lives - living between what their parents want and what they really want?
What can the reader do for her sanity?
Do you think there is hope for these star-crossed lovers?



  1. I love this letter. You descriptions of this man reminds me so much of the best qualities of my south Indian husband. So here's the question -- should you date a man who is planning to be married to someone else in 10 months? Some of the answer depends on your appetite for risk. I do believe that after dating you for a few months this man MIGHT change his mind and decide you are worth upsetting his parents for. Or he might not and leave you heartbroken. But any relationship can end up in heartbreak whether you plan it from the start or not. If I were you I would take the risk and go for it, if you don't you will be asking yourself "what if?" for the rest of your life.

    1. This happened to me. I started dating my ex south indian boyfriend, knowing that he was going to live the country in half a year. He never disrespected me. He kept this relationship going on, and moving on, he never wanted to finish it, in fact he was the one u push things relationship to move on and start growing. Your boy seems to be very similar to my ex, is behavior and his personality. Very respectful, loving etc. Theres one problem, my boyfriend broke up with me before going back to india, after that he has been the most disrespectful person i've ever meet, he had bad actions towards me. Think twice, this can hurt u emotionally for a long time. Good luck

  2. My feelings may not sit well with you. You are setting yourselves up for the worst heartbreak you have ever endured. If you continue in some kind of quasi relationship it will steal many many tears and years from your life. This man has said he intends to marry another, he's said he cannot endure being separated or cut off from his parents. He has clearly warned you! Some of us were not that fortunate.

    It appears by what you have said that you are already in love with him and if you continue this relationship and he does accept the marriage, you run a great risk of being put in a position that would ordinarily be against your morals and ethics. You will find it almost impossible to leave him once he is engaged when he is still showing signs of his affection and concern for you. You will end up crossing the line somewhere. Perhaps not physically but emotionally for sure. You will tell yourself "oh it's an arranged marriage they don't know each other so it doesn't hurt to keep loving him until he leaves".

    Even if you don't do anything unethical why would you want to keep in contact with him? Why do that to yourself and to him. When he goes home to India and texts you that he misses you or is lonely or that he had a fight with his wife. How will that make you feel? What will your response do to him? His relationship with his wife will suffer if there is an emotional connection with you. If you really care for him let him live his life without your interference. I know it is heartbreaking but nothing good will ever come of this situation.

    If you cut all contact with him you will be doing yourself, him and his future wife/children a huge favour. There is also a small chance that if his love for you is truly so great he may actually decide he can't live without and actually stand up to his parents. But staying only muddies the waters and confuses you both. Tell him honestly that you love him but can't be with someone who is committing to another. If he changes his mind and stands up for you then he knows where you are.

    It is a sad reality that many Indian men will sacrifice their future happiness for their parents sake. Don't make it too easy to sacrifice your happiness as well. Gracefully step out of his life if he is not able to step out of his for you.

    I know it sounds like I have no sympathy for him. I do but I have been through this. I know they are torn between their responsibilities, love and respect for their parents and a world where they get to fall in love with someone without first having the bonds of marriage.

    But at the end of the day his parents will be gone one day and if he is miserable with his wife or grows to love her is something he will have to deal with alone. If you stay connected to him during this process neither of you will know peace.

    1. I could not agree with you more on this issue.

      LW - you will be prolonging the inevitable. He may be a wonderful man but I have no respect for any man that strings along a woman and excuses himself with the "I told her from the very beginning so if she gets hurt is her fault". Partially this may be true but if he knows that he will go back to India and marry a woman chosen by his parents and that he will not disobey them under any circumstances or regardless of his feelings why not tell you that he rather stay friends and that he will not encourage you or reciprocate your feelings. Having that first date with you to being with knowing that his future has already been mapped out for him by his parents was a little dishonest, sorry!

      Better to stop this from getting any further now than for you to get more in love with him and having your heart broken worst later on. You can continue with this if you want but keep in mind that you will also be responsible for your own heartbreak.

      Best of luck,

      Millie B

    2. Mine cheated on me. at least yours his honest. You should leave him beforehand. This is gonna be very very painful because this relationship will become intimate at some point. Been in this situation with my ex indian boy. Just leave him, for your own good. Good luck

  3. Get out now.

    So many of us have married Indian men who had to fight their families to marry us. I'm sure your guys is as wonderful as you say...but in the end he is not willing to fight for your relationship.

    Everyone is entitled to their own priorities and his is his family. That is fine. He may be right. There may be incredible opposition to him marrying a foreigner. He can choose the easy path. But he has NO RIGHT to ask you to accept that choice, to spend 10 months with him in a "relationship" and to have your heart broken.

    You are not the first in this situation...and you will not be the last. He will continue the relationship as long as he can. He will call you on his wedding night. He will come back to the US and expect to be able to continue the relationship with you after he is married. And then, all of a sudden, he will drop you. He will become this guys who says "this is not my culture" and "you Americans are cultureless."

    PLEASE take care of yourself and distance yourself. Wish him well on his future and RUN away. If he loves you, he will do what my husband did. Fly to India, put his foot down, wait a year for the storm to die out and then marry you.

    I wish you all the best.

  4. Hello my dear,
    i m very touched by your words as now I m in situation that you fear so much. I ve been in an Indian-German relationship for three years and I lost the love of my life for a caste mrg.
    We entered 9 countries hand in hand, we passed through many emotions no matter if missing, loving, fighting or being happy with each other, we survived cold as well as heat, we laughed in rain as well as in snow, we enjoyed many different types of food, we saw historical places as well as we enjoyed the beach and forest, we managed two cultures in one heart we flight hundreds of miles to have a moment with each other.
    No fight, no love no hope could prevent us from getting seperated. My partner ll go back to India in few month and marry a caste girl. I went to India a couple of times and I know very well abt the meaning of son there. And Indian sons ll never leave their families
    My words cant cheer you up as I m deeply hurt for the reasons you described. As you described your partner I can see how much you both love each other but responsibility there means more than love. I m dying every day. I cnt breath without him cause I love him every day a bit more. Being rejected and punished for my cultural background broke me even more. Not being good enough cause I dnt hv same caste makes it hard to accept. I just wanted my love for him to be his strength and happiness. We choosed to try it and failed. But let me tell you I dnt regret any moment we had together. It makes it even harder for him to build up a relationship with her and he ll always beg me for nt stopping being in touch. And i cnt stop being in touch with him. What makes it harder for all of us.
    You guys already went so far it ll hurt any way. If you break up now you ll think every day what if i had tried it. But when you break up in ten month you might have got some time to get some golden moments and memories together for all your life.
    Your partner got to know two cultures now it ll be hard for him going back and live the life he actually doesnt want. Try to understand him nd accept which I couldnt. Thats why it ended so badly now.
    We have to sacrifice our love for caste but dont forget love is also beautiful and if its just for a moment its worth to experience it. I lived with the fear of loosing him for three years it caused many fights and lots of pain. I wish i had enjoyed nd cheerished every moment together with the beauty of our love. People who have nt been in relationship like that ll never understand the struggle and beauty it includes same time. Listen to your heart but dont be blind for the facts.
    You know caste ll win in the end but hearts ll always be connected.
    Take care

    1. Marie,

      I know what it is like, dying everyday..

  5. He has been fully honest with you, he told you upfront that he will do as his parent wish, and that his parent's plan do not involve a foreign wife. From then onward, it's all up to you really. Do you want to take the risk to set yourself for the biggest heart break? Do you feel you can endure a life of wondering "What if..." And if your boyfriend ends up still loving you after marriage, bear with the idea of being "that other woman" and possibly cause huge tensions with his wife and future children?

    I think at this point you need to do what YOU feel is right for YOU, don't think about him and what he would feel. The way I see it, if he really really loves you, he will have to set some record straight with his parents, and that is something you can't help him do, that part is his problem, his battle.

    When you asked him what you could do to be accepted by his parents, I agree with him : Nothing. I have seen this scenario in Indian/foreigner couples way too often, and it almost never work. You could be dressing the part, acting the part, cooking Indian, being the perfect submissive daughter in law and they would still think your one flaw is the fact you were not their choice and not Indian. I kid you not my MIL is still in that rut 9 years of marriage later. We simply decided that it was her problem and her loss not ours. She hasn't disowned my husband or stopped talking or seeing us, but we both know she will never approve, and we really don't see the point of trying to please someone who clearly doesn't want to be pleased. But that is a decision both my husband and I made together, it meant that my husband was on board with me, not his mom, that part was his choice. And frankly speaking, if he didn't stand up for me, it would have been a deal breaker.

    1. I agree with Cynthia & would add this-
      Technically, he's already cheating on his future wife.
      Realistically, cheaters will continue cheating.
      I don't know whom or what you think you are going to 'fight' for his love.
      As a devout Christian woman I doubt you are going to want to be in a relationship with a man who cheats.
      I'm sure he will miss you when this ends.
      I'm sure you will miss him when this ends.
      As someone who has been a medical resident & has worked in a hospital, try not to get involved with coworkers. It's just more heartache, mess, & humiliation than it is worth.

  6. When a guy tells you the truth that he is not ready for the relationship for whatever reason, believe him and let him go. It does not matter that he is the nicest and the kindest guy you ever met. You have just traded an open jerk to a guy who will not commit for another reason.

    Not every guy who does not want to commit is an asshole, he may be the loveliest guy for all we know but the question is - "Is that what I am looking for and need?". If one dates too many jerks and then comes across a nice guy (though non commital) he seems like heaven and the best chance at a normal relationship but you have to believe that you can find a person who is nice and will commit.

    Would you sign up for a 4 year college course if the dean openly tells you that they will close this college after a year leaving all the students without their degrees and in the lurch? Even if the dean is a nice guy and they have their own genuine reasons for that - hey they told you before and it is on you if you still sign up.

    Your love is not going to change him. If you cannot accept him exactly the way he is today - non committal, confused, scared to take a stand, then leave. You are just prolonging your own heartbreak.

    Also, if both of you are so religious, have you even thought of how you would work it out and kids between you? Are you truly compatible? (This is a clash of western traditional and Indian traditional both entrenched in their rules of not crossing the class border set by society).

    Also, if it makes it easier for you, imagine he really has cancer, visualise that he died once he got married and pretend and carry on with your life like he died of cancer.

  7. Hi, I recognize your writing. Been in a relationship with a tambram star, but unfortunately - even though is not living in india but abroad, he can't resist his parents. He has gone into their wishes before by marrying a girl from his own choice, but that marriage failed. He has been used for his money and divorced. Now he wants to do everything right for them and even let them move in. Unfortunately that at the cost of our relationship and his happiness. Even though he has been honest, and we are still in contact every now and then. It still hurts badly. We love each other so much, why can't we be.
    So from my point of view there is no right or wrong, you want to be treated honestly and with respect. Separating will hurt, and so will staying together, because you won't win...
    I can only send you strength. Follow your heart, but also listen to your brain!
    Best of luck and wisdom...

  8. Run. Run as fast as you can. delete his number and tell him to stop toying with you. He has no intentions of comitting to you, and will only leave you broken hearted. There are plenty of better men out there

    1. Yes, there are plenty of single, young, straightforward, honest , caring surgeons out there (sarcasm).
      He is not 'toying'. If he were, he would have kept her in the dark about his plans.

  9. He is being selfish. He doesn't want to stand up for your relationship but wants the perks of being with you as long as possible. It's an insult to you and you deserve better. Move on and don't waste ten months when you could be emotionally healing and potentially meeting someone else.

    I've come across these guys many times and been involved with one. I've learned they have a double life and often are too coward to live the way they please. Cultural norms are no excuse.

    Better to move on.

  10. If I read correctly what you have now is a more like a close friendship, than a love affair. Then, I've heard many stories about windian relationships in the last 8 years, and my conclusion is : Indian guys who want to get married to their girlfriend make it very clear from the start. Take care. - Pad

    1. I don't know if that's true for all, but it was true for me. My husband made it clear before we even started dating that he wanted to date me for the purpose of seeing if we'd be compatible for marriage, and made it clear he was not interested in dating as a "timepass." Long story short, we were married within the year.

      I unfortunately don't have advice for the letter writer. I only wish her the best.

  11. To be honest, he got into this relationship for selfish reasons. Indians are very well aware of all the restrictions at home and those who get into a relationship seriously are determined to fight and get married. Your boyfriend clearly does not put you first. Why would he get into a casual relationship with someone knowing well about his mother right from the start? I would not be surprised if he just wanted to try being with a non Indian woman for the fun of it. No matter how nice a guy he could have been, what he did to you is quite wrong. I would cut off from him and make sure to not even have a friendship with him. Sorry about your situation, but you should move on.

  12. But he IS disrespecting you. Quite frankly, he's using you. He may not be aware of it himself, and may be emotionally overwhelmed himself. But at the end of the day what he seems to want is to enjoy your company and affection for the next 10 months, then leave you and go ahead with the arranged marriage. That is the best possible course of action for him in this messy, complicated situation, but the worst possible one for you.

    A good man would have never started this relationship, or else broken up as soon as it became clear that real emotions were involved. A good man would want better for you than to be strung along for 10 months and then dumped (or be made "the other woman"). A good man would never put his own emotional needs over yours, and prolong your heartbreak like this. It's clear from your description that he doesn't have your best interests at heart. He got into this for selfish reasons. He may be blinded by his own emotions and not have the maturity to realize it, but that doesn't change the facts.

    Standing up to your parents as an Indian is scary, challenging, frustrating and a long road. My partner is the eldest son of a traditional TamBrahm family, so I understand the struggle. It goes in fits and starts, sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes there are moments of weakness, and he doesn't speak up where he should. It's hard to change an entire lifetime of learned behaviour, it takes years. BUT throughout it all, he has always made it absolutely clear to me that he will not give in to his parents, that this relationship (and more generally, his personal freedom) is the #1 priority for him.

    Your guy, on the other hand, has made it abundantly clear to you that he intends to fulfill his parents' wishes and that he will leave you. The chance that he will change his mind and marry you seems absolutely minuscule. You're just setting up yourself for major heartbreak if you continue this.


  13. I am going through this exact situation now. We met in grad school and have dated off and on for five years! like your bf he warned me in the beginning but I didn't think I would fall in love with him. just someone to have a good time with. i remind him he is also at fault. he knew very well where this will lead and he started it all. his family knows about me which I am surprised but they think we stopped talking.

    after grad school he went back about three years ago and asked permission to marry me. his father forbid and said I will only break his heart and leave him. eventually I couldn't handle it anymore and broke it off. he would call every now and then to check on me. I didn't handle the break up very well and basically walked through life. I was so grief stricken I settled for a monster. I figured this was the best life had to offer. BF didn't handle the separation any better and left the family business and started to drink heavily. so much so his friends were starting to notice and he was going to work late. He told me this a few years ago after he came back the second time. This time his father told him to leave me alone he would only hurt me in the end. but he didn't listen. we picked up were we ended.

    now here we are in the same place. but this time things are coming to a head and our relationship may be over. he is promised a job in the states and his family wants him to marry. he has tried to stall it by not returning to india in three years and refusing the arrangements. but he plans on visiting in January. do I regret loving someone who probably will break me in the end no. but this choice isn't for everyone. I don't expect people to understand the choice I have made. my point is no one can make this decision but you. Like me you will probably go back and forth with your decision. but choose the one that is best for you. the one you can live with out any regrets.

    1. Thank u for taking ur time to reply. I cant believe ur story. I cant believe u both broke up and made up and went through the cycle several times, and still didnt end up together in the end. I see your point.

    2. I cant believe after all that u still didnt end up together

  14. Red flags? Yes--that he wants his parents' approval more than marriage to you! That should be your answer right there. Part ways now, before you invest any more emotion into this relationship. If he is truly interested in you, he will need to choose to buck up and stand up to his parents. I've been in a relationship with an Indian guy...I know the devotion sons have for their parents, and their drive to maintain their approval. If this guy truly wants you, he will make it work. But he doesn't appear to being doing so. Spare yourself more hurt and end the relationship. And the texting. And dinners. Don't give him free emotional support or play to his desires. It may hurt to end things now; it will be worse the longer you wait.

    Stepping away may cause him to rethink his choices.

    Another red flag: your divergent religious views. You are a "devout Christian." He is a Hindu. Those two aren't exactly matches in the beliefs/practices department.

  15. I also must point out that his comment, "He thinks I'm too smart to be a nurse all my life" is offensive. I don't know what your education is or what area of nursing you work in, but this comment is offensive and ignorant. It seems to me that it reflects the Indian view that nurses are less than doctors, and follow the doctors' orders. Western nurses are VERY different than Indian ones, and our level of education, as well as our roles, scope of practice, and how we interact with doctors and the health care team, reflect that. There are plenty of smart nurses, and good thing, because nurses and doctors do very different work, both critical to patient well-being!!

    1. I also found that comment extremely offensive. Some of the medical professionals that I see for ailments or advise are nurse practitioners instead of doctors and they are as capable and more compassionate that some doctors that I have seen or work for in the past.

      Millie B

  16. I did feel the comment by the writer was offensive. But I find your comment offensive as well. What do you mean by

    "Western nurses are VERY different than Indian ones, and our level of education, as well as our roles, scope of practice, and how we interact with doctors and the health care team, reflect that."

    Are you not insulting Indian nurses the same way the author has compared a nurse to a doctor?

    I think respect should be given to the profession and the sincerely put in by nurses to do their duty with perfection. Not which part of the globe you were educated.

    The author's partner looks down upon nurse profession and you feel Western nurses are better than Indian nurses (echoing part of his statement and prejudice) :-/

  17. I am not sure what I would do if I was in the LW shoes. There is a lot of things to talk about with your boyfriend. And if he does want to get married to you, he has to be mentally stronger because he's going to have to defend you (his choice) to his parents. He has to work it in a way that he will not be giving up you or them, so they need to learn to accept his choice and co-exist. As a husband, he needs to be on YOUR side, and I feel like he's not there yet. He's still on his parents' side. With that mentality, he'd still be on his parents side even if he has an arranged marriage - the arranged bride wouldn't like that either. It's a bit immature thinking - it's like he is married to his parents actually. So that needs to come a long way.
    As far as Christian/Hindu - I don't think it is really a big deal. A lot of couples are interfaith and make it work. I think the real issue is him not wanting to stand by you in regards to his parents.
    As I read your letter, I felt like you are star-crossed lovers. I am not sure what I would do if I was in your shoes.
    Before I met my husband, I was in a serious relationship, which I knew we would not make it to the altar because of a lot of external forces (he had to go to Iraq). We both knew the relationship would come to an end, but we still spend time together and loved each other. When it came time to break up, we broke up, and it was my first heartbreak. It was very hard. But I survived. After that, we both went our separate ways and I will always wish him the best, but I had to make a decision to move on with my life, start over, and at that point I couldn't be friends with him or talk to him anymore, even though he wanted to, to try to keep me in his life. I will always look back on our time together fondly, but I did not let that stop me from starting over with my life. Sometimes relationships just hit a dead end, and only time will tell.
    I am not sure if that will happen for you, but that is your prerogative whatever you choose to do. Yes, breaking up will hurt, but you will survive.
    In the meantime, take care of yourself. Lot to discuss with him.

  18. Again I am only discovering all these stories years later. I'd be curious to know what happened in the end? Because so many westerners think that if an Indian man is nice to you then it is okay for him to marry someone else and continue dating him. Indian men know this is a western womans weakness and use it to their advantage. I'm not saying they don't care about you its just they don't care about you enough. They will also never upset their parents by going against their wishes. NO matter how much you try to make them. It'd be nice to meet someone who was in this same position and he ended up going against the norm and following his heart.


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