Friday, December 11, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "My Indian boyfriend dumped me because I wanted to wait to get married!"

(Img via Viktor Jakolev)

Sharing a letter from a reader...

"Hi Firangi Bahu,

I am an American girl who had been dating an Indian guy for about a year. We clicked very well and I became attached to him. I saw him as a great life partner, father, intellectual, worldly, kind person, etc. However, in my gut I felt that I needed more time to be sure of marriage or not. While I wanted to stay with him, I'm still in grad school and haven't really settled on what to do in life, thus feeling uncomfortable about marriage right now.

When I told him I want to figure things out before marriage, he got angry and accused me of using him and wasting his time. He said his parents were arranging a bride and I would have to decide soon. I wasn't even allowed to meet his parents before committing to get married to him and if I did and later backed out, he said they would have a heart attack and so much in the family would be ruined.

I bounced between yes and no under this pressure because I really am in love with him and want to be with him. But I am intimidated by marriage right now, especially without being able to meet his parents first. Finally he got pissed off, and got an engagement fixed 3 weeks later to someone he has never met in person. He says there is nothing he can do now. This is coming from a guy who was absolutely head over heels in love with me and devoted to me...before the marriage discussions started.

I am going crazy from regret and heartbreak. Did I handle this situation correctly?"


Dear readers, what can this reader do?
Any red flags here?
Why is there such an urgency about getting married, before you get your life together?
Do you think the ex-boyfriend is trying to punish her for making him wait?


  1. she should be happy and say good riddance

    there is no place in the modern world for a man who cant decide for himself and needs parental validation for his decisions.

    respect for elderly yes but not dependency on them.

    1. Totally agreed. Unfortunately, our Indian/Asian mentality doesn't understand this. They don't respect individuality/the ability to take care of oneself, and so their objectify/idealize any elders/authority figures and believe them to be infallible. To go against them is apparently worse than death. Sad indeed!

  2. I feel that you did the right thing, but I can understand both sides.

    He must have been feeling a lot of pressure from his parents to get married (he must be 26+ I'm assuming?). Since he probably didn't have the nerve to tell his parents about you until you agreed to commit, they had no idea about you being in the picture. I'm sure a lot of his frustration came from this. Parents pressuring him while he is hoping you will commit.

    On the other hand, marriage is a lifelong decision that should not be made in haste. It was not wrong of you to hold off if you truly feel you don't know. I think every country has a negative stigma against divorce, but India especially. If you two got married and like he said you backed out later and got divorced, it would kind of be like a black mark on he and his family.

    I'm sorry that you are going through so much heartbreak, but perhaps it's a sign that you have better things waiting for you! =)

  3. Oh Gosh!! I think if he was insisting then you should have gone for an engagement. It would have given at least 1 year time as typically Indian parents get ready for marriage after an engagement which is about 1 year. He must have been under pressure from his parental side for marriage that is why he was insisting. It isn't easy - even Alexandra might know this!! I am that you have almost lost this one unless the he or Indian girl herself decides to cancel the engagement- or may be the parents

  4. Well unfortunately that is a classic reason for breakup - whether you are in an intercultural relationship or not. I don't know if it will make you feel better or worse but my first serious love story lasted 15 years, we didn't get married, in the beginning it was a common decision and afterwards it has Mr who was dead against marriage. In the end things got really sour and we split up. But my husband who is Indian, asked me if I wanted to marry him one week after we had sex (we had a long distance relationship beforehand). It was scary but I accepted and I have never regretted because this relationship is very soothing and nurturing. It's like I'd been waiting for him since I was little girl.

    So my 2 cents is trust your gut feelings : if you don't feel ready to marry this man, maybe you will never feel ready. But if you feel you will die if you can't be together then maybe he is Mr Right.

    Take care sweetheart - Pad

  5. DearLW,

    Firstly all break ups are bad and are heart breaking and you feel like you will die - but trust me you will not DIE.
    Coming to your BF or ex-BF, I think that nobody can pressurize anyone to get married, marriage has to take place only if both the people involved want it 100% because maintaining a marriage even if both want it is difficult, so if one of the partners is not ready then there is no way the marriage will last.
    I am an Indian girl and was in a relationship for 4 years with an Indian man. My ex-BF pressurized me for marriage and I was not ready because I was not settled and just did not feel it was right for me, so he also went ahead and got engaged and later married to a girl he hardly met. At that point I also felt just like you, but I realized that there was no way I could have been happy with a man who did not understand my aspirations. My break up also taught me that my ex and I were people with different set of beliefs and it was for our own good that we broke up. Today I am married to a wonderful man and its been 5 years now. My husband and I agreed to get married within 10 days of meeting each other and I don't regret it one bit. I just felt super comfortable with my husband the first time I met him only and knew deep down in my heart that I wanted to marry him. So, yes marriage should happen only when both are comfortable. Concentrate on finishing school, get a job and you will find someone. There are many many awesome loving men out there; and when the time is right everything will automatically fall in place. When I broke up I felt my whole world collapse, I used to cry for hours and basically gave up on life, but today when I look back I realize that it was all for my good because that relationship which did not work out helped me understand myself and helped me to analyze myself and my needs and aspirations.
    Don't blame your BF or his family or anyone, its useless. Instead focus on what the relationship has taught you and move ahead in life.
    All the best!!!

  6. In my opinion (as a single South Asian male who now lives in the west), you did absolutely nothing wrong. One of the banes of our Asian communities is the fact that many of us really don't have the spine/guts to stand up for what it is that makes us happy. Our societies are more communal versus individualistic, so conformity, obedience, and security are valued over self-determination, self-respect, and paving your own path. Which to me, is sad, because if you don't respect your individuality, you are not treating yourself as a free human being - you're objectifying yourself. And objectifying yourself means your value becomes relative to other 'objects'/people around you or the environment itself, so your value becomes status-oriented. Notice how 'duty' is the by-word in our societies; a woman often doesn't see herself first as a unique individual with the innate freedom to be herself, but either as a dutiful 'mother' or 'wife' label that she strives arduously to live up to. Similarly, in your case, when the child desires so strongly to follow their heart/passion, parental and social 'duties' pull them back and they often see 'no choice' but to obey. Why do they act this way? Why is this desire for romantic/fantasic/individualistic freedom the very subject addressed time and again by Bollywood movies that are watched by millions?

    Because the child cannot/does not see the parents or society as being flawed and free individuals like himself; as he objectifies himself, he imprisons himself by what appears to him to be solid 'objects' of personified restraint around him. But if he would only get some courage and accept his inner authority figure (instead of projecting it outwardly onto others or parents), he would lose his fear. The proof is the fact that there are indeed those occasional Indians who do this, and live their lives on their own terms.

    Coming back to your situation, I'll again say that you did nothing wrong, and that you were right to stand by your instincts to not force yourself into marriage. A marriage should be a pairing between people who equally value their personal destinies; if you don't feel like jumping into something, you are right to wait. You would never push him to marry you, would you? Wouldn't you naturally consider that selfish? I think any clear-thinking person would, but since he is bound by social-fear, he isn't thinking or feeling clearly. The fact that he was accusing you of 'using him' and 'wasting his time' betrays his own selfish attitude to the relationship, as it means he sees you as a vehicle to satisfy his own emotional needs and so cannot respect your own. If he thinks there 'is nothing he can do now' after his wedding, he is quite wrong; he could just as easily call it off and pursue something with you, if he had the guts to act for himself. In fact, since he is a man, there is far less chance of him being physically/mentally abused or socially rejected than if he were a woman. There are many indians who would disown daughters for misbehavior, but not sons (sad but true). So in my opinion, you are better off without him. Try not to regret anything, because you were in the right. Trust your conscience, free from the turmoil of his emotional input; do you feel that you treated both him and yourself fairly? If so, that's it. Emotionally, yes, it may be hard to move on, but hopefully you can find the strength in friends, or everyday life to get you going again, until you find a partner who is worthy of you. A person such as him, who cannot even respect himself, much less you, would NOT be a good marriage partner (no matter how ideal his outer personality appears). So you would be better off letting him go if needed, and moving on without guilt. Good luck, and I wish you the strength to endure the grief of a needed loss.

  7. I feel that you did the right thing. Different timing, but my first boyfriend also tried to pressure me to get married, I loved him more than anything "first love" thing, you know. It didnt feel right so I didnt do it. The not feeling right is your instincts telling you something is wrong. TO be honest, if he isnt willing to wait until you are comfortable and sure of the marriage then he doesnt really want to marry you for the right reasons. Partners should be understanding and appreciate the feelings of each other.

    If you had gotten married I assure you things would have gone badly. A husband who expects a marriage to last forever but isnt willing to allow you to feel comfortable getting married is probably more interested in getting married (to whatever he is actually in the relationship for, white wife, being seen as "cool" cause he married foreign, etc.) than he is getting married to you. I think you dodged a huge bullet, and although it feels crappy right now I think you will find that it was a good choice in the future, perhaps you still have some soul searching to do :P focus on you for a bit!

  8. He clearly was hoping to use a marriage to you to appease his parents. They must be putting immense pressure on him to get married. The arranged marriage option is ALWAYS hanging right there for him. Now, he could alleviate the pressure by marrying someone he loved (you) or he could alleviate the pressure by agreeing to an arranged marriage. You took one option off the table so he went with option two.

    I'm sorry this happened to you but I think you did the right thing. Marriage is hard and is not something that a person should be rushed into. I'm sure you will find another Mr. Right.

  9. one way or another we can all relate, ive been "seeing" "dating" not sure what, an indian man for 2.5 years now and no one from his side knows about me. in our american, mine latin, culture this is an unhealthy sign in a relationship. not necessarily for them.

    think of it this way....its like this for an engagement to marriage, can you imagine the pressure for the rest of your life, every decision you make will be like? from having kids to where you will live? as a divorcee, there is too much at risk. if your gut says no, follow it, it hurts now, but things could've been worse. never regret your decisions, because at the moment it was the right thing to do. one day at a time love, breathe. if you feel like you need to know how he is with his family, then he should respect that as much as you respect things about his culture. been there done that. good luck!

  10. Hi, i guess is sad for him too, i am not excus him but indian oarents and timins, and cukture and old classy gar....are there behind his desition. Marriage is important for them, be inlive means the same for them, i guess, neither he was patiente or considered ur side, neither u prepare or researche about this traditional fact. Move on,mthe world continue for you, i dont think he will be ever happy in that arrange marriage or even he fe
    L as he fell with u. So the gold is in ur side. U are free. Imdependent and lot of choices for you. Please relax and smile, try your best. Loves from India, honestly i was ready to marry because i knew how their mind is, other wise i could never even see him as a boyfriend, i pass for this situation as you, long back and i undrstamd is hard.

  11. From a purely relationship perspective and no cultural analysis:
    - Do not marry if you are not ready to marry.
    - Someone who marries another person 3 weeks after breaking up did not really love you.

    Break ups hurt , treat this as a lesson and move on. There is surely someone nice out there for you!

  12. This is a typical trick used by Indian men on Western women. They are attracted to Western women, maybe out of stereotypes, and want to marry one. However in doing they may harm themselves in their "Indian community". Hence it is best for them to keep a safety net of arranged Indian bride. It takes a long time to get married for western women. Many Indian men quite aware about that and use this trick - if this relationship works it will be the best else I have another alternative just up ahead. Please be careful while dating any non-western male. Get to know him better and his culture. Do not hurry into marriage.


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