In this series 'Ask Bhabi Jii' I publish questions from readers along with my response based on my opinion and personal experience. I encourage fellow readers to reach out and share your experiences and opinions so that it may assist the writer and any future readers in similar circumstances.
In the interest of privacy the writer's identity will always be kept anonymous. Therefore questions are edited to change any information that may be revealing. No nasty or distasteful comments will be accepted, this is a supportive community to share experiences with no judgement.
I was Kept A Secret So Ended Our Relationship But I Never Expected To Be Proposed To
Dear The White Punjabi Bride,
I recently came upon your site, a little too late I think.
I have been in need of advice dating a Punjabi and have been searching for over a month now debating my relationship... Today I decided to end our relationship since it was the third time he committed to introducing me to his family, but never kept his word.
I read some of your posts and feel as though I may have made the wrong decision... I didn’t realise this was common in his culture, nor did I know that there were relationships that actually worked out. Everywhere I searched, I was surrounded with the worst outcome... That they would never go against their parents and the girl would always end up getting hurt.
He is truly the nicest guy I have ever met, and I waited for him to just give me the opportunity to make his parents proud. Since I’ve met him, I’ve felt the need to be the “perfect daughter”. I come from a very poor cultural background, all that I have, is what I’ve worked for, here abroad... I always felt like I wasn’t good enough because he came from a better background; I stressed about how to “sell myself” so they would accept me.
I was promised three times, opportunities to meet his parents and was preparing myself of how to “sell myself”, but the chance never came. I just thought I was an embarrassment that he wanted to keep in hiding... I’m a student, so the fact that I still haven’t started my career was probably why he hadn’t introduced me yet. He probably had nothing to introduce, I am a refugee, broke student, don’t follow his religion, speak his language, nor am I Indian... I thought I had no chance.
So to save both of us future pain, I ended it today. And while crying my eyes out, I came upon your page...
Any advice would be really appreciated, thank you.
It’s lovely to hear from you.
I’m terribly sorry to hear about your circumstances. Interracial relationships certainly hold many challenges and unfortunately drawing conclusions based on our own cultural experiences is one of them.
It’s difficult to comment on your situation without knowing more detail around his behaviour in keeping you a secret, however it is not an uncommon practice. This is usually as a result from being raised in such a traditional culture that many parents will feel strongly against their children dating outside of their own culture.
Even if they are open minded and not entirely against it, great planning is usually involved. Of course there are simply some who keep their partner a secret as they just aren’t that serious, as they’ve been given the okay to go and enjoy their life as long as they return home and marry. Therefore they avoid the drama of introductions to their friends and family. Or there are unfortunately some who are already married back home and simply looking for an affair.
If you truly believe in your heart his intentions were genuine and you’ve jumped to conclusions, then all I can suggest to you is to have a discussion with your partner explaining why you broke up with him and how being kept a secret is making you feel insecure. Just ask him why he’s apprehensive about introducing you to his family and let him know you understand why he’s done what he’s done. Having very traditional parents who are set in their own ways is usually the number one reason for being kept a secret as they’re afraid that their parents will disapprove and push them into an arranged marriage or worse yet cut them off.
Of course you should also expect to have some idea of when your partner intends on having that discussion at least. This is something you can both strive to achieve together if you ask him to commit to a timeline so that you feel as though there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That can be easier said than done if he’s already committed three times to introducing you to his family and failed to keep his word. But if he knows you’re understanding of the situation then this might make it easier. Just remember there are plenty of couples who have gone through what you have and been kept a secret for anywhere up to ten years.
It’s just up to you and what you want from your relationship.
The White Punjabi Bride
Related Article: Are You Being Kept A Secret From Your Indian Partner's Family?
Dear The White Punjabi Bride,
Thank you for responding so fast.
I needed some time to think, since we decided to take a break until he could give me a definite answer. I told him that I didn't want to continue this relationship if I knew it wasn't going anywhere; that I would be more hurt in the long term than if we were to end it now.
A few days later he gave me his answer... he just kept apologising. While we both were shedding a lot of tears I kept repeating that it was okay, that I understood why he didn't end this earlier, that we both were on a rollercoaster high and didn't want to come down.
After a couple of days passed, I gave him back everything that he had gifted me. I knew that if I wanted to heal from the heartache, I couldn't be reminded of anything that was linked to him. When I gave him the box I saw his heart break, which later caused me to break.
Finals are starting for me next week and I hadn't found any motivation to study. Not to mention I was hospitalised for two days, and only managed to finish my final projects for each class. Even those classes that I have exceled at without any troubles, I couldn't seem to even understand during my final project.
Eventually after a week and a half of being separated, we saw each other today and he told me that he couldn't live without me, then he proposed. I went from being heartbroken to feeling happy, and lastly so confused. He told me that he will tell his parents on Monday that he wants to marry me and try to convince them I'm the right girl for him.
The part that you don't know is that I never wanted to get married. Every marriage that I've witnessed ended at some point and my parents were one of them. I told myself that the one for me will understand and respect my decisions of marriage if he truly loved me. In this case, it's different, he's already sacrificing so much, I feel somewhat obligated to say yes... But I'm terrified! Not to mention, that never have I dreamed about getting married, nor having a big wedding.
I honestly have less than ten people that would even make it to the wedding. And I already told him that IF this were to happen, he needs to have a limit of 100 people because it wouldn't be fair to cause that pain to my mother.
I guess all I'm saying now, Is what do I do? What would you consider me to do? What do I say to the parents even though they don't speak English? How do I convince them to accept me? Should I get married if that goes against my dreams? Don't get me wrong, I love him so much... I just don't see the point in marriage, why can't we just live together? In his culture it is normal to get married before living with each other, but my cultural upbringing is the absolute opposite. My family will tell me not to marry a guy without living with him first.
As always, I will appreciate any words of knowledge.
I'm glad to hear that there's a chance for your relationship in the future.
It really just comes down to what you want in life and what truly makes you happy. A wedding, if it holds no real significance to you, can easily be compromised on if it is the man you're marrying that truly makes you happy. An Indian wedding isn't actually about the bride & groom and more so about the parents & family.
I am sure that he wouldn't mind compromising on a wedding, but it may be heartbreaking to his family as it would be to your family should you have a massive wedding. Also think of the shoe on his foot, if you believe that the one should be happy to compromise and understand your situation, he most likely believes the same. So it may just take some compromising on both sides to find a solution.
If you already know in your heart he is the one for you then marrying him before living with him shouldn't get in the way of your happiness. Marriage in his culture as you mentioned is the norm to do so before living with one another therefore generally is for life, even if it isn't the norm for your culture. So although it may seem as though you are rushing into things most marriages in India are for life. Obviously there will always be the few exceptions to the norm but culturally marriage is considered sacred, and divorce is seen as taboo. Which means that he most likely didn't propose without much consideration and thought.
Although you may have been unfortunate growing up to witness every marriage end badly, it is not a marriage that ends relationships, but rather the relationship that ends the marriage. It can be easy to let this discourage you but just ask yourself what do you have to lose and gain by giving this a chance. You probably will have a lot more to gain than you will to lose by giving this a chance.
You most likely have already decided for yourself what is best. It is normal to feel confused and overwhelmed when you're presented with a situation you weren't expecting. I hope that you give yourself a chance at happiness. Your partner's actions will speak louder than words over the coming weeks. If he keeps his commitment to tell his parents what he truly wants, then that is a huge positive step forward in demonstrating his commitment to your relationship. There is every chance that they may accept your relationship and your partner was just being overly cautious. But until then it is difficult to speculate on how to approach his parents until you know how they feel about your relationship.
As always don't ever hesitate to get in touch and I hope that it all works out for the best in the end!
The White Punjabi Bride
What do you lovely readers think?
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