I found your column online while researching complicated, inter-ethnic relationships. My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half. He is from India originally, I am from California but my mother is from Pakistan. She’s been in the United States for over 30 years.
On my boyfriend’s recent trip to India he told his parents about our relationship and it’s pretty much been hell ever since. His mother cries and says horrible things to him like “you’re so selfish, if you marry her we won’t be a part of your life, etc.”
All of this has nothing to do with who I am and more to do with all the preconceived notions they have about me and my Pakistani background. He tells me he loves me and wants to marry me but needs more time to talk to them. What’s bothering me the most is that he has not truly committed to our figuring things out and getting married. It’s almost like it’s contingent upon his parents’ approval which I fear will never come.
I love him very much and the thought of losing him is devastating. On the other hand I don’t know how much longer I can bear feeling like I am. I feel so lost and confused. Do I fight for what is right and hope that everything will work out or do I end this misery now and possibly save us both a lot of hurt in the future?
It takes the commitment of two to make a relationship work. There is only so much that you can do. Try to keep the lines of communication open—perhaps there are things he can share with his parents about you and/or your family, which may increase their comfort level?
It may also be likely that he has been a victim of his mother’s manipulation through the years, and is probably torn by her resistance.
It is also worth noting that his parents may hold this resentment post-marriage; you cannot count on them ever changing their mind. Unfortunately, the estranged relations between Pakistan and India can be a source of deeply-entrenched mistrust between the people of both countries.
Ask yourself if this relationship is worth the trouble should his parents never change. If you can handle their presence in your life, and believe he is truly the man for you, then you must do what you can in order to live without regrets. If you cannot accept their misgivings, or you find him not taking the relationship as seriously as you are, then it may be best to end things now.
Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio. Jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com.