An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

I received this email from an American Woman.

I am from the United States.  For the past 7 months, I was in a relationship with an Indian man who is living here. We have known each other for 3 years.  We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage. Recently, my guy requested us not to see each other anymore as he said he felt that what we are doing is wrong. I knew it would come down to this one day, but I am crushed. I resent the fact that we can never see where we could have ended up.

I stumbled across your blog when I was doing research on arranged marriages and Indian culture. I have been working hard to understand this tradition that is taking my man away from me, but I must confess, I still do not entirely get it.

My guy told me that he is not willing to disappoint his parents.

I am aware that my Western ideals taint my opinions, but I just don’t understand. I don’t think wishing not to disappoint your parents is a good idea to get married. Marriage is supposed to be forever, and this special bond between two people. I feel as if Indian children are being treated as commodities/business agreements. Why don’t their parents want them to be happy? Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?  Falling in love with someone who loves you back is the greatest feeling. Obviously that feeling changes and shifts over time, but it can also grow deeper.

Do Indian parents not wish for their children to be happy? I know the family structure is different, but do you think love marriages will be more common place in the future? Also, what type of discussions should children have with their parents about this topic? I ask you because I know you are a parent, and I am hoping that you might have insight that would help me understand. Also, I confess I hope to inspire you to write a post on this 🙂 But if not, I would love a reply.

If you do decide to write a post, feel free to use any part of this e-mail.

Have a wonderful day!

Related posts:

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

A marriage arranged by the parents is better because they have experience.

Irresponsible girls who throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person…

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

Four kinds of marriages in modern India. Which ones would you ban?

Marrying out of caste, divorce and nuclear families are Social Problems or solutions to Social Evils?


135 thoughts on “An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

    • Ok sorry about that …. here’s what I want to say,

      Dear American Girl,
      I can sense you frustration at the parents, and I can relate to this strongly cause most Indian (even urban) parents believe and behave this way.

      But I think that there is a point in every adult persons life when they have to simply stop blaming their parents for decisions that they are fully conscious of making. I am sorry to put it so bluntly but If he is choosing to walk out of of your relationship and go the arranged marriage route it is HIS decision , and not his parents.

      I am close friends with 3 couples… each with an Indian guy dating a non-Indian girl… each of them started the same way… with the guy saying even if we do get together its just for a couple of years !
      In two of the three… the guy at the end of a couple of years realized they don’t wanna walk out, and sat their parents down explained everything!
      Yes it was not easy , yes it was not pretty, and unlike the normal arranged marriage route … the guy had to deal with a lot of harassing and emotional blackmail.
      But, all that lasted a six months and now everyone is all happy … !


  1. Well, as a parent I would say , no it is unfair to expect the child to marry only who you ould accept! The reason most Indian’s give are cultural similarity, which they hold high as a measure of compatibility! Although one raises one’s children, they are also influenced by the outside world, and so their culture will be definitely broader than that of the parents, and therein lies the conflict! they dont see wht is acceptable to the child as acceptable to their set of norms! I am in a situation wherein my son is in love too, with a girl from another Sub continental country, and I know they have different ways…but, yet for me, my son’s happiness is the focus! So, no parents shd change this attitude, if they truly love their kids!


  2. Short answer – no. Parents do not want their children to be happy. They want their children to fit into a mould for their sake, and for the sake of appearances.

    It’s blackmail, pure and simple. The threat is the severance of family ties unless the girl/guy gets married to one of their choice. Because of this, I think its perfectly fair to call the blackmailer’s bluff and just go ahead. It’s a choice between making yourself happy versus making someone else happy at your expense – for life.

    Yes our parents did a lot for us. Yes they are grateful. But to use that as a bludgeon and threaten excommunication reveals the true intentions behind this “love”. It’s not love. It’s control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true. As an American married to a South Asian. My MIL threatened my husband with suicide if he married me. So he sat down and talked to her and now we have been married for 5 years. And yes, MIL is still trying to control and annoy but my husband was able to put his foot down. My good friend also dating a S.A was let go after 5 years of dating because of Parental issues and he ended up getting an arranged marriage six months after they broke up. So it also has to do the man making that choice. I think this is sad because there are a lot of frustrated people out there who are living other people’s lives and having people who lived full lives coming in to destroy their happiness. Maybe it’s my American sentiments but raising a child for 20 years does not make them your slave for life (50 to 70 years). I have a very close relationship with my parents, and even though they are not 100% happy with my marriage choice be( mostly because they know the problems with these kind of marriages) They do not threaten me with exile if I don’t do their willing.


    • @bhagwad i read you comment and it really felt good. Recently the man with whom i was in a relationship for one and half years called off our relationship. Reason being his parents wee looking girls for him and although he tried to defend our relationship for one of the girls but did have to nod yes f the second one. He says he can’t make his mother unhappy because of the sacrifices she made for the family and consoled me saying that I am young and I must understand this situation but his mother is old and she won’t understand.
      I don’t really understand what best his parents will get for him by getting him married to same sub cast and even if he said me once that if his parents didn’t agree , I would have to let him walk away but being in love doesn’t he have some responsibility.


  3. I feel as if Indian children are being treated as commodities/business agreements

    I feel that way too.

    Because that is precisely how so many of them are treated.

    For many Indian parents, (male) children are an investment. They are pushed into nice, traditional life-trajectories, pushed into nice, conventional careers, pushed into marriage with nice, traditional women, and guilted and emotionally blackmailed into behaving like nice little minions of their parents. Forever.

    These children then continue this vast circular ponzi scheme by demanding the same from their own kids.
    The cycle goes on.

    Needless to say, not all parents (and kids) in India are like this. But many are. And it looks like your SO is unlucky enough to be stuck with one of them.

    It is not that they don’t want him to be happy. It is not that they don’t love him.

    The problem is that their love is linked with a desire for control that just refuses to go away even when the son becomes an adult. If your guy isn’t careful, he COULD end up like this.


  4. I’m an Indian woman, and I could never understand it either. A few years back, I was right there where you are now, until I decided to walk away because I realised there is only one way it could have ended up with a person who lets others (even if they are family) take hostage of his life and happiness.
    And also, not all Indians live by such rules (my parents married for love and their parents were cool with it too.), though this culture and its ways kind of come in handy as a buyable excuse for people who are not ready to grow their own spine.
    May you find your peace soon, American woman. *hugs*


  5. Sadly a lot of Indian parents act like the most selfish people on earth with regard to their children. What is important to them is their future security, their control over their children (mostly sons), their ownership over the d-i-l and grandchildren, their standing is society, the amount on money they can make from a son’s marriage, their remaining number one in their son’s life even though he has a wife and kids. The son’s happiness does not matter. Not because they are inherently mean people or that they don’t love their sons. It’s because they feel that they know best. That their adult sons should not think for themselves. It’s like your toddler is crying for candy but you in all your wisdom won’t let him have it because it’s bad for him. You will offer him a carrot stick instead. Because you are the parent and you know best.
    Having said that, all Indian guys don’t put up with it (though sadly a majority do and remain mamma’s boys as long as mamma is alive – sometimes even after that). Some have the guts to confront their parents and manage to convince them. Some cut off ties with them – at least temporarily. I might be out of line here, but if your guy always knew he was to have an arranged marriage, why did he get involved with you in the first place? It’s so convenient for him – have a fling and then put the blame on mummy daddy. I would get rid of him fast and feel sorry for the poor girl he’ll end up marrying.


  6. I would not be so quick to blame your ex boyfriend’s parents in this scenario. If this guy led you to believe there was hope for you two, or even if he continued a relationship with you knowing that you were getting more emotionally involved than a necessarily temporary relationship, then he is mostly at fault for your broken heart.

    I am so sorry. 😦


    • Dear American Woman.

      I must disagree with SamosaOfDoom. First let me dispose of all this blame. Blame the parents? Blame him? What does that accomplish? I say, leave blame for insurance adjusters.

      Responsibility is another matter. Are his parents responsible for your broken heart? Is he? As you are an adult, I believe you yourself are responsible for your own actions. If “he continued a relationship with you knowing that you were getting more emotionally involved ,” so did you. He did not lie to you or mislead you. You went in to this relationship and stayed in it with your eyes open.

      Taking responsibility gives you enormous power. You are in control of your own actions and you choose what to do. You are cause rather than effect. You are not at the mercy of some man for your happiness. You can live as the victor rather than the victim. A broken heart can be repaired and become even stronger for the experience.

      If you use this as a learning experience, you can gain a great deal of knowledge about yourself, others and the world. A cross-cultural relationship is the opportunity to see everything from a completely different perspective.

      So…tragedy or learning experience? It’s up to you.

      Thank you. I need to be reminded of this, too.

      BTW, I am an older woman and an Indo-Canadian, so my view is different from our sisters in India. I believe, though, what I am saying is universal.


  7. Indian society is in transition from being tightly clan-based to one that is more individualistic and many young people are caught in the middle. In a clan-based society, every member is expected to play a role and the performance of the role is supposed to guarantee the greater good of the clan and hopefully for the individual, though the individual is of less importance. It’s not as simple as a ‘yes or no’ answer to ‘don’t Indian parents want their kids to be happy? These parents believe that their kids will be happy if they stick to the traditional norms because that’s what they (the parents) did and they were happy. And by sticking to the traditional plan, not only will the child (eventually) be happy or at least resigned enough not to complain, but the family and society will be too. So win-win in their minds, if only the child would stop being difficult.

    The problem is that young people don’t fit into this clan-based model so well anymore. I believe this transition into greater individualism is inevitable but right now, you’re going to see a lot of these sandwiched people. I personally don’t believe someone who has tasted a loving and genuine relationship with someone of their choice will be fulfilled in an artificially-created one. Though there have been cases where guys have given up the girlfriends of their choosing for an arranged marriage and been happy. The thing is that the traditional Indian marriage set-up offers a lot of perks for guys – being waited on hand and foot by the wife for example – which kind of smooths the path, and of course the idea is that the cultural similarities make adjustments easier. Nowadays it’s possible for guys to find a beautiful wife, who is somewhat modern, holds a good job etc. and still in the end, defers to the husband and runs the home singlehandedly. Makes heartbreak easier to swallow. Though it doesn’t work for all.

    I agree with the first commenter who said all the blame cannot be laid at the parents’ door. The parents are caught up in the different world. But the guy in question has seen both sides. There is pressure but he does have a choice.


    • Good analysis there, Bride. Its not a black and white issue. Ultimately it seems to boil down to how honest a young person chooses to be with himself and whether his parents value their comfort zone more than their kid’s happiness.


  8. I think men of this sort are spineless! They do not have any courage to take their own decisions and stand by it. They never want to upset their parents, at the same time they also want to have fun. Thest solution they find is to have affairs by telling the woman right from the beginning that this cannot end in a marriage. That way they stay clear of any guilt.
    Men like these are plenty in India.
    The questions that this western woman is having, I’ve faced the same recently.
    I took happiness is believing that a man who cannot make his own life with his own choices will be forever a slave in the hands of someone else and that is not someone I can live with


    • I disagree that men are spineless (yes there are lot of them who are spineless). Most of the time there is so much pressure and emotional blackmail into agreeing/stooping down to parents pressure.

      Sometime even when the girl is from the same community, she is still not accepted coz the parents did not choose he girl (I have even heard reasons like if she can go out with their son, who know what she is like.. The son is still a good guy)


      • Precisely because they bend to the pressure they lack a spine.

        My guy had the same issues with his folks but put his foot down (albeit gently). They agreed saying they had no choice. Now, all is well – and his parents are good friends with me – I’ve even discussed the entire drama with them at length and we all laugh at it together now.


      • I think women face more pressure and have way fewer choices than do men; but many women still stand up for themselves and fight for their choices.

        I know very few men who have stood up to their parents or braved social censure.

        I know a lot of women who have, so I’m inclined to think that Indian men find it more difficult to swim against the tide of social and parental disapproval.

        I do believe, based solely on personal experiences, that women are better at coping with adversity and ambiguity than are men.

        I have encountered more courage and conviction in women than I have in men, especially when it comes to family/relationships.


  9. In India, children, no, let me correct myself, SONS are looked upon as an investment for the future…I am not kidding.

    Most women you meet, especially of a previous generation, will bless you saying ‘may you have a boy soon’ the key word being boy..I am yet to come across any elder who has wished me with a girl (I have a girl is besides that fact)

    If I look at it from a typical Indian parent’s view

    When you look up on your son as an investment, you want them to behave the way YOU want and not the way they want…

    Marry a girl of your choice so that you can dominate the married couple, teach your grand children what you want, use their money the way you want and decide on their decisions as if they are yours

    Since you have given up/ sacrificed on a lot of things as parents, you can emotionally blackmail your son in to listening to you including leaving the love of his life and marrying the love of your life!

    Unfortunately, I think as Indians, we have ceased to think that parenting is not about give and take, its about loving and nurturing..


    • Yes, money plays a majoooor factor. Be it in that son buying them a nice marble 4 story house so that they can keep appearances and then supporting them, their cleaning staff, and people they invite and even extended family members so that they have prestige. Meanwhile the poor son is living over seas working 12 hour days 6 to 7 days a week and living in an apartment with 5 roommates for years. What a sad fate.


  10. I would say, its up to an individual how he/she should handle his/her life. People who are clear that they will only do what their parents think is right should never get into a relationship in the first place. No one has the right to break someone’s heart. I don’t think its about you being American, its about the guy who is not strong enough to take a stand in his life. He would have done the same with an Indian girl too if his parents were the decision maker. Sad but true. So in a way your better off without this guy. Indian or American, we all need to choose a man, who knows his mind and can take decisions for himself.


  11. Dear American Woman,

    I was waiting for IHM to publicise your email.

    At the outset, let me express my sympathies.
    This boy has not done the right thing.
    But his parents have not wronged you in any way.
    In fact it is not clear from your mail if they even knew that he was in a relationship with you.
    May be if they knew, they might behave differently?
    They may reconcile with the situation and give their blessings albeit a little reluctantly due to their genuine concerns about cultural and religious differences which may affect the future happiness of both of you.

    In any case, if they try to arrange his marriage in the conventional Indian way, they will have to live with the fear of the bride’s family coming to know of the son having lived with you for 7 months. The bride’s family may call off the marriage unless they are desperately trying to “marry off” their daughter somehow to someone to “discharge” their responsibility. That’s not an uncommon situation.
    Do read the link that Cynically Engineered has cited about another mail from an Indian husband. It will throw some light on the arranged marriage scenario here in India.

    In my opinion, if the boy’s intention all along was not to marry you, he is not being fair to his own parents when he knows that they would disapprove of his living with you without being married. He is now ditching you to gain their approval! So did he not think of their approval when he lived with you?  In your country, perhaps this living together relationship is not abnormal and no eyebrows are raised. But in India it is seriously frowned upon. This boy cannot enjoy a relationsip with you at will and then conveniently fall back on his country’s culture and customs and ditch you later.

    He is also not being fair to his future bride. Most brides would want their husbands to be virgins, just as most grooms would want their brides to be virgins in the arranged marriage market in India. Only in urban centers, and in cases of love marraiges, this virginity is not an issue with many modern boys and girls.

    And now let me answer some of your questions.
    As regards his parents, they are just being typical Indian parents and it is not correct to state that they don’t want him to be happy. But they probably sincerely believe that marriage to a foreigner will bring unhappiness due to cultural differences. 

    I also agree that it is not fair on the part of parents to state that their happiness depends on who their children marry. But the sad fact is that many Indian parents do in fact insist on having a say in the matter and emotionally blackmail their sons into toeing the line.

    Yes, I feel that love marriages will increase in numbers in future particularly in the urban areas.

    And finally, every boy/girl must discuss with his parents his marriage plans. If he/she  does not want an arranged marriage, he/she  must tell them in advance. Every parent must discuss with the son/daughter and seek an okay from them if they wish to arrange the marriage and in case the son/daughter is not okay with it, they must leave it to them to find their own mates and be ready with their blessings. 

    Finally, at the risk of appearing unsympathetic to you, I cant help saying that I find the following statements from you rather puzzling.


    We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage. Recently, my guy requested us not to see each other anymore as he said he felt that what we are doing is wrong. I knew it would come down to this one day…

    So you knew all the time that this was how it was going to end up? Then I am left wondering why you agreed to live with him for so long.

    Now I feel that this person is not worth grieving over. May be it is all for the best. Move on and forget this fellow. Time will heal the emotional wounds. I am already feeling sorry for the poor Indian girl this fellow will eventually marry. 

    Now, I would like to ask all readers of IHM a peculiar question.
    If you knew who this boy is, and if his parents were arranging his marriage with a girl you happen to know, would you alert the girl’s family about the boy’s past?



    • @GV

      I hope the boy would have done so himself! When I met my husband, I was very honest with him about my “past” because I do not like starting a relationship based on false implications.

      If I knew for sure that the boy made no such “confession” or infact lied about his past, and if the I cared enough for the girl in question, I would tell the girl. If she still wanted to marry him, that’s her call. But if they are distant acquaintances that I don’t know too well, then I am sure I would not be privy to all the details and it really would be none of my business.


    • Hi GV-ji,
      Not that it really matters… but she doesn’t specify that they were ever “living together”.. does she?

      “So you knew all the time that this was how it was going to end up? Then I am left wondering why you agreed to live with him for so long.”

      When you begin a relationship, you don’t always *think* about getting married. To marry or not a usually a decisions that comes as the relationship grows.

      Also, sometimes… its better to have had a wonderful though limited time with someone , than to have never had it at all.


      • @Tania

        I understand limited time in sense of having terminal illness, going off to fight a war, partition, etc. Things that are not in your control. Sorry to say, but fear / guilt for parental approval does not fall under “limited time, so make best of it” category. This is something you can control and change.


      • @clueless

        Well even for things in your control, like say you meet someone with a different long term goal… maybe on say to have or not have kids, to marry or not , or on a career path that will surely take them away etc …
        you may still choose to enter a relationship, even though you know that there will be a break-up further down.


      • Hello Tania,
        Being first at IHM’s blog is no mean feat.
        But you cheated!
        Posted first and commented later.
        Not fair!
        Just kidding.

        Yes, I agree it’s not clear if she was living with him for 7 months. Pardon my ignorance. I belong to another generation and frankly admit that I am not sure what “in a relationship” exactly means. I see this expression becoming increasingly popular with youngsters and keep imagining all sorts of things going on between them.

        We never used this expression in our time. It simply did not exist.
        We were “in love”, we were “going steady”, we were married, or we were “just friends” or we “lived in sin”!

        I would be grateful if someone explains to me what exactly “in a relationshp” means  what it is a euphemism for!



      • GV,

        Being in a relationship is not an euphemism! It means exactly what it says. That you are in a relationship with someone. It could be at any level, with varying degree of commitment, but the fact remains that it is a solid relationship based on certain sentiments and shared values.


    • GV, I think there is a class of Indian society today where a boy’s past is excusable and would be written off and not seen as a reason to break of a marriage. Men in India seem to be allowed their dalliances and it is expected that they will eventually get over them and settle down. Indian parents may not be thrilled about their son in a live-in relationship but as long as it eventually ends and it’s not rubbed in their faces and kept safely in foreign lands or distant cities, they turn a blind eye. I don’t think Indian girls were ever raised to think about or care whether their husband is a virgin or not – only their own virginity is ever discussed and fetished.

      I am quite sure the parents are aware that the son is in a relationship. I disagree that he was being unfair by not telling them. Ideally, people should be open with their parents about their lives but the relationship that most Indians have with their parents doesn’t seem to be characterised by openness or fairness. So keeping one’s relationship under wraps is actually playing by the book, even the parents would probably rather not know.

      In answer to question, I don’t see a past relationship – even a live-in one – as a blot on anyone’s character. So I wouldn’t feel obliged to tell the parents unless I was pretty sure that the guy was so violently in love with the girlfriend that it would harm his marriage. The thing is – most Indian parents (both boy’s and girl’s side) seem to think that being violently in love is something that can be got over so I doubt they would be overly concerned even if they knew.


    • Dear GV,

      Some Indian parents can’t care less how many girls their son “scored” before getting married. What matters is that they, the parents finally “win”. The guy’s ill morals is something that nobody challenges. And I’m talking about living examples, people that I know myself.


  12. The simple truth is we are all responsible for our own happiness. We cannot demand that people keep us happy. If we place our happiness in the actions of others, we will always run the risk of being unhappy. And since parents choose to define their happiness with the actions of their children, they should also take up the responsibility of facing unhappiness when the actions are not to their liking.

    It always amazes me that when I ask Indian parents what they want from their kids’ marriages, it is always same caste, fair brides, good financial position, etc. I very rarely hear ” I want my kids to be happy”. Maybe their definition of happiness is social standing but they have to accept that it might not be what their kids want.

    Unfortunately in many cases, there is no one to tell the parents to stop acting like children or to have an open mind or to treat their adult kids as adults. The opposition they put up is glorified and instead they are pitied by the relatives for having to face such a “situation” when, if they actually made the effort to have a rational talk with their kids, they would probably understand that it might not be that big a deal or that the son has made a right choice for himself.

    I also have something against the sons / daughters that get into relationships but back out because they fear the backlash of their parents. Maybe it is fear, maybe it is guilt. But the other partner did not sign up for this. If you are so confident that you will choose your parents time and again no matter how illogical or wrong they are, why even get into relationships? They are plenty of matrimonial sites that specialize in the exact criteria your parents are looking for. And there is even the chance that you might find happiness there. Why drag the boyfriend / girlfriend into this ?


  13. Dear American lady,
    You were in a relationship with a man who simply does not have self-respect. Times are changing and there are many people who have gone against their parents wishes without too many problems.

    I do not know this guy so I cannot say much, but a majority of kids in India depend on their parents financially almost well into their first job and sometimes second jobs (this is not exclusive to boys). Most education is bankrolled by parents. A certain assured standard of living is also very often the basic reason kids do not tell their parents to take a hike. Mostly after all deliberations and arguments it comes down to self-respect.


  14. I’m struggling to find a nice way to say this, so please, author of the email, don’t be offended. There are only 2 likely explanations for the person’s behaviour:
    1. He’s a coward, or
    2. He’s been using you because of the common desi male self-loathing thought pattern of “if she’s sleeping with me, she must be a slut and not good enough to marry”.

    Both of which boil down to the fact that he never truly loved you (guilt doesn’t mitigate a crime). Culture and society are just excuses used by pusillanimous weaklings. I’m sorry, but you will never convince me that a well-educated, independent, middle class desi man is so overwhelmed by feelings of filial duty that he will give up the love of his life (or a close approximation thereof, as far as you can tell in your 20s) to spare his parents’ feelings. It’s just utter bullshit cowardice.

    Sorry to be blunt. Take off those rose-coloured glasses, dump the loser and find someone who really loves and respects you. race no bar, as they say in my country.


    • Amol, I agree with all but one of your points – the one about the “desi male self-loathing thought pattern”. Such men never have a low opinion of themselves, it’s the women they’re involved with that they despise… cue the thought “if she’s sleeping with me and we’re not married, she’s not good enough to be my wife or my parents’ daughter-in-law”.


  15. These are difficult questions.
    I don’t think its right to say Indian parents don’t want their children to be happy. It’s just that they think they know best for their children, never mind that their children are fully grown adults with serious careers who have been living by themselves for years now. They genuinely think that the differences – cultural, religious, language, whatever – are big enough to cause problems for the couple. This is because the parents come from that sort of a milieu, where they have been married to someone from another background, and have learnt to adjust and leave – so isn’t that what is going to work best for their children too?
    The other problem is that India is still very much a collective culture, in the sense that the happiness of the group is much more important than the happiness of the individual. And it’s at the root of the ‘what will people think’ chant of many Indians, especially many older Indians. So Indian parents want their children to marry somebody who is acceptable to society – someone from the opposite sex, someone who is equally well off, if not more, someone from the same country/state/religion/caste etc.
    I hope I’m not out of line when I say this, but in all this discussion around Indian parents, let’s not forget that your man is a fully grown adult who should be making his decisions for himself. I have known enough people who have faced opposition from their parents and managed to deal with it and marry the partner of their choice, either by convincing his parents or going ahead without their blessings. So maybe you are better off without a partner who is unable to make a difficult decision and stand by it.
    All the best!


  16. Short quick answer is : The Indian men doesn’t have the spine to stand up to his parents. That’s all. I know so many cases around me (even my own sister). The guy does all the time pass and when it comes to the decision making, blames it on the parents and takes an easier way out of the commitment. Over the time Indian parents have become more and more used to the idea that their wards will find a match for their own. Initially they may have some upheavals but eventually all falls in place.


  17. I would like to add just a few things, which in my opinion are – above all – the core of the problem:

    1) A guy who enters a relationsip for “a couple of years” or deludes you that he will be with you forever and then you see him packing bags and going home – is and always will be a SPINELESS PATHOLOGICAL USER – yes user, because for such a guy you are a toy and time that he spends with you is just for his entertainment.

    2) There is an expiry date beyond which one cannot blame parents for life decisions. If he decides to make his parents happy by leaving you IT’S HIS AND ONLY HIS CHOICE.

    3) It is true that some Indian parents do not treat happiness of their children as a priority. A PRIORITY IS TO TAKE CONTROL OVER THE ADULT CHILD – and indulge in the benefits – lifelong.

    4) Western women have a very poor judgement of and too much trust for Indian men. I really do not understand how a self-respecting woman can enter a relationship “for some time”, or think that she can change his mind. INDIAN MEN HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE AS VILE, IMMORAL CHEATERS AND LIARS AS WESTERN MEN. Yes, they do enter relationships JUST FOR SEX and yes they will dump you AS EASILY AS YOUR PREVIOUS WESTERN BOYFRIEND.

    There are clear and obvious signs of encountering such a cheater and liar. Don’t ignore them just because he is Indian. Do your research. Protect your own interest before exposing yourself to any kind of infatuation. What for you is love, for him only a proof of how (Western) women are dumb and easy to take advantage of.

    I’m not saying all this with any malice. I say this because I’m honesly fed up with naivety of Western women and I strongly believe the author of this email fell in the same trap.


    • “I really do not understand how a self-respecting woman can enter a relationship “for some time” Um why not? I have been in relationships on the understanding that it is “for some time”. My now husband and I were in just such a relationship because we knew he would be moving away and neither of us thought a long distance relationship would work. But we wanted to enjoy each other while we could. In the end, we did change our minds, and not only had a long distance relationship but got married. I don’t see why ‘for some time’ means a lacks of self-respect. As long as both parties are clear on the conditions what’s wrong with it?

      Moreover, just because a man is having sex with a woman and even if he specifies that he wants the relationship to be short term, does not mean that he is in it ‘just for sex’. It could well be that he is, but let’s give the poster some credit to be able to deduce if it was just for sex or not. He may have had feelings for her but not enough courage to stand up to his parents. That doesn’t make her entire reading of the relationship a sham, just one part of his personality.


      • A relationship “for some time” means that there is an open acceptance of the possibility of calling it quits and having different partners later on. In my opinion it is as shallow on emotional level like an ill-fitted arranged marriage.

        If you trully love someone things like long-distance or parental disaproval don’t have a decisive say. You work it out instead of finishing a relationship because “the cost is too great”. There is nothing greater than true love.

        When it comes to “enjoying each other” – I see no point. Either you love someone and stand by it with full consequences, or you just have fun. I would pity every girl that needs to ask herself throughout a relationship: “Is he with me because he loves me, or is he just having so much fun?”.

        There is a reason to why Indians consider love relationships as weak and easily breakable – it’s is exactly the acceptance of such casual character of a relationship. It gives bad press and deepens the stereotype of love relationships as a type.

        Where is self-respect here? Very simple. If you agree on a temporary relationship with temporary sex, how does it make you different from an imported arranged wife? In both cases, you are just one of many transferable goods, with a different expiry date.

        If you believe that men enter short-term relationships giving pririority to love over sex you are just deluding yourself. As I said love is not short-term.

        Of course people can change over time. But the awareness that it all started from semi-serious semi-open arrangement will always remain as a bugging uncertainty.


      • I do not agree with you. Relationships that you enter into of your own free will are all valid. The difference between “a temporary relationship with temporary sex and an imported arranged wife” is simply the fact that one is entered into with eyes open, while the other is forced upon one via whatever means. Please not here I am not taking into consideration the “western” pressure of having a partner in your life. If the relationship is based on that kind of pressure, then indeed there is no difference. But if you choose to enter into a temporary relationship, what is the problem? Consenting adults, right?

        In no way should any relationship be classified as “for life”. That is a concept that simply does not gel with me. That is the reason that divorces were once so hard to get, simply because marriages were deemed to be life-long. It is okay if a relationship does not work out, or if it is short lived and people decide to go their different ways. Or if they decide to get a third partner in their relationship.

        The kind of relationship you enter into has nothing to do with self-respect. The self-respect angle only arises when the relationship is abusive to you, or if you have been coerced into the relationship, or out of it.


      • Intercultured, between “loving someone and standing by the full consequences” and “having fun” there can be a wealth and varying intensity of emotions and numerous permutations and combinations. There are not just two kinds of relationships – true love and pointless dalliances – but a whole array of them, that you might come across if you read literature, watch some of the great romantic films or just talk, really talk, to people young and old about their love stories. The goal of every relationship, at the outset, may not be true love; just as at the very beginning, an idea may be just that, though it may grow into a great invention.
        The way a relationship grows into a grand love story takes many trajectories. Not all of them are of the Romeo and Juliet “all or nothing” kind, though that may be the kind you are most comfortable with. Some of them start with two people in bed swearing to themselves and each other that they are in this only for the moment and end 10 years down the line with then on a couch, married with two babies, the very image of conventional marital bliss. Some of them start by two strangers being forced together by their parents (the ill-fitted arranged marriage you mentioned) and after two decades, reaching for each others hands, knowing they have finally found their soulmate. It may be two strangers meeting by chance, knowing they have just this one day together, choosing to make the most of it and then going their separate ways, knowing that they had just lived the greatest love they ever would. There is beauty and value in all this, even in the heartbreak.
        I’m writing this as romantically as possible. One thing I can assure you – beauty, truth and the meaning of life does not always happen in black and white; often it lies in the gray.
        The fact is that not everyone knows that they truly love each other right on sight like Romeo and Juliet. For some people it takes months to come to the realization of love. For others, it takes years. In the interim, I see going with the flow and seeing where the relationship takes you as a sensible and realistic course of action. When my husband and I first met, we did not know we were the great loves of each other’s lives. We took the very realistic decision of holding back and not making commitments so that we didn’t get hurt. In our case, we realised what we had was special and we wanted to make it work. Others might realize it’s not worth the long fight ahead even though it was beautiful while it lasted. The decision to not go ahead does not turn the entire relationship into something tawdry.
        You also seem to have this idea of women as objects to whom things happen to, rather than subjects controlling their own destiny. It is not just men who enter short-term relationships, with a variety of intentions, which may or may not include having sex. Women may also enter short-term relationships for the purpose of having sex. Men may also enter short-term relationships for purposes other than sex – you may not believe it, but it happens. People may enter short-term relationships for purposes of both sex and companionship and enjoying each other’s company. As long as both parties are open about their intentions, I see that as a great demonstration of respect. Why would one have to keep asking oneself – “: “Is he with me because he loves me, or is he just having so much fun?”. One can just ask the guy in question, and believe me, I’ve had some honest answers. In this case, the guy was quite honest I think. You seem to believe that only relationships that end in a love that lasts forever are worth having. I disagree. And I also believe, that sometimes to discover that love that lasts forever, you have to start your journey on shaky shores.
        If the stereotype of a “love relationship” (what an odd term) is of one that has varying degrees of intensity and may last for a varying period of time, then it’s a fairly accurate description. What is wrong with such a relationship, pray tell? The reason Indian society doesn’t like it is: a) women are supposed to go through life like untarnished vessels until they meet their husbands. b) Having relationships that form and break is messy for society. However, modern societies have decided that it is a mess worth having because it offers the possibilities of great happiness. There is beauty in that mess, even in the short-term relationships you so abhor.
        PS: Apologise IHM for the long essay.


  18. IHM, your posts (or the emails that people send you) are so thought-provoking; so are the comments. Yours is a truly interactive blog.
    American Woman, I second Anna’s Mom in saying that parents usually do this because they think they are more “experienced” because they are older and hence they know better. The toddler-sweets-carrot stick analogy is particularly apt. Obviously they forget that their child is no longer a toddler but a fully grown adult who has also ‘seen the world’, perhaps literally more so.
    Having said that, there are so many guys who have rebelled and married the girl they love and in time the parents have reconciled…or not. So, if your guy really loves you, he could stand up to his family. BTW, does he know about this email to IHM? I wonder what he’d say about your asking ‘strangers’ for advice – if he’s like most Indian men I know.
    Good luck.


  19. I agree with most comments here regarding views of some Indian parents towards ‘love’ marriages, and how it is the guy who has to take a stand, but instead it seems like he has exploited the situation and taken advantage of the same. However, the statement in your message “We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage” also places a certain portion of the blame on you. Why did you agree to a relationship when you knew fully well it had no future? Anyways hope you waste no more of your time with this person. Move on, stay independent and at your creative best for a while before you get into another serious relationship which you know has a very good chance at a great future. Best wishes.


  20. It is, sadly, very true that a vast majority of Indian parents treat their sons as investments for their old age (their is no satisfactory elder care system in India). They might cloak it in terms of cultural compatibility but the real reason why they push their sons into arranged marriages is that it affords them tremendous benefits.

    Arranged marriage offers them an opportunity to lord it over a hapless girl and her parents–a situation they have fantasized about ever since their son was born. The birth of a son brings with it a sense of entitlement and they cannot just let it all go without a fight. They don’t just get a free maid for life, they also get fawned over and receive expensive gifts from time to time from the girl’s parents, all their lives. They’ve seen this happening all around them and this further feeds their sense of entitlement. And most human beings are loathe to give up what they think they are entitled to, even if they might, in their heart of hearts, recognize the unfairness of it all. So they raise their son harping constantly on how much they’ve done and are still doing for them and how the least he could do for them is get married to a doormat of a girl, of their choice. It is emotional blackmail all right, just that they’ve convinced themselves that they’re doing it in their son’s best interests.

    If you look at it from the point of view of these parents, you will see that part of the charm of an arranged marriage is that there is no real affection between husband and wife–not in the beginning, in any case, and that is how they’d like it to be forever. In fact, if they know that their son was romantically involved with another girl prior to his arranged marriage, so much the better–it could only mean that their son will never quite love his wife and by extension will forever remain*theirs*. Not that they don’t want their son to be happy, just that they do not think that happiness has anything to do with loving your wife or being loved by her in return. Being waited on by the wife hand and foot during the day and sex at night(need not be too great, just good enough for them to have children as soon as humanly possible) is their idea of ‘happiness’ for their son. It was happiness for them all right, why should things be any different for this generation?

    If I were you, American Woman, I would say GOOD RIDDANCE, show the guy the finger and move on. And like a commenter said, feel sorry for the poor girl he will eventually marry. May you find peace soon.


    • Well said… most Indians think of marital happiness in terms that can only be called superficial.

      Emotional intimacy, mutual respect, personal growth and a mutual sharing of life-goals play almost no role in a strictly “arranged” marriage, the kind one saw in say, Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam.


  21. We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage.
    I would have to agree with anna’s mom and The Bride with this.

    Dear American Woman, you have my sympathy…or rather, empathy. I’ve been in this tight spot several years back. In my case there was no Indian-Western issue, the guy had even been the same caste, religion, background etc. etc. The only issue was his parents expected to go the arranged marriage way. And yes I come from a broken home which technically makes my value go down in the arranged marriage market.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about men, it is this. If he wants you, he will NOT let you go, no matter what – he will find a reason to make you stay. If he doesn’t want you, he will find an excuse. In your case I am inclined to wonder if it is the latter. And he got into the relationship in spite of saying he cannot disappoint his parents. Perhaps you thought his thought process would change as the months/years rolled by?

    Yes a lot of Indian parents have this feeling that arranged marriage means secure and “the right” marriage, whatever that means. I do agree that parents will feel a little insecure if their child will go away from them mentally and emotionally (and physically too) if they bring a spouse-from-hell who cannot take any effort with them (and this is not one-way, I m assuming in this case that the parents are also putting effort to get to know the spouse her). For this part alone it is justified, for any parent would not want to lose touch with the child or lose its affections because of a controlling or son/daughter in law. Having said that, as long as the spouse in concern has some common sense and works to maintain the relationship (even if it is from a different continent)… does it make a difference what religion, ethnic background, culture etc. he/she is from – as long as the partner is happy with them!

    My brother has a girlfriend from North India (we belong to South India). And I see him take a hell lot of trouble to maintain this relationship, since this is approaching marriage point and I m sure there would be a lot of issues on the sides of both parents. It is difficult, yes and you should be willing to fight for it, just as you would for any issue you believe in. If it is a life with the one you love that you want, then don’t hold back.


    • A loving son will never go away from his parents emotionally and mentally just because he gets married. Love to parents is not the same love as he has for his wife. There is no competition between the two. They go separate lines and his heart is big enough to cherish both sides.

      My boyfriend’s mother said that she doesn’t accept his relationship because “when you got into a relationship you ditched us”. I cannot disagree more! He did everything he could to share his happiness with them and to include them in his life as before. It’s parents’ unsolved issue if they insist on treating romantic love as a competition to parents-child love.

      In most cases, it’s just a camouflage for greed for power and control.


      • My boyfriend’s mother said that she doesn’t accept his relationship because “when you got into a relationship you ditched us”.
        I am not talking about this kind of a case at all. I have personally seen cases where the in-laws are warm and loving people, and open-minded too. The DIL in question is reserved, she prefers not to mingle with the in-laws at all. They anyway live away from the in-laws, even in the once a year visits, she prefers not to come. If she does, it is grudgingly. Its a pity and the son struggles to find the balance between the two. And their kids growing up seeing this unbalanced set up. In this case, forget about losing the love of the son (or having to “share” his love – that concept is nonsense), the entire peaceful atmosphere of the family is affected when one member chooses to be aloof.
        And yes I would be as critical if the spouse in case is a son-in-law. I know such a case as well, where the daughter now has to struggle to find a balance between the two.

        Parents are have a right to be insecure about this. But that does not mean they control their child’s choices over it. Just as I believe a good daughter-in-law (and/or son-in-law too) should maintain touch with in-laws and be respectful to them. Like I said, it’s not a one-way effort. Both sets of people (the parents-in-law and the spouses) should be willing to put in the effort and meet half-way.


      • Ok wait… I worded that wrongly.
        Parents are have a right to be insecure about this.

        What I meant is not that they have a right. Only that I can understand if they’d worry whether the girl (or guy) in question would be warm and receptive to them.


      • Ashwathy, I don’t see why it should matter whether the DIL/SIL is aloof. Of course, things would be great if everyone could bond but if one person does not want to, I don’t see why that should prevent the son from keeping in touch with his parents, going on holiday without the wife etc. In most Indian marriages, I’ve observed husbands don’t make much of an effort to keep in touch with wive’s parents but somehow the wives continue to be close to their parents. The fact is that a lot of men aren’t that close to their parents to start with. When they get married, the gulf widens because they have found someone else to exercise their limited communication skills with but the parents would rather blame the wife than acknowledge their own relationship with their kid wasn’t that strong.


      • No having an aloof DIL/SIL does not mean the child is prevented from talking to the parents….I never said that. But well….the effect is definitely far from a family collectively getting together right?

        And like I said before, in my opinion, it applies to both cases. This is for both sons-in-law and daughters-in-law…my observations are not gender specific.

        In most Indian marriages, I’ve observed husbands don’t make much of an effort to keep in touch with wive’s parents but somehow the wives continue to be close to their parents.
        Yep. There you go! That also should change. It always works both ways.

        Having that said that, I do wonder what it is that makes parents think that girls/guys found through arranged marriages will work better (and be more connected to the family) as opposed to one found through love marriage?


      • “The effect is definitely far from a family collectively getting together right?” Actually, the family can get together as much as they please, except one member may not be present because she does not enjoy the gatherings. Since this member was never a part of that family to start with, I don’t see why she (or he) is so missed and commented upon. If this member who doesn’t want to join the family gatherings is preventing the spouse or children from joining them, then that is wrong. And often it is assumed this is the case. My contention is that it is generally not the case – but rather, that the husband himself cannot be bothered to make the effort without wifey tagging along on such lines as “oh so boring to travel without you” (which frankly does not make much sense).

        The reasons parents prefer arranged marriages are various – scribblehappy mentioned some points. But it stands to reason that cultural similarity would make it easier for people to get along, traditions are shared, language is shared etc. For the parents, there’s the added benefit that they can socialise easily with the girl’s family – or lord it over them and have them accept it as the traditions go.

        What parents don’t realise is that for many in our generation, cultural similarity is not as important as having a mental and emotional connection with one’s spouse. We can get over cultural and religious differences more easily than not being able to gel with a partner on a mental, emotional or physical level and this might cause greater detriment to the marriage than whether we both pray to the same God. Parents also sometimes seem to think that THEM getting on with the DIL and her family is more important than the son’s connection to his wife or they assume that because she is acceptable to them (on cultural grounds) she will be acceptable to him (on all grounds).


      • ” There you go! That also should change. It always works both ways.” Actually, I’d like to propose that maybe it shouldn’t change. Why should people keep in touch with people they have nothing in common with just because they were thrown together by marriage?

        I know that this is a shocking idea for an Indian family – that maybe everyone in the family doesn’t actually have to want to be in touch with each other. But really, forcing in-laws to like each other and keep interacting just because their children do seems a little unrealistic and pointless. I think as long as people are cordial when they do meet, that should be enough no? If they do bond and want to keep in touch, lovely, but if they don’t, what’s the big deal?


      • I guess in my case I am talking about the ideal scenario where everyone gives the other space and yet manages to maintain relationships. I was fortunate to get good in-laws and I make the effort to reach across to them. They do the same to me in their own way. So I am pretty happy with this relationship. I have however seen some other examples in the (both mine and husband’s) family with less than desirous results.

        I think as long as people are cordial when they do meet, that should be enough no? If they do bond and want to keep in touch, lovely, but if they don’t, what’s the big deal?
        I don’t really agree to this idea. How different would your family be from friends’ or neighbours if the whole idea was just to be cordial when you meet…be it once in a blue moon or whatever? In my perspective the effort should be there to maintain the relationships with one’s in-laws families as well as one’s own. Not talking about the extended relatives like mamu and chachu and all of the brood here like the Sooraj Barjatya movies of course.

        This is just my perspective of course. You are welcome to differ. And follow your concept of course,


      • What parents don’t realise is that for many in our generation, cultural similarity is not as important as having a mental and emotional connection with one’s spouse. We can get over cultural and religious differences more easily than not being able to gel with a partner on a mental, emotional or physical level and this might cause greater detriment to the marriage than whether we both pray to the same God.

        Totally with you on this though!

        But it stands to reason that cultural similarity would make it easier for people to get along, traditions are shared, language is shared etc. For the parents, there’s the added benefit that they can socialise easily with the girl’s family
        Yep that goes with the standard saying that marriages in India are not between the boy and girl but between two families. As long as people believe that, and practise that, arranged marriages will continue to flourish – since finding the similarities between families would be more important than finding compatibility between the guy and girl in question.


  22. Well for starters, this guy is definitely an asshole. He just had fun in America using a western woman and now uses his parents and culture as an excuse to run away. Indian men are in love with the idea of sex with a western woman.
    I bet he will come to India, insist on a big dowry and a traditional virgin woman to be his maid. Best of both worlds eh?
    If he was so bothered about hurting his parents, then wouldn’t being in relaitonship have hurt them? No, coz he never informed them I bet.
    I admit Indian parents are too into arranged marriages and that and the societal pressure makes it worse, and they do emotionally blackmail a lot, but in this case, I blame the guy. Don’t be in a relationship, if you don’t have the guts to continue and later use the parents excuse. I have seen this happening way too many times, including me. If you “cannot go against your parents” then don’t go against them by dating too. How come, the going against is applicable only for marriage and not for dating and sex?


  23. //We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage//
    //My guy told me that he is not willing to disappoint his parents//
    Well, then why did he get into a relationship? Sorry if I sound rude, but my guess is he just used these lines to get into a no-strings attached relationship and then squirm out of it by blaming the parents and their supposed narrow mindedness. I know closely, the case of this one Indian man, who did something similar. He was in a live-in relationship with a Western woman for 4 years. And then suddenly broke up with her and asked her to move out of the house. Shortly after that he went on holiday to India and got married in a typical arranged marriage to an educated girl whose parents gave him and his parents lot of money, jewelry and properties.

    I have no respect for such men!


  24. Only 1 person seems responsible for the situation: The Woman- who knew that it was a temporary relationship and yet invested so emotionally into it…I dont know why there is this long drawn discussion about arranged marriages and all the parent bashing happening..who knows if the parents even know of the womans existence..
    “We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage” so apparently he had informed her upfront that he was not going to marry her and if at that point she wanted more out of a relationship, maybe she should not have gotten involved with him. She decided to get into the relationship knowing it wasnt leading up to marriage (obviously she is looking for marriage out of this relationship) I would actually put the responsibility squarely on her.
    My sympathies for her heart ache..but no I dont think its right to place any blame on the parents about this..


  25. Early on into my first relationship, the guy told me that he will have to do what his parents say as he has a younger sister to be married etc. etc. I told him right there on his face, that this was the last time we were meeting. I never saw his face again. I did speak to him on and off on the phone and the complete disentanglement from the relationship took me longer, but I have never regretted my decision.


  26. My sympathies with the American woman. 😦
    Like many who have said it before, I believe it all boils down to the man, and what he thinks are his ‘priorities’.

    Let me tell you about a situation I witnessed myself.
    My grandmother has been one of the biggest examples and cautionary tale of a controlling parent. But my dad made sure she stops controlling his life, from the very beginning, and married my mom even when she did not ‘approve’.
    It’s not just that he turned out a rebel or anything, he is one of the best at interpersonal relationships and I’ve grown up seeing mom and dad giving each other mutual respect and both are emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially independent (in fact mom earns more than dad, if that is a parameter). I’ve seen dad respecting all women alike, and with me (his only daughter) he’s been a liberal parent (simply a great parent at that too) and a friend I can always confide in and have a lot of fun times with. I am almost 21 but I can still hug and kiss my dad pull his cheeks and tease him with XYZ celebrity.

    Coming back to the post, I would’ve never imagined these things or this very persona and attitude of my dad if it weren’t for the fact that he had he had the guts to stand up for himself, stood for what he believed in, respected humans (women and men alike) and moreover respected relationships rather than illogical claims made by his kin to control his life.
    It all starts somewhere, theses are early signs that should tell you that this guy is just not worth it.
    All I have to say is I pity the girl he would marry and if if he has a daughter, I hope some sense prevails by then.

    With that I’ll leave you with my parent’s story… Here’s why I think my parents (especially my dad 😉 ) are just the coolest parents ever. 😀

    hugs.. 🙂


  27. American Woman,
    Though a Capitalist country India like most of the other 3rd world countries has huge section of its population living with a feudal mind set. This is bcause the socio-cultural changes usually lag behind t economic changes by many decades.
    In a feudal economic system family is the basic unit. The interests of t family overrides interests of individuals by default. Thus all important decisions including those regarding marriage are taken by head of the family or a group of elders. Probably such a system might have had a survival advantage. That is why it was prevalent in almost all societies in all parts of the World including urs in t recent past
    Do Indian parents not wish for their children to be happy?
    Parents with a feudal mind set genuinely believe that happiness is attained only with family chosen spouse.

    I know the family structure is different, but do you think love marriages will be more common place in the future?
    Of course yes. As t feudal hang over slowly disappears and ppl begin to realise tht love marriages gives a survival advantage to couples in capitalism, it will increase.

    Also, what type of discussions should children have with their parents about this topic?
    Children shld tell parents that things have changed and it is better for them to be allowed to chose their spouse.


  28. American Woman,

    If you are still in touch with the man, you should show this post to him! I don’t know if your relationship is over, but if a man is worth his salt, he will at least think a bit!

    And it is not only men who do this. I know my close friend who was going out with a girl and the girl said the same reason: she was afraid of even telling her parents, as she might be going against her parents’ wishes. So, it is about standing up for your own. At this age, we are not kids to go to parents for each and every one of OUR life decisions.


    • You know, if this guy has to be shown these comments to know that he’s behaving like a cowardly little a$$hole instead of realising it for himself, he’s not worth the bother of having the post and the comments shown to him! What American Woman needs to do is put this loser and this relationship behind her as quickly as possible.


  29. I would say , it depends from a family to family. Each and every family has different view point and opinions about it. As I have commented before in one of the post too that both the type of marriages have pros and cons.
    Talking about Parents feeling happy for arrange marriage it’s totally depend upon individual’s family and in the region where they are living. As few regions(may be many) are still reluctant for any change.


  30. As i commented before too that both the type of marriages have pros and cons. So one cannot blame the other type.
    And regarding parents view on it. It’s depend upon the region where they are living. Because few (may be many) regions are still reluctant to change.


  31. Well many persons here asked why the American girl involved in a relation without any future and now is crying?
    I will ask why an Indian girl will agree with an arranged marriage without love and maybe will became a maid for her husband and his family and then will cry? What is more worst: to involve in a relation without future lead by love or to accept an arranged marriage and maybe to be treat like a slave just for a secure future or in the name of culture? I think we can’t have a proper answer for this question because in both situations are rational and irrational reasons.
    Like a person that is in same situation today, i can’t give an answer why American girl accepted the relation, like i don’t know why i accepted my relation. One reason can be the fact that we strongly believe that love can solve any situation. Even is not true we still hope and believe in this. We have dreams about the perfect man, perfect marriage, perfect family, unique love.
    Many persons in India talking about foreigner girls that are not having any value and many other bad things. Believe me we all are womans that want same like any other woman – a man to love him and to love us till the end, a family. Unfortunately just few of us finding that right man. The only difference between we and Indian womans is that we still believe in love and trying to find it. Many of us finding love and many just ending up in relations without no future that giving us the hope and the power to continue in our search. Is not an easy task believe me. It is hurting us very bad when we must end a relation but we find the strength to move on.
    In all this 3 years in which i was involved in my relation with an Indian guy i read a lot and i tried to understand the Indian thinking and culture. Sincerely i can’t blame an Indian guy that is involving in a relation with any girl even is knowing that is not strong enough to fight for his relation. I think that in a way an indian guy like and Indian girl having the right like any other person from this world to have some happiness and to feel real love, even is strong or weak person. We all are here to find what is love in any form: love for mother, father, brother, sister, relatives, girlfriend, etc. Honestly in a way i understand even Indian parents. How to make them to understand love for a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife when they don’t know what it is. For them this type of love is not existing. I wonder if the concept of love in any form exist for them? Because if you really understand love for your child i think you are able to understand and to feel any type of love.
    In the end i want to say that my thinking is that life is just a travel in which we have different companions or only one, in which we feel more or less and we must suffer when is time for suffering and to enjoy when is time to enjoy.
    So American Girl just think to your relation like to a nice and wonderful journey, but like any journey was supposed to end in a way. Now accept the sufferance and don’t blame anybody for anything. I know that is hard and believe me my heart is crying too thinking to your lost, but just keep the good things and feelings with you and hope for the best. Is just you that can make the difference and you must choose: to be happy or sad. Always choose to be happy. Happiness is in all small things that you do day by day, in memories, in different things that you see every day. Just give them a chance to show you how happy you are. All the best to all your readers and to you IHM!


    • I very much like the idea of thinking of my time with him as a journey. Great way to put it Alexa! It’s like we came to a fork in the road. Happiness is in the small things. Even in the little memories.


  32. What rubbish – Blaming Indian parents for this nonsense. OK OK i don’t think indian prents are blameless, what with their guilt and their culture rants and their whatnots but this case… oh please give me a break…
    “We always knew our time together was limited, as his family expects him to have an arranged marriage. ”

    — This means he was having some FUN, he doesn’t have t be indian or anything else, It is simply a case of a boy wanting to play around but not comitted enough or wanting to live with the girl permanently ( or long term).
    Seriously he thought what!!! his parents will be pleased he went around with a white girl and only displeased if he married her…

    — I have seen tons of casesw like this , plenty of cases where they had a grand relationship adn an even grander wedded life irrespective of what cultural bull shit his parents threw in … That my deal is LOVE.
    This i hate to say is a man having fun …and there are plenty of those out there belonging to all colors, creed and nationality…


  33. oh in case i didn’t make it clear, Indian parents can lay the guilt trip pretty well 🙂 and many ( not all but many) do care predominantly about what people think rather than what their kids want.. it’s changing, albeit not as fast as i would like. but then again years of conditioning and the sacrificing for your elders ponzi scheme takes a while to break.. so go forth young people and defy the rules , live and love.


  34. If the American woman is going to read my reply, then first off, you are lucky that you could get out of this relationship before you entered into matrimony. IHM’s blog has detailed accounts of what happens after marriage into an Indian family. You may have loved the man with all your heart, but it is time to say “good riddance” to someone who could not stand up to his love. As an American Woman, you have greater social freedom in the matter of marriage than Indian women have. So, exercise your freedom and marry a man who will truly love you for what you are and stand by you.


  35. Of course Indian parents want their children to be happy. It’s just that their concept of happiness is different than that of their son or yours. They think they know more than him what is best for him. Indian parental control does not stop (like it does in the west) at age 18. Indian parents decide who their son will marry, and in a way that is understandable because the DIL will come and live with them in their house. That is our culture and tradition from time immemorial. In India marriage comes first and then love. And that too, not too much love. In many households the wife is always competing with the MIL for her husband’s affections. A large reason for all this is of course lack of economic independence. Till just a few years ago, not many Indian children were financially independent enough to live on their own. Freedom is tied in large part to financial independence. Even when they live abroad many Indians stick to traditional thinking and ingrain it deeply into their offspring.
    I have lived in the US for many yrs and have found (much to my shock) that Indian here are so much more traditional and closed minded than Indians in India.
    In your case American woman (sorry that sounds so odd), maybe your boyfriend thinks he should value his parents happiness more than his own. In India such “dutiful” offspring are glorified. Or he may not love you enough to go against his parents wishes, or like others have said he may be using them as a convenient excuse. I find odd that your boyfriend said that he “felt what he was doing was wrong”. That just saddens me. It seems his parents have seriously brainwashed him and like a lot of Indians who grew up here, he is conflicted, because of the mixed messages given as he was growing up.
    It is very hard to make generalizations about anything. I have know Indian parents who have openly accepted foreign wives for their sons, have not accepted women even of the same caste simply because it was a “love marriage”, sons who have defied their parents and married against their wishes and men who have had numerous affairs and then gone on to marry a young virgin chosen by the parents.
    I am sure in the future love marriages will become much more common. As far as talking to kids or having a discussion with kids, I have told my kids that they can marry who they want as I have no ability to arrange anyone’s marriage.


  36. Most of us blame someone else for our deeds , we blame social pressure , we blame parents , we blame every one but us

    the boy in question is a typical indian boy who never becomes an adult
    the boy in question wants to walk out of the relationship himself and might be using his parents as a ploy
    if the marriage will be arranged then he will be given so much as dowry

    none wants to break a barrier when they are the one involved all want to discuss the problem once they become “submissive ”

    this boy is not worth a penny so dear american girl you are better off and believe me his not doing it for his parents or his indian culture because had it been so he would not have gone into a relationship at all as pre marriage relationsips are unacceptable to indian society in general

    he had his fling and its time to settle with an indian girl so that he can get a unpaid housekeeper for him self


  37. unfortunately most of US thiks indians as 3rd world, unhygenic, stingy, nerdy etc etc. Just as common india sees west as epitome of moral decadence and selfish lifestyle. That negative energy and lack of any cultural assimilation is a sure-shot recipe for failure.

    Therefore thinking of future of both parties the indian people would rather play it safe.


    • I definitely think this is a generalized statement. People on both sides of the cultural divide have to realize that not everything is the way you see it on TV. There is no way to say what “most of US” thinks about India, just as there is no way to say what “most of India” thinks about the West. Most generalizations and stereotypes are based on fear of the unknown.

      Even now, I would never say I would never date another Indian guy again just because I had this experience. People are people. And every person is different.


      • short flings a-ok. but long haul ? im sorry preconceived notions and generalized views do take precedence . there is data and 2much word of mouth 2 back.


  38. American woman,
    As hard as it might sound, Indian husbands are a package deal. Get the husband, get the in-laws interference for free.My advice to you is to stop feeling how you both could live happily ever after because after marriage, things change. Even in cases where parents “approve” the love marriage, here’s what happens.
    1. The parents think that a son’s home is their own home. They can move in for 6 months at a time or indefinitely with his family. The husband feels immoral to say that they need to leave.

    2. The husband’s parents feel the DIL has become part of HIS family and needs to follow the “rules’ and customs of their family.

    3. They show disgust at the husband doing chores and either express vocally or by sulking that the wife is unfit in her role.

    I think “MIL” in American culture is different from MIL in Indian culture. A bad American MIL finds fault with everything her DIL does. There is no concept called a bad MIL in India, unless she is physically abusive. She is either strict or lenient. She is the boss of your life.

    The couple really has to take a combined stand against all this non-sense and it seems to me that your boyfriend does not have what it takes. You don’t know how lucky you are to get away from all this.


  39. Pingback: Response from American Woman. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  40. American Woman,

    Trust me, you’re better off rid of him.

    I’ve seen many Indian men who come to the US for education/work date American women. Some (very few) of them are genuine, and actually care for the girls they’re dating, but most (it pains me to say this, as I’m an Indian myself) treat them as casual flings to “enjoy” away from the eyes of the family.They don’t really get “American culture”, but if they can sleep with women for free, and not have to deal with a shotgun wedding at the end of it, it works for them. I’ve known one such person (friend of a friend) who dated a lovely girl, only to break up with her, and have an arranged marriage. She was, and still is, heartbroken. There was no coercion from his parents; he wanted a traditional Indian bahu (read vestal virgin) whom he could have a co-dependent relationship with. He’s married to an Indian now, and she calls his parents “Mummyji” and “Daddyji”; they prefer to stay at home and “chill” instead of hanging out with friends, and the boy’s parents are almost always visiting from India. He was always aware of what he wanted, but “traditional” upbringing gives conservative Indian boys a enormous sense of entitlement, and almost zero sensitivity to the feelings of others, women especially.

    I don’t know anything of your relationship, but either he genuinely didn’t have a backbone (trust me, most Indian parents don’t threaten their children with suicide, it’s just a convenient excuse), or he knew exactly what they’re doing, and how it was going to end up. Either way, you’re better off rid of him.

    Hope you find happiness with a guy who genuinely respects you as a person, and soon! 🙂


  41. At times I am skeptical of saying something here… ! but lets go

    Shall I give my judgement !!!!! 😛

    As far as this case is concerned.. the guy has simply used the excuse to get out of the relationship, the western girl knew what she was going in for… perhaps she was overconfident she could change his point of view or she just fell for him log stock and barrell and wants him.. when they both knew it was going to end means atleast the guy was honest about it and now he has probably realised that he doesnt love her enough to have her for life !

    He probably lacks the balls to admit this on the face and so uses his parents as his shield !


  42. @Bad Indian Woman

    I have a pretty simple theory regarding why more women stand up to the pressure than men. Let me make you a free present of it. 🙂

    I think most women simply have a lot more to lose than most men if they give in to the demands.

    For a chauvinistic male, traditional Indian society is ideal – all you need to do is to get a good education, a well-paying job and an outwardly pleasant demeanour and tada! You get a nice, submissive, brainwashed wife for free as a reward (in some cases, you may even get paid for “accepting” her). You don’t even need to impress her too much.

    Many men would rather just sit back and take advantage of the unfairness in the system than speak out against it.

    Of course, they’re missing out on an actual loving relationship based on mutual respect, but who’s to tell them that? Of course, they’re conducting themselves atrociously, but when society condones their behavior, what power do our pleas have?

    On the other hand, the few non-chauvinistic men who do exist in this country tend to feel horrified at the idea of being trapped in that kind of a marriage and generally DO try to protest. I’m not sure that women face MORE pressure, as such. There is tremendous pressure on men in orthodox circles to go into a “safe” career, get a “respectable” job, have a “respectable” marriage, and have a lot of grandkids. The same guilt/emotional blackmail tactics work here too. If anything, they work better because guys tend to have fewer outlets for such emotions and fewer men are even aware of the fact that this kind of thing is wrong. Here at IIT-D, I’ve lost count of the number of guys who are here just because their parents thought it was the ticket to a good life and for whom a wife-search would be organized the minute they get into a job. No one bothers to ask them if they even WANT to get married. The first sentence of Pride and Prejudice may be apt here.


  43. Pingback: Should You Always Mind Your Own Business? | Musings of an Unknown Indian

  44. This might seem cruel, but Indian men are not the most considerate of beings. There are a lot of exceptions to this rule, but it does apply to the majority. I used to think the more educated and exposed a man is, the more open-minded he is, but sadly, that is not true.

    Just a few months ago, I was in a relationship with a guy who I thought was my Mr.Right, until the day he went down on his knees and proposed. He made it clear to me soon enough that after marriage, I would have to give up my life in Bombay and follow him to Udaipur. I would have to change my surname, change my lifestyle and basically, stop being the person I am today. He also wanted to get married immediately because his parents wanted it. I didn’t want to, I needed more time, but that was pooh-poohed. Needless to say, I left. My independence means a lot to me and I can’t give that up. A month after the break-up, he got engaged to a girl of his parents’ choice. And this is a guy who was highly educated and had seen the world.

    The problem lies in the upbringing. Boys are made to feel as though the world revolves around them and girls are taught to compromise and sacrifice every inch of the way. A girl’s education might be stopped in order to finance her brother’s education (he is, after all, the ‘raja beta’). Girls are put to work in the kitchen in order to ‘train’ them for marriage while boys are playing Xbox in the living room.

    Unless this mindset changes, we can expect these unrealistic expectations to be forced upon us.

    Luckily, it is changing. Not as fast as I’d like it to be, but there is hope yet!


    • I think women have moved ahead faster than the society (and men), maybe because women found new choices, choices they never had before. Like, how many girls could turn down a marriage proposal in the past, when their life mission was to Get Married and Stay Married? Today women have dreams and aspirations which include meeting a life partner, but the partner is not their goal.


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  56. Hi there,

    There were so many comments here. I agree with the explanation that if the guy sit and talk to his parents removing ego and explaining why he wants to marry that girl, the parents would accede to him.

    I was in a similar situation. it was a 2.5 yrs relationship. From day one, I use to go to his home often and spend time with his parents and him. They treated me well, but they completely ignored to ask or query my bf about me (I was the only girl friend of his who goes to the home). They just chose to refuse to acknowledge me as their son’s gf to the end. until i had to force to approach his parents about our marriage. The first time he spoke to them, they disagreed. the second time he spoke to them, they put their foot down and disagreed completely. The reason given was I was not the same caste as them.

    They could have saved me the pain im going thru now by asking their son upfront about me and saying no then. Instead, they ignored about me for 2.5 years and then say no. my bf loves me truly but he have no heart to go against his parents.


    • The most important thing that I learned is that someone has to give in the situation. It doesn’t seem as if you boyfriend is willing to give by standing up for you. I’m sorry. I know firsthand how much that feeling hurts. I hope that someday you find peace and a man who can see the bigger picture.


  57. we both r from d same community n same culture..n still his parents hv problems accepting our relation..its almost 10yrs.. but yes he z with me n he z trying hard to convince his parents..i do think our culture n tradition has a bad impact too..


  58. because indain parents are traditionally selfish.they want their children and their spouse to look after them. they dont think about their child’s happy marriage a lot.but would pretend a lot to care for their child.we are selfish parents are selfish my inlaws are going to be i am taught to be selfish too.but i certainly like to break this chain.i will insist my future children to have livein relation.i will kick them out of my house after 20.i will tell them go and have your life.but for me there is none to save my life.


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  65. I really want to say so many things over here, I encountered a similar types of situation in my own life, when I was also in a condition when I could have told my love that my parents are against our marriage, and being a emotional and shy guy, I would not be able to go against my parents, but I did the opposite. I decided to go against my parents and married my love, and this is now more than 4 years, and am living a really great life with my love and even parents are now a part of our life once again.

    Well, to be very frank, those who says this that he is not willing to disappoint his parents, are actually the main culprit, they themselves don’t have any intention of marrying that lady, they actually considered them as an object to play with, and then to hide their own disability they use to say this.

    Frankly, I have heard this line from many guys saying to their girlfriend, my question to them is that when you already know about it, and when you don’t have the courage to disappoint your parent, then why the hell you did loved anyone?

    I might be a bit harsh, but yes I won’t hesitate to say them as “Real Fool”.

    BTW reached to your blog through and am now really feeling proud of myself to be listed in a list where such a nice blog is already listed…


  66. The video at the 12 minute mark is a hilarious take on the NRI man who has a gf abroad and then goes home for the arranged marriage. And its from the 90s…not much has changed in 15 years


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  69. I dont know about others but my SO CALLED PARENTS treated my entire life like shit. Thought me evil, horrible things……my dad never gave me a centimetre of love my entire life , my elder brother abused me and my Mom lied and lied to me till death. Oh and the manipulation…..God knows how evil they can get with the manipulation.

    I got married to a girl and the second day they started to destroy the marriage. They dint care a **** whether I get divorced or whatever………they were prepared to get me another girl whom they could control and manipulate and not the girl I loved.

    Pyshcos of the worst order.

    My advice to all Indian children, once you are 18 RUN AWAY AS FAR AS POSSIBLE FROM THEM.


  70. I had the same problem with my indian ex-boyfriend. I am from Russia. He is a military and was on a business trip. He swore to me in love, said many beautiful words. But he was engaged to an Indian girl. I believed his love, because Russian men are very rarely say “I love you.” And if you still say – it really means “I love you” namely, I’ll do anything to be with you.
    But the Indians just weave words lace. their words do not mean anything. they are cowards and hold on to the skirt of his mother all his life. strange that they do not ask for permission from the parents when the plant affair with foreign women. two-faced guys. but constantly talk about their “great culture”.


  71. I think the reason is that most Indian women stay at home, do not work. they are because of boredom interfere in someone else’s life. and intrigue – a way to kill time.
    After an affair with an Indian, I realized that Russian men are the best in the world! if his family did not take his girlfriend – he fell out with all his relatives. Because in Russia love is really above all else.


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  75. Hi I know what feeling we get being in relation for seven years and suddenly when the guy ask to end the relationship due to his parents but I can say that all Indian parents are like that only immature , financially depend on their kids , they took away the freedom of children indian parents are very strict about their son marriage I hate this to .


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