“According to my mom, friendship with guys should always be limited to academics, nothing personal.”

Sharing an email. Parents who permit any communication (not friendship) with guys would be considered liberal by many.

What fears and insecurities make Indian parents (and society) forbid their children from interacting with the ‘opposite sex’?  

Some possible fears could be  – ‘love marriages’, ‘date rapes’, MMS videos (this one from a coed school principal who didn’t want boys and girls to sit ‘next to each other in class’ or ‘talk to each other after class’), ‘what will people say’, teenage pregnancies, or simply the children ‘going out of hand’.

What do you think are the current methods achieving? 

Hey IHM,

I have been following your blog from the past 4 years. And very unfortunately, the way I got to know about your blog was through an eulogy to Tejaswee in another blog. I wept aunty, for TJ and I even dedicated a post to her on my blog. And I hope that you don’t mind my calling you aunty 🙂 Somehow, your blog posts always found resonance with my way of thinking.
I turned 21 a few days ago. I am going to finish my graduation in a couple of months. I was brought up as any other girl of Indian society. I had guy friends from school but my parents didn’t see my friendship anything more than mere acquaintance with my classmates. I am still good friends with 2-3 guys from my school. I along with my mom came to live in a cosmopolitan city for my graduation. After joining college, I became good friends with my seniors. But I was hesitant of telling my mom about my closeness with them.
I had a reason. My sister, who is more mature than me always bore the brunt for being friends with guys and for hanging out with them. Indeed going out with a guy, even in a group, was thought to be a taboo. None in our family ever dared to be open with their friendships with people from opposite gender. So it came quite as a shock to my mom when she found out that my sis went out to meet her lone guy friend, alone! There was a hullabaloo in my home on that day. My father was at least a bit better, he said that if it all she wants to meet a guy friend, she could meet him at our home. But mom opposed that, too.
According to her, friendship with guys should always be limited to academics, nothing personal. My sister, who was a rebel by nature always argued with my mom regarding this but in vain. Luckily, she stayed away from us so she hardly informed my mom whenever she had to go with a group consisting of guys. But I wasn’t so lucky.
So, I became cautious of what my acts would lead to. I had to learn lessons from my sister. Because I couldn’t afford to lose my friends nor want to earn wrath from my mom. I would text my friends when my mom was not around. I would meet my seniors (cuz they left college) at local eat-outs taking care of the timing and probability of any acquaintance of mine finding me with a guy( or guys).
But whenever I had to go out to meet them at other places, I had to wear a scarf. I was scared of getting caught, of being seen with guys. I know that I had nothing to hide from the world. But I was scared of being judged by the society. People ask us why girls wear scarfs? Is it to hide their faces when they roam with guys? Hiding means that they are doing something wrong, blah blah. I have an answer for them-
“Yes, I wear scarfs while meeting my guy friends. Because I hate when people look at me, find me with a guy and think that he is my boyfriend or that I sleep around with him. People’s judgementality makes us hide our faces despite whatever we do is not wrong.”
But, I am sick and tired of this drama. Because I don’t want to hide from my parents or tell them lies when I have to meet a friend. Come on, a friend is a friend irrespective of its gender. Then why the heck is my mom so insecure?
She feels that none in our apartment brings friends of opposite genders to their homes nor do they hang-out with them and that friendship at personal level with guys is totally unnecessary.
It fills fear, rage, frustration and hopelessness in me. For long I have been trying to tell my mom how things are not the way she thinks is; how “log kya kahenge” attitude would take her no where. I understand the fact that she came from a small-town and that her attitude is entirely influenced by it. But, things have to change, don’t they?
Because, shortly after graduation, I have to join an MNC which will make me work till late in night, hangout in groups which will have guys in it, for sure. If this is how she’s gonna remain, I am sure, there will be a lot of hue and cry from my mom due to my behaviour and changed habits.
I always fancied living far away from home, where none knew me, where I could go out on my own, make friends with people, chat up, bring up conversation, make my home, take care of myself like a responsible adult. Whenever there’s a conflict between my mom’s ideas and mine, I felt like doing this forever, go away permanently. I know, a few call this the chagrin rush in youth but come on, I don’t want to lie to my mom anymore nor do I want her to be hurt.
I want to live a life, a real life where there is no deception, no hide-n-seek between truth and reality, where I can go out to meet my friends freely without a veil hiding my face, where I can happily pillion-ride on my guy friends’ bike without fearing people getting judgemental about me. Can’t this happen ever in my youth? Can’t our society stop being judgemental about people going on roads wearing a mini-skirt, sleeveless top on a guy’s bike, meeting up guys and all?
I brought in the society thing because I know, majority of Indian parents are more society and God fearing than their children-loving -_- I want society to change. Only then can my mom or any other girl’s mom with similar ideology would burst the cocoon they built around themselves and come to terms with reality, practicality and freedom of living.
I grew up with my own idea of life. I am intelligent, I love studying and I love reading books! They bring me in contact with the real world. Is it wrong if I dream of spending a few days in my life in New York all alone? Date a guy? Or get into one of the premier institutes, fall in love with a guy irrespective of his identity? Wishing to spend my life with him, working on a job I love with no pressure either  from my in-law or my own family asking me to stay at home, helping them with their house-hold chores, taking care of babies? Of living a real ‘liberated’ life? Am I at fault for all these thoughts?
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“I blamed myself for putting myself in that situation, for being so vulnerable and so incredibly stupid to believe any of his bullshit.”

I wish there was more awareness that threats of any kind, including suicide and any kind of emotional blackmail were ‘warning signs’ and not ‘love’. 

Sharing an email. 

Hello Indianhomemaker,

Your blog touches many of our lives with its stories and I really must appreciate the thoughts that are evoked in many mind upon reading these stories.

I thought I was a staunch feminist, a strong and independent woman. Well, I still am. But I faltered. I let someone take advantage of me while I pretended to be a ‘liberated’ girl.

I don’t pretend to be chaste, but that doesn’t mean any of us deserve any kind of abuse.

Here is my story, if you deem it fit, I would like it to be read.

I, an urban, liberated, free spirited girl, from Bombay moved to Bangalore after graduation to work with a small architectural studio. A lovely city, a great office but I didn’t know a single person, being a social girl I was it was a bit daunting. Then comes along the boy, village born, small town, worked hard to be where he was, breaking social and financial norms and practicing the profession we love so much at the same studio. He was my first friend.

Like every dramatic story, I moved to Bangalore with a heavy heart of having broken up with my amazing college boyfriend. It took literally 3 days to like this and feel endeared by his stories (albeit, in terrible English) to fall for him. And thus began, you can call it – a relationship. He was always skeptical about my white linen shirts (without a slip inside), my wild partying days back in Bombay, the copious amounts of alcohol I would drink with friends and family, my sexual experience, my liberated life on my high horse of coming from a comfortable financial background.

The intention of the relationship was never marriage, or at least didn’t start that way, it was mostly companionship and talking, socializing. I, in my head, knew this was wasn’t going to last and the fear of being alone and vulnerable made me continue it, and in all honesty he was gentle, loving and caring. He decided to move to Germany to do his masters, which I thought would be a great excuse to end the ‘relationship’.

But it didn’t.

There comes the first threat – if you leave me I’ll leave my studies and come back because I can’t handle the emotional distress of being without you.

He came from a very humble background, struggled to get a loan and get to go to study, I couldn’t bear to be the reason he would leave all of that because I was selfish enough to not continue a ‘Skype’ relationship and I was naïve enough to think he’d actually do it.
Meanwhile I decided to study further, he very graciously agreed to help me with the admission processes since he had just done it and I took that help, some were useful pointers which did help me to get through almost all schools I applied to. This in hindsight, wasn’t because of him only, but also because I am fairly bright.

While I would be on Skype with him, sometimes in compromising ways, I lived my life on my own terms here and did what I liked.

Then came the second threat after attempted break up 2 – I’ll kill myself.

I’d be the evil bitch responsible for his death and his family’s financial doom because he was the only earning member. And after everything he did for me, how could I let him die.

Threat 3 – I have recorded all those ‘compromising’ times and I will publish them not only on websites but email them to your parents.

Yes. That is correct. Of course, I shouldn’t have ever put myself in that position, but I trusted him enough and secondly, never thought he would take screen shots (naïve bordering on stupid). My family liberal enough would be terribly upset seeing those images if it does get to them.

With all the threats, this has been going on for 4 years.

4 years! I am able to write about this now, only because he has stopped having the effect of a cold cold hand gripping my heart. I don’t care.

This is not all, I am constantly called a whore, slut, things far worse, my parents and sister and her family are called tons of names, I am threatened to pay him money for gifts he gave me (that I never asked for accepted), money for phone calls he made to me, everything bordering on extortion and blackmail.

I blamed myself 3.5/4 years of the emotional abuse he put me through, because I blamed myself for putting myself in that situation, for being so vulnerable and so incredibly stupid to believe any of his bullshit. But now, I stopped. The only person to blame is him.

I am older now, I am not 23 and alone and stupid, I have met a wonderful who I will marry, who has been my wall when ‘Crazy’ (let’s call him that) strikes. I am over the fear of being flung in public. Because he can do what he likes, I will not live in his fear.

I would appreciate if you kept my identity anonymous.
Thank you

Regards

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“I have realized that at 20 when I started dating him I never thought much but today I have issues with all the above points.”

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

Boy friends are new parents

“I need suggestions – these girls are ruining their lives with their stupid ideas about love.”

An email: He did not want me to be “more” educated than he was.

An email: An Old fashioned boy friend and a Liberal girl friend.

 

“I have realized that at 20 when I started dating him I never thought much but today I have issues with all the above points.”

Emotional Abuse would be easier to recognise and deal with, if lessons of Obedience and Adjustment were replaced with mutual respect and equal right to happiness, justice, self reliance and freedom for all. 

But how can we talk about abusive boyfriends when we (as a society) are so busy banning Choice Marriages and Valentine’s Day?
Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

I have been following your blog regularly and now I am at a crucial stage in life where I need or rather want to take a decision and thus have turned to you and your readers. I am 23 and currently in my final year MBA. I have been in a relationship with a guy who is now 29 for the last 3 years.

I belong to a fairly liberal family with both my parents working. When I say liberal I mean that I was always allowed my freedom, my mother and I would discuss my crushes, my family has never till date told me what I need to wear, whom I should not talk to, has never advised me how to behave and has never advised me to stay away from boys. I was always allowed to go on college trips with boys and girls and was never monitored during those trips. Very rarely have my parents stopped me from doing what I wanted in my life till date.

My parents knew this guy as my friend but from the time I told them about my relationship with him, they are against it. They have not resorted to emotional blackmail, or threats but my father and mother have sat down with me and have discussed with me as to why they think this will not work for me and have told me that they are not willing to support me in this.

The guy comes from a very traditional family background where girls are not sent to college and are married off as soon as they turn 18 years. His own sister was married off at 19 when she was in second year of college and was given a hefty dowry and to this date her family still demands money and gifts and the girl also thinks that its her brothers duty to fulfill her needs.She lives in the same city but spends more than 15 days at her parents place and is always cribbing that her parents and brother are not taking care of her and her husband. Her husband does not work, has taken loans from a lot of people and in order to escape paying suddenly vanished from the scene. My BF was expected to pay all the money and bring him back. This is a recurring phenomenon and nobody questions.

My parents are just not comfortable with this. Also in the past there have been many instances where I have myself had doubts regarding his and his family behaviour like:

1. The guy lied to me about his sister’s family situation. In fact he told me that his sister is married to a very nice guy and that they make the perfect couple.

2. He also lied to me about his name: He has a very long name and so uses initials for it. So when I asked him what all the initials meant he lied to me by replacing his actual name with some other name and I did not know of this till his friend actually told me about it.

3. He lied to him that his father was a successful businessman, on the contrary his father does not work and shut his business many years ago. When I asked him this, he said that his father had serious health complications because of which they had to shut down and then on another occasion he told me that actually his father is incapable of handling business and hence shut it.

4. Everyone in his family knows about me but he never volunteered to introduce me to them. Finally, after a lot of persuasion from my end he took me to meet his family not to their home but to another town where his family had gone for a pilgrimage. There I found out that they had booked 2 rooms for 8 of us which included his sister’s family and his parents and us. In the night everyone except his father slept in 1 room and me, the guy and his father slept in another room with me and the guy on the floor and his father on the bed. I was very uncomfortable with this arrangement but just kept quite. It was the first time I was meeting them and I was very uncomfortable.

5. The next time he took me to his hometown where his parents and sister lived. Though his extended family knew about me, from the moment I entered their house there were instructions given to me very subtly about how I must not step out the house as nobody should see me. I did not understand why they wanted to hide the fact that I was visiting.

6. He has severe temper issues i.e. even if I am late by 5 mins when we are going for a movie he will start shouting and then he will stop talking to me. It takes immense efforts to make him normal. but on the contrary, he can come late and I must understand and not make an issue. I find this very wrong.

7. I also don’t understand another thing: he is always available as in he just steps out of work at any random time and insists that I meet him. I am then expected to bunk classes and come to meet him and even if I have exams the next day he will insist on going out and if I refuse he will say that since I did not come to meet him, I should not even talk to my friends on the phone or even step out to have dinner.

8. He has very bad work ethics and I feel he is not professional because he always skips important meetings at work and tells his colleagues to cover up for him which I hate absolutely. He even takes a lot of unscheduled leaves and gives his ID card to his colleagues and asks them to swipe on his behalf and log on to his system and reply to his mails. He tells me that he is very smart and so can manage all this at work which I find very disturbing.When I question him, he says he can do anything to spend time with me.

9. He always expects me to be dressed impeccably i.e. not a strand of hair should be out of place, clothes preferably only cotton salwars neatly ironed with a duppatta in place and if I am not neatly dressed even on one occasion he starts sulking and does not even talk to me properly. Is it really so important to be dressed up always even if its just for a casual outing to a coffee shop?

10. He has very strong views about homosexuality – one of my friends is homosexual and so he wants me to stop talking to my friend because he believes that its not our culture.

11. For some strange reason he hates my dad, even as a friend when I would call him home, he would never make any attempts to talk to my dad or even strike a conversation. He tells me that I should not trust my dad, I do not know why but he insists that my dad is bad.

12. When we are out, he constantly comments about other women i.e. they are fat or thin or beautiful etc but if I look at a guy, then I am doomed.

13. These days he has also started telling me what dowry he would get if he would marry the arranged marriage way and asks me if my father will give anything at all to him. Also, whenever we are out and if his sister calls, he never tells her that he is with me, instead lies that he is with some other friend.

14. Also, I recently found out that he has two facebook profiles: one with his original name and details and his friends and another profile with the name he told me and a different date of birth and strangely only his and my common friends in the list. When I asked him he simply dodged the question and gave some vague random reply like he wants to keep me and our part of his life separate which I did not even understand. When I questioned about the name he said that since we first met with that as his name he wants to continue with that.. I am really surprised.

Now my mother and father do not know all the above details except about his family and sister issues and they are against our relationship for that reason, but ever since I have also started thinking about our relationship and after much thought I have realized that at 20 when I started dating him I never thought much but today I have issues with all the above points. I tried talking to him and from that day onwards he has started emotional blackmail – says that I am cheating him now and that he cannot live without me, his life has no meaning without me etc.Today he has even called my best friend and told her that I am behaving very rudely and that he will not be able to live if I continue behaving like this. I am really worried and stressed out and to top it all I have my final project submission next week. He just does not let me concentrate on my project and since I stopped answering his calls, he sends me messages saying he is sick, admitted to a hospital and has even told my friend the same and asked her to convince me to talk to him. I am really worried as I do not want to loose my degree and also I am unable to bear his emotional messages. I don’t know if I should ignore all the above issues or if I should just leave him. If I leave him, I am worried he might really do something and that my life will be ruined. Also, now that he knows my parents are against our relationship, he is pressurizing me to pack my bags and run away from home after my project submission and then lodge a complaint against my dad and seek protection. He says that if I love him I should leave my family and I am really not ready for it. Please help me..I have not told my parents all this as they will be worried and will really freak out and get tensed but at the same time I do not know how to handle it.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Related Posts:

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

Boy friends are new parents

“I need suggestions – these girls are ruining their lives with their stupid ideas about love.”

An email: He did not want me to be “more” educated than he was.

An email: An Old fashioned boy friend and a Liberal girl friend.