Thursday, April 21, 2011


Hiding My Secret (White) Boyfriend From My (Bangladeshi) Parents

I lead two lives.

In the first, I’m in love with my boyfriend, Josh, of three and a half years and going strong. We go on road trips to Memphis and Montreal, we explore abandoned hospitals, we’re a writer/photographer duo — he reviews and I shoot concerts, he showers me with rabbit paraphernalia, I send him lyrics that remind me of us.

In the other life, the one I present to my parents, Josh-the-boyfriend doesn’t exist. I go to work, I hang out with friends, I go to concerts, I take pictures and write occasionally, and that’s about it. My parents don’t know about us, and it bothers me, but it’s what I have to do in order to be mostly happy with my life.

My parents have different expectations of what my life should be like. Dating doesn’t exist to them. Eventually, they expect me to marry a Bangladeshi Muslim guy of their (and to an extent, my) choosing. I don't have the heart to tell them that that's never going to happen. And so, because it’s easier, and because I’m terrified of what the outcome would be, I’ve kept my relationship a secret.

American (read: white) boys disgust my mother. Constantly I’d hear about how they’d use me for a day before throwing me out like garbage. (She uses much more colorful language that’s untranslatable.)

Before Josh, there was David, my first boyfriend, a high school love that we tried to extend into college. We failed. When we broke up, part of me was glad I never told my parents about him (though he was Chinese, not white). I didn’t have to prove her right.

My parents grew up in another country with a different culture. I'm their first-born, the first generation American in the entire family, the first to get my bachelor’s and Master's degrees. I’m the oldest kid in my family, too, and my Bengali nickname, Sharna (“gold”), reflects how much I mean to my parents. I was the first in my family to experience the American way. I did things my parents weren’t familiar with: I listened to songs that were not-so-subtly about sex (I’m looking at you, Tori Amos), I watched TV where unmarried people kissed and went all the way (gasp!), and I stayed out late with friends at parties where I smoked and drank. My rebellious youth made things easier for my younger brother and sister — my parents don’t even bother calling to check up on them when they’re out late. I paved the way.

My parents had an arranged marriage — my father’s parents set up meetings with suitable women in their village in Bangladesh, and that’s how he met my mother, the only woman who dared to show up with a broken sandal. He liked that about her; he thought she was brave. So he picked her. She was an elementary school teacher with a Master’s in political science, and he was an engineer. Their marriage ceremony was elaborate, which Bangladeshi tradition called for. In the photographs, I see my mother wearing a red sari adorned with heavy gold jewelry everywhere. I see my father in a traditional suit. They don’t look happy — they look solemn. This is just a step for them. Afterward, he whisked her away to Saudi Arabia, where he worked for the royal government until they decided to give up their jobs and education to move to New York for the sake of their future children, for me.

My parents assume I’ll go through the same steps: Relatively soon, because I just turned 26, my mother wants me to tell her that I want to get married. She’ll arrange meetings with grooms-to-be. I’d pick the first decent guy to be my future husband. We’d get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. They did it, their parents did it, their grandparents did it, and even my cousins did it, so I’m supposed to do it as well.

It’s not to say my parents aren’t happy — they are, in a way, but they still had their bumps. They fought a lot when we were younger, and I vowed I’d never be like that. I wanted to end up with someone I completely love, someone I knew through and through, not from a parent-approved blind date. I don’t want to plan the rest of my life so far in advance. I’ve got time to do that.

Josh is the furthest thing from who my parents expect me to spend the rest of my life with — not only is he white, he’s Jewish. Being with him involves a lot of lies, or at least omissions. I’m vague about the things I do (“out with friends,” rather than “making out with Josh”), but my parents don’t push any further. The less they know about my life, the less they have to worry about the things I actually do.

(Once, during the first year of our relationship, I snuck him into my childhood apartment, where I still lived because I just graduated. I timed it right: My parents were at work, my siblings were at school. It was thrilling in one sense, I was like every other teenage girl, even though I was 22 at the time — I had a boy! At my house! But at the same time it felt wrong, like I was sullying my childhood home. I also worried that my mother might come home unexpectedly and we'd have to work out an escape route, which would’ve been tricky in an apartment with one entrance. We only did that once.)

He knows that my parents don’t know about us. He says he’s fine with it. Still, I worry that it gets to him. Wouldn’t he want a normal girlfriend, the kind of girlfriend who could bring him home and have family dinners with him? Even as I write this, I asked him why he was OK with this secret. “Because I didn’t fall in love with you knowing that,” he said. “It’s be weird if my feelings for you depended on what I thought of your parents.”

Not to say that he doesn’t know my parents or vice versa. They’ve met before, under the guise of him being my friend (much to their displeasure at the fact that I have male friends). They know him as the guy who accompanied my sister and me to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book party at Barnes & Noble (we weren’t dating at that point). My sister knows about Josh — I told her in a few months after we started dating. I was terrified, but she already knew, she could tell we were together. It makes me feel awkward sometimes, like she’s an unwilling accomplice to the crime I’m committing against my parents’ honor. When we get into arguments, she’ll throw it in my face. “How could you do that to them?” she’ll yell. The burden is supposed to be mine to bear, not hers.

Last spring, my family moved from my childhood apartment to a new house in Queens, and Josh came to the housewarming party. I invited a bunch of high school and college friends as well, but I still was nervous. I made him walk the 30 blocks from the subway stop to the house rather than taking the bus just so he wouldn’t be the first to show up. He was still early, but he helped my father and brother set up chairs and tables. Could they tell he was more than a friend? Soon enough, he was one of the few white guys there among my friends, and my parent’s friends and relatives.

My father invited an imam, a religious leader from the nearby mosque, to the party, and the men gathered in the living room to commence blessing the house. Josh wasn’t sure if he could be in the room. I wasn't either, especially because he was wearing shorts (can guys show too much skin in Islam?). He stayed out on the porch, looking at his phone while the men prayed and the women, myself included, stayed out of the way upstairs. He was one of the few who stayed until the very end, though, helping my father fold the chairs and throw out the garbage. Good impressions, right?

His family knows about me. I’ve met them all several times: mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, half-brothers. I spent a recent weekend upstate at his childhood home with just Josh, his grandparents, and his mother (and our two guinea pigs). His mother once emailed me, curious about my situation. I explained briefly. She wrote back that she understood, and she was in a sort of similar position with his father (who wasn’t Jewish, and now they’re divorced).

Attempting to deal with my secret feels embarrassing. Thanksgivings, for instance, are the worst. I’d want nothing more than to be able to bring him to try my mother’s Bangladeshi-style dishes and our spiced turkey. But, instead, I have family dinner in Queens, he has dinner at his uncle's in Westchester, and we have our own post-Thanksgiving tradition where we eat leftovers from our respective meals the day after.

Due to circumstances, Josh had to move back home for a short period of time. When he’d come down to the city for concerts and events, we would have to work out elaborate plans of staying at friends’ places for the night. I even shelled out for a hotel room once. The concierge teased me, after looking at my information: “Do you want a New York City map?” I told myself at least it wasn’t an hourly motel.

In a perfect world, we’d have our own apartment together and we wouldn’t have to worry about my parents. In an even more perfect world, he’d be welcomed by my parents into our house for the night. Although it doesn’t look like either one of those possibilities will be a reality soon.

One friend always asks, “Do they not know still?” Another always asks, “When will you tell them?” My friends grew up dating in front of their parents, so what I do is strange to them. I have another friend who is in the same situation as I am, and she hasn’t figured out what to do either. When I stop to think about it, I get it, it is weird, it’s not ideal. Once Josh and I are stable enough in our lives (permanent jobs, savings, all of that real life junk), I’ll be ready to tell them, or so I’d like to think.

I know my parents have to know, to some extent. It’s just a matter of whether I want to confirm their suspicions, but I just can’t. It's tough trying to reconcile my parents' upbringing and expectations with what I want. My happiness should matter, right? That’s what I keep telling myself.

If I did tell them, I have no idea how my they'd react, and I’d like to prepare for the worst. Even now, my mom talks about marriage every single time I see her. She alludes to the fact that “my time is ending,” and that I need to begin my life. Because having a career and a job isn’t as important as starting a family right now. My father, though, might be more understanding. He’s the one who supports my decisions in life and gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. He lets me make my own mistakes, and I like to think that he was the same way when he was my age, so he’d understand.

Sometimes, at dinner, I look at my parents and play out how they’d respond once the words come out of my mouth. I know he will be sad. I know she will scream. She’ll be a wreck. I hope he'll ask if I’m happy and say that’s all that matters. I know it will break my heart. I wish I could be the kind of daughter they wanted me to be, I wish I could give them what they want, but I know I can’t. I can’t have the best of both worlds.

Nadia's parents will most likely not find this, because they haven't found this yet.

130 Comments / Post A Comment


This was heartbreaking to read. I hope that soon you can write another post telling all of us that they know, they freaked, they are getting over it and you and Josh had a fabulous spiced turkey Thanksgiving. *fingers crossed for you*


Your parents probably do know. There will never be a good time to tell them-- There will always be something that can hold you back. Forget the "perfect world" where you live together or he's allowed to spend the night... what about just being able to mention his name around your family? Your mom and the rest of your family will continue to mention marriage because they don't have a clue (or at least don't acknowlege having a clue) that your situation is different from the future they're envisioning for you.

I haven't experienced exactly what you have, but I did come out after being with my now wife for several years. It sucked and my parents were not happy, but I felt a weight lift. There's a freedom that comes from being honest about who you are and who you love.

Good luck!


Okay, I'm not going to say I know exactly what you're going through, but hiding a boyfriend from hardcore Mormon parents and hiding a boyfriend from hardcore Bangladeshi Muslim parents definitely have similarities. In that they both totally fucking suck.

My only advice, and I am a giant hypocrite because I definitely procrastinated the big reveal, is that the longer you wait the worse it will be. Rip off the band-aid, etc.


Tuna Surprise

I've been through a variation of this...and it was ugly.
But happy to share my tips.
1. Do it now. The longer you wait the worse it gets.
2. Don't show fear. Acknowledge that you've disappointed them but make sure they know you're confident in your decision.
3. Emphasize that it is not all lost. Just because you're diverging from their plan for marriage, doesn't mean you are rejecting every value they have taught you. Remind them over and over of all the things they taught you that stuck. Keep doing the religious/cultural traditions you are okay with and try to get Josh on board with those as well.


@Tuna Surprise ahhhh yes yes yes. This is basically what I was trying to say but didn't. I totally agree, especially with #3 (to the extent that you can do it honestly).


Oh darling. This is a hard one. I feel for you. You live in a culture that says being an adult is having your financials together and living apart from your folks, in a family that believes being an adult is getting married and setting up as a family unit. One is all about being an invidual, the other is all about your role as part of a unit. It's a pretty common thing to happen to second generation immigrants.

But I agree with the people who say you shouldn't wait to come out, unless you will literally starve to death should your parents disown you. In which case, get a job and find a cheap place to live, then come out. Maturity isn't about bank accounts and stability. It's about deciding what you need and want and going for it, full speed ahead, damn the risk. If you aren't able to tell your family what you are doing, at 26, why would you be able to do it at 36 just because you have more money? Sneaking around is what a teenager does.

I suspect telling will suck and it could go very badly, but avoiding potential conflict to stay someplace where you are already internally conflicted isn't a real solution, and it can't go on idefinitely- you'll get caught or end up running out in the middle of your arranged wedding ceremony.


@E "Maturity isn't about bank accounts and stability. It's about deciding what you need and want and going for it, full speed ahead, damn the risk. If you aren't able to tell your family what you are doing, at 26, why would you be able to do it at 36 just because you have more money? Sneaking around is what a teenager does."

If this were shorter, I would put it on a bumper sticker. I have conservative, controlling parents and reacted by being a pathological liar between 18 and 21. Learning this over the past few years has been the biggest boost to my happiness, self-confidence and sense of self.


You don't know how your parents will react. They may surprise you with support - or they may grudgingly accept your decision, or they may have a reaction worthy of a made-for-TV movie. You'll never know until you tell them.

You cannot figure out what the worst could be, and you will be surprised at how it works out no matter how positive and hopeful you are going into it.

But maybe think about how they support you, how they love you, how you forged the way forward for your family in this complicated mix of cultural dynamics, and be true to yourself. You are, after all, the daughter they raised and love. You wouldn't be who you are without what they've poured into you.

There may be things said in the heat of the moment. Try not to be the one saying them. Try not to hold anyone too responsible for it, yourself included. Forgive yourself. Forgive them. Accept love and support where you can find it. Don't be afraid to look.


Wow, I had tears in my eyes by the end. It must be a terrible burden carrying this around all the time. I hope you just rip the band-aid off and tell them soon. Either way, you'll feel so much lighter. For me, when I stopped pretending to be the person my parents wanted me to be, our relationship became a lot more authentic and, eventually, closer. I hope it works for you too.


I almost couldn't get through your whole post because it hit so close to home. I'm also a Bengali second-generation immigrant daughter of parents that had an arranged marriage, parents that use very similar language to yours' when discussing white boys and the girls who date them (I'm also from Queens!).

The questions and concerns you have are ones that I think about very frequently, even though I'm not currently dating anyone. I don't know your parents and I'm not going to give you any utopian claptrap about how they'll accept you no matter what. They'll probably be deeply heartbroken, incredibly disappointed and maybe avoid talking to you for some time. Still, I think that they will probably keep loving you no matter what, even if you can't live the life that they want for you. You have tons and tons of courage and maturity and I'm sure you can get through this.


What's the absolute worst case scenario?

Maybe it's that they scream at you and slap you around, then throw you out and say they'll never speak to you again. (I doubt it would be that, but let's just say for the sake of argument that they do.)

You'd marry your boyfriend and eventually get pregnant. Then, I swear to you, they'd do a total 180 because they'd want a good relationship with their grandchild. Drama over. Or you wouldn't get pregnant because you don't want kids, but they'd probably eventually get over it because they'd miss you.

(I know it's not at all the same thing, but I'm Hispanic and I married a Chinese man against his parents' wishes. They were so upset... but they got over it the week before the wedding, and they even cooked food and bought the groom's cake for our reception. And now it's all good, and they either love me, or they're really good actors.)

Good luck! Best of luck on this.

HRH Your Cuntness

My advice is not to wait. Life is never going to be perfect, and if you wait for some sort of perfection, you'll be waiting forever. And, think of it this way - what is a good life, to you? Probably being with your awesome boyfriend and feeling open and honest with your family (as much as one can be - I certainly don't share my porn collection with my folks). Neither of those things can start until you tell them what's going on.

Good luck!


Moving out couldn't possibly hurt in this equation, either, although your financial status might make that impractical in the near future. But oh man, if it's at all possible, move out.


I haven't been in this *exact* sitch, but I know what it's like carrying a secret in order to avoid disappointing the parents. I feel for you, I hope it works out!


This is heart breaking. (But thank you for sharing.)


I can relate to this in a way; I'm 21 and I still live at home. My parents are also old-school Italian, I'm the only girl, and, well, they don't know I haven't been a virgin since I was 17. I was in a relationship with a wonderful guy for just over two years and I had to invent elaborate lies in order to stay over his house for the night because their adult daughter having a sexual relationship with someone was inconceivable to them, and eventually he couldn't deal anymore. Although your situation is awful and I feel for you, I'm happy you have an amazing guy who is willing to support you in this. Good luck and all the best, I hope your situation begins to get easier eventually.


@cosmia I had to log in just to reply to your comment - are we the same person? Everything, down to the ages, is my exact situation. The only difference is I've been on and off with my guy for four and a half years because of it. Old school Italian parents, still live at home, not allowed to be in a sexual relationship...it is so beyond frustrating. Me and my boyfriend have no idea what to do.


@cosmia I was in a very similar situation until I was 21... Living at home, Indian parents who couldn't accept that I actually had *sex* with my boyfriend. And yeah, eventually he couldn't deal with it either. Sighhhh.


@Alissa well .. how about...get married, leave parents house and start life with the guy you love....

Feminist Killjoy

I relate on so many levels. And I demand pics, now.


You are 26 and living in your parents house, and boasting of maturity? Lying and disrespecting people you claim to love.. yeah, doesn't sound very mature and brave, does it? More like cowardly and comfortable. This sounds like a call for sympathy, and a terrible way to deal with your "loved" ones who have values different from your own.


@twelve First of all, in many cultures you live with your parents until you get married. I'm Indian and while I don't live with my parents, it is very common in very traditional families to do so. It's ignorant and disrespectful and narrow-minded to assume that this means the author is not mature.

Also, it is VERY difficult to reconcile your own wants/needs with your parents when they are very different. Have a little sympathy. She's working through it.


@annannanna I am also South Asian descent, so my familiarity with such customs is just as strong as yours and the authors. I also agree with @ DrFeelGood that this seems like an attempt to get caught.. the name and byline say it all, and I think that it's very immature to not own up to one's own actions and choices. It doesn't sound like the author is being FORCED to live at home at all, I recall reading that she has no alternative for financial reasons as neither her nor her boyfriend can afford their own place. So, the solution is to use your parents' money and home until you can get your own place and reveal how you've been deceiving them all long? Doesn't sound mature at all, I'm sorry. There's something disgusting about it.. To claim to respect and love through blatant deception and disrespect.


@twelve "the name and byline say it all, and I think that it's very immature to not own up to one's own actions and choices"

I absolutely feel for the writer, but I did wonder; if her parents are active in a religious community, I bet somebody in that community uses The Google from time to time. And something like this would spread like wildfire in ten seconds flat (a love of gossip is universal!). How humiliating for them, especially since she hasn't even given them a chance.


@twelve I really dislike the ethic that adult children shouldn't live with their parents and that there is something wrong with them if they do or want to. I know that this is a typically but not exclusively American ethic, but while I think that there is something to be said for appreciating the mores of the society you live in I also think that this does not confer any particular virtue on living independently from one's parents. Furthermore I have the (potentially incorrect) impression that the author does not currently live with her parents but that she used to for a short time after college, which I consider to be a normal (and often pleasant) thing to do. So I don't think that your accusation of "living in a house and disrespecting its rules" is particularly well placed. I think that you are too quick to castigate the author for finding herself in an ethical quandary that almost everyone would struggle with. In my opinion her situation certainly does not merit being called "disgusting," wantonly disrespectful, or immature, and certainly doesn't merit your spiteful suggestion that the author does not really love her parents.


@Ellie While I think @twelve's being a bit too harsh (in my opinion), I agree with her(?) sentiment. There's absolutely nothing wrong with her living in her parents' home still, and that in and of itself doesn't make her immature. BUT if she wants to live with her parents and benefit from the shelter and food they are providing for her, it's disrespectful to be deceiving them the entire time and behaving in a way that's outside their personal morals.

So I think she should either own up to them and be honest and deal with the unpleasantness she's been avoiding for too long, as hard as it will be. OR she can move out, find some roommates, take a second or third job if at all possible to make this work, and then she has every right to live as she pleases.

And as others noted, to use her real name on this is just begging for her parents to find out from a third party who comes across it by accident, which will be so much worse, and will be very humiliating to them. It's a bit cruel, really, and does show a significant lack of maturity and/or judgment on her part.

All that being said, I really do feel for her--it's not an easy situation no matter how she chooses to handle it.


Wow - this is so exactly like my life it's crazy. Of course, I'm the "Josh" - the white guy who dated a Bengali girl in secret for nearly 6 years. The truth finally had to come out, and now we're engaged.

What worked for us may not work for you, but if Josh is willing one thing we found worked is to integrate him more into your 'brown' social life and events, sort of getting people acclimatized to his presence. There will still be a big talk and a big fight, but it's easier if they have a positive impression of his character.

But yeah, it's eerie how much it sounds like exactly what we went through. The economics are tricky, of course - my fiancee was supporting her mom, not the other way around, so she had a bit more leverage. I agree that some degree of financial independence is importance if you rely on them for food and shelter.

Stay strong - these cultural barriers take a long time to work out, but your parents do love you and in the end, they will usually put your happiness above tradition.

Oh, and @twelve? You know why this stuff spreads throughout the community? It's because of self-righteous busybodies like you.


@twelve I'm not saying that she's being forced to live at home. I'm just saying that there is nothing wrong or immature about living at home. In fact it might be more mature to accept that your parents have been there for you all your life and it's ok to go back to them if you need to instead of insisting that you never live with them again because of social norms and what society has decided is ok and not. I think it's disgusting that so many people are unwilling to ever live with their parents despite difficult financial situations, etc. because it's not "cool" to do so.

I do think it is a sign of immaturity that the author didn't tell her parents about this guy but as I said earlier, maybe she needs to a little time to gather her courage.


@annannanna And some parents aren't willing to let their kids move back home. My family was very "when you're an adult, you're an adult, and it's your job to figure it out, even if it means getting a bad job so you can pay the rent." This isn't all on the kids' side.


@annabellee I know that, but my parents say "when you're an adult, you're an adult, but we're still your parents and we're here for you whenever". In American society if someone stays with their parents they're perceived as lazy and taking advantage. This is from attitudes in both parents and children.

Maybe it's a cultural difference, but hopefully I'll be going to medical school soon. My parents know that I won't have time to work and I already have a TON of tuition and fees to pay off without also paying for an apartment. I am forever thankful to them because they have told me multiple times to come home. They want my career to be my first priority and they have no problem letting me live with them while I get on my feet career-wise and finance-wise. Thank god they won't think of me as lazy or immature because of it.


@formergr I understand your perspective "If she wants to live with her parents and benefit from the shelter and food they are providing for her, it's disrespectful to be deceiving them the entire time and behaving in a way that's outside their personal morals," but I don't agree with it. I also actually don't think that this opinion is as germane to the situation as it initially seems. Upon careful rereading of the article it's clear to me that the time during which the author lived "under her parents' roof" comprised a year or less and the minority of the time period of the relationship, and its earliest stages no less, which for some people might not even be long enough to introduce any boyfriend or girlfriend to parents, depending on how you feel about that kind of thing.

But moreover, I know that there are exceptions to every rule, but who among us has not had a different opinion on the morality of a certain behavior from his or her parents? What if someone worked part time as a stripper and didn't tell her parents about it because she knew it would only upset them, despite her being totally OK with it? What if someone's college minor was Religious Studies and she didn't tell her rabidly atheist parents because she knew it would upset them? I think that the relationship between parents and children does not imply that there should be no secrets. I also don't think that getting financial or material support from your parents necessitates that you adhere to their moral values in every way. Your parents are always your parents and would probably (hopefully) continue to support you even if they strongly disagreed with some of your actions. In a similar fashion, the author of this article, while clearly having different ethics from her parents on some issues (namely the issue of marriage), continues to have a close relationship with her parents. Should she cut her parents off from her life because she disagrees with their ethical beliefs?

I recognize that the issue isn't as clean cut as that and that the idea of "respecting your parents' wishes" does carry weight for most people. But I don't think that having a loving relationship with your parents, or even living with them, means that it is wrong to do some things that are against their ethical beliefs, if these things are not against your personal ethical beliefs. Adult children are entitled to personal ethics that differ from their parents, and this doesn't imply disrespect.


@Ellie I'm not sure how you're under the impression that she's living on her own. It seems clear that she's living with her parents out of financial dependence. Which is why it seems twisted; to use your parents for your own financial security net, all the while, deluding them into thinking you're following their wishes. Whether or not her parents 'should' have a say in her life is a whole other argument; it's the intentional deceit that's bothering me.


@twelve Like I said above, upon careful rereading I concluded that the article indicates that the author does NOT live with her parents. Maybe she does and is concealing this from us via implication, but the article states or at least strongly implies that she does not. These are the things that led me to this belief:
"Once, during the first year of our relationship, I snuck him into my childhood apartment, where I still lived because I just graduated" - The past tense of "lived" as well as the past tense of "during the first year of our relationship," which was apparently two and a half years ago
"Even now, my mom talks about marriage every single time I see her." - If you lived with your mother, it would seem odd to note every time you "saw" her. Wouldn't you say "Every day" or "As soon as I come down the stairs for breakfast" instead?

Anyway, I don't think that it's "twisted" to "use your parents for your own financial security net," and I think that it's presumptuous to say that living with your parents means that you are using them for financial security. There are many other reasons for living with parents. You could say the same of living with anyone, be it a boyfriend or roommates or relatives. If the "intentional deceit" bothers you, it should bother you for other reasons besides your ethics about adult children having independent finances.


I get that tis is very hard for you, but as an American raised in a liberal Jewish family who has been married and divorced 3 times, the ONLY way I'd consider marrying again is if my father were to pick out the groom. He would do a better job than I ever did, I'm sure!


@Trilby I so agree with you. Women by nature are emotional... and decisions like marriage are best when done while setting emotions aside. only parents can do it best. thank you for such a nice post.


I have to add my 2 cents here... I have several friends who are grown ass women (late 20s, early 30s) who are running around hiding relationships, live-in boyfriends etc. from parents who for religious or cultural reasons are not accepting of this more "modern" lifestyle. I understand how these things get started, its all a series of escalations - and yet I think you need to do what everyone else here has told you to do - tell your parents. Your parents will probably get over this because you are their daughter, and you are risking loosing your boyfriend over this. Trust me, no (wo)man would put up with this forever, he's been a saint for putting up with it for this long. It seems like your parents know on some level based on what you've said... The worst scenario - being disowned or something similar, is SUPER horrible - but do you want to live your life for your parents or for you? I understand that this is difficult, but you need to do it! Your parents probably think you're going through a phase and will eventually decide to enter an arranged marriage.

I was in a lesser severity situation where my parents did not approve of me ever living with a boyfriend before marriage. I ultimately decided that lying to my parents wasn't worth it - so my hubs I didn't live together until after marriage. Sure, we basically lived together anyway, but it wasn't worth lying to or breaking their hearts over a technicality, so we kept everything separate. Looking back, I'm glad I did that versus what my sister did - she STILL has to lie 10+ years later about living with her husband before they married. It must be exhausting to keep this kind of lie going.

Anyway, please don't end up like my friends who are in their 30s and still letting their parents dictate the way they live. I think you want to get caught - if your parents haven't found your byline, someone will eventually tell them, or they will find out somehow. The absolute worst that could happen is that they find out from someone other than you.


Um, you're not the first in your family to get a BA and a Master's if your mom has a Master's in Political Science and your dad is an engineer.

When people say they are first in their family, that means their parents didn't go to college, their grandparents didn't go, their aunts and uncles didn't go, their cousins and siblings didn't go (yet). It means getting higher education at all is new to the whole family line and that is a big deal. It does not mean "I am the oldest sibling and went to college before my younger sibs did."

Your story is a different kind of big deal, but saying you are first to go to school makes it sound like your parents don't come from an educated background and in fact they are highly educated, they just have a different worldview.


@blue_sky What I meant by being the first is that I was the first in America to do all of those things, so to my parents, it was a big deal. It was a phrase I heard every so often from my parents, so it stuck with me. I didn't mean for it to come across that I was discrediting my parents just because they grew up in another country nor my siblings for just being younger than me. I should have phrased it differently.


Tell them now, they're going to need some time to come to terms with how you want to live your life.

This is your life, not your parents, and in the end, they want you to be happy, so if you show them you're happy, they will eventually come around to the situation. They have no right to make you marry a nice indian boy because it's traditional.


I've been in this situation from both sides (cue Joni Mitchell) and I know that the stress it can cause is unbearable. The other advice is mostly wise and good and understanding and true. Here is the one piece I can add:

If you and your boyfriend love each other and are serious about each other, telling your parents is the best, most meaningful gift you can give him, even if he claims not to care. Reading this made me tear up, in part because I am so thankful that my first-generation-South Asian-American boyfriend, who took the secretive route with several previous girlfriends, told his parents about me, with no prompting. I never would have demanded it, but it speaks volumes about what I mean to him. (I know there are gender issues here, btw — I've noticed many more Indian male/white-or-other female relationship pairings than the other way around.)

If you want to have a future with this man, or with any man of whom your parents don't approve, you must give the relationship the best chance to flourish. He doesn't have to be your date to family parties, but by refusing to acknowledge him, you essentially say the relationship is temporary -- if they're going to find out eventually, there's no reason not to do it now, so by not telling them, you are implying that you think they'll never find out. And maybe you're not sure if it is what you'll want forever; maybe you wonder if you'd be better off with someone from a similar background. That's OK. Telling your parents doesn't mean you'll get hitched. But if you do, you'll have to tell your parents, amirite?

And if you break away on this and the relationship doesn't work out, then you will have done it — because it is almost a guarantee you will one day want to make a choice, any choice, your parents see as a betrayal, whether it's moving far away, marrying someone they don't approve of, or something else.

In sum: This is tough. But it's your Rubicon. If you can't do it for yourself — and you should, because the stress has to be taking a toll — do it for him. Or for future-you. Etc.

Judith Slutler

I vote tell them. Not that it will be easy and I don't want to lie that it will. But think of it this way, which is what I told my parents about wanting to include pictures of me and my boyfriend, who's a black man, in the family christmas letter even though we all know it will freak out some of the dried up old bigots in the fam:

Even if THIS relationship doesn't work out, I date people regardless of their skin color, and I may well end up with a dude who does not look like their Platonic whitopia ideal of a grandson-in-law. So if they want to whine and be uncomfortable they might as well get it over with now.

Particularly if this is keeping you guys from taking steps like shacking up - and that's one of the talks we've had lately that made me realize I had to stop doing dumb shit like passively talking about my boyfriend w/o mentioning his race even though I knew how much that would hurt him if he could hear what I was saying - then it is going to be time pretty soon.

I wish you strength at this time, it does NOT sound easy particularly because you know just what your family thinks of American men. Mine just never talked about race, because if you talk about race you are racist, DUH. So I can only guess what they say about me and my boyfriend while I'm not around (and really I'm SO not around, I live overseas) whereas you know exactly what's coming.

Good luck. Be tough and stand up for your happiness.

Rachel Brodsky

As morally sound as it would be to tell them, I would vote NOT to for at least a little while. I think you should focus your energies on moving out of their house and becoming financially stable before saying anything. Only after you are moved out and into your own place should you tell them anything.

Right now your parents are totally free and able to use the "my house, my rules" card simply because you live with them. After college, I made the mistake early on in assuming that just because I was over 21 that I could come and go as I please, use the house as a crash pad, thinking my parents didn't have a say in what goes on in my life, etc. Oh boy, was I wrong. As long as you're living in their house, they're free to treat you like a child, even though you're 26! Only when you move out and become completely independent from them can you have complete control over your life, and if they're upset that you're dating a nice jewish guy, then they'll just have to live with it--there's nothing they can do about it beyond cut you off emotionally (for a little while).

I continue to go through the same issues regarding my parents--we're Jewish and they have a problem with the fact that I date non-Jews all the time. My mom is constantly suggesting that I start attending Jewish Singles Mixers, and I have to tell her that I can't think of anything more depressing. The only thing that gives me solace is the fact that I am completely independent from my parents...they no longer have a say in what I do or who I date. I'd urge you to do the same!

Good luck Nadia!!

kimberly d

The first time my exboyfriend visited my family's home was unfortunately because my father had passed away unexpectedly. I kept my dating life private because I thought my family would not approve of him, but in that time I needed his support. It was scary, but he stood by me, and my family quickly saw how much he meant to me and how much I meant to him. He didn't fit their ideal, but in the face of something so huge that seemed so insignificant.

I encourage you to introduce your family to Josh sooner rather than later. You will have a very hard time initially but when they see how much you mean to each other it will be worth it...plus the longer you go on keeping it a secret, the more hurt they will be that you have not been completely truthful about such a significant aspect of your life.

Good luck!


Or kill a family member, bring Josh around to the funeral, and soak up the affirmation. PROBLEM SOLVED.

simone eastbro

I think the difficult thing here is that there's no way that this won't cause pain, at least a little, for all of you. And maybe that's the thing to really think about, to acclimatize yourself to. It's going to hurt, but the fact that it will doesn't mean, or won't mean, that you did the wrong thing.

When you point out the Americanness of your education and experience, Nadia, you get to something important. You've done exactly what they wanted you to do, became who they wanted you to be, but it also comes at a great cost for all of you. You are yourself, but in revealing that to them you also prove that you could never be exactly who they want you to be. Because what they want is an impossible hybrid--a darling girl, a graceful woman, who has been able to nimbly take the "best" of American culture and capital while still remaining deeply Bangladeshi. And the fact that that will be disappointed has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their dreams for you, and they will have to grieve that. And maybe you will, too, and you will have to bear hurting them because it has been unavoidable. It's an impossible position for all of you in one way or another, and the commenters who've said that they already know aren't too far off. They know, but they and you have been doing your best to make that knowledge unthinkable, unspeakable. I'm sorry it will be painful--that it is. But pain and loss are what we're built for, and not a sign that what we've done is right or wrong.


My parents are extremely conservative born-again fundamentalist Christians. I am very much not any of those things. When I went through my divorce and my boyfriend moved in with me afterward, I kept it from them for as long as I could until they said, "We're coming to visit!". Then I had to come clean. I was 34 years old and had a child of my own.

Since then, I've had kind of a revelation about my parents and me and the relationship we have: There is a kind of comfort in accepting the fact that no matter what I do, what I become, how many good things I do in my life for which I am immensely proud of, I will never be anything other than the Child Who Will Burn in Hell Eventually Because She Has Not Accepted Jesus to my parents. Because of that, I can do or say or act in any way I want, because it makes no difference whatsoever!

My only regret in all of this is that it took my so very long to figure this out. I'm nearly 36 now, and I regret the amount of time I wasted fretting over what my parents are going to think about my choices. But they're always going to think the same thing (roasting in a lake of fire forever, etc), so I might as well do everything that makes me happy.

I feel for your situation. I hope it works out for you. You deserve happiness and you deserve a life of your own, because you're a grown up now, and you've earned it with all of your hard work. Go forth and be happy with your boyfriend.

RK Fire

I've been in a similar situation as well: I'm Vietnamese, I'm the first one born in this country, etc. and I chose to kept my [white] HS sweetheart, whom I dated for four years, a secret from my mother. Dating was something that was new to my mother's generation, and I didn't even have the additional weight of religion to add additional pressure on this. When I begun dating again, and really, to my current fiance, I was a senior in a college only 20 minutes from my mother's house, and I told myself I really couldn't go through the secrecy and the lying again. I told her, and it was hard for her--the fact that my fiance is black didn't make things easier for her to swallow--but she mostly got over it. I am really glad that I told her early on in the relationship, and didn't wait until.. we moved in? our engagement? to tell her.

Now I'm saying all of this not because of some reassurance that things will magically work out in the end, but more to let you know that you're hardly the first or the last child of immigrants to go through this, and hopefully something will work out. I think you will have to steel yourself against the possibility it might not, but hopefully as your parents come to realize that you're hardly the moral-less woman that they assume all bangladeshi interracial daters are(!), they'll come around.

I will say though that I know of similar situations where the other family hasn't come around, but hopefully they become increasingly fewer. :( My fiance's stepsister-in-law is white, and her parents never really came to terms with the fact that her husband is black. They didn't even attend the wedding last year. So unfortunately that happens too. But on the flip side I have a friend who is like, 4th generation Irish Catholic, and who married a 2nd gen Pakistani American who is at least nominally/culturally Muslim. She didn't even tell her parents about my friend until they were engaged. This was after seven years of dating. It was awkward at first, but now they love him.

I'm crossing my fingers for you!


Don't tell them yet. You live in their home, you maintain the peace. Once you move out you have some standing to cause the trouble that will inevitably follow. Believe me, there will be trouble. It'll be awful, and hurt, and eventually everyone will come to an uneasy truce, until it becomes easy.

Good luck, dear.


This is a truly unfortunate situation. It may be even more serious than you realize. I'm so sorry your parents are so oppressive. I have no idea what would be your best course of action, only that something really has to change before your relationship with your boyfriend becomes too strained or your parents find out. Honestly? I think that you really need to get your own place. I think that would be the best way to start showing some independence. I mean you're 26, and a college graduate, I believe you can live on your own. You're not saying to them "I'm defying all of your beliefs" you are saying, I'm an adult, I need my space. Letting them continue to believe that you are on their pious, restrictive path is the worst thing you can do for the long term since it is what you know very intuitively that you don't want, Josh or no Josh. Best of luck, again, I really think you need to start making some change.

simone eastbro

@nomorecheese I'm not sure I would say "oppressive." I think cultural difference viewed through a Western lens gets described in such ways, but that doesn't mean that's how it actually is. Constricting, yeah, but in other contexts constrictions or disciplines can produce great freedom.


@simone eastbro Yeah, "oppressive" would be never letting her out of the house so she never has a chance to meet men, which is obviously not the case. Plus, I think this is a situation that people of all cultures can relate to, one way or another. Lots of us want to make our parents happy, and lots of us bump into expectations that (for whatever reason) are not what we decide we want out of life. It doesn't always rise to this level, of course, but I'm guessing many of the people saying "been there!" have not, actually, been in this exact situation.


@simone eastbro With all do respect, I think it is what it is. the parents are not taking their daughter herself into account and putting their beliefs in their culture before her needs. Also, in their defense, she has not confronted them at all about what she really wants. So who knows how things will pan out if she is actually honest with them. They probably love their daughter tremendously and are not intentionally trying to make her unhappy. I think slowly bringing more honesty to the table is her best course of action.

simone eastbro

@nomorecheese We'll have to agree to disagree, then. I agree with annannanna below. Cultural difference does not equal oppression.


@nomorecheese Her parents are doing what they think is best for their child by THEIR beliefs and culture. Don't call them oppressive just because you don't understand the culture. They feel that she will get hurt if she joins the American culture of dating and leaving, marrying and divorcing. They're doing the best they can. Just like your parents might not want your to enter an arranged marriage because it is not what their culture believes would be the best for you.

Their ideas about what their daughter needs differ from yours because of cultural differences not because they are being "oppressive".


@simone eastbro Check this quote from Nadia's piece:
"American (read: white) boys disgust my mother. Constantly I’d hear about how they’d use me for a day before throwing me out like garbage. (She uses much more colorful language that’s untranslatable.)"

Now, imagine a WASP mother saying the same thing, but for black boys. Imagine a Chinese mother saying the same thing for Latino boys.

How would we feel? How would that be analyzed? Do all non-Western cultures get a pass for their biases? If it's not cool for a white, Protestant family to ban their daughter from dating black men, why should this situation be written off to "oh, different culture."

simone eastbro

@DP@twitter No. I actually thought about that. I think her parents are jerks AND ALSO there's a cultural difference that is significant and not oppressive. Being racist or an asshole doesn't automatically mean you oppress your child with your cultural expectations. Getting over deeply-held racism can be a different process than getting rid of deeply-held cultural expectations and beliefs, even when the two are connected.

When WASP mothers and Chinese mothers say that shit, they often get passes, too, for one reason or another, from one quarter or another, and calling them on it doesn't necessarily eliminate it, just curtails its expression. From my own life, Momma Eastman was a pretty rabid racist, but that wasn't what made her abusive to me, and it wasn't what shaped (or the only thing that shaped) her expectations for me as a working-class lady who had certain kinds of aspirations for her children. It wasn't okay, and it was also not at the center of everything.


@simone eastbro I may be particularly sensitive to this because I have personally been the target of some of that East-vs.-West racism - i.e. how could I, a white guy, ever be good enough for their brown, Muslim girl. There's also a deeply hypocritical strain that I saw where Muslim guys would screw around with white girls, but would never marry them, and would spill the dirt on any Muslim girl who dared to 'sully' herself. Of course, there are a lot of awesome and tolerant Bengalis I've met too - it's much less monolithic than it appears.

But I do think sometimes we write say "it's not intolerance, it's culture/tradition" - when in fact it is *a culture and tradition of intolerance* - just as the racism and sexism of the Augusta Country Club is both traditional and still racist.

And of course, Nadia's parents probably don't even think of it as racism - white boys just aren't to be trusted, that's an accepted given of Bengali society. But my fiancee's feeling and mine is that now you are in America, it's incumbent on YOU to shed the prejudices of the old world, just as it's incumbent on Americans to accept the (non-prejudicial) cultural practices of immigrants.

If Bengali families want to arrange marriages and everyone involved consents, more power to them! But I think it's wrong to force that - and use shame to force that - on daughters and sons who want to live the American way.

simone eastbro

@DP@twitter: I figured you might be sensitive to it, and I don't fault you for that!

But I also assume, because Bengalis (and in fact all groups) are, as you say, not monolithic, that I don't have enough information to judge her parents negatively. I don't know, for example, whether whiteness, to them, is more a signifier for Americanness. So I, as a white person and as an outsider, am not going to assume that it's a "culture and tradition of intolerance." I think that is way too easy a judgment for white Westerners to make, and saying so doesn't mean I can't also see racism for what it is.

"But my fiancee's feeling and mine is that now you are in America, it's incumbent on YOU to shed the prejudices of the old world, just as it's incumbent on Americans to accept the (non-prejudicial) cultural practices of immigrants."

Okay, but that's YOUR feeling and your fiancee's--it's not necessarily an "American" idea that we all consent to. Plenty of first-generation Americans do not agree, and no one should be forced in the opposite direction either. (I'm a cultural critic in my other life, so this is what I think about a lot.) And I don't think force and shame are what Nadia is talking about--she's talking about the difficulty and heartbreak of being a cultural intermediary. So I don't want to write in abuse or intolerance where it probably doesn't exist.

Feel free to email me if you want to continue to talk about this with me. Otherwise I need to step out for now.


Man the hell up. Thats my advice. Also, theres no way i could be a "secret" boyfriend for 3 years. By that point Id be glad to never meet your parents and probably be wondering what other issues would come up next if we happened to get married or have kids. Are you parents going to want to name the baby? Are they going to decide how it should be raised? Would they guilt you into never moving more than 15 minutes away?


@sp8ce Typical white boy response.


Honey, join the club. This is what all first generation immigrant kids go through. My experience(Indian parents) is so similar to yours as I assume is that of Bengali, Pakistani, Vietnamese, etc. kiddos. It's going to suck. Eventually you're just going to have to do it.

I might go against the grain a little bit here though and suggest that before you tell them anything, you very clearly think through what you want from telling them and what it is exactly that you are revealing to them about your relationship. I told my parents about an ex boyfriend, it was the first time I had ever told them about anyone I was dating - my situation is different though in that I knew my parents would ultimately be supportive. But it was still SO HARD to tell them. They both cried and even though I knew they loved me, I knew for them, it was the beginning of the end of our culture for my future family. My great grandkids are going to be like, oh my great-grandmother is Indian. That's going to be it. No language, no customs, maybe some food - but probably as a novelty. That is devastating to them. And also to me. But it's a trade-off. I told my parents about my ex boyfriend when I thought we were serious enough and we were going to get married. When it didn't work out, I was so heartbroken and I leaned on my parents more than ever. They were so completely there for me. I was so grateful. It also made me see how lucky "American kids" are for having parents who have dated, been through this. They have the luxury of a parent's support and guidance.

Now, I'm dating someone else. I haven't told my parents yet - although I'm financially independent and living in a different city from them, but I also still use "lies of omission." But it's because MY PARENTS DON'T WANT TO KNOW. They don't understand the concept of dating, but I'm lucky that they are in no way trying to arrange my marriage. They only want to meet the "real" boyfriends, the one I plan to marry someday. It may be like this with this guy, but when I tell them, I know they'll be happy. And if it's like that with you, and you tell them when you're ready, your parents will be happy for you too.

gr8 k8

There is an awful lot of advice--and even some judgment--in this comment thread from people who probably don't fully grasp this author's situation. Sometimes cultural differences are too extreme. Sometimes parents don't come around.


Yeah, that's sort of an Internet specialty.


Thanks for sharing...my heart goes out to you.
And I agree, there is a ton of advice from people who perhaps don't understand the extreme severity the situation could inflict.
I just feel as if you're parents have put so much on you in what they expect and even though I undertand where they have come from and why they have these expectations, it doesn't make it right or fair.
And I wonder if you see that? I feel it's important to tell you, even if you already know, that you really deserve to be with anyone you want and you aren't doing anything at all wrong.
If you decide to tell your parents they'll no doubt have problems, and you'll probably need to give them a lot of space to come to terms with it but it's very important that you stand up for yourself and your right to your happiness.
In a way, they aren't looking at you as a complete person who has the right and ability to make her own decisions. They see you as an extension of themselves who must follow in their ways.
I say stand up and help them see who you are.
This is what they mean when they say 'life is tough'.

Richa Gupta@twitter

This was written so well and summed up so perfectly, I teared up. No amount of advice in this situation is worthy or really relevant, but you should know that your happiness means more to them than you're giving them credit for. Trust me. Keep on trucking, dear.


I understand what you're going through! Maybe you want to make sure 100% that Josh is the one before you go and risk everything? That's the feeling I get from reading that.

I'm Indian, I was born in India but moved here in elementary school. I rebelled (despite being the first child), dropped out of high school, booked tours for rock bands and sortof made my parents lose hope. But now, six years after that, my parents are pretty okay and happy with me (I guess because I already disappointed them long ago?). I date and LIVE WITH my white boyfriend. I don't know how that worked out; my parents don't share this information with any extended family, of course. And me and my man could never show up or visit any of those relatives. At least not until we get married.

A lot of people are commenting that you should just deal with it, but I understand it's not that easy. We are taught to never disappoint our parents, and that's what we worry about --- we are conditioned to please them as best as we can. As much rational sense it makes to tell them, and to admit that what you are doing isn't "wrong," it's hard to get past that inherent sense of guilt you'll always have. Our obligations and dedication to our culture/family and honor is probably the reason why we are disciplined, successful and diligent. We're always trying to make our family/parents proud.


I'm late to this comment section but wanted to chime in anyway because this resonated with me so, so much. I'm also a twenty-something first gen American with a secret Jewish boyfriend of a few years now, except I'm from an Indian Muslim family instead of Bangladeshi. Those feelings of guilt, disappointment, fear of the potential of being disowned, etc. are incredibly overwhelming. You've gotten enough advice (not to mention judgment) in so many of the comments, so I would just like to wish you the best of luck, courage and strength if/when you decide to tell your parents. I hope you will come back and give us an update.


Here's something that sucks: Let's say you're a child of immigrants dating a white person. While it might be easiest to keep the dating secret from your parents b/c they don't know what dating is, and it might make sense to keep it to yourself until you know you're with the white person you want to marry...

The white person you've been dating for several years could find that logic hurtful. It might hurt his feelings to realize he's not yet special/loved enough to be introduced to your parents. Or it could make him wonder if you secretly share your parents' negative feelings about white people, and if he's not a good enough white person to convince you otherwise.


Dear Nadia, you might mention to your parents that they have succeeded in raising you as an American. I'm guessing that there are many young women whose parents came here from the People's Republic of Bangladesh who were NOT raised as you were. This guess is based among other things on my having known quite a number of young Bangladeshi men fairly well for years and years and NEVER having met a single female from their group. (As a white guy and non-Muslim, I ran interference with friendly dogs in the park--and explained to mystified dog owners that being bitten wasn't what my friends were afraid of!)


@atipofthehat what were they afraid of? (excuse my ignorance please!)



Dogs are considered unclean; if a dog touched one of my friends (say, a friendly lick on the hand), he would have to undergo a lengthy, complicated purification ritual. Owners of small friendly dogs would stand amazed as my friends leaped fences and climbed onto benches to get away....


@annannanna It is well known that this cultural tradition of putting women into pre-approved arranged marriages throughout civilizations worldwide is a symbol of the oppression of the female sex. I am not out to be the jerk here, nor am I trying to make anyone else out to be the jerk. However, I think people need to open their eyes and get the facts straight. This goes beyond appreciation of different cultures which I strongly have. An anthropologist or sociologist will easily tell you that women are oppressed in traditional Indian culture and many others worldwide. Look at their men. They are allowed many years to become full adults with independence and freedom before marriage. While they still have parents that arrange their marriages, it is much more geared toward male choice. I am not biased, I am educated. I shudder at people who take someone who states the facts as someone who is intolerant. It is simply an ignorant way of thinking.


@nomorecheese As a anthropologist I can tell you that while oppression exists in all cultures, including "traditional" Indian culture, arranged marriage is not necessarily a tool of oppression. For some women, certainly, but not for all. The anthropological literature on female oppression judged from a Western perspective is extensive (Janice Boddy's work on female circumcision is a good place to start, also see Lila Abu-Lughod's piece "Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?" about the veil).

I see the point you are trying to make, but I have to caution anyone who claims a symbol of oppression is worldwide. Whether arranged marriage is right or wrong is not the issue; before making a "worldwide" statement one must always consider the historical and cultural contexts out of which the practice in question came to exist. It is up to each woman in her own situation to decide if it is right or wrong for her.



So maybe the question here is, in what new culture and context, neither wholly the old country's nor wholly the new country's, does this woman and her question exist?


Coming out sucks. It's stressful and anxiety-filled. Your parents may never forgive you. But maybe they will. The thing is, the sooner you tell them, the sooner they will (theoretically) forgive you. It's probably going to take time & tears & lots of awkward conversations. But you'll make it through, because you're strong, you're awesome, and it sounds to me like the guy you're with loves you a lot. Whatever you decide, the best of luck to you :).


I'm Indian-American. I told my mom after college about my dating, because she had already caught (key word: caught) my older sisters dating and was getting worried that her super-feminist daughter with gay friends had never shown any indication that she was interested in men. So part of it was to relieve her worries, although my sisters only date Indians, so it was still an adjustment for her when I did mention my not-Indian boyfriends.

One thing that makes it difficult for her is my frequency of dating. I'm not a serial dater or anything but she's still old-school, so when she finds out about a boyfriend, she's wondering when I'll get engaged. And then she'll find out I broke up. And then she'll find out I'm dating someone else. I think she's recoinciled her daughters' dating with the assumption that we'll settle down with the person - it goes against everything she was taught to see me go from one bf to another. Now I only tell her about a bf when I think it's getting serious.

My father, of course, doesn't know. But he has his suspicions. They figure it out, eventually, based on your friends' habits and your own social habits. They're not completely ignorant - they may not bring it up as a choice to pretend like everything is fine.

Glenn Coco@twitter

I think that every Bangladeshi woman has to deal with this if they choose to date a non-Bangladeshi man, or actually, just date at all. I'm only 17, so I've never been in this situation but I assume it'll eventually happen because most Bangladeshi men don't treat women very well and I would be open to dating a white man.
My mom just told me not to have more than 1 boyfriend, meaning she wants to me to hang out with just ONE guy and then eventually, tell my parents, and then get married. So, your mom definitely has Bengali woman instincts, so she knows. I have friends with older siblings in similar positions, and when they chose to tell their parents, they just already knew.
I think you should start by telling your mom. Just do it, no hesitations.
Oh and I am also from Queens :)


@Glenn Coco@twitter You go, Glenn Coco!


@Glenn Coco@twitter Whereabouts in Queens?


I'm a white gal married to a Bangladeshi guy. A few years ago I could have written some of what you did - about having a great social life and taking weekend trips to all sorts of places, none of which he ever told his family about. Oddly, now that we are married, his mother and several of the "older generation", various uncles and aunts and family friends, are among the most supportive in his family. They've been around long enough not to give a damn at this point, I think. His siblings less so. (Oh and bangladeshis/muslims aren't a monolithic bunch; my husband isn't scared of dogs touching him - we have three of 'em!) Good luck, Nadia!

Wajih Ahmed Choudhury@facebook

If you love your parents and Josh equally, you would let them know now about this situation. Fear is holding you back, so figure out how to say it.

If you don't, then I suggest you take a second look at this situation. One ought to know how to approach this in a mature manner, if s/he is serious about an interracial and interfaith relationship.

I do not know how deep of a relationship you are with Josh. Nor do I know how much in love you are with him. I do not know how tested your relationship is either. BUT if you ever have a second thought about him, he is not for you because he deserves better. Tell your parents, and face the consequences.


Hey I'm in a sort of similar situation as Josh :)
My boyfriend is from Saudi arabia.
But he actually told me he wouldn't marry me so I dumped him and he changed his mind.
But now he has to tell his parents about me.
He's going to do it next weekend when he gets home.
I am terrified!
it's really hard for me to understand the culture thing because it's not an issue in my family to marry foreigners.
We have a very multi cultural family.
Also my parents have always given me freedom to make my own choices and mistakes.
They have always told me that if I am happy they are happy.
So I can't understand any parents who would feel differently with their children.
Although the thing your parents can fight against you with is religion.
It's haraam for a muslim woman to marry a non muslim man.
But anyway I wish you good luck.
I hope you get everything you want.


I know exactly how you feel, hun. I'm Sudanese, Muslim and I'm dating a Bangladeshi guy, whose also Muslim, but our cultures are totally different. Personally I don't believe in arranged marriages, why should your parents choose who you're going to live with for the rest of your life? It makes no sense to me. His parents are as strict as mine, and may not even allow it. I've already talked to my parents about interracial marriages and they made it obvious that they would strongly prefer it if I married a Sudanese guy, but they told me that they won't force me to do anything. Honey, I say do what you want to do. It's your life and your choice. If your parents don't respect it, that's their problem. I know it hurts, but they love you and it will take some time for them to forgive you. It's not your fault. You love who you love. And everybody should be with who they love. Good luck, I hope everything works out for you and Josh.


Im in the exact same situation except for one thing my parents have found out about us. I live in NY as well. Im a bengali girl and my BF is spanish from el salvador. my parents had a heart attack like they forbade me from seeing him anymore but i couldnt do that we were together for about 3 years now and it was too late. my parents will never agree and the only choice i have is leaving. once we save enough money we will move out. im so stressed out about this i hope all goes well with yours and you have a wonderful life with both yur parents and yur BF.


We are in the US. My family is mostly Christian with a Jewish member here and there and my daughter is, I believe, "seeing", a wonderful young man who is a Muslim. They met at University.
The young man has come to our home and he is wonderful. He is intelligent, hard working, kind and respectful and quite worldly.

They are still too young, in my opinion to marry, but in years to come, should their relationship last, my family and I would be honored to have this young man as one of our own.

I haven't met the young man's family but if they raised such a son, I am sure that they are reasonable people.

All and all it comes down to the two people who love each other. Whilst I would prefer that my daughter would not convert, I would not mandate that her spouse convert.

It has to be up to them.

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eggs and beans

Sorry I'm so late to this post, the deed may already be done, in which case I sincerely hope things are beginning to work out for you.

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this honest & thoughtfully written post! I recognise it well, because I was in exactly the same situation myself for years too, except I live in the UK. Apart from that one difference the similarities are so weird, I had to stop and think 'thank god for the internet' before re-reading!! I'm a second-gen Gujerati girl from north England.

I dated a guy when I was still living at home, I was quite young & still at high school. I could have told my family about it, but I decided to take a different route, basically I just quietly waited to go to university, made sure I got the right grades, moved to a different city and I've regretted not facing up to my parents ever since. This was a few years ago when you could still go to university without much money. I moved out 9 years ago and I've still not told my parents about him or or any of the other ones!! I totally chickened out. I still am!

Although it would be prudent to make sure you have some place to crash when things go crazy, I really hope you tell them while you still at home. It may be a baptism of fire but perhaps they might be more ready to consider you a responsible adult. I feel like I've lost touch with my parents after living away so long. Instead of fighting my battles for independence as a teenager, I just waited and waited to move out, not realising my problems would just follow me around. I wish I'd stood my ground, my relationship with my parents would be a lot more honest now.

I think I may understand why you wrote this post. I used to have an overwhelming desire to tempt fate, maybe leave something incriminating around, or deliberately-on-purpose make a phone call and let my parents 'discover' the truth, its just to get away from the guilt and have things out in the open. I reckon it's quite normal.

If you tell them I'd still like to hear how it goes - you are certainly a lot braver than me! Even if things are mental and hysterical for a few days, I'm sure it will benefit your life and relationship with your parents in the long run. Good luck (all the way from the UK)!! xxx


i can't say that i've ever had to do that, luckily. being a guy seems to help a lot more in these situations; having parents that were fairly lenient [relative to the bangladeshi community] also helped a lot. i married an iranian ("as long as she's muslim and not black", as my mom would say) and no one had an issue. that's not to say i'm not breaking/straining their hearts in other life decisions (goodbye religion and "long-term planning").

in the end, you have to live your life. your parents will die. when they do go, you'll either be with someone you love and have built a good life with (hopefully), or just some place you don't want to be. i'm not trying to be callous, that's just what happens in life. you either try to find happiness for yourself and your own family (partner, children, etc.), or you live life to please your relatives.

i've got a lot of cousins that aren't really living adult lives because they're stuck in the mentality of not wanting to hurt their parents too much (or shock the bangladeshi/islamic community in any way). weird dynamics.

if it's not you, it's not you. be you. you have that freedom, so exercise it. be prepared to be uncomfortable, and be pleasantly surprised when it ends up not being a big deal later. don't run from conflicts that affect you.


Hi there I am going through the same situation, however i told my mum that i know a guy whos a reali nice person and whos willing to convert and she was alright with it. the other day i told her that he wants to come over but the only thing she said when and i said to her i dont know and after that she didnt ask me again. good luck with me and with u and pz update us with ur situation.xxx

Tanya Ratliff@twitter

My boyfriend is Hindu and is going through the same thing as you. He has told his family but they don't seem to hear. He told me the other day that his mother bought me jewelry. I'm not sure if it's good or bad that she did but I'm trying to think positive. Anyway sweetie, my thoughts are with you and I hope everything works out for you.


Dear Nadia,
I am also an Indian-Muslim and am now a senior in high school..my parents have already brought up the topic of marriage and them wanting to arrange my marriage to an Indian-Muslim. But I want to go to college and meet the guy of my dreams whatever race/religion he may be.
I understand how hard it is and that is why my duahs and blessings are with you. I love how you chose to follow your heart and I know Josh is the right guy for you..not the random guys Indian parents will pick you!
Good luck with confronting your parents...it's better to get over it and deal with it...problem is I really dont know how also :(
Take care
Anika Ullah


Im 22 pakistani and live in the uk, when i was younger i did get into an awful relationship where he used to blackmail me and threatend me for months until he told my dad about us. I begged them to let me go to university but had to promise not to get into another relationship. bascially in my first year i started dating this white guy called stan 28 and fell head over heals in love with him. during the fist summer of uni i ended it with stan as it wasnt fair on him. In the back of my mind i knew i had to marry a muslim so i got engaged to a cousin of mine, we had a lot in common and was miles away from the uk. Biggest mistalke of my life. I went back to uni with so much will power not to go see stan. this failed miserbaly due to going out with friends and getting drunk.I told my fiance what i had done. I didnt want to ruin the family so my fiance said the only way he would forgive me and carry on would be if i told my dad... so i did. He still ended it with me.(he knew about stan stan before we got engaged so told me to marry him). I carried on dating stan till i left uni, the 3 years was the happiest time of my life we had so many ups and downs but it all made us stronger.
As soon as i left uni my parents started talking about people who where interested in me, i was in no state of mind to say anything so i told them to do whatever. They kept pressuring me with a family friend i kept refusing as i was still madly in love with him even though i hadnt seen him for over 6months but we still spoke reguraly i knew he loved me. I broke down and told my parents i couldnt decide what to do as i loved someone else. They got me engaged Again. i though i could do it i met him my parents started planning as i told them i wanted no part in the preperations. Bascially i told them i didnt want it so they called it off (thats what dad tells me, but mum says other stuff). I got so depressed and stopped talking. I told my parents about dan how i wanted to marry him and how he loved me and that i chose him. Mum being a typical pakistani over reacted to it where dad said he couldnt give us his blessing, and went on to saying that i wasnt able to leave.

So here i am 3 weeks later not talking to anyone ive told stan to move on as i don't know what to do. He does say if i need him or want him he will come get me but im so confused on what to do. my parents made it clear they wont let me leave and they havent left me on my own in weeks.
I know i made mistakes in my past but i am certain he is the person i want to be with for the rest of my life. It is just scary knowing they wont let me leave and if i do losing them forver.

I think that its just best to tell you parents straight away before they find out and this way you can finally see what their reaction would be to it, instead of guessing.


I read the above comments and it takes me a couple of years back. I am an indian and i came to Australia to study about 4 years ago. I met an australian girl and we both fell deeply in love. we dated for 2 years and then i decided one day to tell my parents about her. They went mad and said that I am not their son anymore (by the way i am the only son) and they would never want to look at my face again and things like that. I also got countless abuse from my relatives and other friends. But i took that all for my girlfriend and we did live happily for 2 more years after that. We had our ups and downs but we tried a lot to be in a relationship. unfortunately it didn't work out and we broke up a couple of months before. I was really shattered and now i don't have my parents or friends to console and on the other hand i couldn't swallow the break up. Now i am all alone living by myself in a different city, thinking about her and about my family with tears rolling down my eyes sometimes.

I don't want to give any advise because it's your life and either it's good or bad you have to take the desicion. But just consider whether it's worth loosing everything for the guy whom you love or loose that guy for the sake of everyone else. I am not saying that you are going to experience the same as me, trust me i will be really happy for you if everything worked out with you and your guy but in case if anything happens like what happened to me then you should be ready to stand alone as you will have no where to go.


i think if the guy really loves you he would try to understand what would make your parents happy and he would do that.


I went through the same thing with my boyfriend John. My parents knew that we have been friends for a long time, 5 years to be exact, and he was the only guy I really fell for or felt immense feelings for. Its not because of his background no, we love eachother and I have told my parents. They found out 4 months after we were dating and the grandparents too and the whole dilemma of not caring about the family and blah blah blah disowning blah blah blah. Trust me, I went through hell but since I love him immensely and went through painful heartache to stand up for him against my families wishes, I am glad I did. We can now skype and chat and are allowed to date as long as I tell my parents and cousin who I am with. But don't worry you will make it through, I am 23, but I have a big mouth and hate telling lies and it hurts me when I keep secrets from my family, so for me it was different I had to do it. He isn't allowed at my house though, my family still isn't appealed to the idea of me being with John, well whatever they will have to get used to it. =)


I, unfortunately find myself on the flipside of this type of situation. I'm a white British male and have been in a relationship with an American-Pakistani girl for just under a year now. Whilst she would probably describe herself as agnostic, her family is moderately conservative muslim. This means for the time being I am a secret boyfriend. However, my girlfriend cannot really afford to take the risk of her parents being unhappy with our relationship. She attends University here in Britain and her parents pay the tuition, if like she fears, her parents withdrew this support for her studying in Britain she would lose her student visa and have to return to New York. From your personal experience of three and half years, is there anything I can do or say to reassure her that I don't feel shunned, embarrassed or angry that her family won't know about me for the forseeable future? Recently she was quite upset after staying a while with my family, that this was part of her life that she couldn't share with me. Its hard for me to find the best way to express that whilst someday I'd love to meet her family, I'm not with her to widen my social circle I'm with her because I'm madly in love.

Spyro The Dragon@twitter

I was very touched by this article, i'm in a very similar position atm, have actually no idea of what to do

Zameer Patwa@facebook

I wanna feel sorry for you but I don't. You need to tell your parents asap cos you are making matter worse. Grow a pair, expect the worse cos you are the not the girl your parents thought you might be but that is nothing to be a shamed of. Now stop mucking about and tell them. You think you have it bad, I am an Atheist who use to be Muslim. Imagine the headache I got for that cos I don't believe in in Islam.


Ok well, I'm not as experienced as you (obviously because I'm still in school) but I can relate to this in so many ways, I'm Bengali, living in England and my parents are well, fully Bengali. I know that I'm still young but I've known for a very long time that I don't want arranged marriage, but eventually I'll have to get one, or get cut off from my family. I heard about one of my distant cousins who got a love marriage, and apparently they barely even talk about her anymore - like she doesn't exist. It scares me, it honestly terrifies me because I know that I'll have to go through what's in this article at some point too. I'm the oldest girl in my family, I have two little sisters and an older brother. I see what you mean by all of that 'easing up' your parents for your younger siblings, but the thing is, my brother hasn't done that. And since you're Bengali I think you'd know that even if he did, he's a boy and it seems to make all the more difference to them. He's nineteen, and he doesn't go out much anymore, but at the end of his college days he did, and he used to stay out until the early hours of the morning. I went to a birthday party - all we did was go to the arcade and have a Nando's, I told my mum I'd be out until 7, and when I got back at 8 she was furious.

The thing is with this whole ordeal, my older cousins had so many opportunities to ease these situations up, they're all going 30-40, or just on the brink of getting married, but they don't. They all have the opportunity to go after what they want (most of them are boys as well) but they just don't, they all end up getting arranged marriage. I don't know if it means less to boys or what, and all the girls seem quite content to be married to my cousins. But I just don't understand, how can you just marry someone that you don't love? The most confusing part is that they were all the same as me at one point, a distant teenager who was born and brought up in a Western world, expected to believe in Eastern belief.

My mum's always told me to keep reserved, when she sees me talking to boys she gets so annoyed and it really does scare me. I've thought about leading two lives all the time, it's like at home I just sit in my room all day and do my school work, and my only escape from hearing them talk and bitch about all these Western girls getting into relationships and all of that crap is to turn up my music that they disapprove of so much, so I can't hear them. My art work is the only thing that seems to make them proud, but even that, they say that I've got to drop it sometime soon because it consumes my mind and it'll ruin my life. Since I'm good at English they want me to study that at college too but every time I tell them that I want to do art they just go quiet.

Then you have the boys at school, they've never paid any attention to me before, but all of a sudden in my last year, when everyone's ten times more hormonal, when prom's coming up in five months and we all need a date, they want to talk to me more. They flirt, I shoot them down because I don't know what else to do. I'm getting a little more comfortable and confident talking to boys and flirting along but I don't know how a secret relationship is going to work out if my parents freak out when I'm out until 8.

I always thought about it, a secret relationship, but then a million different scenarios cross my mind, getting caught, him getting bored or hiding and leaving, him wanting sex, my dad seeing us together, my mum hearing me talk about it to my friends, one of my other relatives seeing us and spreading the news. There's just so many situations that I don't want to land myself in.

Now there's this one guy, and this is where I think I'm in some real trouble. He's white, and in the year below mine, I don't know him well, but just the way he looks at me. No one, and I'm not even exaggerating here, no one has ever looked at me the way he does. He's the kind of guy who seems to have a different girl every week, but even when he's with those girls it's like he can't take his eyes off of me. It makes me feel special. For the first time in my life it's like I kind of get what those girls in cheesy romance novels mean. It's like every time he looks at me my stomach does a flip all fairytale-like. It's childish, I know but I actually feel that way, and it's been going on for months, he hasn't made any move to speak to me, so I doubt he just wants me for sex, there's something else there and I don't know what it is. He's close to my friend's friends, but I'm not a very social person, I used to be a million times more shy than I am now, but I'm still not very talkative. Then you have this new boy who came during the first week of February, he flirts with all of my friends, he's good-looking and sweet and he actually makes an effort to talk to me, not to just flirt. So if I had something with either of these guys, I don't know how I would do it, and really I don't know if anyone will ever have the same effect on me as that boy with the intense stare does, because so far no one ever has, even the people I've had crushes on. He has completely black hair and these pale blue eyes that seem to stare into your soul, and it's not even fair because I know that in the and if I have to get arranged marriage, I have to. And if I even just want a small, short relationship with him, my parents would want to ruin it because I'm not allowed to date. I'm not allowed to have any interaction with any boys unless I'm married to him.

It's the stupidest thing ever, I've been researching the Qu'ran, and famous Muslim women who had love marriages so it will help them understand but I know it's all pointless. It's all just pointless because no matter what, it's culture and they're not making any exceptions because if they do, every other Bengali person in the country will bitch about our family to no end.

I'm hoping that when I'm old enough to make my own money, I will, and I'll help them out financially as much as I can because I know they're struggling, then when I need to I'll throw it in their faces, as cruel as it is, because I know that in the end it's my life and I need to do what I want to make myself happy. But right now all I want to do is be a reckless teenager without having to think about things like this.


Your story is heartbreaking, probably because it's he exact same as mine. I'm a 27yo Bengali in England, my girlfriend is an Aussie. They're also deeply religious as are my siblings, unlike me. I'm also the eldest of 6 and the first generation of my family to grow up here. My parents do and and sound exactly like yours. Trouble is whichever way you'll go you'll end up breaking hearts. I've had a few cousins who have choosen to marry non Bengali's but they were muslim, and even that was fraught with pain and hurt.


I think we may have the same life! Well, here is my story.
My name is Nadia, I am the daughter of two Palestinian Muslim immigrants. My parents started their family in Chicago, but moved us to their hometown in Palestine once I turned eight. They sacrificed a lot to send me and my sisters back to America for college. Somehow I ended up in Indiana for undegrad where I met an amazing young man named Josh. We have been dating for 3.5 years and we are both now in medical school. And no surprise but my parents don't know about him either. I've tried to tell my mom, but all I could say was that I don't plan on marrying an Arab man. I told her that if men in our culture are allowed to marry outside of the culture/religion than I should too. She also knows I am not a Muslim. She freaked out and said terrible things to me like "You are nothing without us." It hurts to hear her say those things, but I understand where she is coming from.
I'm finally ready to marry this beautiful person and every night before bed I think about how I will tell them about him. And so, I found myself here.
I know now that the worst part isn't hurting them, but the verbal and emotional abuse I will be subjected to for making this decision. Sometimes I'm not sure I am strong enough, I worry that the pain will consume me and destroy the relationship I have made with Josh.
Well, I think I will just have to take a leap of faith and see where I land. I'll have to grow a pair as Zameer Patwa@facebook's suggests, only it is difficult to give this kind of news over the phone and not face-to-face.


@Nadia.N Oh, and Josh is a white christian raised American.


dear nadia, i just wanted to tell you that i literally sobbed my way through this because i am going through the same thing as you are. only with a very atheist white boyf and very strong christian asian parents and i'm younger without a stable job. i literally lead two lives too, different values, different interests, even different accents - i dont even know who i am anymore. thank you for writing about this so perfectly because it is nice to just know someone else out there is feeling exactly how i am. and i know to some it seems like the obvious thing to just tell your parents and deal with the consequences but i know how hard it is. can we, those who go through this, really not have the best of both worlds? also, if this is possible in anyway, to have a follow up? did you tell or not tell? (should i tell or not tell?)


I'm in a similar situation, except the opposite. I'm white and my boyfriend is Bengali. We're both 16 and we've dated for a year and six months. His parents don't know about us. While I wish they did, I won't force him to do anything he's not comfortable with. I don't think they'll ever know me but I've come to accept that.

Chelsea A@facebook

Honestly this is my life but different. i am american and my other half or better if you will is in your shoes... I do not know how to feel other than for both you and Josh..A man told e that I am an empath today I a starting to believe him. I feel what others feel. Hence why it took me 4 Kleenexes to get through your story. I a curious to know if you will ever tell? Or if you have gotten married yet or not??


Wow, its like you took the words right out of my mouth...i'm in the same situation. I'm a bangali girl who grew up in NYC and is dating a Spanish guy. Don't know what the future hold but I love him more than anything. There should be some kind of law for bangali family, like the kids have to leave the house once they turn 21. May sound stupid, but I'm kind of serious. It hurts to have to lie about something I love.

Maureen Yusuf-Morales@facebook

Nadia- I was in your situation when I was your age. It all worked out after some careful plotting and I live in Queens! We should be friends.

Sonia Moore@facebook

I am Sonia from the United Kingdom with so much joy in heart i want to show my appreciation to prophet Krishna by telling the world about his powers. I lost my lover few weeks ago and to me it seems the whole world was crushing down on me, I needed help desperatly so i decided to check the internet for solution it was then i came across www.prophetofgoddess.com, Then i quickly contacted him on spells@prophetofgoddess.com and to my greatest surprise within 48 hours my lover called me and started begging me to forgive him that he is ready to make up for lost time.

sandhya more

Hi, I see it's been a while since you posted this. I hope sincerely that your situation is resolved for now. I relate to your situation and this is how I came across your blog. My Indian parents won't know what dating is and thus, I haven't tried explaining my situation to them. I am dating a white guy at the moment. I am happy how things are and don't want to rush anything in my life currently. I might not even end up marrying this guy or he might not be my forever but I don't want to get married now to anyone. They keep sending arranged marriage proposals and I am avoiding it but I just don't know how long can I avoid the confrontation.
Again, best of luck for your future.


I found your blog by searching for "how to tell your Indian parents about your white boyfriend". I really hope your situation is resolved. I would really like to hear more about how you told them and how they reacted. I know it will not be good. Because this isn't about just not doing what they tell me, this is about their honor and their reputation and I wonder what others will say about my family because of their daughter, the one with the white guy. But mostly I am concerned about what my parents will think of me and if I will have a relationship with them after I tell them. I want them to be a part of my life, I want my children to grow up with them also. I hope you and Josh have started your own happily ever after. And I hope you will respond and let us know how it's going.


wow i cant even imagine how much i can relate to this. my boyfriend and i have been dating for 6 months roughly and being a bengali mulsim i cant tell my family about him where as his entire family knows me already. i know its been only 6 months but i have a really good feeling about him. the kind that makes you think about having the perfect house in a suburbs with lovely kid and pets and being a soccer mom but telling my mom would eventually mean either losing my family or losing my guy. and losing either would be heartbreaking but i really dont understand why they care so much about what others think. hoe society will see us? what is wrong with being happy with the person you truly love? i hope you and josh have an amazing life and keep us updated about how you deal with the situation.


wow, I have never come across another person who I felt would understand my situation. Reading your story has given me hope, that I am not the only person who has to deal with the terrible situation. I will tell you a little bit about myself, I am a Bengali girl, been in this country since I was 8. My parents live in a small community with other Bengali's. Growing up, all I have ever been heard about was the gossip with the Bengali's that live in our area. Who got married, who married rich, who's daughter ran off with their cousin, etc. I always vowed to myself that I would be different from them, that I would finish high school and college and eventually get my masters degree. Luckily, unlike those other Bengali girls in my town, I was lucky enough to experience a world outside of the small bubble we live in. I went off to college, got my BA and am currently on my way to my Masters degree. My parents couldn't be more proud, they always wanted and hoped for the best. They ooze with pride in the way that they talk about me with their friends, how great of a daughter I am, how smart I am. I have a little brother, who is significantly younger then me and I always hear my parents comparing us and tell my brother that he should look up to all of my accomplishments.

However, I never quite had the guts to tell my parents that I'm not exactly who they think I am. Yes, I worked my butt off in school, got into a repeatable college and an even better graduate program. I never obeyed their wished, and have always done just about everything they have ever wanted from me. But, three years ago, while in college, I met an amazing guy. He has been a blessing in my life. We have been together for three years, and as time has gone by, I have become a part of his family. I am currently away at grad school and luckily, he lives 40 minutes away from my campus so I see him quite a lot throughout the week. We've both talked about the difficulties with my culture and how my parents would react if they found out. Same as you, my parents have also met my boyfriend, but we were sure to mention that he was only my friend. Even now, I sometimes mention his name while in conversation with my mom, in the hopes of "easing" the thought into their minds. Just a few days ago, my mom mentioned the possibility of my marriage for the first time. I'm lucky in the sense that my parents, in all of my 23 years, have never really pressured me into marriage. In fact, they never even brought it up in conversation. My parents, my brother, and I are the only people from our family who lives in this country, the rest of the extended family is in Bangladesh. So therefore, it has always been my parents idea that I was the leader of the pact, the one who they could use as an example to showcase to the rest of the family. However, as I was sitting with my mom, discussing my potential marriage ideas, I couldn't help but feel a piece of my heart breaking. I couldn't marry some random Bengali guy. In fact, I will not marry a random Bengali guy!! They didn't bring me into this country, raise me here, and not have some indication that the culture that I would group up in would have a profound influence in who I was going to be. So anyways, as she was talking, I couldn't help but finally tell her. I couldn't tell her of my boyfriend of 3 years just yet, so I mentioned to her that I wanted to marry someone that I liked, someone in this country who would love me and who I love, not some stranger like when she married my dad. Well, the conversation went pretty well, she actually understood where I was coming from and said that he would be ok with me marrying someone I liked. I was so happy to hear her say it, that I even decided to push my luck. I asked what if I wanted to marry someone outside of my race. Well I should have known, she completely freaked out, said she and my dad would have a heart attack and even made me sore that I would never do such a thing to my family. Needless to say, I followed her order and swept it under the rug, telling her that I was only joking. However, as I sat there after our conversation, I couldn't help but feel so terrible. It was clear that my parents would never accept anyone other then a nice Bengali boy. But I don't want a nice Bengali boy, I want my boyfriend, the man that I had fallen in love with. He's everything I ever wanted in a person. Together, we have what I always considered an ideal relationship. I just can't see my life without him.

I know I'm rambling nonsense and typing up a whole novel. Reading your story has just given me some hope that I am not the only one who's going through such a difficult situation. More so, it has made me realize that I am not alone. I don't know what to do about my situation. I love my parents dearly, they have sacrificed everything for me. But, I have also fallen in love, something that I ad no intention of but I am glad it happened. I always said that my life would be different from my parents, but I guess I never realized just how challenging those differences could be


Hi av been looking at this post for the past year of my life hoping that one day someone will write to say that their parents accepted their boyfriend and now everything is finally ok but it never goes like that does it .. Life's never that easy :( ... I'm in the same situation as most of you .. Am 21 bengali girl and have the most beautiful man for a boyfriend, I can't fault him in anyway, he cares about me treats me like his queen just pretty much perfect, well perfect in my eyes :) ... But as always there's always got to be a problem hasn't there .. He's Irish and am muslim so yeah parents .. Bengali bloody parents !! ...

I dnt even know how to start the conversation, or what to even say to them .. I could never marry a bengali guy am just not that type of person, .. Yes I was brought up as a muslim but can say I dnt believe in Allah or the religion it's self, .. Yes there is someone up there but not who my family and my culture tell me ... I just want to marry who I want to marry without losing people in my life or hurting anyone .. Is that to much to ask? .. I just want to be happy. Like most arrange marriage is out of the question, I couldn't live with a man who I dnt even know for the rest of my life never mind have kids and have him put a ring on my finger and to just "live happily ever after" ... It's the 21st century it doesn't work like that anymore.

Iv been with my boyfriend one year on the 10th of February and can truley say it's been one of the best years of my life and maybe one of the hardest .. I'm currently suffering with depression and anxiety because I'm so lost in what to do .. I love him with all my heart and the fear of evening thinking about him causes me to have anxiety attacks .. But then the fear of losing my family causes me to also go in to a fit of panic ... Everything just seems like a dark whole that I can't get out of, I just want to be able to tell my parents and them to just see him for the amazing man that he is .. Why can't they just get rid of this stupid perfect image they think they have of their daughter marrying some "perfect" bengali guy because I can garuntee that they can search this earth but will never find any man that will love their daughter as much as he does ..,

Life is so bloody frustrating :( I wish you all the best of look guys always here if anyone wants to talk, I'm bengali so for all you bengali girls living in the UK I understand how you feel xxx


I am a Bengali Muslim guy and would just like to ask you Bengali girls never to forget your Bengali roots, and Islam. By all means see a white guy if you want but do not leave your family for him. Try to make the relationship as Islamic as possible. Do not drink, dabble in drugs, sleep around with different men, and try not to have sex before marriage (if possible). I have had three members of my family marry whites (with their partner becoming Muslim before marriage in each case). Two of these marriages have already fallen through after just 3 or 4 years. White men are incredibly shallow and, more often than not, will move on to someone else after a few months/few years. Some will even sleep with other women while in relationship with yourself. So don't ever give up your family for a guy. Your new friends will never replace your own family. Your heart will ache for them. If you come in desperate trouble then it is your own family that you need to fall back on.

My advice to you girls is, if you are really into the guy then just confront your family about it. Try to get them to understand and they will soon accept him. Also, do not ever convert away from Islam or become an atheist for him; try to convince him to become a Muslim. And if you have kids, bring them up as Muslim and also raise them with an appreciation of their Bengali heritage.

I dated a white girl for some while but in the end settled for a Muslim girl. I knew the white girl would leave sooner or later. Most whites do not know the meaning of a relationship and will move on when they get bored.


Just to add to my points in the above post, please do remember, white guys are nothing special. Lot of white kids these days grow up as chavs who are into a culture of drink, drugs. So do not become white-struck.

When I dated the white girl, at first, she thought I was mixed European and thought she could behave with me like with any other European guy. She thought I would be very liberal and would drink, go clubbing and what have you. But I wasn't into any of that. I was first and foremost a Bengali and then a Muslim (though only vaguely religious it still informs my cultural heritage). I couldn't become white-washed and forget about my culture. In fact, one of the great assets of being South Asian is that, unlike some other groups, we keep our identity in tact no matter where we go. That is a very charming quality to have.

Never leave your family for a guy. These days most marriages do not last a few years, particularly those involving people of different ethnic backgrounds (mixed marriages), so to leave your family heartbroken, for a guy who may not even even stay with you long term, is not the right thing to do. In most cases, your parents will be into their middle age and who knows how many years they still have. You don't want to carry the burden of guilt should, God forbid,something were to happen to them. Your inevitable reaction will be whether you were partly responsible for their demise. Besides that, you will lose touch with your siblings (if any) and therefore no contact with any future nephews, nieces, as well as the wider family. All that for a guy. Not worth it.

If he allows you to keep your cultural heritage and your parents accept him, then, yes, it's fine to be with him. Ideally, he will also convert to Islam, that is if you are a Bengali Muslim.

Alicia Oxborn@facebook

My name is Alicia Veron from Cyprus, after 3 years in relationship with my boyfriend, he broke up with me because his parents never liked me or approved us being together, i did all i could to get him and make his parents approve me but all went to no avail, until a friend of mine told me about a spell caster who casts spells on marriage and relationship problems, when i contacted this spell caster he helped me cast a spell and my boyfriend came back to me after 2 months seperation and his parents attitude towards me changed, I am happily together with my boyfriend again with his family approval. Contact this spell caster for your marriage and relationship problems via this email ikedispiritualtemple@gmail.com. Goodluck

Bradley Speck@facebook

This is a testimony that I will tell to every one to hear. I have been married four 4years and on the fifth year of my marriage, another woman had a spell to take my lover away from me and my husband left me and the kids and we have suffered for 2years until I met a post where this man DR OLOKUM have helped someone and I decided to give him a try to help me bring my lover back home and believe me I just send my picture to him and that of my husband and after 48hours as he have told me, I saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband and he have come to me and the kids and that is why I am happy to make every one of you in similar to met with this man and have your lover back to your self. His email:lavenderlovespell@yahoo.com.


I am native from Bangladesh and now living in Europe quite long for study. I personally met and have many friends from so many counties and cultures.

Both culture and marriage system is very different.
You can be happy with anyone of the system.
But, I dont think it is possible to compare both.

Both are different so, if you have choose which one you like.

One thing I find funny, does ethnic matter if you love someone ?

(In my personal view anyone should not try to get both of them, it would be a mess.)

In Bengali culture your parents culture:
Now a days Men generally marry age 25-29, while the women generally 19-25. Unofficially, the women cannot not have any deep relation with anyone before (kind of purity presiquite of arrange marriage - also depend on the men social class, asset etc.).

The men have to mentally prepared to earn money for his wife and children in his entire life (so yes, the women is kind of dependend on men).

Why Bengali marriage system doesnot break ?

Well, from men point of view, he was the first men who had a deep relation with his wife. She spend her best days of her life with him. He has kids with that women. These are few things men always think about and stick to the marriage.

Definition of family is different to Bengali people.

If you think culture about outside Bengali

I dont think there is any so call perfect men or women. At the end one things does matter, do you still want to live with your current partner or not ?

Why your parents are still together, may be just because of you, who knows.
You can think a world having parents supporting (kind of lolzz) you all the time.

But if you have any next generation, they wont have the same life like you.


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Nadia, how has your relationship progressed since? I am in a similar situation, however my bf is Israeli so he can't even enter Bangladesh, and my parents don't know, though I have been living abroad for over 20yrs. I understand what u r going thru.

Elisbeth Dominick@facebook

I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation to prophet salifu on bringing my fiancee back to me,I was in a relationship for 11 years with my fiancee he got tierd of me and he started seeing another. he started hailing at me and he was abusive.. and he stop careing for me, but I still loved him with all my heart .the situation made me unsettle and not to focus at work .so someone told me about trying spiritual means to get my fiancee back and introduced me to a spell caster? i did not listen to her . i kept on hoping that my fiancee will come back home and beg as he use to . after a month it got out of hand ,i heard news that he is getting married to the other lady .it was so shocking to me ,i felt sad and depressed ,so i contacted my friend again and decieded to try to use spiritual means reluctantly..although I didn't believe in all those things? I never thought that i will get my fiancee back to me a again. but I was proved wrong,after 2days i contact prophet , my fiancee came back to me and was pleading..that he had realized his mistakes..i just couldn't believe it that we are back together and married, the spell was a natural spell and it had no side effect on any one ,Prophet salifu remained consistent and kind throughout and made the process unbelievable I am deeply satisfied and thankful of his work .if in doubt you should email him at (prophetsalifu@yahoo.com )or (prophetsalifu@gmail.com)


I'm going through something very similar...my parents are Muslim and I've been hiding my relationship with my boyfriend for the past two years...we want to get married so I need to tell my parents soon...within the next few months. My BF is also Jewish (well half) but doesn't practice...I am mostly Lebanese ethnicity and live in America. We have the same beliefs and are not religious. It is the hardest thing that I've ever had to do...I see that there are some other people dealing with something similar. My parents are very strict and are going to flip out...plus I live with them which makes things more difficult. I'd leave if I could, but culturally, even though I'm 30 years old I can't leave cause I'm not married. I'm so curious to know how everything worked out! Please update! Any advise would help me so much...I've been in therapy, but it's so difficult to find someone I can relate to!

Lincx Ryan@facebook

I was married for 8years with out any child,because of this my husband start acting very strange at home,coming home late and not spending time with me any more.So i became very sad and lost in life because my doctor told me there is no way for me to get pregnant this really make life so hard for me and my family.my sister in law told me about Prophet Osaze from the Internet,how he has helped people with this similar problem that i am going through so i contacted him and explain to him.he cast a spell and it was a miracle three days later my husband can back to apologize for all he has done and told me he is fully ready to support me in any thing i want,few month later i got pregnant and gave birth to twins (girls) we are happy with ourselves. Thanks to Prophet Osaze for saving my relationship and for also saving others too. continue your good work, If you are interested to contact him and testify this blessings like me, the great spell caster email address:"spirituallove@hotmail. com"

Murphy Chloe@facebook

My name is chloe and i want to testify of the good work done by a faithful lord masuka, a spell caster. in my life i never thought there is such thing as spiritual intercession. my problem started 5 months back when the father of my kids started putting up some strange behavior, i never knew he was having an affair outside our matrimonial home. it dawn on me on that faithful day 4th of April 21st 4:23pm when he came to the house to pick his things that was when i knew that situation has gotten out of hand and he then told me he was quitting the marriage which i have built for over 6 years, i was confused and dumbfounded i called on family and friends but to no avail. two months after i started having problem with my kids welfare rent-age and all of it, i really went through hell. until a day i was browsing on the internet and i happen to meet lord masuka his email lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com i never believed on this but i needed my man back so i gave the spell caster my problem at first i never trusted him so i was just doing it but you know a problem shared is half solved after a 2days my husband called me telling me that he his coming back home and that was all. now we are living happily, friends contact him on this email: lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com for help

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