I am an Indian girl, in my early 20’s and unexpectedly (from the point of view of my parents) have a love life. Something which our parents don’t expect us to experience or indulge in. Be it online or offline, dating without goal of marrying that person in future is something they don’t understand.
Most of the times we aren’t “allowed” to date. Furthermore, dating itself as a concept is “forbidden”. But what a heart want, wants. We are pushed to come up with fake alibis to meet the one we are dating. Excuses can anything from going for a group study or to meet a same gender friend.
I have never opened up to my parents. I have always intended to keep my love life a secret. Be it about the boy who had a crush on me when I was in 10th grade or about the one I dated for some good two years when I was still in school. I haven’t taken any dating advice from either of them. Nor have I hugged my mom after a horrible breakup or after a silly fight with my boyfriend. For most of us Indian kids, love begins with lies. Lies we tell our parents.
Why is dating a Taboo?
Back to the same question, why our parents don’t want us to date? Why do they have this inverse relationship with love and dating? Probably, a big reason is that they are insecure. Unchartered territory. They don’t know what it entails. The first thought and fear – “We will not focus on our academics”.
Though, in reality, this depends upon an individual. Their priorities. Not on having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Generally, the mindset of neighbors and society is, if someone dating then that person poor in their academics.
Secondly, the fear that their child might get indulge in sexual activities is paramount. But is premarital sex a crime? Why is this a such a big solicited perception? Whom do we reach out to if we want sex advice? Unfortunately, the first name wouldn’t be of our parents.
I have never heard nor experienced a parent talking and discussing sex with their child. It is a taboo and even more so if it is pre-marital sex.
Expecting them to support and understand you when going through a heartbreak, or to comfort with a tub of ice cream or to let you confide in them is way off the mark. Non -judgemental acceptance is not there.
Often disclosures of dating end up in punishments like having the phone snatched away or being grounded. In worse cases, restrictions on education and maybe even honor killing in adverse cases.
Need for a Dialogue
Whenever I won a writing competition or an academic award, my dad would always say, “I am proud of you beta”. But, he won’t be the same proud father when he saw her daughter getting out of a toxic relationship and walking away from it.
I wish he also told me, how love comes with the fear of losing, abandonment issues, trust, empathy and how to be okay with not loving one back in the same way.
When he gave me those wise lessons in the form of fable tales, I wish he also told me about love, how it existed in different forms, with the same or different gender, a romantic love. I wish he told me when to hold on to and when to let go of someone.
I wish he expressed the importance of being respectful and to be respected at the same time. And how communication is the key to sexual activities. I wish he tried and I wish he held me in times of emotional ache.
Society at Large
In many families, communities and cultures, Love and sex are taboo. No one talks about them. People are likely to confuse love with abuse or perhaps they were never taught the difference between the two.
We have evolved from the times when couples used to run away. They wanted to get married or live with the person they loved and whom they thought their families wouldn’t approve of. But, even after having evolved so much, a taboo still stifles our minds. I agree with the fact that their generation didn’t experience this new kind of dating and love nor they had the freedom to love.
But someone has to break the chain of orthodox thinking. Someone has to break free and be open in actions, in words, and thoughts.
Why not start now?
I fervently wish that our parents understand our concern and the anxiety of getting caught which results in needing to hide. Also to accept the fact that we will date with or without their knowledge. So the next time I wish we don’t have to hide under our blankets when we text with love to our significant other.
Shubhangi is a budding writer with fresh perspective on love and life. Her creations are thought provoking. She has a way with words and her motto is “Write what you believe”. Enjoyed? Follow Shubhangi for more on insta @wordsofshubhangi.