If your parents are anything like mine, then I’m sure you’ve faced the following situation before: You meet this amazing guy. Not only does he respect you and care for you, but you both also have amazing chemistry. You get along great and have a pretty good feeling that things will continue going strong. But, there’s just one problem: Your boyfriend isn’t brown, and you know your conservative parents won’t be happy about it. Yikes! So, what exactly do you do in this situation? Here are a few steps that might help you get your parents to meet your non-desi boyfriend.
Personally, I’ve been in this situation multiple times, because somehow, I’ve always managed to fall for non-Indian men. Once I start dating these guys, my parents’ disapproval of my partners has contributed to the overall weakening of my relationships. It’s always been a shitty, painful cycle.
However, I’ve grown and learned from these experiences, and I think there’s still some hope for us brown girls who are dating non-brown men and still want our parents’ approval. So here’s my guide to telling your conservative desi parents about your non-brown boyfriend, and then getting them to [willingly] meet him.
1. Wait Some Time Before Mentioning Him
Here’s the thing about parents who don’t want you dating non-desis: They already think that there’s no way you and this person will work out. You may insist that you’re both great for each other, but your parents already have their minds made up – and you can’t blame them. They’re likely first-generation immigrants who came to a Westernized country, experienced culture shock, and to this day, find the most solace in what’s familiar to them. They don’t see things the way you do. What’s new, exciting, and growth-inducing to you is scary, unfamiliar, and dangerous to them. So naturally, they think you’re speaking from a place of immaturity and temporary infatuation, and that eventually, you’ll “do the right thing.”
Don’t leave room for this to even happen.
Ensure you’ve built up strong enough of a rapport with the guy you’re dating before even broaching the topic of your new bae with the rest of your family. Make sure you’ve been dating the guy long enough that you have faith in your relationship. The time can vary for each of us – it really depends on you and how confident you’re feeling about the relationship. The whole point of this is you’ll be strong enough to handle pushback and be willing to go against all odds for the person you’re dating. You know him well enough by now to tell the difference between legitimate concerns and your parents’ xenophobic fears.
2. Do a Practice Run With Another Family Member
If your parents are super conservative, and you just are not confident that they’ll take the news of your non-brown boyfriend in a positive light, no fear! Look through your network of other aunties and uncles in your family you could talk to about your boyfriend. I know for me, the person I confided in was my great aunt who’d lived in Texas for the past 40+ years. Despite being my conservative mother’s aunt, she was very open-minded when it came to the realm of dating. She listened to me as I explained to her why I felt we were a good match, and only asked clarifying questions to understand our relationship better.
If you have someone open-minded like this in your family that you’re able to confide in, that your parents also respect, communicate with them. Not only will this give you a great opportunity to practice talking about your boyfriend to another adult in the same generation as your parents, but it will also give you an opportunity to find someone who can help defend your case, should the talk with your parents go ugly. Here’s the thing I’ve noticed – brown parents, despite their rigidity when it comes to seeing things from our perspectives, tend to be a bit more receptive when the same information is coming from another brown adult in their generation or older. Perhaps it stems from collective thinking. The bottom line here is, try to find another adult in your family who can back your decision. This will make things way easier for you later on.
[Read More: This is What Marrying a White Man Taught me About Life, Family and Blending our Cultures]
3. Tell Your Parents the “Right Way”
I’ve learned from my past experience, that when it comes to telling desi parents about your partner, there is an ideal way of doing it. The goal here is to draw the most attention to his accomplishments and his qualities while turning the matter of his ethnic background into nothing more than a passing comment. Always makes sure to conclude the conversation with more good qualities about him and a strong case as to why you feel he’s so great for you.
For example, you might start the conversation off with some information on what he’s accomplished academically and professionally, etc. Allow your parents to digest that information and get excited about this guy. This will then prompt them to ask more questions about who he is and where he comes from. At this point, the cultural background will likely come up. Just talk about it very calmly, with a neutral tone. Don’t try to defend yourself. If there’s any pushback from them, try to address their concerns with logical responses. If there’s still pushback from after that because they’re hung up on the guy’s ethnic background, it’s time to call in for backup.
Get that family member you told earlier to intervene and have them speak with your parents. Sometimes all your parents need is some assurance from another auntie or uncle that what you’re doing isn’t shameful to society, and that other kids are doing it too. A lot of it is reputation management, in addition to sheer skepticism that it’ll work out. Once your trusted family member has that pep talk with your parents, hopefully, they’ll have let their guard down enough for you to make your final point regarding why your boyfriend is so great and why they should meet him.
4. Arrange the Big Meeting
You’ve made it to the last step: finally arranging the meeting between your parents and your boyfriend. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve been able to convince your parents that there’s more to your boyfriend than his ethnic background. Now, the most important thing is to ensure your parents are able to see through his actions just how great of a fit he can be for the family.
First off, start by choosing a South Asian restaurant. For some reason, many desi parents have this preconceived notion that non-brown people don’t understand or appreciate good South Asian food, and this is your chance to prove them wrong. So, pick an authentic South Asian restaurant where your boyfriend can show, through his enjoyment of the food, just how much love he has for the culture. This will definitely help him win brownie points with your parents. In addition to that, let him in on topics your parents enjoy discussing, whether it’s politics, mathematics, etc. so that he can carry on a conversation with them. You’re only going to be a facilitator during this conversation, and mainly want them to engage with one another.
Hopefully, by the end of this all, your parents will have genuinely warmed up to your boyfriend and be okay with you dating him. The thing is, our parents carry no ill intent and they ultimately do want us to live happy lives. But we’ve got to understand that they come from very different walks of life than we do. Their experiences growing up as a youth in the motherland are vastly different from our experiences growing up as Western-born desis. I’m sure with patience and guidance from others, we will be able to help them see the world as we see it. Once you get your parents to meet your non-desi boyfriend, they’ll be able to trust that we’ll make the right decision that will truly bring us happiness.