Growing up brown in a Western European-dominated society has always held problems for me. I’ve been too brown for my white friends and too white for my brown friends — like my desire to dance Bollywood-style or my awkward flossing, which may or may not have worked at the club.
And of course, there were many other problems growing up — like dealing with the racism, bigotry and stereotypes that I still face and challenge to this day. But as I’ve grown up, one thing that I’ve found really difficult to deal with is dating.
See, like most immigrant parents, mine have always reinforced the idea of focusing on your studies first, and then, after you’ve become something, you can start dating. But if you see all your friends experiencing that sort of intimacy with their partners, you want it as well. So we resort to dating behind closed doors and behind our parents’ backs.
I’m fully aware that I don’t have to date if I don’t want to, but wanting that intimacy is something that I’m sure others can relate to. This has left me feeling stuck, like I’m in limbo and unsure of where to even start dating.
Do I dive into the world of hookups on Tinder? Do I orchestrate a cute meeting at some random bar on a Friday night? Do I force myself to talk to some random guy whom I happen to find attractive?
All of these questions lead to even more questions that eventually leave me in frustration, with the conclusion that I’m just not ready for dating yet.
But if I am ready, how do I deal?
Too many of my fellow Indian friends have told me stories about their experiences with dating, and most of them were very off-putting. For example, many people hit them up on Tinder by starting off with the usual lines like “You look so exotic heart eyes” or “You and I could make some cute mocha babies!”
They get fetishized by these people, and truthfully, it’s not cute or romantic. It comes off as creepy. Sure, you need a conversation starter, but beginning by commenting on someone’s skin colour does not convey the best first impression.
Of course, some of my friends have good experiences where they actually meet someone who doesn’t fetishize them — but then, what happens from there? How do you explain to your partner, after dating for three years in secret, that your parents still don’t know and you can’t introduce them because it’s not the way you were brought up?
In some instances, depending on your age, your parents may already be talking about marriage. If you and your partner have talked about it then, maybe, they can meet your parents. But for those youngsters like myself, we can’t just say, “Hey, Mom and Dad, I’m dating this really cute boy, but don’t worry, I’ll still get into med school.” Our parents just won’t buy it.
The thing is, we are growing up, and our parents have to accept the fact that we’re going to be dating, regardless of what they believe our priorities should be at the time. Sis, let’s face it, you can get straight As and have a partner. Why not have both?
However, you should make sure you’re really ready first. Don’t rush into anything if you aren’t. After all, this is all about what you really want. Hell, the first time you kiss someone could be at 29 years old, and that’s okay because it’s your life.
Don’t give in to the pressures of dating — whether from your parents forbidding it or the world pushing you into it. You should always do you.
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor