This time, however, it was not the usual he's driving me crazy; he met someone else; we don't want the same things; he can't commit kind of relationship ending with which I have
This time, the decision was taken out of my hands entirely; out of even his hands to a great extent. How can that be? Well, he was Indian. An only son. Which I have come to understand means that he comes as a package, closely bound with mum, dad and sister at the heart; extended family after that; and the wider Indian community beyond that.
He was lovely. Super lovely. Easy to be around, gentle-natured, funny and kind. Very cute. He'd been living in Melbourne for nearly 4 years; he had an accent but dressed like a local. I was wary at first about the age gap and the cultural difference, but that melted away soon enough as I spent more time with him and found him to be thoughtful and open-minded. I introduced him to my family, who welcomed him with open arms. We became closer after that, talking about everything and sharing our histories, marvelling at the many overlaps in our personalities and interests despite our very different upbringings. I still had concerns, especially after doing a bit of research online and coming across many forums detailing the stories of western women who had had their hearts broken by Indian men, most of who ended up acquiescing to their parents desire for an Indian daughter-in-law. Nervous about becoming one of those women, I asked him to tell his parents about me, and being a lovely bloke, he did.
I think it's fair to say that they freaked the f*ck out.
Not only was I not Indian, I was 5 years older than him. I might as well have been an eight-headed monster shooting laser beams from my eyes.
It was awful. We talked and cried and tried to break up and got back together and cried and talked some more. We decided we both cared enough about each other to try to stay together despite his parents extreme disapproval, deciding that he would talk with them more in the hope that they might come around.
A further four months down the track - four months of agonising, talking through various scenarios, negative horoscope readings, and long-distance arguments with his parents culminating in a visit to Mumbai - it became apparent that they were not coming around, and that his continuing to be with me was causing a major rift in his family and he couldn't bear it anymore.
That was the end of us.
* * * * * * *
What have I taken away from this?
1. Cross cultural relationships are really difficult, sometimes impossibly so. I was naive; even after I became aware how common this scenario is, I was hopeful that we would somehow be exempt.
2. If you're thinking about dating a man from a traditional Indian background, meet his family first. They will be the ones who decide your fate.
3. And finally: be thankful to have been raised in an enlightened country where we take our freedom and independence for granted.