Because here’s the thing about being a modern, South Asian young person- each identifier in that statement comes packed with its own meaning and oftentimes, they contradict one another.
Let’s take modern and South Asian, for example. While the former might suggest things like the infamous ‘hook-up culture’ (fuelled- or rather, set on fire by technology), the latter suggests opposite traits like modest, communal and traditional.
And while a young, modern person might be working on a clock that makes them feel like they have all the time in the world, when you throw ‘South Asian’ into the mix, suddenly our 20s start to feel like borrowed time.
So, how do we navigate the overlapping codes of being modern, Indian and young?
We’ll have to leave creating the exact blueprint of which meanings you choose to associate with to you… But, we can definitely give you 3 solid strategies to help your unique identifiers lead to a happy and healthy dating life.
Here we go.
Practice Self-Awareness and Growth
Take the time and effort of getting to know yourself so that the person you eventually pick is one that is aligned with the values, principals and traits that matter most to you.
Self-awareness leads to comfort in your own abilities, and being a high-growth individual leads to confidence.
It’s precisely that combination; comfort and confidence, that puts you in the best position to pick an addition to your life. And you need to treat it as just that- an addition.
Gone are the days when co-dependency was hailed as an ingredient to a successful marriage. With the economical and societal changes we’ve experienced in the last few decades, we can look forward to a future of empowered partnerships, and that’s very exciting.
So how do we do it?
- Take a few minutes to journal every morning and make sections for things you’re grateful for, things you want to accomplish, and affirmations. This small exercise will keep your values at the forefront of your mind, allowing you to become more aware in consciously developing the kind of life you want.
- Reflect deeply about who you are and who you want to become. This includes things like acknowledging the things that shaped you; how has your parents’ relationship shaped your views on what you expect? What generational fears or anxieties have you inherited that are no longer valuable? Ask yourself the tough questions now so that you can later develop a healthier partnership.
Take Your Time/Leave the Pressures at Bay
All cultures, South Asian included, have expectations that were put in place at a time when they made sense, but are no longer relevant. And one of the biggest out-dated ways of thought that our culture holds is the way we think of age.
Admittedly, our culture has a notoriously narrow view point on life’s milestones, with marriage being one of most vocally preached by the gatekeepers of ‘culture’ (you know, aunties, old-school parents, the works).
One useful mindset shift that we can experience is to reframe our ‘timeline.’ Socialization through culture has almost surely impacted the expectations we have for ourselves in our various phases in life. Let’s debunk that, for our relationships’ sake.
Feeling rushed or pressured to ‘settle down’ at a young age might jeopardize your own personal development and goals, or lead to choosing a partner who was conveniently available instead of right for you.
And you know what? Who you choose as your long-term companion is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. That’s no decision to be made in haste.
So how do we do it?
- Cancel out the noise of everyone who has inflexible and conditional expectations of you. Use empathy to see how their world view would have served them at one point, but ultimately understand that advice like “you should be married by ___” or “so-and-so is already married, haven’t you found anyone yet?” is only going to create anxieties and a fear-based approach to dating.
- Once you’ve recognized where the urgency is coming from, start deliberately counteracting it. For example, let’s say Sharon feels pressure to settle down with someone who doesn’t feel right. She can perform a fear-setting activity, that allows her to explore the worst case scenarios. Sharon might find that being single at 27 dulls in comparison to being 35 and in an unhappy relationship for 8 years.
Communicate Openly with Your Family
The interesting thing about adulthood is that sometimes the people we care about the most are the people we have the most strained communications with.
In the South Asian community, this can be especially prevalent as we grow up to lead lives that are inconsistent to the modeling of our families’ lives.
But, who does that lack of communication help? Sure, it might keep us comfortable as we dodge or pretend our way through the topics we don’t align with them on, but it sure doesn’t help us- or them- in any way.
And (one of) the problem(s) with that is that it’ll catch up to us and hurt our dating lives if we let it. Communicating openly with our families about our dating status and expectations is important. Even if they don’t agree with our decisions, almost everyone comes around with enough communication and transparency.
If we hide things like our orientation, our partner’s ethnicity or our viewpoints on marriage, we will inevitably develop a sense of shame or guilt. Whereas, if we can communicate them clearly, we can feel at ease, knowing that we’re living by our truth.
So how do we do it?
- Choose a person that you trust and is important to you – it can be a friend or family member – and practice having transparent conversations with them to build up a habit of honesty and integrity. As you exercise clear communication, you’ll feel more comfortable exerting your beliefs and you’ll have developed a confidant.
- Having a strong personal network is important to maintaining a healthy dating life. There will be heartbreaks and there will be turmoil. Having built or healed your family or friend group will give you the emotional support to thrive when those times come. When you feel secure in your other relationships, you will be socially nourished and more whole independently, allowing yourself to take unnecessary burdens off of your partner (like the unrealistic expectations for them to simultaneously be a friend, family member and partner).
With this article coming to a close, you might have noticed that it was primarily about you rather than the person you’re dating. That’s on purpose.
You can only control yourself. So if you have your ‘house in order’ as they say, you’re more likely to be successful at dating in a way that’s both happy and healthy for you.
With that said, there is one piece of advice we have for you about the other:
Choose your partner with an abundance mindset.
This basically encapsulates the 3 aforementioned strategies. When you’re self-aware and growing, deliberately taking your time as you see fit and communicating clearly with the people that matter to you, you will be looking to the opportunities rather than operating from a fear mindset.
A fear mindset can make you haste, shameful and isolated. It’s a fear mindset that tempts people to stay in bad relationships, hurry into long term commitments or choose the wrong person.
Yes, it can happen anyway, but an abundance mindset mitigates a lot of that and has you optimistically thinking about the life that you can live, and the people you can include in that life.
And that sounds like a pretty good place to start.
Happy Planning! – Indian Wedding Buzz
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