How I told My Parents I’m Not Marrying a Desi Guy

From bad dates to cultural demands, Kiran Dhani shares her insightful story of telling her parents why she chose not to marry a Desi guy.

How I told My Parents I’m Not Marrying a Desi Guy

"Some uncles tried to threaten and shame me"

Marriages between a Desi guy and girl were once the norm for South Asians in the UK. 

But, the number of marriages between British Asians and individuals from different ethnic backgrounds has been steadily rising since 2013. 

Many individuals have formed relationships with people outside of their heritage, including White, Black, Mixed, and other Asian communities.

There is often a generational divide when it comes to interracial marriages among British Asians.

Younger generations tend to be more open-minded and receptive to the idea, whilst older generations have a stronger preference for marrying within their own community.

Whilst these types of relationships are becoming more common, and accepted, South and British Asian parents still maintain certain expectations for their children to follow the ‘traditional path’ of marriage.

In order to gain better insight and promote a more open discussion around this topic, we spoke to Kiran Dhani*.

The 26-year-old sales advisor from Birmingham shared her story about how she chose not to marry a Desi guy.

Instead, she met Chet in 2020 and the pair have been married since 2022. But, it didn’t come easily. 

Kiran first mentioned how she was brought up, like many British Asian girls, exposed to marriages on a monthly basis.

This opened up Kiran’s eyes to traditions and the way she thought her life was going to end up:

“Growing up, I witnessed the majority of people around me marrying within their faith and culture.

“It was the norm, the expectation, and the path to acceptance and honour within our family.

“I felt the weight of those expectations, and a part of me desperately wanted to follow suit. 

“Weddings are massive in our culture. The food, dancing, and dresses are all lovely and grand and I did want that for myself.

“But, I also saw the pressure of it too. Sometimes couples get married and their families try to make a spectacle out of it to show off.

“I kind of realised that I didn’t want my wedding to be a symbol of status or to brag about things. I wanted it to be intimate, fun, relaxed, and of course, about love.”

How I told My Parents I’m Not Marrying a Desi Guy

There is a lot of pressure on young British Asians to marry at a certain age or even a certain person.

A longstanding narrative exists where families compare the kids and the age they get married and who to.

Education, career, background, and status are all taken into account when comparing partners.

It leads to more people feeling ashamed if they don’t find the right person, or if that person isn’t considered worthy enough by their own family.

Therefore, it has impacted the way British Asians act towards potential partners and when dating. As Kiran explains: 

“I dated Indian guys, hoping to find the connection, the chemistry, and the love that would make me embrace the path set before me.

“However, my experiences were far from what I had hoped for.

“I encountered men who treated me with disrespect, who disregarded my dreams and ambitions, and who expected me to conform to traditional gender roles.

“It was a painful realisation that not every Desi guy would appreciate me for who I was, beyond the confines of societal expectations.

“Some guys would whimper when I said I didn’t go to university and would kind of call it off.”

“Other guys would be okay with it but felt that meant I would just be a stay-at-home wife. 

“I even went on a date with one guy which was going well.

“Literally, before I got in my Uber home, he asked my caste and immediately distanced himself because it was ‘lower’ than his caste. It was infuriating.

“I’m not saying having your own standards and preferences is bad.

“But, it seemed like these were all cultural or family expectations that the men were focused on and they wanted a girl who fit a checklist, not someone they had a connection with.

“With each negative experience, my heart sank further, and I found myself yearning for something different.

“I craved a partner who would see me as an equal and who would challenge boundaries.”

How I told My Parents I’m Not Marrying a Desi Guy

Similar to many other British Asians, Kiran explains how finding a Desi guy is difficult, especially with the added pressure of family expectations.

But, as Kiran was battling with potential partners, she met Chet whilst in a bar:

“I hadn’t been dating for a while but noticed the couple of guys I spoke to on nights out weren’t Asian.

“I felt like it was easier to talk to them and we wouldn’t have conversations about religions and culture, it would be about each other. It was refreshing for me. 

“Then I was out and met Chet. He approached me at a bar and this was just before Covid struck, so we got lucky.

“We exchanged numbers and bonded during the lockdown. It was weird having a relationship blossom during the worst period we’ve known. 

“I always said to him that things will be difficult because he wasn’t Asian and I wasn’t sure how my family would respond.

“Nothing would phase him and he embraced my culture and was fascinated with it.”

“But in the back of my mind, I was struggling to tell my parents.

“Covid was a tough time and they were worried so I didn’t even know if I could ever break the news to them. 

“I struggled with the fear of disappointing my parents.

“I knew that telling them I was in a relationship outside of our community would shock them.

“My mum would always talk to me about her dreams of me getting married and how it would look.

“But I couldn’t ignore how much I loved Chet and it felt right that I was with him.”

How I told My Parents I’m Not Marrying a Desi Guy

As previously stated, the younger generation of British Asians is more open to interracial relationships. 

And one of the big reasons, as outlined by Kiran, is that there is no added pressure of cultural demands as both parties already know they’re backgrounds are different. 

But, Kiran still had to come clean to her parents, which is a difficult task to do, even in the modern day. 

She, like many others, worries that parents still uphold traditions and a same-faith marriage is one of them. So, any deviance from that will bring shame or embarrassment:

“I had to prepare myself for a few days to tell them about Chet. I knew it was going to be hard.

“It was good that we were all in the house so I basically couldn’t avoid it for a long period and any issues my parents did have, we could address.

“I finally sat my parents down and told them about Chet but before that, I did speak about my dating life and how the boys treated me.

“I wanted them to know this wasn’t some act of bravery or rebellion. It was my experiences and interests that led me to Chet. 

“Their initial reaction was one of disbelief and anger.”

“The disappointment in their eyes cut deep, and I felt a mixture of guilt and anguish.

“Their dreams for me clashed with my own desires, and the realisation of the pain I had caused them was overwhelming.

“Me and my mum both started to cry because I was scared I’d lose them. 

“My parents then went on to give me a talk about our family and how this guy, that they don’t even know, would fit in.

“Even though I told them that it doesn’t matter, they couldn’t see past that he was white. 

“It was an emotionally charged period, where tensions rose, and our once close-knit family seemed to be drifting apart.

“We didn’t speak for a day or so after that, I was crying in my room and Chet tried his best to calm me down. But, there was only so much he could do over the phone.

“I did think I would have to end it. 

“But as the storm subsided, we began to find common ground.

“I made them understand that my decision was not a rejection of our culture, but rather me just finding love.

“Slowly, they began to see my happiness and as parents, I don’t think you can ever reject your kids’ happiness – no matter what.

“Yes, they were still surprised but they knew this was my decision. 

“While they couldn’t entirely let go of their hopes for a traditional Desi wedding, they started to accept that my emotional well-being was of utmost importance.

“We began to rebuild our relationship and eventually, they video-called Chet and instantly saw why I’m in love with him.”

How I told My Parents I’m Not Marrying a Desi Guy

Although Kiran’s parents were okay with her decision after a while, she admits her wider family took the news harshly:

“My dad told my extended family and they all reacted how you would typically expect.

“They thought I was going off with white boys all the time or that something was wrong with me because I couldn’t find an Asian guy.

“My aunties tried to persuade my dad to stop me and Chet seeing each other but I’m so thankful he didn’t. Some uncles tried to threaten and shame me as well. 

“Most of the family we invited to the wedding didn’t come – and I was totally fine with that.

“The cousins I wanted there were there. Whilst we had a special day, it showed me just how backward our communities can still be, no matter what.

“We may think times are changing but they’re not. The family has gossiped about me or spread rumours just because of this situation.

“But I’m happy and so are my parents which is the main thing.

“I hope these types of marriages can happen in a safer environment in the future. Or they at least don’t get the same type of backlash as we’ve had.”

Hopefully, Kiran’s story does spark some sort of change and open dialogue within British Asian families.

Her experiences highlight what needs to change within the culture and also illustrate the challenges interracial relationships face on a daily basis.

Likewise, her experiences also hints at the dating culture for British Asians and how contrasting it can be, especially for the younger generation. 

Whilst she didn’t end up marrying a Desi guy, she still found someone that makes her happy.

And, happiness is something that needs to be prioritised more in some South Asian marriages as it can be clouded with outside elements. 

Love should never be bound by societal expectations; instead, it should be a force that unites individuals across diverse backgrounds, fostering empathy, understanding, and personal growth.

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

Images courtesy of Instagram.

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