I had Sex Before Marriage and my Indian Parents Disowned Me

In some families, sex before marriage is seen as a dishonour. As was the case for Asneet Lalli who got disowned for her pre-marital intimacy.

I had Sex Before Marriage and my Indian Parents Disowned Me

"My mum was already packing my suitcase"

Among the cultural norms that South Asian families uphold, premarital sex still remains taboo in some households. 

This deeply rooted belief often leads individuals to grapple with their own emotions and to please their family, especially if they were brought up with strict elders. 

Whilst relationships and intimacy before marriage is widely accepted, there are areas where this is forbidden. 

Having sex, particularly, remains a deeply sensitive subject.

Rooted in history and the desire to preserve family honour, parents’ expectation of abstaining from sex until marriage is still upheld by some. 

The pressure to maintain the family’s reputation can be immense.

And, individuals who dare to challenge this norm may face severe consequences, including disownment.

With this idea, we spoke to Asneet Lalli*, a British Indian woman from London, UK. 

She shares the complexities of her secret relationship and the devastating fallout from its revelation. 

Tradition and Turmoil

I had Sex Before Marriage and my Indian Parents Disowned Me

Growing up in the heart of London’s bustling South Asian community, children are brought up learning traditions and community values. 

Asneet details how her upbringing was a rich insight into her culture.

However, she also explains how she was raised in a certain manner, but started to question things as she got older: 

“From early, I was surrounded by my parents’ Indian roots.

“We used those types of grass brooms they use in the pind and always had proteh for breakfast (which I didn’t mind).

“I also learned the values of respect, honour, and marriages within our culture.

“We were brought up to believe in a man and woman relationship, arranged marriage, buy a home, have kids, and then repeat the cycle. 

“At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to it. But I did always notice how my mum would gossip about cousins who had found a girl by themselves (love marriage).

“Notice how they didn’t gossip about girls finding a boy by themselves because even when I was growing up, that was basically a crime.

“It was a world where love marriages seemed like fairytales, and the idea of premarital relationships remained a stigma.

“In our close-knit household, conversations about sex and relationships were non-existent, as if those things didn’t even exist.

“My parents were determined to preserve tradition and order in the house.”

“They moulded me into a dutiful daughter who would one day follow the path they had planned for me.

“Any inkling of curiosity I had was shunned and they had different methods to make sure such discussions were strictly off-limits.

“They’d always change the channel if couples were about to kiss on the TV, or at weddings, they’d remove me from the table if uncles were making dirty jokes. 

“Any mention of relationships or romance in books, news, or conversations was quickly met with a change of subject or a gentle reminder to focus on more appropriate matters.

“Their beliefs filtered out any content that strayed from tradition.

“It left me with a limited understanding of love or basic human connections. 

“Although, they constantly talked about the importance of arranged marriages. 

“Dad would tell stories of couples who were blossoming because they got arranged. But every time I saw them in person, they looked so unhappy.

“As I matured into a young woman, I embraced my role as the daughter and fulfilled my duty.

“But, as the years passed, the world outside quickly came to me and opened my eyes to ‘real life’.” 

Asneet’s upbringing was clearly steered by her family’s guidance and values.

Whilst she respected their instructions and how she was raised, it’s evident that she felt restricted and was curious about life outside of the home. 

A Secret Love

I had Sex Before Marriage and my Indian Parents Disowned Me

One of the other “traditions” within South Asian culture is making sure children have a good education and thriving career.

Again, this narrative is changing. University isn’t held to the highest of standards as it once was.

But, Asneet was directed to go there, as the belief was university would result in a better job and therefore, a better salary.

This was an exciting time for Asneet as the number of South Asian women allowed to go to university was not as large as it is in the modern world.

Besides education, she details how this period would change her life forever:

“Rohan and I met during our uni years. 

“He was an outgoing and adventurous spirit, and I was immediately drawn to his personality.

“Our friendship became deeper, and we found ourselves falling in love.

“I was very hesitant because these feelings were new and I was aware of my parents’ view on relationships before marriage.

“What made it even more challenging was that Rohan is of a different caste. So, I knew this was a no-no. 

“I didn’t know what to do but had to follow my heart.

“Marrying within one’s caste was an unwritten rule, and my parents were no exception in holding this belief close to their hearts.

“As our relationship progressed, Rohan and I were aware of the risks we were taking.

“We decided to keep our relationship hidden from my parents.

“We knew the anger and disappointment it would bring upon them if they were to find out.

“I met him in secret and I used the age-old excuse – ‘I’m going to study at the library’.

“We laughed, we explored, and we shared our dreams together.

“I knew this was love, I don’t know how, but I could feel it.”

“When it came to us having sex for the first time, I actually rejected him. I told him it was too far. I told him I wanted to wait. 

“We would do other stuff even though I was reluctant. This was my first time for everything, so I was scared.

“Rohan was so understanding and gentle. He never pressured me and it made my urges increase even more.

“We ended up having sex for the first time, and after that, we couldn’t stop. 

“But I couldn’t shake the weight of tradition that hung over us. 

“Rohan believed that, in time, we would find a way to bridge the gap between us and our family.

“His confidence in our love gave me strength.

“We decided to carry on seeing each other in secret and to figure it out once we left university.”

Asneet’s account emphasises how some South Asians can become conflicted between their parents’ views and their own emotions.

Even though Asneet and Rohan were both well aware of the backlash they could face, it didn’t stop them from loving each other.

However, how long could they keep their relationship hushed?

The Forbidden Choice

I had Sex Before Marriage and my Indian Parents Disowned Me

Like many South Asians, secret relationships are not a new thing. 

Whilst some couples live out their love in secret and can eventually get married, others wait for too long to share their news and break up as a result.

Asneet and Rohan were neither here nor there. So as mentioned before, they would wait until they felt brave enough to come out to their families. 

However, their patience would come at a price: 

“Secrets have a way of being exposed and ours was no exception.

“Me and Rohan used to send letters to each other when we broke up for summer holidays. 

“As I was always at home with my mum, I’d be the first one to the post so I knew my parents wouldn’t see. 

“One evening, I was in the kitchen with my mum and my dad burst in with one of Rohan’s letters in his hand.

“He had found it in my room. I left my drawer open and the envelope was there with love hearts around my name.

“He read the letter and of course, Rohan would talk of us having sex or him being horny and missing me. 

“At this point in our relationship, I was comfortable enough with him to have those conversations.

“But of course, your own dad seeing something like that is not good at all.  

“The letter was never meant for my dad’s eyes, and my heart sank as he read the words out loud.

“My dad’s face was bursting with rage, his eyes were as fiery as I ever saw them.

“Mum went over to see the letter and the disappointment on her face made me cry. No one wants to see their parents like that. 

“They confronted me, and as I stood there, tears streaming down my cheeks. I knew there was no escaping the truth any longer.

“They asked me why I betrayed them and why I went against their wishes.”

“My dad was calling me names, ones I don’t wish to repeat.

“But, they basically were about how dirty I was, that I was a tramp and I’m no daughter of his. 

“Mum stayed quiet but eventually spoke and said I had made her ashamed. She asked how I could have sex when I’d been brought up so well. 

“I told them to not focus on the sex and I was just in love. 

“I tried to explain how I felt about Rohan, but my words fell on deaf ears.

“In their eyes, I had tarnished the reputation of our family, and there was no room for understanding or compassion.

“As the days passed, the atmosphere in our household was suffocating.

“My parents refused to accept my relationship with Rohan.

“We fought bitterly, and ultimately, my dad told me to get out of the house. My mum was already packing my suitcase. 

“I was pleading with them to stop but Dad’s anger was so unbearable and they both told me to leave and never come back.

“I had to go to my friend’s house because my family already knew the news and had banished me from their lives.

“The weeks after, I tried to call my mum or go to the house, but there was no answer or response.

“Eventually, Rohan and I moved in together. His parents were thankfully a bit more understanding so I still have some elders in my life to turn to.

“It’s the most harrowing experience I’ve ever been through. How do I explain to my kids that their grandparents never want to see them?

“Either way, I’ll carry on trying with my parents and I’m hoping one day they can finally see that I was just in love.”

The taboo surrounding sex before marriage and intimacy in South Asian culture comes from the desire to preserve deeply cherished values.

However, the stories of Aisha and others like her remind us that cultural norms should not be rigid barriers.

It becomes evident that candid conversations and mutual respect within families are needed to break down certain challenges.  

Aisha’s journey is a reminder that love, in all its forms, has the power to transcend boundaries and transform lives.

Whether it defies tradition or aligns with cultural norms, love is a force that unites us all as human beings on a shared quest for connection and belonging.

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.”

*Names have been changed for anonymity.

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