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I am from India, living in Germany for a long time now. I have liberal views, and most of my ideas align with the political left, here, in Europe. My parents, though, are from a traditional Indian background. In their case, they were married through arrangement and there is definitely a sense of communal responsibility as opposed to individualism.

Recently, I informed them that I have a serious girlfriend of two years, from France, and I would be happy if they met her. Their reaction was quite bad. They straight up told me that I was being a terrible person and not taking into account their sentiments at all, and that this would have terrible repercussions for their social standing. They also argue that a person from another country is not suited for me, as there will be conflict of culture which will lead to me destroying my future (or their version of my future, I guess).I get that they are a product of their time and society, but I am at loss on how to proceed. They were good parents, except for trying to micromanage my life, though such a behaviour is common in India. I do not appreciate it, but I understand that certain compromises are understandable considering their origins. That said, I cannot budge with something as personal as a relationship. The fact that they are coming to conclusions about her just because she is not Indian, is plain racist. It would be one thing if they didn't like her after meeting her, and they told me so given something that she did. I would still think that it's none of their business, but I can see how they were just looking out for me (though I am more of a let-me-make-the-mistake-myself-and-learn kind of a person).

Now, I won't, and not for a second have I considered breaking up with my girlfriend for them. That makes no sense, not to mention how unfair that would be for her.

But the question is how do I proceed to make my parents see my side of the situation, and manage a healthy relationship with my parents? I do value having a healthy relationship with my parents in the long term, but this situation is having a huge toll on it.

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    Are you already planning a future with your girlfriend ? Meaning, are you planning to moving together in the near or not so long distance future, or getting married ? You say this has taken a toll on your relationship with your parents, how so ? Do they bring up the subject and argue with you ? – MlleMei Jul 21 at 18:32
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    Are you a guy? An answer to this would be pretty different if you had to deal with homophobia as well – tryin Jul 22 at 5:47
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    Yes, I live with her for a year now. We will probably get married. They've known her existence for a while, but they ignore it when I talk about it. They just switch the topics, or just plain act like they did not hear what I said. But, now that I asked that we meet, they started arguing. I say arguing, but it's more of a lecture on why I'm wrong. – anunhappyIndian Jul 22 at 8:57
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    @tryin Ah, true. Well, I'm a heterosexual guy, and it's heterosexual relationship. – anunhappyIndian Jul 22 at 9:00
  • So as long as you don't ask them to meet her, they don't say anything. Do they know you're living together and planning on getting married ? – MlleMei Jul 22 at 14:05
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I have been through a similar challenge, but from the flip side -- I was the one the older generation disapproved of.

What your parents may not have realized is that from the moment you left India for Germany, it became likely that you would fall in love with someone overseas.

One of the low points of my relationship with my in-laws came during their first trip to visit us. On the second day of their visit, while I was in the kitchen cleaning up (after cooking them a very nice dinner!), they were enjoying the late afternoon sun on the patio with my spouse. My mother-in-law told my spouse that I was an unsuitable partner, because I wasn't German. What was she accomplishing with this? Nothing positive for anyone.

But on their second visit, everything was different, because my mother-in-law was crazy in love with our new baby.

Over time, my mother-in-law and I found common ground and a warm relationship developed.

You asked how to proceed to make your parents see your side of the situation, and manage a healthy relationship with your parents.

Try to keep your communication ongoing with them, but don't push them to accept your partner. Over time, they may become more open to getting to know her. In the meantime, don't blame them for the cultural values they have known all their lives.

You may have to compartmentalize, at least for now, and nurture your relationship with your partner separate from your relationship with your parents.

If you have some other relatives who are more open to getting to know your partner, this could ease the discomfort for you and your partner somewhat.

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Great question!

Couple things I would suggest.

  1. Try not to go with the mindset of "how do I proceed to make my parents see my side of the situation". Don't try to make your parents do anything, but instead try to understand the the reasons for why they are against it. Then take each reason and find a way to tear down that reasoning. Not to sound crude but right now they don't care about what you want. Show how it will benefit them.

  2. If they don't want to meet her, just accept it (for now). Stand firm on your decision that you love her and will continue to date her. Say something like "It's a shame that you don't want to meet the person who is the light of my life but I hope that will in time you'll see why she makes me happy". This won't get you instant gratification but play the long game and you'll see delayed gratification.

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    Hi and welcome to IPS! Please take a minute to read our citation expectations. Answers on IPS need to include some backup in the form of either personal experience or references - could you explain why you think this advice will work, have you used this approach in a similar situation before, or is this something you've seen recommended by someone else? You might find How do I write a good answer? helpful too. – Ælis Jul 24 at 18:43
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I can relate to your situation as I am also from India, living in a different country now, and with parents (father mostly) similar to yours.

I think it is quite common in India for parents to envision their children's future when they are very young. I'm pretty sure that you moving out of India would have been very difficult for them. It is possible that they initially thought that you might return to India after a while. Now that you have a girlfriend elsewhere, it threatens that view they have and everything else they had planned for you.

I had a similar situation challenging their views of when and who I should marry and also about having children. When opposed, my father did not speak to me for weeks. To him, I was simply being a bad son. It is viewed that way for us when we do not "listen" to our parents. We are expected to be obedient. But sometimes we have to stand our ground.

It is uncertain whether or not your parents will change their mind. What you can do, is stay firm regardless of what they say. Try to speak good about your girlfriend every chance you get (persistence may eventually pay off).

In my case, I did not want to marry someone of their choosing. It took months of arguments where they were trying to prove me wrong (which seems to be the case with you too). All I did was not give up. I had to repeat the same reasons I had over and over again. After a lot of argument and my thinking that they would kick me out of the family (that thought did occur to me multiple times and that's how serious things were), they decided to let me be and things are good with my parents.

Sometimes there were questions they asked for which I did not have an answer. It is because they will put you up to such a situation and justify why they do what they do. It is good to understand their perspective, but it is also necessary for them to understand that times have changed and the world is a smaller place than it was when they got married.

It is going to be hard as they will make it hard. But be patient, despite you being in the middle of your parents and girlfriend which can be difficult at times due to the arguments, and things could work out eventually.

  • Thanks. I am going to try this persistence method and see what happens. – anunhappyIndian Aug 19 at 18:05

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