20 Most Common Relationship Killers

Relationships start and end every day for a number of reasons. A break-up can happen for something as trivial as “Why didn’t you call me for such a long time?” to something as serious as cheating.

But are there any common patterns? Any red flags which can put a relationship at risk?

Here’s my attempt at identifying some of the most common ones.

Relationship-killer #1. Lack of Space

Expecting your partner to share everything under the Sun with you is a deadly but very common relationship mistake. Assuming you should pursue every activity together – from watching a football match on TV to shopping for a red dress of a particular shade, a particular length and a particular design is a recipe for frustration and failure.

Relationship-killer #2. Trying to change others

As I’ve repeated in many occasions, one of the basic rules of life is – you can’t change others, you can only adapt and change yourself, if you want. Trying to change your partner through force (cruel words, malicious behaviour … the usual) would lead to nothing but frustration and exhaustion for both of you, endangering your love.

relationship killersPhoto by Love is the key

Relationship-killer #3. Trying to change yourself

Trying to change yourself: At the opposite end of the same spectrum lies the tendency to change yourself completely to suit someone else.

I’ve been a free-spirited tomboyish daredevil all my life but overnight I’d become a fulka-making Ghar ki Devi fit to be featured in the next K-megaserial if my boyfriend wants me to.

Relationship-killer #4. Taking them for granted

There are some relationships in which one partner is the perpetual giver and the other is the perpetual receiver. The receiving partner often expects the moon and the stars from the other and treats them badly in return. While this kind of relationships can look like paradise for the luckier partner, they’re not. Because they don’t last. Sooner or later the dissatisfaction piling up inside the meeker partner is bound to come out in the open and end the relationship.

Relationship-killer #5. Lying

Lying within a relationship is an act of serious breach of trust, irrespective of how trivial the lie may be. If one or both partners feel the need to lie to each other, the relationship becomes pointless.

Relationship-killer #6. Finances

Are we going to pool all our earnings in a joint account?

Or we’re going to divide responsibilities for expenses?

Are we going to treat everything as family expense or we’d have some specific expenses attributed to individuals?

Failure to set clear rules about handling of finances before marriage is a potential risk to relationship stability post-marriage.

Relationship-killer #7. Forced commonalities

You can spend a whole day with Tolstoy and Maggi, but he wouldn’t touch a book if his life depended on it. He’s never listened to anything but instrumental classical, but that stuff plain puts you off to sleep. Forcing each other to change their tastes so that you can “share everything” is a firm step in the wrong direction.  

That’s the kind of blunder I’m suggesting you avoid, ’cause it’ll break you so bad that it’ll eventually break your prized relationship.

Relationship-killer #8. Self-isolation

Giving up your other relationships for them: “My girlfriend doesn’t like my best friend from school, so why not stop seeing him altogether? After all, she’s more important than him.”

Again, a recipe for disaster. Every important relationship of our lives provides us vital emotional connection and support. One is not a replacement for any other. In fact if you cut off any of your previous relationships for your partner, it would eventually make your relationship suffocating and speed up its demise.

Relationship-killer #9. Unclear needs

 “I thought I wanted intelligence, verve and humour in a man, but now I realize a willingness to share the household chores equally is a much more important criterion for me.”

In relationships, such rude awakenings are not rare at all. The more people we meet and get close to, the more we learn about our own needs from a relationship. While it’s never possible to know all of your needs clearly before getting into a relationship, it’s important to at least have some basic criteria clearly defined.

relationship killersPhoto by meechellllle

Relationship-killer #10. Unclear life goals

You want to live and work in five continents whereas your partner would like to settle down cosily in their quaint hometown as soon as possible. The glitch is, you’re already engaged.

Before you get into a serious commitment, each of you must have some basic idea of you want from life and how much of it you’re ready to sacrifice for the relationship. Having your own limits clearly defined is essential for a healthy relationship.

Relationship-killer #11. Forced parents

No one is “like” anyone else in this world. That’s what makes each of us unique. Besides your relationship with your parent is one of the most special relationships of your life. A parent can never be replaceable. Expecting someone else to be like them is unrealistic and unfair. Instead look upon them as friendly acquaintances who deserve respectful treatment from you.

Relationship-killer #12. Parental interference

Some people, especially in India, are very close to their parents. That’s great, as long as that relationship doesn’t cause problems in other relationships. You’ve all heard of the proverbial mollycoddled Indian boy who refuses to leave the “shade of his mother’s aanchal” even after he’s married. Not only in case of marriage, but also in case of relationships, too much interference from parents of either side can be a deal-breaker.

Relationship-killer #13. Marrying at the wrong time

Nothing kills a relationship faster than converting it into a lifelong commitment before either side is ready. (You don’t want your love to die as soon as your marriage starts, right?) There’s no shortcut to knowing a person – the only way to know if someone is right for you is to spend at least two to three years with them. In order to minimize risk, take the time to assess your mutual compatibility & ask the right questions before taking a decision.

Relationship-killer #14. Divergent values

If you read Kafka and she reads Sidney Sheldon you can still have a very successful relationship by giving each other necessary space. However if your senses of right and wrong are divergent, if you hold conflicting beliefs and values, that’s surely not good news for your relationship. These differences may not always be apparent immediately. Again, spending a lot time together before committing is paramount when it comes to identifying such differences.

Relationship-killer #15. No social life

“We have each other, so it doesn’t matter that we don’t have any other friends.”

While at an initial stage of a relationship it might feel that way, this is a wrong approach to a relationship. It’s important to cultivate common friendships and together you must create an active social life. Being together while also enjoying others’ company will save your relationship from becoming claustrophobic. It will also give it a new dimension.

relationship killersPhoto by Heaven`s Gate (John)

Relationship-killer #16. Obsession

Some people tend to put their partners at the very centre of their lives. They think and act as if their life revolves around their partner.

“I’d leave this job to be in the same city as my partner, even though this is my dream job.”

“I’ve given up my hobbies so that I can find more time to spend with my partner.”

Always remember, your partner is an important part of your life, not your life itself. If you make them your life, you’re in for a nasty disappointment, sooner or later.

Relationship-killer #17. Looking for “perfect”

I know a girl who’s had three different relationships over the past one year. No wonder she’s still single.

No one is perfect. No one will be an “ideal” partner for you. A perfect relationship is not made by two people who’re perfect for each other, but by two people who’re willing to make the relationship perfect in spite of their imperfections. Having a rough list of some basic criteria and then letting your heart take the lead once those are satisfied is a workable strategy for finding lasting love. If you look for perfect, you’re likely to remain disappointed.

Relationship-killer #18. Long distance without deadline

If you’re going long distance, it’s imperative to set a timeline by when you’re going to be at the same place again. Many a potentially successful relationship breaks up because of the sad, circumstantial reason of distance. Being long distance indefinitely brings feelings of emotional distance, uncertainty and a possible eventual separation.

Relationship-killer #19. Jealousy

This one is an all-too-common silent killer. Unfounded suspicion, jealousy and over-possessiveness can very quickly suffocate and otherwise perfectly healthy relationship. If you find yourself in the throes of unexplained blind jealousy, the key is to apply reason and keep your suspicious urges at bay.

Relationship-killer #20. Cheating

The last and the most common relationship-killer is cheating. When it rocks the foundations of the relationship it takes trust away. It takes meticulous work on the part of both partners to make the relationship work again.

Are you experiencing any of these red flags in your relationship?

Have you seen people around you break up because of one or more of these 20 relationship-killers?

Share your experience by leaving a comment. 

The No Contact Policy: 5 Tips to Follow Through

Somewhere in our lives we’ve all struggled with the “No Contact Policy”– that sickeningly painful period of forcing someone out of your life because you know it’s right, even though it’s not easy for you.

May be because you’ve ended a wrong relationship but are still weighed down by guilt and sympathy.

May be because someone has ended a relationship with you and hence you know you have to move away from them.

The first step of moving away from someone is the “No Contact Policy”, i.e. to cut off contacts. Completely. Utterly. And permanently. No, remaining friends is never an option if you want a healthy end.

Two factors present major challenges to this – your own lingering feelings and their refusal to stop being in touch.

I thought I’d explore this often overlooked but depressingly common relationship phase in today’s post.

No Contact Policy – Rule #1. Explain. Once.

Don’t abruptly stop taking their calls. That’s unfair to them and difficult for you, as they might keep trying to make contact without realizing why you’re not reciprocating.

Clearly communicate your decision to follow the No Contact Policy. Preferably write an email (Written communication gives you the opportunity to present your thoughts precisely, effectively, and most importantly – without interruption. :D). Don’t forget to emphasize that it lies in their best interests to stop trying to make contact and to forget you. That’ll make it a tiny bit easier for them.

No contact policyPhoto by Envious Photography [OHH SNAP!]

No Contact Policy – Rule #2. Avoid temptations

If and when they call you don’t keep looking straight down at their name on the screen. Leave the phone ringing in your room and step out. Use at auto delete and forward filter on their email address. It would forward any emails they send you to a trusted alternative email address and delete it from your inbox. This way you can avoid being tormented by their melancholic (or worse – hateful/emotionally blackmailing) messages. However it’s important that any important information contained in these messages reaches you (like suicide threats, or threats to harm you). Hence it’s important it gets forwarded to someone who can give you any necessary information.

Needless to add, the person you forward these mails to has to be one of your top two trusted people in this world – your best friend/sibling, for example.

No Contact Policy – Rule #3. The 5 Minute Strategy

Whenever you get those urges of calling them, tell yourself, “I’ll reconsider whether to call them or not after 5 minutes.” Just 5 minutes. That’s it.

Most people would forget about calling anyone by the end of 5 minutes. What if you haven’t? Look at the clock, and tell yourself again, “I’ll think about that call after 5 more minutes.”

You get the idea.

You can continue to postpone the action in 5 minute chunks till the time you forget about it or your urge dies down. The 5 minute strategy can be extremely effective not only in staying true to the No Contact policy, but also to overcome temptations of any kind.

No Contact Policy – Rule #4. The Replacement Strategy

Resisting your urges of engaging in a particular activity (contacting them, in this case) is basically about replacing that activity with something else.

No contact policyPhoto by a_Daydreamer

When you have the urge to call them, tell yourself, “At the moment I’m free to do anything I like apart from calling them. I reward myself for not calling them with 10 minutes of Facebooking, watching YouTube, playing games or listening to my favourite music.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself at these moments of weakness – there’s no need to replace the activity of calling them with something productive. It’s important to replace it with something fun. Don’t “punish” yourself with work/studies (anything you don’t actively enjoy doing) for successfully resisting your unwanted urges. “Wasting” a few minutes of your time won’t kill you. Instead reward yourself with activities you just love.

No Contact Policy – Rule #5. Write an email

But even in spite of all your best efforts you might have those moments of irresistible longing when you feel your life depends on making contact with them. At those moments, you can write them an email.

Pour your heart out. Write down everything you want to tell them. All your accusations, blames, hatred … or may be not – may be longing, wistfulness and attraction – pour it all out in that white electronic space.

But you’re still following the No Contact Policy, remember? So just one word of caution – don’t hit the Send button. :D

Have you ever been in a situation where you desperately wanted to avoid someone but still felt attracted to them? What was your strategy for following through the No Contact Policy? Share with us in the comments. :)

How to Have a Moving Out of Home Conversation with Your Parents: 5 Steps

We’ve talked at length about intercaste marriages, inter-religious marriages, how to convince your parents of your love marriage etc. We’ve also talked about what to do when your parents just won’t agree to your marriage. I’ve always been a firebrand when it comes to taking a side here – either suck it up and do as they say, or move out of your home and marry whoever you want to marry.
I’m surprised (and proud) to know just how many of you have followed that advice and made a bold decision. Congratulations on having been able to achieve clarity and purpose. But now what? Are you prepared to have the moving out of home conversation with your parents? Here are some tips to help you out with it.

Moving out of home – Rule #1. Write a letter

This is going to be a sensitive and delicate communication between you and two of the most important people in your life. Due to the explosive nature of the subject of your intercaste marriage, emotions will run high. Irrespective of what you say, misunderstandings are very likely. To minimize any misinterpretation of your intentions, put it all down on a piece of paper and mail it to your parents (send them an email, if they’re tech-savvy ;)). If you start with an oral conversation on moving out of the family home, it’s likely to turn into an ugly family battle.

Of course you’ll be called for a “discussion” subsequent to writing your letter, but this will make sure at least your starting position is crystal clear to your parents.

Moving out of home – Rule #2. Tell them you trust them

So what do you write in your letter?

The key is to avoid blame games and emotional blackmailing at all costs. Do not take an accusatory line of reasoning like the following:

You didn’t accept my marriage. This shows you don’t care for my happiness. Hence I’m leaving home.

moving out of homePhoto by Sephiroty Fiesta

Instead, take an accommodative and respectful approach. Tell them you trust their intentions as your parents. Something like:

I’m sure you want nothing but my happiness. I understand you don’t know Jane [insert your girlfriend’s name] closely enough, and hence you’re afraid she’d not make me happy. But I’ve known her for a sufficiently long period of time, and as of today I’m reasonably confident she would. I’m sure after some time when you see for yourself that we’re happy together, you’ll feel happy for us and accept our marriage with open arms.

Moving out of home – Rule #3. Explain rationally

Explain rationally: They’re your parents. It’s your duty to treat them with respect, even if you disagree with them. In your letter, tell them clearly that you respect them today as much as you always have. Explain that your moving out is not a gesture of rebellion but a practical solution that takes care of everybody’s interests as much as possible.

#1. You’ve already explained that you’re confident your decision (that of marrying your girlfriend) is the best one. You’ve also declared your belief that your parents will one day realize it. (As I explained earlier – tell them you trust their intentions.)

Hence it’s not about reconsidering your decision, but about taking the best actions given your decision.  

#2. You have responsibilities to your parents and your future wife. Hence it’s your duty to strive to maximize their combined happiness.  

#3. Hence you cannot imagine knowingly putting all of them in a stressful situation. Which is what you envision is going to happen if you marry your girlfriend and continue living with your parents. You cannot let your parents and your wife stress each other just because of you. Hence you’ve taken the decision of living away from your parents till all of you can live together in peace and harmony.

Your explanation should be as logical, as practical and as non-accusatory as that.

Moving out of home – Rule #4. If they threaten to disown you…

Be prepared for this threat even before you start this conversation with your parents.

When it comes, keep clam. A very tiny percentage of parents who threaten to disown their sons if they marry their girlfriends actually carry out that threat. Most accept the son and his wife after a few years at max.

Secondly, if you’re having this conversation with your parents I’d assume you’ve thought it all out very carefully already.  That would mean you’re certain in your mind that it will make you more unhappy to live without your girlfriend forever than it will make you to live without your parents forever (not suggesting that’s a great option).

Hence, DO NOT react to the threat.

Simply say very politely, “I’m sure you’re saying that just out of momentary anger. I’m sure you’ll accept us when you see us happy and realize that this was indeed the best decision.”

moving out of homePhoto by waqar bukhari

Moving out of home – Rule #5. If they threaten suicide…

Now this is unfortunate.

We’ve all heard those anecdotes of parents locking their daughter up in the home for stopping her from contacting her boyfriend, and getting her married off forcibly.

Almost every day some honour killing (killing of couples for daring to marry against family’s wishes) incident or the other is reported in the newspapers.

Reports of young couples committing suicide over parental disapproval of their relationships also keep hitting us at a steady rate.

Couple in Love Commits Suicide

Runaway Couple in Suicide Pact

Couple Commit Suicide by Jumping Before Train in UP

Tell me, how many incidences of parents committing suicide over children’s marriages have you heard of?

I can tell you – zero. That’s because they don’t happen. Emotionally blackmailing children out of marrying someone they love is quite an unfortunate action on the part of a parent. And it’s one that can well become a serious jolt to mutual trust between parents and children.

Be sure it’s not a real threat. Again, stay calm and do not react. Simply say very politely, “I’m sure you’re saying that just out of momentary anger. I’m sure you want me to be happy, and you’ll not do any such thing which will make me deeply unhappy.”

Have you ever tried to discuss moving out of home with your parents?

Have you helped a friend through this challenging process?

Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Rain-soaked Rumblings of a Raving Romantic

She’s finally here.

With due pomp and circumstance, due anticipation and due carelessness, expected charm and unexpected addictiveness she’s here.

For those of you who’re too bored with my predictable tri-chotomies, it’s our intensely seductive, oh-so-anticipated new neighbour – the rainy season – I’m talking about.

The first evening that the rains really – I mean really really – hit us here in our part of Mumbai, I was in no position to pay any attention to it. Shubho was down with very high fever. I had already spent the entire evening going to the local doctor, buying medicines, sponging him, feeding him and getting worked up in general … till I realized it had silently started. In hindsight, I guess it was silenced by the fever-heavy cacophony inside my head.

Do you see where this is going? Me neither. Anyway, let’s go on till too much thinking gets in the way.

rainy seasonPhoto by Bahman Farzad

“My eyes lose themselves in the pouring abundance …

Seeking the mystical faraway …

Was it just the drizzly breeze or your eternal futile cries  

Piercing the heart of my lonely day?”

Before you have a heart-attack (or call your publisher-uncle as you catch your breath) – wait. Those are not my lines. Just an over-ambitious attempt at reproducing some timeless rainy melodies

“Monsoon.” (Replace with synonym in your mother tongue). What is it, really?

Is it just a welcome shower of relief after the (inevitably) volcanic summer?

Is it the unfortunate result of a gaping hole suddenly driven through the sky? (Don’t know about this one? Ask your two year old nephew.)

Is it just one of the innumerable divine punishments for the sins of humanity? (Ask Shubho.)

Or is it that time of the year which makes you feel alive again? Is it that pest of a pal of yours who forces your mind off the important stuff and out through the window? Is it that magic potion which acts against your natural instinct of self-preservation and doesn’t let you close the windows at night, ensuring you wake up coughing next morning?

Have you figured out The Point of this post yet? If not, good going. If yes, please don’t let it slip – I don’t want to know. ;)

rainy seasonPhoto by ►CubaGallery

Fortunately for me, that evening when the rains really really hit us was a Friday evening. And incredibly more fortunately for me, the fever (understandably) got bored by the very next day and left. This ensured Sunday morning consisted of just me and the rains. Sadly our relationship had to be limited to one-sided ogling. You see, I wasn’t sure I’d survive physical intimacy.

It was crazy, as it was serene.

It was exhilarating, as it was melancholic.

It was… OK no tri-chotomizing. Let’s just say it made me realize I belong in the fourth group – the “rains make me feel alive again” one. As if you hadn’t figured that out already. :P

I don’t know about you, but I’m all excited. Yes, in spite of the time and money spent on my daily commute having doubled. I’m fascinated by the mythological tales surrounding the Mumbai monsoon. And I’m all geared up for soaking it all up for real this time.

So here’s a big Welcome to the pesky droplets, to the addictive grey skies, to the erratic soaking blasts, to the shivers, to the pensive moods…

Oh yes. Also to the puddles in the street, to the muck, to the un-usability of public transport, to the cough and cold, and to the utter chaos all around.

Happy monsoon penguins pigeons! J

Why I Can’t Support “Blind” Marriages

Compatibility is one of those elusive, unmeasurable, undefined secret ingredients of successful marriages.

Can we determine the level of compatibility between two people with 100% certainty?


But through spending sufficient time with each other over a long enough period of time and through asking the right questions we can form an idea. That’s the best we can do to help ourselves take the biggest decision of our lives. Those of you who’ve been following this site for a while are familiar with these thoughts already. :)

But we want shortcuts. We want quick fix solutions. Unfortunately, such solutions rarely work in the long run.

I recently had a very interesting conversation about how we should go about gauging compatibility before marriage and whether there are any quick fix solutions to it. Here are some excerpts. Do let me know what you think. :)

arranged marriagePhoto by The People Speak!

Someone: What should I do to determine compatibility through a few meetings in case of arranged marriages?

Me: In my opinion, even in case of arranged marriages there’s no easy replacement for a real courtship of at least two year – not after fixing the marriage date, like they do in case of modern Indian arranged marriages – but before you decide to get married to each other.
“But what happens if after investing two long years we decide not to get married?” You might ask.
When I say date each other for two years, I don’t mean date each other exclusively. You’re not in a relationship or anything, you’ve met through matchmaking. So you don’t have the responsibilities that come with a commitment. Feel free to date more than one people at the same time, but disclose it to all the people involved

Someone: In the Indian societal set-up this arrangement is not going to be even acceptable- leave alone successful- beyond the tiniest fraction of arranged marriages taking place in the few metro cities.

Dating more than one person at a time?

Guys might just about escape any stigma or adverse remarks, but what about the girl? In a country where you need the flimsiest of excuses to set tongues wagging about “loose character”, dating multiple guys openly is the equivalent of showing a red cloth to the bull. Even if the girl cares two pence, her parents are unlikely to be unaffected by the constant insinuations.
My perspective is that of a guy hailing from a conservative family in a tier-2 city. I have been witness to innumerable instances of such “whispers” and comments being passed and I dare say that most folks outside metros (where I have been living for the last 2.5 years or so) harbor the same mindset- or worse.

Me: When I say date, I mean interact over a period of time after meeting through an arranged marriage channel (“getting to know each other” over months, sometimes more than a year, as is already common in case of modern arranged marriages). Most people do meet and interact with more than one “prospect” over the same period of time – otherwise how would you choose a partner in the limited timeframe of an arranged marriage preamble?

What I’m suggesting here is you do that for at least two years BEFORE, not AFTER you decide to get married. If you’ve already decided to get married, spending time with each other isn’t aiding your decision, which is the whole point of dating in the first place. :-)

A lot of people in India cannot afford 10 years of school education for their children. While this is unfortunate, this doesn’t take away anything from the importance of education for children.

Similarly, some conservative aspects of the Indian culture might make it impossible for you to interact with a “prospect” for a sufficiently long period of time before making a decision. That’s unfortunate. That doesn’t take away anything from the importance of these interactions in gauging compatibility between the two people. :)  Like I said, the thumbrule is – you should interact for at least 2 years before you can understand a person at least to some extent, which is essential to taking a decision as important as marriage.

If that’s not possible, well you’d be taking a higher risk with your marriage decision. :-) There is no shortcut to knowing a person. The criteria that are usually checked at the time of an arranged marriage like family backgrounds, education, financial status etc. are at best hygiene factors – they ensure a basic match between the tangible aspects of the two people’s lives. They don’t say ANYTHING about compatibility – a match between the type of people they are.

What if one of you is an honest, straight forward person while the other is manipulative?

What if one of you is a diehard conservative, while the other is a free-spirited liberal? (inside their heart. I understand on the surface everyone is expected to act conservative in the kind of scenario you’ve described. :D)

I’m sure you understand that such basic differences in nature, values and beliefs of the two people is sure to lead to an unhappy marriage (I wouldn’t say a failed marriage because Indians don’t divorce. :D)

arranged marriagePhoto by Neelan – God’s self portrait

The only way to even begin to gauge such aspects of a person is to keep spending time with them over a sufficiently long period of time. This will NOT ensure a happy marriage (nothing can, because people can change 5 years later, fall in love with someone else etc.). But it will reduce the risk of a mistake significantly. :)

Similarly, this is not to say 100% of “blind” marriages (arranged marriages where the bride and the groom don’t even get to see each other more than a few times before marriage) are sure to be unhappy. If you’re lucky you’ll coincidentally find someone compatible to you even through the “blind” process. But it would still be that – a very lucky coincidence.  :)

Realistically speaking, while a blind marriage may not be the best option, if it’s your only option you’d have to make it work, even if your spouse doesn’t turn out to be exactly what you needed. A mental readiness for making all necessary compromises, a willingness to treat the other person with respect no matter how much you like or dislike them and continuing to set clear boundaries and rules of the relationship as you discover each other are essential to making it a stable, peaceful union.

Interracial Marriage: 7 Tips for “Two States” Couples

Disclaimers first: For want of a better term I’ve used the phrase “interracial marriage” to mean marriage between people from different Indian states. Whether they can be technically called different “races” is, of course, debatable.

Young people today are much more mobile than they were a generation ago. Interracial marriages are hence becoming increasingly common in India.

An interracial marriage is a marriage across cultural barriers. If you are in an interracial relationship, you know that it has its own set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you deal with them.  

Interracial marriage – Rule #1. Know your differences

India is NOT a homogenous country. Each state has its distinct and novel culture (which gives our country its uniquely rich heritage). If you come from different states, recognize that there are cultural differences between the two of you. Don’t go down the blissfully ignorant “people are people” path – pretending you’re just two individuals with no cultural baggage. That approach is likely to lead to nasty surprises as you discover predictable differences which you assumed didn’t exist.

Ask questions. Make it a point to have fun chats about each other’s food, festivals, social norms etc. from time to time. This will help you appreciate your differences in a relaxed non-threatening environment (instead of having them thrust down your throat by an in-law post-marriage, for example). Being open and inclusive is about respecting differences among people, not about wishing them away.

interracial marriagePhoto by alisa carolina

Interracial marriage – Rule #2. Know their family

Attend family holidays/functions with your significant other’s family and encourage them to do the same with you. A holiday is a great occasion to get to know a culture, a family, their values, habits, beliefs etc. It’s also a great opportunity to help them look past the cultural barrier and start seeing you as part of the family already. Getting to know each other’s families sufficiently well before marriage is key to familial harmony, especially in case of an interracial marriage.

Interracial marriage – Rule #3. Boundaries

What is your strategy of handling cultural conflicts as and when they arise?

If one of you is a vegetarian and the other is not, how are you going to plan your meals?

What would each of you do when you want to watch movies in your language?

How are you going to celebrate major religious festivals – your way or their?

Most couples in interracial marriages struggle with such situations because either of them tries to “adjust” to the other’s culture, suppressing their own beliefs and preferences. That approach is likely to create dissatisfaction, leading to communication gap and loss of intimacy in the long run.

Instead anticipate the predictable conflicts before marriage and define clear rules & boundaries for handling them. For example:

I’ll cook my non-veg food separately and share the rest of the food items with you.

Each of us will have half-a-day per weekend to ourselves when we can engage in activities and people specifically related to our culture, without having to include the other person.

In alternate years we’ll celebrate Diwali with my folks and your folks.

You get the idea.

Interracial marriage – Rule #4. Children

Which values and beliefs are you going to hand down to your children? Will they learn both your languages? How will you make sure they absorb the best of both the cultures of their parents? If your cultures are widely divergent it’s essential you agree on at least some broad principles regarding children. For example:

“They’ll spend one vacation per year with each set of grandparents.”

“We’ll raise them vegetarians/non-vegetarians.”


Interracial marriage – Rule #5. Independence

Not all of us have the same level of involvement with our respective cultures. Some of us have a more global/more pan-Indian outlook, whereas others are more of a product of their home culture. Needless to say, interracial marriages work only for people who’re individualistic and highly independent of their families. If part of your core identity is made up of your home culture, your inter-cultural relationship is unlikely to work in the long run.

interracial marriagePhoto by kbhatia1967

Interracial marriage – Rule #6. Culture vulture?

Each culture is extraordinary in its own ways. No culture can be “superior” or “inferior” to any other. However all over the world the cultures of the majority, the powerful and the rich usually become the “dominant cultures” – cultures everyone else wants to emulate.  If one partner in your relationship is from a dominant culture, you need to make sure none of you are in this relationship because you want to “become part of” the dominant culture (while it sounds bizarre, such unions are very common all over the world).

This tendency may not always be deliberate. But watch out for obvious signs such as the partner from the “dominant culture” being treated as a trophy, the other partner making all attempts to “blend in” with the “dominant culture” instead of showing equal respect to both cultures etc.

Interracial marriage – Rule #7. Strength of your relationship

You’re not prey to the “Love conquers all” myth, are you? As I’ve harped many times, a successful marriage is NOT about love and luck but about sharing and compatibility. If you choose to get married your cultural differences will affect your relationship in ways you cannot anticipate today.

Do you have enough common grounds to stand on?

Have you spent enough time (I mean years, not months :D) together and are completely sure he/she is The One for you?

Take time to decide whether your worldviews, basic values and beliefs are sufficiently aligned, and whether your relationship is strong enough to beat the odds.

Are you in an interracial marriage or relationship? Is it more or less challenging than you’d expected? Let us know by leaving a comment. 

Q&A. His “Rakhi” Sister Keeps Getting Physically Close to Him.

Q. My boyfriend has this “Rakhi” sister who, in my opinion, is an extremely unpleasant girl (in the vernacular, a pure b***h). She is nice to me on my face but bitches about me to my boyfriend. I feel like I just can’t stand her anymore. She also tries to get physically close to him all the time. I have talked to him about my problem but I don’t think he gets it. I have come to a point where I just can’t deal with her any more and I also know that my boyfriend won’t give her up for me. I also don’t want to keep irritating him with this matter time and again. Should I break up with him?

-Sheetal, Mumbai

A. One of the basic rules of life is:

You cannot change other people.

You can only change your own response to them.

If our partners’ actions hurt us, the first thing we should do is to let them know in a calm & mature way. This is meant to give them an opportunity to change their ways if they want. If they continue to behave in ways which hurt us, we have two options:

  1. Break up with them if that particular aspect is central to our needs from the relationship.
  2. Adjust our expectations from our partners and take actions accordingly.

Rakhi sister jealousyPhoto by oline221296

“Mutual need fulfilment” is one of the three main elements of a successful relationship. Assure yourself that if your basic needs are not getting fulfilled in a particular relationship, breaking up is not only acceptable, but the most natural and healthiest solution for both of you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why am I in this relationship? What do I want from my partner? (Intimacy, emotional support, sharing, pride, stability, peace? … There can be practical reasons too.)
  2. Is this development preventing my partner from giving what I want from him? (Is this hurting my pride so much that I’m unable to function? Is this creating emotional distance between me and him? Has this broken my trust irreparably? … )

Irrespective of whether you feel like you can’t go on anymore, or you continue, I’m sure you’ll at least give your relationship another chance before giving up. The rest of this post is about what your best attempt at making this work should look like.

You can’t stand this girl but she’s important to your boyfriend. You have already discussed this with your boyfriend but he’s unwilling to do anything about it. Your immediate next step is to stop requesting him to change his attitude towards her. Like I said, you can’t change his priorities. Trying will only make you feel out-of-control.

Being around this girl causes you immense nervous stress, right? So consider her non-existent in your life. Stop interacting with her. Stop talking about her. And stop thinking about her. Just let her go.

For you, she doesn’t exist.

Let your boyfriend know that you’re unwilling to interact with this girl any longer. Be calm & mature but firm while stating this. Do not use strong language like “because I don’t like her”… Or “because she’s xyz…” That is likely to lead to another fruitless argument. Instead you can mention something like, “as you know, we don’t really gel well…” or something mild and reasonable like that.

Unless he wants to break up with you he has no option but to accept this decision of yours. He’s made it clear that you can’t control who he makes friends with. But no one in the world can deny the simple fact that you can control who you make friends with. Hence you have a right to stop interacting with this girl, even though you cannot force him to do the same.

If he ever mentions her in conversations detach yourself emotionally for that moment and give vague, non-committal replies like, “OK”, “I see…”, “Oh right..”. Overcome your curious urges to know what she tells your boyfriend about you. You don’t need to know that. ’Cause you don’t care. Believe me, you really don’t.

Rakhi sister jealousyPhoto by jaroslavd

Do not demand that he stops discussing her with you. Because – again – we can’t control what others do. You can’t control what he says to you, but you can control how you react. If he’s worth his salt, he’d get the cue and after a point stop bringing her up in conversations with you.

If you can do this right you’d have scored a major achievement in your relationship. You’d have established a simple but crucial term of the relationship – that it’s between equals, with none more important that the other.

Sure, you can’t expect him to stop being so close with this girl just for your sake. But in that case he can’t expect you to do something that you don’t like just for his sake either – accepting this girl as a part of your life, for example. :D

In the meantime, focus on yourself. Focus on your career, dive headfirst into that long-forgotten hobby, reconnect with old friends, make new ones… Do everything you have to do to find happiness and balance within yourself. It’s the key to enjoying a healthy relationship. Always remember:

Your partner is a very important part of your life, not your life itself.

This is not to say you shouldn’t be affected by any action of your partner’s. We all are, and it’s most natural to be. But you cannot let his actions determine your self-worth or sense of wellbeing.

All the best Sheetal. :)

Penguins – what would you have done if you were her?

Let me know by leaving a comment. :)

How to Break Up: 7 Rules You Can’t Ignore

Everyday millions of people fall in love with each other all around the world. Some of them stay together forever. Most of them break up after weeks/months/years, and move on to better relationships. Breaking up is one of the hardest experiences of life – not only for the dumped but also for the dumper. Among those of you facing a relationship crisis, many must be wondering, “How to break up with my boyfriend/girlfriend, knowing I’d hurt them?”

There is, of course, no painless way of breaking up with someone. There are, however ways of doing it which are healthier and more responsible than others. Let’s take a look at some of the basics you need to keep in mind if you’ve decided to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

How to break up – Rule #1. Where to do it

You’d have read everywhere that it’s best to break up in person, at their residence. Their own private space gives them the maximum privacy to deal with their feelings (which are likely to be intense) at the moment they hear it from you. But in India most single people live either with their parents or with roommates. Breaking up in person at their residence may not always be possible. In such a case do it over an email, not a call. A call is a dialogue. It might turn into an emotional frenzy. Besides you can take your own time to craft an email, providing as much explanation as you want and choosing the most appropriate words. Also, when the other person reads it, they can take the time they need to come to terms with their feelings before contacting you (if they choose to). It saves them the pain of having to hide their emotions because they’re not alone.

How to break upPhoto by Daniel Gizo

How to break up – Rule #2. What to say

If you’re wondering how to break up, remember this golden rule: Do not blame and do not apologize. It is neither their fault, nor yours.

At least not any more.

Both blaming and apologizing are likely to turn up the emotional temperature and lead to another meaningless fight. Instead make the break up conversation calm & mature. Say something like, “We’re different from each other,” or “Our ideas about life/relationship/future goals are different.” Emphasize that the two of you are incompatible with each other, rather than one of you not being “good enough” for the other.  

How to break up – Rule #3. Handling reactions

If you’re breaking up in person (or if and when they meet you next after receiving your email) they might react in an intense manner. They might start yelling, screaming or crying. Pacify them by politely urging them to calm down, again and again. There’s no consolation that you can offer them. So channel the discussion into some other topic (“Btw, I wanted to tell you … <some news about common interests/job/common friends…>”) and insist on continuing the discussion in the new direction.  They might say things like, “Nothing but your love can give me peace now,” or “Tell me you love me.” Always say, “We’ll talk about that later.” Do not cow down and tell them that you still love them, even if it is only to pacify them. Do not offer to remain friends. And do not give them any gifts (they’d act as constant reminders of their pain).

How to break up – Rule #4. No need to change

When you tell them you’re incompatible, they’d most likely offer to “change themselves” to suit you better. Tell them with conviction that they’re extraordinary the way they are and that they’d be doing themselves a disservice if they try to change themselves for anyone else. Also mention that changing oneself for someone else is an extremely unhealthy way to approach life, and is sure to do more harm than good in the long run.

Your objective here is to minimize the damage to their self-esteem.

How to break upPhoto by Lou Noble

How to break up – Rule #5. Avoid clichés

Another golden rule if you have doubts regarding how to break up: Do not try to make it sound like you’re breaking up because you have their best interests at heart. You don’t. You knew you’d have to hurt them. Yet you chose to break up because you care about yourself more than you care about them. We all do. It’s natural. It’s healthy. And they know that. Don’t use clichés like “You deserve someone better,” or “I want nothing but the best for you.”

How to break up – Rule #6. Tell the truth

If you’re not sure how to break up, muster the courage and say, “I know I’m acting selfish. But I’m sure one day you’ll realize that it’s best this way.” Like I said, no one breaks up primarily because they want the other person to be happy. We break up because we want ourselves to be happy. You’ll both feel better if you’re frank about that bit. Besides, you cannot do them a greater favour at this point than giving them a reason to hate you. But don’t overdo it. :D

How to break up – Rule #7. No contact

If they call you after the break up do not pick up. If they try too many times, pick up, tell them you understand their feelings and would write them an email. Don’t let the conversation linger – it would lead to nothing but a waste of energy.

Keeping in touch with you at this moment would make them falsely believe – even if subconsciously – that you’re somehow available when you’re not. They might unknowingly become your fall back option, which they (or anyone) don’t deserve to be. Most importantly, keeping in touch with you will keep them emotionally unavailable to other romantic possibilities around them.

If they do insist on keeping in touch, write them an email explaining this. Mention that it lies in the long-term best interests of both of you to stop seeing each other now. Tell them to stop trying to contact you because keeping in touch will be painful to them given the circumstances.

Make sure the severing of ties doesn’t come across as rude or cruel to them. You’re severing ties not because you want to hurt them more, but because you don’t.

Have you ever broken up with anyone? How did you break up? What are your lessons from the experience? Share with us in the comments. 

Q&A. Has He Married Me Just to Obtain a Green Card?

Q. I’m an Indian-born US citizen. I’m physically challenged (paraplegic), currently living in India with my mother on an OCI visa for my treatment. My dad still works in the US – we couldn’t have borne the costs of my treatment otherwise. My husband is from India but living in Canada on a work permit.

We met online and hit it off almost instantly. He started with treating me with all the love and attention I could ask for – talking to me every day, even during work. He’d sleep late to talk to me, he’d wake up early to talk to me, he’d text me during work, we’d Skype every day for 2-3 hours and even if we didn’t have anything to talk about, we’d talk or just sit there looking at each other.

I asked him about his goals, ambitions, likes and dislikes. It’s crazy how similar we seemed in every respect. It made me feel as though we’re meant for each other.

Finally after about talking to each other for about two months, he dropped the “L” bomb. At this point the feeling was mutual. We started a long distance relationship. Everything was going great.

After we’d been in a relationship for about a month, it was time for me and my mum to visit my dad in the US. During my stay there we started talking about a green card for him so he could fulfil his dreams of starting his career in the US. He was fiercely against it at first, saying “I don’t want to use you like that”.

Married for greeen cardPhoto by naturalhomecures34

After a while, he agreed and said it was okay if we got married and filed for a green card for him. After a couple more days, I spent $400.00 on a ticket to see him in Canada (my mom came with me). Everything was perfect till then. 

It was in Canada that the first signs of trouble started to appear. For instance, there was this incident of him getting furious with me quite unexpectedly when I told him I wanted to visit the hookah bar with him (a place he frequented for smoking hookah, which I thought would be fun). He was very rude. I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything. Later I forgave him as I assumed he’d reacted because he couldn’t afford it. (A couple of days after I left, he bought a hookah so that he could smoke at home with his friends).

We went back to the States. A felt he was starting to change. He stopped Skyping me as much, we would fight more, and he stopped giving me time. After a month, my mom and I made another trip to Canada to meet him. It wasn’t any better this time. His treatment of me became even more rude, unpredictable, most alarmingly – unexplainable.

He would even insult my mom or avoid her quite obviously. I thought that he might be frustrated because of work so I didn’t bother him too much.

His friends, he, my mom and I had planned a trip to Vegas to celebrate Christmas and New Year together. We got married in Vegas so I could file for his green card. Things weren’t that great in Vegas. He bought a really expensive DSLR camera. Whenever we’d pass by something cool my mom or I would tell him to come and take photos. He’d rudely tell us something like, “I don’t like all this, why do we have to take pictures?” But whenever his friends would tell him to take a picture, he wouldn’t say a word and would start to pose for them.

Later we came back to India and he went back to Canada. Recently I asked him to take photos of himself for his birthday and share. Bizarrely, he became furious and seemed incapable of appreciating my desire to feel included.

I’ve asked him to set his profile picture on FaceBook to something with him and I in it. He doesn’t want to do that. Neither does he want to change his WhatsApp picture to something with both of us together. 

When he came on Christmas, I gifted him a beautiful watch from Skagen. It was a silver netted band with a black dial. Not too big, not too small. He didn’t appreciate it and started saying that I should have consulted him before buying. My dad was there and he was really upset. He didn’t even thank me verbally. His friends gifted him a cheap watch from WalMart with a big dial and he loved it! I felt so hurt.

Long story short, I feel I’ve dropped completely out of his priority list. He doesn’t call/Skype/communicate much (in spite of ours being a long distance relationship), doesn’t appreciate me for who I am (doesn’t encourage me on my efforts to improve my physical condition, forced me to get myself a makeover) and doesn’t even appreciate my efforts to make it work in spite of all this.

I haven’t been happy these days, all I’ve been doing is feeling lonely and crying a lot because I feel I ruined my life. He doesn’t please me sexually either. He finishes before I do and doesn’t have the courtesy to help me finish.

He expects everything to be done his way and is really arrogant, insensitive and stubborn. He curses, fights, and screams like a baby! I don’t know if I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life.

Is he acting this way just for his green card? Should I divorce him? He’s coming to US in July and I’m also going there. What should I do?


A. A few red flags according to me:

#1. You’ve married too early      and without knowing each other closely enough. I understand you married      early to give him the advantage of the green card. But in general it’s not      a good idea to be married at a time when your relationship is going to      remain long distance for an indefinite period.

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1) 
Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2).
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1
“When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 2 

Married for greeen cardPhoto by Kitty Allison

#2. You’ve said he’d sometimes      insult your mother or not talk to her. I think you’re making a mistake by      involving your mother too much in your relationship. (That’s what it seems      from the limited amount of information that I have. Pardon me if I’m      mistaken.) For example, your mother accompanied you to Canada when you      went to meet him. Your mother was present throughout your honeymoon in Las      Vegas even after your wedding. This is definitely not acceptable from any      spouse’s point of view. I understand that she needs to take care of you      because of your condition. Hence ask your husband openly whether your      mother’s presence is disturbing to him. If you want honest answers, don’t      make this sound like a threat. In your situation, ideally your spouse should be either willing (and able) to take care of you all by themselves, or at peace with the constant presence of your mother. He can’t eat the cake and have it too. Encourage him to choose one of the two options.

My reading of the situation: 

Your guy is taking you for granted. And you’re blind in love, even if you don’t want to admit it. Otherwise he wouldn’t have tried to change you completely and you wouldn’t have obliged by making over your wardrobe etc.

This may or may not mean that he doesn’t love you. It might just be that he really wasn’t mentally ready for marriage but did it early because of the green card and now feels trapped. It may be that he feels that he can trust you and hence feels it’s OK to treat you the way he wants (which is not a valid assumption). 

You can choose to give this relationship another chance, or you can end it. All I can tell you is that it’s not certain that he doesn’t care for you. Not yet. 

If you choose to try again, the first step is to talk. Have an open but mature & non-threatening discussion about your needs. Tell him openly which of his behaviours hurt you. Ask him directly if there’s anything he needs from the relationship that he’s not getting. Emphasize that you’re willing to work for keeping the two of you together. 

At a marriage stage as early as yours, communication is a huge challenge. The experience of my own marriage tells me this. You’re interpreting his actions in certain ways, which may be entirely off target. The same might be happening in his head. The fact that you’re based in different continents doesn’t help matters either. In this situation, instead of drawing conclusions about intentions from each other’s behaviours, open up and ask. 

In this regard, the importance of remaining calm cannot be stressed enough. This will become another meaningless, exhausting fight unless you promise yourself never to lose temper even if he does. If he gets defensive your responsibility is to re-clarify the objective of the discussion, emphasizing the fact that this is not a blame game. 

No one is perfect. All couples achieve peace and happiness through finding middle grounds and you can do the same. If you can resolve your misunderstandings – all my prayers for your undying love! :) If you can’t, you’d at least know you did everything you could before giving up. And make no mistake – giving up is an option (if you don’t get satisfactory responses from him within a reasonable period of time, for example), and it’s as good an option as staying back. Do not go down the lane of self-loathing thinking breaking up is a morally wrong or selfish choice. Remember: 

Life is too short to chase anything but happiness.

We remain in relationships as long as they give us peace, happiness and overall fulfilment, and not when they start having a generally negative effect on our lives.

All the best. :)