Q&A: My Live-in Boyfriend Goes Out with Another Girl (Part 1)

I’m 18 year old, American, female, living together with my boyfriend of 3 years. He’s 20. Let’s call him Jake. His dad had problems with alcohol abuse when he was a child. As a result he’s promised himself never to drink in his life and expects the same from me. I’m not a great fan of alcohol either and had no problem giving him my word on this. However one evening about a month back I got drunk with a couple of friends. He was mad and broke up with me.

Now Jake is an extremely responsible, smart, good guy and I’m completely dependent on him for all my practical needs. Like a place to live, for example. I had a job earlier which I left for further education. I’ve now completed my degree and I’m looking for a new job. Ironically, I don’t even have a car which I can drive to my interviews, apart from the one his family has lent me. Even though he’s “broken up” with me, he’s promised he’d never abandon me, so I can continue to live in his house and use his resources as long as I don’t have other options.

Q&A Live in Boyfriend CheatingPhoto by davemmett

It’s emotionally very stressful for me to continue to live with him, with his family thinking we’re together, when he’s totally stopped hugging me or showing any kind of affection. I was used to a lot of hugging and cuddling. Nowadays he just comes home and sleeps and tells me to make plans with my friends in the weekend. And there’s no sexual intimacy between us anymore. He says he can’t get intimate with me as he’s “broken up” with me.

Since that fateful evening out in the town it has been an uphill task trying to convince him that he can trust me again. He’s started getting upset about me visiting even my family and friends. He says whenever I leave the house he feels stressed and worried about what I might do when I’m out alone. He says he feels betrayed, he feels I don’t value our relationship. Apparently he keeps having dreams about me getting drunk and cheating on him. It breaks my heart when he says he can never think of me in the same way again. I haven’t been able to make him understand how I genuinely regret whatever I did and can’t imagine doing it again.

Jake has suggested I take a break, go live with my mum for a few weeks and see if we can work things out. But my mum is part of the problem. Right after my parents’ divorce she started drinking a lot, had a lot of boyfriends over to our place and wasn’t really a great parent. Let’s just stay going back there, even for a few weeks, is not an option for me. Frankly, she doesn’t want me there either.

Recently Jake has started being all friendly with a girl who he had a sexual relationship with earlier. Let’s call her Sally. Jake says she’s just a friend. But sometimes they go out together to eat at night and Jake doesn’t come back till well past midnight. That crushes me every time. I yell at him when he comes back. But the pain doesn’t go away. Even as I write this, at 12:50 AM in the night, he’s still out with Sally and isn’t replying to my messages. It’s such a horrible humiliation, but I’m stuck and don’t know what to do. I don’t even know how I should react when he comes home tonight.

I’m confused, hurt and stressed. Please help me. 


San Fransisco

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.

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. 

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. I’m a Girl in Love with My Friend, But He Won’t Reciprocate

Q.I’m a 28 year old female. I fell in love with my best friend who is 30 years old. We have been friends for nearly a year. We see each other mostly every day, we do all kind of activities together and we use to be close until I told him about my feelings when I was rejected by him. This hurt me like anything and made me very angry. I hurt him with words and I was really hurt myself for being rejected because he is truly really important to me.

I have thought about how I feel towards him and I feel I really am in love with him. Now we are acting very cool with each other but he is angry with me because of the way I reacted when I got rejected by him.

I’m lost and confused and do not know what to do. Do you think dating someone at this stage might help?

Please help.

-Neha, Delhi.

in love with friendPhoto by silje/vanilje

A.Your feelings are perfectly understandable Neha. Friends, especially the ones who become close, form a very important part of our lives. Friendship is a relationship which lets you see each other exactly as you are, without pretences. And that’s what’s amazing about this particular type of bond between two people which is different from romantic relationships, family ties and everything else. 

That’s why it’s very common for people to fall in love with long-term friends. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, what’s a relationship but a combination of friendship, empathy and mutual need fulfilment?

But of course how your friend feels about you is not under your control. 

The first thing here is, Neha – confessing your feelings to him all of a sudden was probably not a good idea. May be he was surprised and shocked. May be to him your feelings signified the end of your precious friendship, given the fact that he doesn’t share them.

To those who feel like they’re in love with their friend, I always suggest they spend time dropping hints and observing their friend’s reactions before confessing anything. This way, you can easily make out how likely your friend is to reciprocate your feelings. If they respond with romantic signals, you know they share your feelings and you can go ahead and tell them you love them. On the other hand, if they seem uncomfortable with your hints, or they seem to not notice them, or they start growing cold to you or avoiding you in reaction to your signals, you know you’re not in luck. In that case you can forget about them as a romantic possibility and continue your friendship as it was. The advantage of avoiding a direct confession is that in case the feelings are not mutual, you can continue life as usual without the pain and embarrassment of confessing, apologizing, making up etc.

But anyway, that’s all in the past now. 

Your course of action now is to take a break from him for a while. I’m not suggesting you sever ties. But given your feelings, it’s imperative you stay away from him for a while now to give your friendship another chance. In the current situation, if you continue hanging out with him, you’ll never be able to give up hope that he might turn to you. Life will become a never-ending cycle of joyous hope and depressing disappointment for you. This will be an extremely draining experience which will add nothing but negative value to your life. At the same time it will keep you available to him forever as a fall back option – something you don’t deserve to be. And most importantly, it will keep you emotionally unavailable for investing in other romantic possibilities around you. 

in love with friendPhoto by Jahnico

I suggest you take some time out so that you can understand your own feelings better. May be a second look at yourself will reveal your feelings have resulted only from an infatuation born out of spending too much time together? If not, you can at least use this time to shift your focus to yourself, and conquer your romantic feelings towards him. Wait till you’re completely over him before contacting him again. 

The immediate next step for you now is to drop him an email genuinely apologizing for your angry outburst. Do not mention anything about continuing to be friends OR cutting off ties in the email. This email is meant only for offering your heartfelt apology for an unwarranted reaction. 

As I mentioned, the email should be the last and only communication between you for some time to come. You’d of course not contact him thereafter. If he contacts for a second time after replying to the email, tell him politely but firmly that you don’t want to sacrifice your friendship by disturbing his life with your romantic feelings. Hence you want to stay away from him for a while, and that you’d contact him whenever you’re over him. Emphasize that you don’t want to destroy your friendship for any reason, and end with saying that you hope he’d be OK to be friends with you once again when you’re ready. 

Let me know how things go. 

All the best. :)

How to Forget Someone You Love: 7 Rules

Young people dealing with a recent break up often ask me, “How to forget someone I love?”

Breaking up with someone you truly loved will remain one of your most significant life experiences. The process of forgetting someone you loved can break you. Or it can transform you into a stronger, more balanced and more mature version of yourself, with a much higher potential for choosing and creating deeply fulfilling relationships in the future. Here are 7 basic principles you should keep in mind as you strive to forget someone you loved.

How to forget someone – Rule #1. Don’t stay in touch

There are many ways of forgetting someone you love. The one way which will ensure you can’t forget them ever is continuing to “stay in touch” with them. It’s dangerous because human emotions are irrational, and staying friends with someone we have romantic interest in makes us falsely believe – usually in spite of ourselves – that they’re somehow somewhere available when they’re not. It makes us always available to them as a fall back option. (Be honest – if your ex wants you back you’d only be too happy, right?) And most importantly, the cycles of getting your hopes high and disappointment sap all your emotional energy and don’t give you anything to show for it.   

How to forget someone you lovePhoto by Staydazzled

How to forget someone – Rule #2. Don’t force-hate them

Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to hate someone you want to forget. Hating someone puts them at the centre of your life, and doesn’t let you forget them. The key is to shift your focus away from them instead. Lies you don’t need to tell yourself if you don’t believe them already include:

“I never loved them.”

“They’re evil.”

“I was too good for them.”

Instead tell yourself, “Everything has its time. I’m happy for the good times I had with a certain individual. The time for that person in my life has now passed and it’s time to look forward.”  

How to forget someone – Rule #3. Focus on yourself

The best way to shift your focus from something/somebody you want to forget is to channel it into something you can love with equal passion. Focus on that most neglected but most important guy/girl – yourself. Now is a great time to take a fresh look at your life. Concentrate on the gifts of singlehood.

Re-evaluate your life goals. Is there something you can do differently?

Jump headfirst into that hobby you’ve always wanted to pursue.

Take that short trip you’ve never had time for.

This is a great time to learn to find happiness within yourself – something that can see you through all future emotional challenges.

How to forget someone – Rule #4. Don’t try revenge  

Holding on to your dignity at all costs is liberating. Keep those vengeful urges at bay. If you try to take revenge at this moment of emotional upheaval, you’d likely do things you’d regret immensely once you’ve gained your senses back. More importantly, it would tell your ex how important they still are to you – not the kind of ego boost you need to give them.

How to forget someone you lovePhoto by F.M.N

How to forget someone – Rule #5. Open up  

It’s OK to feel shock, pain, anger etc. after a break up. Bottling up all of that can be detrimental to your emotional health. Open up to friends and family. If you don’t want to share this with anyone post your story anonymously in online forums and gather warmth from other members (these communities are usually very supportive). You can even start keeping a journal or a private blog.

How to forget someone – Rule #6. Don’t trust indiscriminately   

After a deeply debilitating experience like a break-up, you’d remain in deep shock and pain for a while. You might have tendencies to talk to anyone who’d listen. But this is dangerous, ’cause you’re at your most vulnerable at this point and might unwittingly reveal more than you should to not-so-trustworthy people around you. Make sure you connect only with people who you’re 100% sure of, like family or long-term friends.  

How to forget someone – Rule #7. Don’t try rebound   

Don’t jump into rebound. You’re emotionally unstable at the moment. If you get into a rebound relationship out of your desperation, the chances of making mistakes are very high. It would also be rather unjust to the person you involve, as you’d be using them as a replacement for someone else. No one deserves that. And most importantly, this would cement your belief that you can’t function without having “someone in your life”. You’d have deprived yourself of an opportunity to find stability and fulfilment within yourself. That’s something which is essential before you can even begin to assess your needs from a future relationship.

As I mentioned, how you forget someone you love will always remain one of your defining experiences. Make sure the process of forgetting someone enriches you, rather than destroying you.  

9 Rules to Deal with a Cheating Boyfriend

Over the months many of you have read our very popular post 14 signs your boyfriend is cheating on you and asked me, “So what? What should I do if I find that he is, indeed, cheating?” Hence today’s post. Discovering with a cheating boyfriend is going to be one of your most challenging emotional experiences. Here are some tips to help you through it.  

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #1. Double check

Based on what evidence have you concluded that your boyfriend is cheating? If it’s just your suspicions, don’t make a conclusion yet. Try to verify the facts. Look for hard evidence. Believe the unthinkable only if you’re absolutely sure.

Cheating boyfriendPhoto by diablo_x_238

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #2. Give yourself time

Once you’ve assured yourself that your boyfriend is indeed cheating, do not confront him immediately. You’re feeling shock, pain and humiliation. Your first reaction will be denial and delirious anger, arising out of a feeling of being wronged. Give yourself some time to deal with these feelings, before you confront your boyfriend. Take a few days off from him. Don’t see him, don’t answer his calls. You can text him saying you’re unwell or busy.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #3. Let yourself feel

Use this period to process your emotions –the hurt, the anger, the humiliation. If you have a trusted friend or supportive family you can confide in them.  If not, start keeping a journal or a private blog – where you pour out your emotions and come to terms with them.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #4. Do not react

When you’re back in control, confront your cheating boyfriend. Do not dramatize. Do not get into a mad frenzy of yelling and crying and blaming – ceding control hurts you and you only.  Let him know of what you’ve found out in a calm, mature way. Let him respond. You cannot know his true feelings unless you create a non-threatening, safe environment.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #5. Let him explain

When you give him a chance to express himself freely, he’d most likely put his sincere apologies on the table. Subsequently he can either express his desire to continue with you calling off the other relationship (this is what most people do), or confess his feelings for the other lady and choose to break up with you.  

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #6. Assess the relationship

If he wishes to break up, well, I’m sorry. You need to be strong and deal with your break up in a healthy way. But if he wants to continue, you must have a discussion about the needs of both of you from the relationship. While cheating can never be justified, it can be a manifestation of some of his needs going unfulfilled. You should at least know about such needs, if any.

Cheating boyfriendPhoto by Miguel Co

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #7. Avoid self-loathing  

While an incidence of cheating may not be entirely the cheating partner’s fault, you must make sure you avoid the other extreme – drowning in self-loathing for not being “good enough”. Irrespective of what your cheating boyfriend says about his unfulfilled needs, consciously stop yourself from going down the “I’m not good enough” lane. You are extraordinary the way you are. Fulfilling or not fulfilling his needs does not, in any way, increase or decrease your worth as a human being. Whether you want to do something to fulfil more of his needs is simply a call you need to take, not a standard you have to live up to.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #8. Take a break

Once you’ve discussed your needs, if you still decide to stay together, you need to take some time off from each other. Do not jump back into your relationship on the basis of verbal apologies and promises. In that case there’s a chance that you’d go through the same nerve-wracking cycles of being cheated on and then making up. Make it clear that the only way you’d stay with him is if he’s OK with taking a break for at least a few weeks or so.

Handling a cheating boyfriend – Rule #9. Invest in yourself  

You can keep in touch with your boyfriend during the break but seriously, I’d not recommend anything more than a call once a week or so. Use the break to enrich yourself instead. Do a hard assessment of your life and set goals for your future. If you’re already pursuing some life goals, take a fresh look at where you stand in relation to them. Find new ways of doing the things you were doing to inch towards your goals. Pick up long-forgotten hobbies if you want. Reconnect with old friends. In short, shake up your life a bit. Take some time to live actively, not passively. The objective of this break is not to force yourself to fall out of love with your cheating boyfriend, but to create happiness and balance within yourself. This is meant to give greater stability to your life by reducing your emotional dependence on your boyfriend (or anyone else).

Have you ever had to deal with a cheating boyfriend? Did you break up or stay together? What was your coping strategy? Share with us in the comments section.