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Recently, my editor asked if I would review “Find the Love of your Life (For South Asian American Women)” and I wondered what could I possibly learn about finding love – there’s definitely no formula.
I thought I was just like any other 20-something-year-old these days, with little interest in long-term dating, making my way through a slew of insignificant flings to pass the time. But only after reading such a book did it occur to me that as a South Asian American woman from a fairly traditional Indian family, my views on love and marriage are heavily influenced by my upbringing.
I can’t comprehend seriously dating someone who I don’t potentially see myself walking down the aisle with, or I should say, circling around the fire seven times with. If I were to express this to many of my girlfriends, they would say that I’m getting ahead of myself.
Marriage is not always the end goal of dating. And how will you know if you want to consider marrying the person if you don’t even date them exclusively or seriously? Maybe I will know from the very beginning, because I expect my potential mate to fit this invisible list that resides some place in my head. The list my parents put there long ago, without me even knowing it. They are so tricky!
As the author Ami Santosh writes,
Are you willing to fall in love with someone who may not meet every check box in your list of criteria?”
Before reading this book, I would probably deny the existence of this checklist. I consider myself open-minded and non-judgmental, and the very idea of a checklist seems overly superficial. But Santosh is right, even though I think I choose who I date solely based on chemistry, subconsciously there’s a lot more to it.
You want everything wrapped up in a neat little package like arranged marriage seems to offer – a fully-negotiated, rules-based arrangement that promises to keep life from spinning out of control. But you want the romance, spontaneity, and adventure that dating and falling in love seems to offer,” Santosh said.
Santosh offers advise on how to rectify the unrealistic expectations of dating that I think many of South Asian American women have developed over the years. We want a full-blown butterfly and fireworks kind of romance, yet we want it with someone “safe.” Someone we know mom and dad will welcome with open arms and a plate full of rasgullas (Indian sweets).
Santosh acknowledges it is difficult for second generation South Asian Americans to break certain barriers because we don’t want to disappoint our parents, who sacrificed a lot to provide a life for us abroad. However, she insists that it is important to pick a life partner based on compatibility, rather than on cold hard facts that give little insight into a person’s core.
She says, in the end, parents will come around. The book was a very quick read and I think every Brown Girl can benefit from reading it.
Santosh also gives advice to the women who choose to go the traditional route and explore arranged marriage. Now, that I realize that I do indeed have a (subconscious) checklist, I will try my best to forget the list. I would take romance, spontaneity and adventure over a page full of arbitrary boxes checked-off any day!
And soon enough, I will let you know how that goes…
Pia Chakrabarti is a self-proclaimed food-aholic. Some of the things that may compare to her love for food include: cuteness (babies, puppies, etc.), traveling to exotic destinations, and John Stamos. Pia has lived in various corners of the world but will always be a Texas girl at heart. Currently she is in San Francisco attempting to live out her tech city dreams while eating as unhealthily as SF will allow in order to satisfy her Texas sized appetite.