Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is let someone love you.N.R. Hart, Peotry and Pearls
This week we saw hilarious threads of what gives people the ‘ick’ and makes people run from the restaurant table. It has got me thinking though, do we have the ‘ick’ or are we scared of commitment? Surely, if you like someone, the fact that they take mirror selfies isn’t that off-putting? (….okay I’ll just speak for myself).
Personally, it took me a while to admit it to myself that I have commitment issues because I didn’t know what it meant. Commitment issues can manifest and translate in many different ways. For some who have this issue, they might engage in one-night stands or avoid getting married. Others may agree to a long-term relationship at first and then begin to slowly withdraw from the relationship days later.
More specifically, I wanted to explore what makes us, immigrant daughters, fear intimacy?
Firstly, our fear may come from not knowing what to expect in the talking stage/in a romantic relationship. As immigrant daughters, we are discouraged from even looking at the opposite sex until our GCSEs, A-levels, degree, masters and PHD are well and truly behind us. In our ‘but you told us to face our books’ event we spoke about the expectation to find your soulmate after graduating alongside not getting to know people whilst being in education(is he meant to drop from the sky?). Practically, this makes it difficult to meet people and find a compatible partner. On an emotional level, the lack of dating experience further alienates us from the dating world and it makes the whole thing very abstract.
Many daughters, myself included, have been in girl’s schools until their late teens. I went to an all-girls secondary and sixth form so the only time I shared a classroom with men was when I went to university at 19. I’m also from an all-women household so being in a mixed-gender environment was a huge shock to the system. It also meant that if a guy was to even look at me for 0.33 seconds it meant he was going to be my husband. This sexualisation and unfamiliarity with the opposite gender translated in my mind as a result of the lack of exposure to men in my personal life and most of my education. In essence, I could only see men as a way to make babies or as a lover. It doesn’t help with understanding men if the only time we see them is in Bollywood or, in my case, Kdramas.
Secondly, in immigrant families and amongst parents there is a lack of affection in words or actions. This may translate into commitment issues as demonstrating emotional vulnerability is uncommon in our homes. Also, a rising number of immigrant daughters are from single-parent or divorced households. Hence, many of us don’t know what a romantic healthy relationship looks like. Culturally it can be quite difficult to have raw and mature conversations regarding love, sex and relationships with immigrant parents.
Lastly, fear of finding the one and then them not being good enough, or the same caste or pale enough for our parents also hinders progress in finding a partner. Horror stories of women finding the love of their life only for their family to say that actually they won’t be getting married, ring in our ear as immigrant daughters. Honestly, it’s enough to put anyone off trying to even get to know people and it’s a whole conversation in and of itself.
So, if your struggling to love or be loved, just remember that it’s going to be hard but you deserve to be loved.
Hope you enjoyed reading,