It’s alright if she doesn’t go to the same coffee shop!

6 02 2010

I shocked my mother when I was 17 years old when I said I saw nothing wrong in ‘living together’ as opposed to marriage. My mother was appalled. The first remedy was to tell me that it was a bad thing that would never be tolerated by her or my family. It didn’t stop there. How could a daughter who couldn’t see anything wrong with a man and a woman living together be trusted with finding a suitable man for marriage? Thereafter, no opportunity was lost in narrating tales of cousins getting married to ‘nice boys’ and the problems faced by friends’ daughters who got married to boys who were not from the same ‘family background’. Imagine her delight when she found out that I was going out with a nice boy (‘at least no need to worry about family background’) and her despair when she found out several years later that the nice boy had been ditched because he was not suitable (‘all men are possessive and want their wife to look after them’)!

While I was going out with the unsuitable nice boy I was asked a question by my guru. How is it that you fall in love only with a man from the same ethnic group, religion, and social class as you? Many times in my life I have thought of that question. All these categories are hard to cross: sex, ethnicity, religion, social class. Friends and relatives have crossed the lines of religion and ethnicity. It was not that difficult, it seemed to me, but maybe that was because I don’t care much about either. Falling in love with a woman didn’t bring me the trauma everyone expected. But maybe that was because I already had the politics for it. It seemed to me that of all things, social class was the most taboo. Invisible walls stop you from partnering with someone from a different social class. Nobody tells you you mustn’t, but it is understood that you shouldn’t.

But what the fuck? Why should love be bound by those walls? Who cares if your family becomes standoffish with the other family? They can stay away from your place. Who cares if you don’t have memories of the same hangout places? Just go hangout somewhere else! Who cares if friends can’t find common people to gossip about? If they don’t like it they can stop coming over! Who cares if you don’t sing the same songs and have the same group of friends? You can learn each other’s songs and hang out with everyone. Who cares if you don’t think in the same language? You can tell each other your dreams, you can still hold hands, and you can still make love.
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12 responses

6 02 2010
Varad

Interesting! hmm
It reminds me of why arranged marriages work well in india..one of the reasons is that our parents try and find us someone JUST LIKE US – speak the same langauge, eat similar food at home, similar amount of wealth, similar education, etc – all very important in India, which is so diverse. There is some logic in this I have to admit. I know many who have advertised in the papers adn found mates.

But amoung us dykes – being a dyke is often enough! The rest are all surmountable!

6 02 2010
vatura

i don’t know if being a dyke is enough. but our social barriers are surely surmountable if both people are trying to make it work? which goes for all the other problems as well i guess…

8 02 2010
L G

Yeah, I also think like that. Our social barriers are surmountable if both people are trying to make it work.

When I got together with my partner, first I had these concerns about the all those social barriers between us.

we don’t speak the same language, I being South Asian and she being western European and because of this we have all these differences in food, social, etc habits , difference in religion , etc

But its so great how things are working out.

Without me asking any –
she is trying to learn sinhala, talk to me in sinhala, finding srilankan recipes on-line and cooking Srilankan dishes for me, etc..
( Its so sweet to see her trying to eat with her hands like we do 😉

I have to admit that even though I didn’t or don’t ask her to do these stuff, It makes me happy that she does this and feels like our relationship is getting deeper with stuff like this.

Sometimes I even feel like, she is trying so much to adjust to me and I am not doing much to adjust to her! (this reminds me that I should do my part too 😉

12 02 2010
Vak

I think they are surmountable but (as PP says) a lot of work. Among friends, yes, especially in the dyke community we cross most boundaries. But relationships? Show me at least a couple of relationships – gay or straight – that have crossed class boundaries and I will rest my case.

7 02 2010
Serendib_isle

Well, I’m not “all men.” I didn’t want my (ex)wife to look after me, so I gave her the freedom to be herself. She ditched me, left me with two small kids (3+ years and 6+ years) and I had to let go of my career and move back to Sri Lanka to look after them. I was a single-dad in Colombo, an “awkward” situation in our society.

My ex was from a totally different background: nationality, race, religion, food, culture, habits… anything and everything you could imagine.

It was my choice. But it didn’t work.

I guess it boils down to the individual, not the what’s around them. But, their upbringing is a good “indicator” – that our parents seem to know how to “read” better.

12 02 2010
Vak

Is your point that you ‘gave’ your freedom and that as a consequence she left you? I hope I’ve misread you!

7 02 2010
me

society has become so sophisticated. sometimes i think of it like a parent. some things are wise and some things just demand rebellion.

8 02 2010
pp

this is possibly an elitist thing to say, but i don’t think (think because i haven’t really tried it) i can be with anyone either above or below the social ladder if you will simply because the adjustment is too much work. adjusting to another person itself is a lot of work (for me at least, or it could just be that i’m too lazy), adjusting to a different way of life (?) might just put too much strain on the people, both of them.

think social class trumps religion and ethnicity as an issue because the latter two don’t so much define who i am as social class does.

and a relationship with a relative/friend is different from a romantic partner no? it seems more in your space, if that makes sense.

12 02 2010
Vak

let no one say honesty is not one of your virtues 😉

8 02 2010
L G

In my comment,

South east Asian should be corrected as “South Asian”!

12 02 2010
Vak

So yes, let me just start out by saying that I believe in the power of love too! But I also think that some of these things ’shade’ us in such a way that we are sometimes unaware/unconscious that they colour our thinking or attitudes. I do think it takes a lot of introspection on both sides and the will to make the relationship work to make sure that these things don’t affect your relationship negatively.
LG – your comment has been corrected as you requested. Am happy for you 🙂

8 02 2010
vatura

in sri lanka i think it is interesting how language impacts class. and that involves more than just issues of communication. there is an absurd assumption of superiority and breeding that goes with fluency in english, causing power and privilege issues that are hard to resolve.

persons who speak english well could probably successfully overcome differences of income, lifestyle and interests. good english pairing with weak english or even english with a bad accent, may not find it so easy.

but i still believe serious commitment can overcome all.

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