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White/Asian Guy in interracial relationship w/ British Bengali Girl 21y/o

Toxic Bengali Culture// Emotional and Verbal Abuse // RANT

Hey everyone. Posting on here for the first time. I need help from British Bengalis here in the UK. At points this may become a rant, I may describe certain behaviours from a biased perspective, but please be assured what I say is in support of my girlfriend’s own perspective, and her view on a situation she no longer wishes to be a part of. I have good intentions for Bengali community, not disrespect, as there are good Bengali people who are more inviting and open. But I am speaking freely for those like my girlfriend going through the same thing everyday.

NOTE: I am purposefully being vague on specifics to protect my girlfriend’s identity and evade ‘prying eyes’ that are her family, who could be looking/ have people on websites such as this, but I will provide as much as detail as I can.

So, I am a 21 y/o guy of White and Asian descent in a long-term relationship with a 21 y/o girl of British Bengali origin. We are both students in university studying in the business field. Met through a mutual friend, and it was basically love at first sight (I fell for her). We have been dating for over a year now and we have been happy together since the day we met. My family have always been very happy and accepting of her whenever she comes around.

Recently, we changed how often we see each other to maintain the ‘perfect daughter cover image’, if it isn’t spending time with me or Uni, she is constantly stuck at home/ with family, until she goes back to university. The problem we face (she faces) is my girlfriend’s family, which is basically the entire Bengali population of London. And the problem is their devotion to their culture, to the point of reluctance to embracing change and those from outside the community. As far as my girlfriend’s family go, ‘Bengali Only’.
Now, where they are from is NOT the problem. As one of my halves being Asian descent (not Muslim) I am familiar to the mannerism/ etiquette and responsibilities of taking care of family and being able to support them. My girlfriend has been stuck in a Reverse Parenting role for the past 6-7 years. She has taken care of her parents and siblings from at least 14. To this day, if she is not studying, she is expected to take care of multiple children (other family member’s kids). Never thanked, and never heard. But when she is acknowledged it’s a transaction to look after kids/ cook/ clean. Basically, be a good potential candidate for her future husband that she will have no choice over.

From at least the age of 14/15, she has been the interpreter, the third parent, the finance/ bill manager, and since she got her driver’s license, the designated ‘Uber driver’, driving her aunties and relatives around at their beck and call. Never being shown GRATITUDE. She is always making calls to places that her parents can’t do (language barrier). And all the while, they never think to relieve her of the immense list of duties.
Her mum is a stay-at-home parent, up from 6am cooking/ cleaning til late. Otherwise, she is at relatives’ houses, most likely to integrate into family drama, or to discuss future marriage of their underage children (from about ages 5-15). Her dad has been through jobs, recently understanding it was his fault for losing the last job. Simply being ‘he didn’t want to go to work because the heatwave was too much’. So, anything more than the bare minimum is too much, and she is reminded of the parent-child hierarchy, whenever she challenges the problems at hand. My girlfriend has a part-time job that makes money and sometimes this money is used to support the family. Imagine your 21 y/o daughter making more money ALONE in a part time job , than the father makes in a year. As the ‘provider’ of the family, I think this is shameful. So, through all of the above, her parents forget that she is playing the SUPPORTING role, and not the primary role, of aking care of her youngest siblings and parents.

At 21, with her current environment, it is DEBILITATING to a young woman, trying to make her way in the world; who has to lie to her parents to sneak off so she can have a social life, let alone an intimate relationship, while having to manage multiple people. It stands to reason she needs to remove herself from said environment where people are happy achieving under what is required, and jeopardising the lives of those around them. THIS IS NOT BANGLADESH 2.0. Their expectations are not measurable by any means. They have the will to choose how they raise their children in a new time, new country. Exactly why they came here to begin with. A better future for themselves and their children. So, you can see where my frustration comes from. And the result is my girlfriend having to pick up the pieces, of everyone without question. Because they are ‘FAMILY’ (queue Domonic Toretto).

Before racism and discrimination is accused, I am very open to embracing new culture, especially being from Asian descent. I can happily say I would convert to Islam. I would fast and I would pray etc. But this is totally useless to me because her family will NEVER accept me. My girlfriend tells me they gossip time and time again about her marriage being ‘Bengali only’. And to some extent, keeping it within the family (yes, cousin marriage….).
I have seen messages on her mum’s What’s App group chat about potential marriage candidates for their kids to marry a someone in Bangladesh I feel is abusing a passport loophole to gain access to the UK There are detailed profiles of girls in Bangladesh; portrait images following name/ family address(UK)/ degree/ institution (Bangladesh)/ address (Bangladesh) / relatives/ siblings and more. Like Bridgerton on a CIA-level. This is not healthy behaviour. It is what my girlfriend and I believe to be a misguided act for elders to feel a included in celebrations. So they decide to make their own.
The individuals within her family are stubborn and close minded, chained to ideals of the past, prioritising reputation, and community image above everything. At the end of the day, it adds nothing to their lives. And somehow, they are nothing without their reputation. In the grand scheme of things, their social status won’t pay the bills, it won’t raise their kids, and it won’t make their problems go away.

What breaks my heart is that she has told me from the day we started dating that there may come a time where she must choose to leave me to keep her family from falling apart without her. But that was never her responsibility to begin with. Imagine your daughter alone making twice the amount of money at 21, that her father makes, who is supposedly playing the providing role in the family. Despite all these problems in her life, she is one of the strongest women I have had the privilege of meeting by keeping her family stable while hiding a secret life and relationship. Fighting between two worlds because you love them both. THAT IS MARRIAGE MATERIAL. One year later I am still here because I love her, and nothing will change that.
Despite we are young we are considered quite mature due to life experiences. We have discussed parenting styles, education for our kids, careers, finance, future projects, work/ life balance, and if/ how we could raise our kids to be Muslim…the right way. As they have a right to know where they come from.
I may not be ‘one of them’ but I still welcome how my girlfriend would choose to do things. What I have described above are NOT discussed anywhere near enough before marriage in the Bengali community and THAT is exactly what causes problems within marriage. They bring two people together for wealth, power, image. The ceremony is what my girlfriend knows they are after and not the people it is for. A marriage is the bringing together of two people. When I choose to get married, I won’t remember my marriage certificate saying, ‘the nation of Bangladesh’. And marrying for love is also not acceptable. What is worse is when problems do arise in marriage you cannot confide in your fellow in-laws, once again due to reputation/ image/ what people will think of you. So, what is the point of any of it?

When my girlfriend said to me, ‘the day may come’. The keyword being MAY. The potential that we can be together is what I’m betting my money on. Keeping our relationship secret has never been about me or about her. If we were discovered, I have an understanding the blame never falls on the individual at fault. While she would be shamed and fingers will be pointed, the real damage will cause a chain reaction through the relatives, and the blame will somehow end up with my girlfriend’s grandma.

A while ago we were ‘caught’ by one of her family members who had seen me and her in proximity of one another. No holding hands, no kissing, no romantic setting. We were simply walking. Out of nowhere, this family member is calling out her name and striding toward us. She told me to go ahead of her so I did. When she finally finished the encounter, she came to me and said she was asked to leave with the family member. I could immediately tell it was because of me. And it angered me so much. At the time present time, we had not done anything that would raise suspicion. It was simply because I’m a man.
This family member eventually had a conversation with my girlfriend separately and what eventually came of it was ‘if anyone else in the community had seen you, they would already be creating rumours and spreading it throughout’ and the obvious ‘What would your parents think?’. Not even for the fact we are in a relationship (because they haven’t found out) but because she was in my proximity. He said he would keep it between them but of course, he told his wife (my girlfriend’s aunt). She then proceeded to call my girlfriend’s mum to put her in the worst light possible. Before she has a chance to defend her self. And when my girlfriend attempted to defend her actions as ‘helping a friend’ get to a place’, the concept of helping a friend seemed so foreign to her Aunt, that she asked why she would help me. When she said she was being kind, her aunt once again was dumbfounded by the concept of kindness. My girlfriend somehow managed to get away with it by the skin of her teeth and keep the situation contained.

This event has made us consider the possibility that she may be kicked out of her house and thus, the community. However, even after that event, I have still chosen to be with her and she has chosen to be with me. She promised me:

“If my family do not come to their senses about platonic interactions with men, then I shouldn’t be allowed in University, I shouldn’t be allowed to have a career before marriage, and I should not be allowed to have a social life among male individuals. Because the world requires you to rise above your hormones and get things done. And I will not be locked away in my room until the day I marry a Bengali. If this is the case then I will leave because being in their community and living like that would be useless.”

And this next bit sounds ludicrous, but we are putting contingencies in place in the event she is kicked out of her house. She’ll have an emergency bag with essentials. I have asked my friends to support us in a place FAR AWAY from them to stay if anything happens. My family will also support us where needed. We are not in a position to move in together given the cost of living is obscene, but we are working our way to do so.

I FEEL, her family feel like nothing when picked out individually. Because that is all they have ever been told. I will not blame them for their upbringing, but I will blame them for making the choice that their children do not get given the chance to make mistakes and learn from them on their own. You talk down upon Western society. It’s ‘temptations’ and ‘fantasies’. I feel their ideology of collectivism and being stronger in numbers is what drives her away from being like them. To make babies and clean up what everyone else leaves behind, as is expected from ‘house-wives’. I go mad whenever it passes my mind.
However, I do also understand that in this culture, in this life, the women are without value until she gets a husband, and only then will she have a voice, an opinion, a stake in a matter. But even after her voice is ‘granted’ the pressure continues onto produce children, like a build-a-bear workshop.

For those saying to essentially say ‘Give Up’ or ‘Plenty of Fish in the Sea’, that is not an option I am going to take. I would rather my girlfriend take a CHANCE of losing her family, rather than the CERTAINTY of losing me. If her family truly loved her for being their daughter, and not an asset to boost reputation and misplaced pride perspective, then they would forgive her, given a lot of time and healing.
But I can choose to be with whoever I want to be with. While she ‘must’ ‘choose’ someone from her own country. Of her own culture. The reason for the world being so well-connected today is because of intercultural relationships. Business/Platonic/Romantic.
Surrendering the relationship means her family win. And she will surrender herself to a life of service of others. I will support her. I will take care of her. Most importantly, I will be there if the day comes that she loses her family. I picked a dangerous path to go down. And I have avoided dating people from places where culture overrides the health and wellbeing of the people that you love. No one said this would be an easy choice. But she never asked for a duty without end or thanks. So, I will be damned if I surrender the best woman I have ever loved.

You DO have a choice, and so do your parents. You have the right to choose YOU because your parents choose you without pity, without regard, without any conscious thought of your own wellbeing. Surrender is not an option I am willing to take.

So, what I am asking is for advice on my situation. What can I/ Should I do? What options do I have…legal/ Social? This is hard and I am not the only one in an interracial relationship with a relentless opposition. But we are ALL human and freedom is EVERYONE’s right.

Thank you for taking time to read my problems. I hope it inspires you to take back control of your own lives. But you must understand that there are hard choices in life for people undeserving of them. And they have a responsibility to heal THEMSELVES in any way they can. Even if it hurts the people around them. And for my girlfriend it is the choice of choosing a life of freedom without judgement, against a life of obligations and abuse.
Very, very deep. Your girlfriend should save herself and make a run for it. She’s an adult. She doesn’t deserve all that stress, which will likely lead to health problems. If they don’t appreciate her, it’s probably best she leaves (or gets kicked out), takes care of herself and stands her ground if they miss her efforts and want to forgive. If her family talks about honour killings instead, move far, far away.

Hope you marry her one day.
Your gf's relatives sound like very obnoxious jerk who are controlling, entitled, exploitative, malicious and parasitic wastes of space.
My mother's family tree contained quite a few of these sorts for centuries but did not involve anyone with asian ancestry.
Brutal ultra-traditionalist religious bad apples.

I hope that your gf will decide to break the vicious cycle and escape to freedom, ending all contact with the rotters soon. :smile:
Life is too short to waste valuable time and emotion on those individuals that do not deserve any of either.
But her ambitions and the direction of her future life must be her choice.
Regardless of how the relationship goes and whether she remains in contact with you in 30 years time.

My mother had a miserable, very lonely childhood and was almost beaten to death by her vile ancestors when she came home to tell them that she had decided to marry an atheist.
Her family glorified medieval religion; taught her that self-harm was holy, that the devil was everywhere, electricity & its fans evil and the rest of the world with alternative opinions destined for an eternity in hell.
She was disinherited, disowned and forbidden from attending her father's funeral on his orders.
But she married her soulmate and gained her freedom.
Good luck!
Reply 3
I have a very similar situation where cuz I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune health problem, mine are forcing me to decide a potential candidate in order to avoid the age issue since I will have more of a lower chance of finding one as I age. I really hate that they want to pick someone they feel is "right" for me even though they say I can find someone of my own choice except they have to be from my country and even worse from my own province! Pretty much leaving me with no options whatsoever. I already met someone she is from europe and we have been together for 2 years and she has been nothing but respectful towards my culture and norms except my parents controlling views , and due to that Im basically being pulled apart as of now . I wish and even would love running away with my girlfriend now since that legitimately feels like the only option allowing me to be at ease and live my life based on my choices. So in a nutshell, I do understand and can even relate to the situation you are in and how you feel. I just hope and pray it works out atleast in the way that will keep us content for the rest of our lives living with the one we want to start a new life with.

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