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Cultural And "Religious" Differences


Nov 28, 2012
Hi, I'm new here and in need of a bit of help with regards to my situation with a sikh guy I had met and gotten very close with. We connect really well and we said this to each other right from the start. We are in tune with each other and have a comfortable silence, too. We are similar in many respects, yet he is still different to me in the sense that he can have an easier time being happy and letting go for the moment, and making decisions quickly, etc. Whereas I am rather more cautious and take things slow and stay at my own comfortable pace (or I atleast try to). This has been somewhat challenging as I was to keep up with him, but it was positively challenging since it brings me out of my head and living in the moment. In return, I have the effect on him that enables him to slow down and relax and reflect a little bit.

We kept hanging out every week up to the point where there was clearly some kind of strong undeniable attraction between us. We enjoyed each other for the friendship connection, however, there came a point where we took it a bit further and kissed, and things had become complicated from there. We knew we had something for each other, and he had also admitted to me before then that he has something for me, and that he likes me, respects me, and finds me a lovely person, and we had talked about so much concerning what intimate partners would talk about even though we didn't put each other in the context (such as our view on lifestyle, marriage, sex, etc).

It was going well until the inevitable took place. I didn't want to have sex with him even though it was likely to happen after the kissing and touching, and he respected my decision not to, and wasn't forceful whatsoever, and let me live up to my needs. But the next day he mentioned me to his mother since he is Sikh and I am Pakistani, and he spoke to her about me in order to consider me in the long-term, for a potential of marriage.

Upon hearing this, his mother said she would accept me but my parents are highly likely to not be happy with it and will bring problems for his family and she said they already have enough problems to not bring on board a situation where a sikh and pakistani want to be married but the pakistani's parents are creating a negative situation out of it. She has also said that it's going to cause problems with people in general, in that people will talk, people will cause problems, families won't be able to live in peace, and it's going to affect things insomuch that the existing problems will only worsen.

Having said this, he reacted strongly to what his mother said, and spoke to me the next day based on how he felt about what his mother said. He said that what ever he is about to say will be sad for the both of us, and when he broke it to me, he said that we can't be together because of our cultural and possibly religious differences, and that on his side his mother is always willing to accept me, but she doubts that my side will be peaceful about it, and hence, she is unwilling to accept me. We were both gutted by this, and we spent over an hour mulling over this issue and talking about it, and he said he really wants to be with me and wants to be to close to me, but he is having to make a decision out of the respect of both of us, and especially me so that I don't get hurt, to stop at a certain point of interaction and remain as only friends. Even as friends it'll be hard, but we will have to try our best to remain as friends as we were at initial point.

I was truly gutted and I was choking up, so I couldn't stay sitting around any longer, so he dropped me off home, and I was constantly choked up in the car even though time and time again he tried to make sure I was okay. He said he will still be there for me no matter what, in times of need and no need. But we just have to let go of the fact that we'll be married and be together. This, in a way, did not make sense to me, as in effect we are together if we continue to be friends, but I guess just not in the way we wanted it to be.

That night and the next day I was extremely overwhelmed by emotions, even to the extent of tears. I was so gutted and I couldn't decide why. Did I miss him? I did, yet, I'm still in touch with him and we can hang out whenever we wanted to. So what was it? Was it because I miss how close we were, and now it has changed everything? Is it because he made it sound so easy about moving on, when it's not easy to do so? Is it that things will never be the same again, and I had wished that we never kissed or got very close to being almost intimate, and that we could have just remained friends throughout it all?

Some thing was making me sad, and he said to me over the phone that it's hard for him too, but we need to move forward and be as happy as we can be. When we met up again 2 days later, he seemed all cheery and jokey and always, while I was droopy. I was wondering what keeps him so chirpy, and if he was pretending or trying to avoid the situation so that neither of us get further hurt. I knew he wanted me to be chirpy too, but I couldn't, as this hit me hard and I was still trying to sort through my emotions, so my upset mood was very visible and he noticed it. We sat down and talked and I expressed my anger, confusion, and misery over this, stating that without even trying to make it work, he ended it. He said he really wanted it to work, but judging by how his mother said everything, he can't afford to bring more trouble into his life and his family's life as there's enough in it.

This was confusing me even further, as I thought if two people really liked each other, they would TRY and not push each other away. But I understand him at the same time as he doesn't want it to go any further as it might become harder to deal with should things not work out down the line.

So we hung out for the rest of the day, sat down and watched TV, talked about random things, ate dinner, and then he hugged me and I asked him to not hug for too long as we are striving to find a good balance as friends now. But later on we hugged again and after a while we resisted anything else, in order to stick by our decision. It was really very hard to resist being so close as the desire/urge was there. We couldn't be as vulnerable as we wanted to any longer.

A day later we were talking over the phone, and he was mentioning to me some of his problems and sadness, and I was listening to him and being a support system for him. This came to us so naturally-- he opened up with trust, and I took it in with confidentiality, respect, and empathy/sympathy. We realized at that point that have indeed some kind of respect and understanding for one another and our friendship can continue. I said to him that our decision a few days ago hurt, but right now what will hurt even more is if we pushed each other way when we need each other like friends do. He agreed.

But when he called me up again, he said that we could have gone a long way, but the problem between us is our religions. Even despite telling him that I'm a believer in God but not a follower of religion, he insists I'm a Muslim and he's a Sikh. I understand why he is saying this-- it's because he has society and his family in mind, and the society on my side. Even though he and I think, feel and believe from one point of view, we are still Sikh and Muslim in the view of society. I felt rather frustrated by this even though I understood it, because who cares what society thinks? We can't always live in the way of society, and we have to try to make it work if we really believe we can. But then he said he has much to lose and so have I, and if it's worth the risk. Then he went onto saying that there isn't anything between us, is why it's not worth going any further, since this clash of religion/family is going to create a messy situation.

But we were so open and agreeable to remain friends.

I was very hurt by this and it was bugging me. I felt like I really opened up to this guy and we were getting along fine, and he had no issue with me whatsoever, yet when the topic of family arose, he just reacted the opposite end as if he never believed in how well it was going for us. He keeps a brave face on, stays happy and is moving on, yet he is the one who hugs me, and when I call him or call him to hang out, he is there immediately, he drops me off all the way home even now, and in general we have the similar dynamics we have always had.

I had to consult some people in my inner circle as a result, to be a support system for my misery as well as giving me their point of views. I spoke to my mother first, who was understanding of it and quite okay with it, but she reacted negatively in the end since she had my father in mind, who she believes will not accept it and be angry. I had then spoke to my father indirectly, in that I didn't tell him about the specifities of the situation, but I probed for his point of view, and he really loves sikhs and had lots of sikh friends, but he has that mentality that Islam is the way and being Muslim is priority, so I'm not sure with him.

Then my sikh guy friend was told that my mother was told, and he became interested in it, and asked to see my mother's picture, as well as my dad's and family's pictures. However, the next day he asked me if I told my dad about him and I said I didn't, but I was probing for a possible reaction he might have, and my sikh guy friend said to not tell him because he is not in fact ready to get married even if my dad was okay. Now this made me feel that my sikh friend doesn't know exactly what he wants, then why did he string me along? He even told his mum about me, but if he wasn't ready for it all, why bring all of this up in the first place?

I was so confused that the next person in my inner circle that I consulted was my brother, who was not interested in what my parents decision is, but rather how me and the sikh guy are like with each other, in other words, what had happened, why it happened, what do we want, where do we want to go next, if he's a genuine guy or is he not worth my time, etc. My brother managed to give me a clearer picture of things and it truly helped, but the following day the sikh guy kept coming into mind, and that is when, after talking to a couple of my close friends, I realized that I have to suck up the fact that my heart is slightly broken and I need to give back to the sikh guy what he gave me. I decided that I won't contact him for a few days but the next time we talk to each other, I'll request him to not mention me to his mother ever again, not until there's a real reason to do so, and that we are good just as friends and we will continue like this, and then I'll just be normal with him.

So I felt a lot more positive and could get on with my life a little bit now as I have much to do. I did think about him a few times since, but not with the same intensity, although I knew I'd probably end up thinking about him with the same level of intensity at some point or another, but I didn't let it bug me. I was focusing on my long-term and that felt calmer.

However, in that very moment, after not contacting each other all day, he called and asked if I want him to come down so he can see me and just chill out for a while. I was taken by surprise as I had thought he would never ask and that I'd take the initiative in most cases. I was glad he took the initiative as a friend, so I said to him I will like to, and then he said if I'm sure I'm not doing it because he's saying it, and I said no I am doing it because I'm free this evening and wouldn't mind. I wanted to find that right spot to be friends again and I thought this was a good opportunity to find out if we could at all.

So he picked me up, and we spoke to each other warmly as friends would, kept asking how each other are, listened to music, he was in a very chirpy and jokey mood, always cracking jokes and being very laughy, which made me laugh so much. I liked how we bounced back up. I admire him for doing that too, to keep things at ease.

We watched TV, relaxed, no touching or kissing whatsoever, and had an excellent friendship dynamic as we did when we first met. We talked about a lot of random things, and his quick-wits and silly jokes kept me cheery. But then we went onto talking about more compelling matters, like how I feel about things as a whole and how he feels about them. He said to me it is hard on him too, and he is tempted to be more than friends every time, but he has to stick to his guns in this one. He said the religious differences, and likely family differences will never let us live in peace, and if our parents don't have a good relationship with us anymore, then we won't be happy. He then said that he is also avoiding the marriage thing altogether, and this confused me as HE was the one who brought it up in the first place, to his mum, and to me. On the one hand, due to our customs and the pressure he gets from his mother, he wants to be married, on the other hand, he doesn't want to get married as he wants to avoid things going wrong down the line. He said he doesn't want to ruin our friendship and our connection. But one day people have to make a decision right? We either commit or we do not, no? And this confuses me as to how he views me... does he really want to be with me, or is he preferring that we just stay friends until a later date when things become easier?

I am not sure what to do or how to convince him to try. He has made a realistic decision, no doubt, and I understand his reasoning, yet it doesn't make sense to me, as it's about what we want and our happiness as well as other people's happiness, but even then, we should only care about our families and not society.

On the one hand, he wants to stay close to me, have a connection with me, mentioned me as a marriage prospect to his mother and his brother, and yet on the other hand he is saying to me not to mention anything to my dad yet, to concentrate on my career and my long term goals, and that he's not even sure if he wants to get married, and that what if things don't work out in the end, etc.

I am greatly confused. I can see where the sikh-muslim thing comes into play, and I believe he and I can try through it and overcome it if possible, but now I'm not even sure if this is a sikh-muslim thing, or if it's because he doesn't know what he wants.

What would you advise, or what is your general opinion on this matter?

Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
reading between the lines, I think that this guy is not quite sure about his feelings for you, I think he, perhaps wisely, is aware of just how complicated inter faith marriages can be, and the consequences also, and is sparing the both of you.

I think he genuinely cares for you, but it would appear his heart is not breaking like yours.

I think you should find someone that can recipricate the way you feel, I also do not think this has anything to do with religion.

I married out of faith, so I am not automatically against it, but I think your friend has done his sums and made his decision.

I am sorry for your heart, I hope it gets well soon.

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