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Dating advice for immigrant women who were forbidden to date until age 22

So you’re a young immigrant woman. Young, because if you’re anything older, you’re just an ageless, bitter, unmarried aunty who is forever condemned to condemn younger women for not being married yet.

When you were 16, you had a small crush on some American kid in high school and managed to shyly whisper it to your mother — the first time you’ve ever shared your emotions — and were instantly met with reproach. Your parents aren’t raising an American. Focus on your books. 

Now you’re sitting in your graduation robe, your legs crossed like a chastity belt, as they call you down for your billionth honor. Your parents are proud and as your father hugs you after the ceremony, he glances around the room. “Where is your boyfriend?”

Don’t panic! Despite the fact that you were brainwashed to think that dating was for women without ambition and turned down the two guys who had mustered the courage to talk to your dry, cold, man-hating self, it’s not too late. 

Scenario 1:

Look around the room and find the nearest person of your ethnicity, preferably male, otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for another headache. Lock eyes with them. It’s likely their parents just asked them for their wife. Quickly send distress signals with your eyes. If they accept, you’re in luck! You two can point to each other and hug like a pair of Christian camp kids as you whisper your names into each others’ ears. Then, as your parents meet, realize that you will end up marrying this person because the concept of breaking up is too advanced for your parents. You will be pregnant by the next year unless your mother claims that someone is cursing the family line. You hope someone is.

Scenario 2: 

You lock eyes with the other ethnic person but they look away! The horror, they are actually dating the other ethnic girl at your school. (It’s a PWI, so the likelihood of finding another one of you is pretty low.) Your father repeats himself again, with a shit-eating grin like he can’t wait to meet his son-in-law. Don’t try to argue the rationality behind them forbidding you to date or point to your academic accolades — like the fact that you’re literally first in your class — because those things aren’t important anymore. You know in your heart you don’t want to be like your bitter aunty who is standing near your mother with another shit-eating grin. She has five degrees and no children. She is a Nobel Peace Prize winner with no husband. She is a national disappointment. Lock eyes with your nearest American best friend. They won’t understand initially, but you can use the cross-cultural confusion to your benefit. They’ll come over to meet your parents and talk highly of you, not knowing that the handshake with your father was a transfer of goods (you) and a marriage proposal. It will buy you time to explain the situation to them later and buy your plane ticket to the farthest location from your parents. 

Scenario 3:

Tell the truth. As your hand waves towards your degree, what you will soon start using as a defense mechanism, you mumble under your breath that you don’t have one. You don’t argue or try to change their opinion, you own up that you really were so focused on doing well in school that you let minor life complexities, like having a boyfriend, friends, hobbies, partying, etc — you know, the unimportant stuff — pass by. Your family members will sigh and smile at you. They were never trying to push you to be someone you weren’t. Your mother will hug you and say that she’s still proud of you and your father will tell you he loves you. 

Just kidding, this isn’t an American rom-com. You’re screwed. 


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