Who do you date?

Here is an interesting dating article from Yahoo

A couple of years ago, I fell hard for a dark-haired Swedish drummer who was in a metal band called Obligatory Torture. (In its native form, Obligatorisk Tortyr, it sounded kind of sexy.) He had a tattoo, nose and tongue piercings, and pronounced “yogurt” like it began with a “j.”

As a first-generation Indian-American, I had a very different background from the Swede, which made us endlessly exotic to each other. He was deeply interested in my culture-and I was deeply interested in the fact that he was about as far away from being Indian as I could get. But we had little in common; in fact, our shared interests stopped at a love of the Rolling Stones (which, I quickly discovered, is not the key to lasting love). There were others before the Swede-a blue-eyed Southern boy; a freckled art-school student; a half-Jewish guitarist. But each of those relationships was missing something, and one by one, they dissolved.

Growing up, I always assumed that I lacked the gene that made Indians of the opposite sex appealing to me. They seemed immature, unexciting, and too close to home to be attractive. It was hard to understand how I could be connected to my culture, but disconnected from the guys who populated it. I now know that when it comes to dating, the desire for the novel and exotic-for me, anyone who wasn’t Indian-can compete with the need for familiarity. But in the end, which impulse should win out?

Cracked jokes in Hinglish

My mother, for one, would have been thrilled if my older sister or I had brought home a brown-skinned beau. She would have swooned as he ate with his right hand — the way we do-and cracked jokes in Hinglish (a Hindi-English hybrid) while deftly peeling a mango. She would have pronounced his name properly-probably better-than I could. He would have fit right in.

Instead, I scandalized my parents by inviting my unruly, willowy Swede home for the winter holidays. When my mother glimpsed the shiny metal knob attached to his tongue, she nearly choked on her rice and pickle. Their conversations in English-as-a-second language were pileups of misunderstandings, awkward and lacking depth. It was no better when they traded gifts: traditional Swedish cookie-cutters for my parents, a fancy shaving razor for him. (Too bad Indians don’t bake cookies and Swedish rockers adore their stubble.) Butthe drummer and I loved each other too fiercely to care, and dismissed the cultural dissonance as a casualty of romance. About a year later, though, I had to face the fact that the Swede was frustratingly deficient in the ambition department-he could barely commit to part-time work, while I was hungry for a career-and we ultimately parted ways.

Eventually, and to my surprise, the missing gene kicked in when I met a gainfully employed Indian-American guy. He was also a DJ of underground music, which satisfied my taste for subculture. And as a bonus, he had a tuft of chest hair (a common Indian trait) poking out from the top of his T-shirt-that so help me, I actually thought was hot. We shared a strong, immediate attraction and a common identity. This made him novel, precious, and overwhelmingly intriguing despite my inner protest: But he’s not my type-he’s just like me!

The DJ was one of “my people,” which classified him instantly as safe. But this time, instead of my usual aversion to familiarity, I found something sexy about our sameness. Right away we had an unspoken trust and respect-he didn’t feel like a stranger for very long. Our common ground extended to our family values, our views on education and money, and our professional goals. And so many of my family’s habits no longer required explanation-like my mom’s practice of carrying Taco Bell sauce in her purse to spice up soups on the go, or my dad’s lack of interest in football.

Qualities that were quintessentially Indian

Of course, we still had arguments-sometimes over qualities that were quintessentially Indian, like his tendency to be macho or his hyperactive work ethic. But as others with bicultural identities can attest, the benefits of being with someone like you can trump all other concerns.

Take Greek-American Marie, 31, who says it’s no accident that she ended up engaged to another Greek-American, Jason, 34. ” American men were too foreign, and Greeks were too Greek,” she says. “I’m the hyphen between the Greek and the American. I needed someone like me.”

Marie, a clinical doctoral student of psychology, says being with Jason is a “sigh of relief,” especially when it comes to how they will raise their future children. “With every generation, you lose a little bit of closeness to your culture,” she says. “When I was growing up, Greek culture was everywhere. With Jason, that atmosphere can be more easily created.” Like me, Marie was initially attracted to men who were culturally different from her. But eventually, she says, “I missed having that basic foundation of shared experiences, a shared way of looking at the world. Greek-ness is where my soulfulness resides.”

 

The law of like attracts like

While similar backgrounds can be reassuring, not everyone with a dual identity follows the law of like attracts like. My sister, Shaila, has never dated a fellow Indian-American. “Part of me has always been a little disappointed that I never met an Indian boy who impressed me,” she says. “But the qualities I’m looking for aren’t necessarily cultural: compatibility, the right outlook, and a sense of humor. I’m looking for a match and I don’t want culture as a restriction.”

For me, dating someone of the same ethnicity is more like a bonus than a requirement. But I can’t deny that there was something innately satisfying about seeing the DJ’s brown skin on mine, hearing him speak Hindi, and falling asleep listening to ghazals, or traditional love songs, together. One day early in our relationship, when we were lying in bed, he asked me seriously, “Where do you get your eyebrows threaded?” I was surprised, and also moved. Most Indian women favor this shaping technique, and I didn’t have to tell him that I did, too. It was a tiny moment that said so much.

While it’s ideal to have more than one thing in common with a love interest, the pull toward someone from my own culture transcends food, language, or my mother’s fantasy son-in-law. It’s more about a desire to be with someone who has the history and chemistry to understand every inch of me. Having a bicultural identity is complicated enough; I’m not fully Indian, but not fully American, either. A perfect match could only be a fellow hyphen-someone who, like me, hovers in the space between two worlds.


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