Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Case of the Invisible Girlfriend

Yesterday, I posted about two college student lovers who wanted to go away for a weekend. Her parents strongly disapproved. We do not know why they disapproved of the trip or whether, as is more likely, they disapproved of the relationship itself. Without further information we were left to speculate.

Today, we find a letter about a cross cultural relationship, written to Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond in the New York Times. The young lovers are thoroughly in love. He is a Muslim. She is a white Christian. His parents strongly disapprove… to the point of threatening to disown him. He found a solution: he told them that he had broken up with his white Christian girlfriend. Only, he did not. Now, he is living at home, with his parents, and continues to see said girlfriend on the side. She feels invisible... of course.

So much for multiculturalism.

Here, first, is the letter:

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for more than two years. We’re in our early 20s and head over heels in love with each other. We plan to live together and eventually get married. He’s from a Middle Eastern Islamic family; I’m white and Christian.

Although we have no issues with our differing religions and backgrounds, his parents do. My boyfriend finished college last year and he’s still living at home. When his parents found out about me shortly after we began dating, they threatened to kick him out and cut him off. Instead of standing up for our relationship, he told them that we broke up. I’ve been his dirty little secret ever since. I’ve put my emotional needs on the back burner to placate his family, but I don’t want to continue making this sacrifice. I’m tired of having to hide and I’m becoming resentful of my boyfriend.

Is it selfish for me to want him to stand up for me and for us? When I try to talk to him about it so we can finally resolve these issues, he apologizes and then brushes me off by claiming there’s nothing he can do. Where should I draw the line? I love him and I want to be with him, but I don’t know if our future is viable because of his family. When should I walk away?

I trust that you are thinking the right answer to question in her last sentence. The answer is: Now. If his is a traditional Middle Eastern Islamic family, you know and I know that his parents will set about finding him a suitable wife. One who is also a virgin. And he will have very little choice but to accept. His white Christian girlfriend is consigning herself to the status of chief concubine.

What does Cheryl Strayed say about this? Unsurprisingly, she thinks what we have all been thinking. As they say, great minds think alike:

Your boyfriend may tell you he wants to marry you, Dirty Little Secret, but his actions tell a different story. It’s this: His reluctance to disappoint and possibly defy his parents is greater than his commitment to you. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and allow that he may have had good reasons to keep you a secret early on in your relationship in order to keep the peace at home. Perhaps he needed his parents to pay his college tuition, or his status as a full-time student made it difficult to cover the expense of renting a place of his own. Or maybe he opted to avoid stirring the pot on behalf of a relationship that might turn out to be short-term.

Now, more than two years in, those possible explanations are no longer valid. If he were serious about wanting to have a functional long-term relationship with you, he’d be the one trying to talk to you about when to break the news of your existence to his parents. He’d be the one working to resolve the divide between his parents’ opposition to cross-cultural romance and the fact of his true love for you. He isn’t. You are. This spells doom.

Happily, Strayed did not go all multi-culti on us. It is frankly refreshing to read some advice that is clear, direct and to the point. And that states forthrightly that the invisible girlfriend should exit the relationship. It’s the only way that she can maintain her self-respect.

Of course, it might happen that her exit will bring him to his senses, but if his parents refuse to compromise, and if he wants to continue living with them and to continue interacting with members of his family and of his faith community… the chances are good that he will write her off.

Sad to have to say it, but Srayed and Almond offer sound advice.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, this girl have drunk the multi-cultural Koolaid regarding Islam. Does she understand why her beloved's parents disapprove of this union? It's because they consider you a blasphemer, honey .. basically the worst thing in the world. In some parts of the Islamic world they kill people like you, with impugnity

And even if the parents relent it will only be on the grounds that any child produced will be Muslim. This is absolutely non-negotiable. They will also demand that some child be conceived in a certain timeframe. If it doesn't happen there will be a divorce

How naive and deranged is it for a girl who identifies as Christian to get involved with a Muslim? And this brutal reality, which would have been instantly considered by every Christian who ever lived prior to the last 20 years, isn't even considered by the "expert" advice columnist. What madness!!

Former Arab linguist and analyst in US Army 4th PSYOP group

Sam L. said...

Nailed it, they did.

Anonymous said...

This happened to the late princess Diana. She was in love with Hasnat Khan, a surgeon from Pakistan. His family was against their marriage. It was said she was in Paris with another man to make him jealous and we all know how that ended.