The Struggles Of Dating As A Twenty-Something Pakistani-American Woman​
Start writing a post

I face the pressures from my two cultures which contradict each other, what is expected from me from a religious standpoint, expectations of prospective partners and their cultures, my family, and most of all myself — my "self," which contains so many sub-identities and ways I am expected to be that I don't know how to act.

I am the Muslim child of Pakistani immigrants, and I was born and raised in America.

I've been trying to balance the many nuances of what this unique identity means for me when it comes to pursuing a romantic relationship. Dating has already become so complex, but being the person I am in this culture and society, it is trying to say the least. Everyone around me has so many different projections and what I want is not always congruent with what people want from me. Sometimes it's hard to even define what I want or to be worrying about facing pressure or guilt for not acting (or acting), a certain way.

On one hand, we have the worst of mainstream and modern hookup culture. Sex is meaningless and people date just for fun or experience. Then we have old fashioned Pakistani culture — cue my dad yelling at me if I ever associate with the opposite gender in any way shape or form. Arranged marriages were common and your parents chose your spouse which you met on your wedding day. Not so long ago, that is how my parents came to be.

Then we have the differing opinions of dating in Islam, the bar of what is appropriate being vastly different for everyone. Even if I were to approach another American Muslim they could have a completely different set of values than I do. Some of the more conservative ones will not hug a guy or even talk to them one-on-one without a chaperone. On the other hand, we have people who are totally OK with premarital sex and flirting around. Then we have the middle ground, which is me. I accept hugs sometimes and I'm playful, but I plan on saving myself for marriage. Some people would consider me old-fashioned and inexperienced, but some others would say I am way too loose and need to pull back.

I want to find love, yet I am hard-pressed to find someone who will commit to me without wanting to have sex before marriage. We are also living in the Golden Era of the "fuckboi." When it comes to modern relationships, I find that people would rather have a good time than a long time. My religion is integral to who I am and when I face pressures from prospective partners who just don't get it, I feel misunderstood and inauthentic. Then I also feel like I am doing them and myself a disservice.

With so many opinions and ways to talk about this issue of dating, I've come to the conclusion that it's important for me to satisfy my religious and cultural obligations but I also need to adjust somewhat to the society I was born in.

It's not like we are living as my parents did, with segregated schools and everyone understanding and sharing the same religion as me. Even the process of arranged marriage has changed as there's a talking aspect, and marrying someone without getting to know them is outdated. I also feel scared of crossing any lines because of the way both my Western and South-Asian culture loves to slut-shame women, just for associating with guys. I'm scared of compromising my values or disappointing my family as well. I also hate the feeling of missing out on the dating experiences most of my peers get to have freely. I wouldn't dream of having a boy over in my room for a one night stand or posting a couple's photo on Instagram. I would completely destroy my reputation in my community and family.

I will never be accepted to date anyone until my family agrees that I am of age to be married, and I don't want temporary romances that I would be forced to hide anyway. I am so tired of being disappointed again and again by men who say they want to marry me but are too immature to make that commitment. I would date them if I didn't feel so guilty about contradicting my family and religion or bringing shame to my household.

If I do things the way my family wants me to, guys would get impatient over the restricted dating that is closer to a friendship anyway — due to my values. When boys bring up marriage to be accepted as my partner, it's scary because I know I couldn't deal with the pressure of marriage. I have barely discovered myself. I'm also sick of being afraid of being judged and slut-shamed if anyone ever saw me with a boy or on a dating app. After years of contemplation and trial and error, I have found that the only possible solution to me is to give up for the time being. I think I'm just going to call it a day and revisit this when I am 24.

Follow Swoon on Instagram.

Report this Content
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments