Online etiquette is like common sense with a side of maturity. Yet, when it comes to South Asian etiquette there are a few things to keep in mind that include nuances of culture. This is especially true for those of us looking to date someone of a similar background. Like any culture, a few things are in the gray area of when or even if certain topics should be discussed like religion, caste, parental influence and pressure, language, and of course marriage.
The difference between online chatting and an in-person date is that you can get away with asking a lot of bold questions on all of these topics with little or no repercussions. However, you never know if the person may take offense, and with one click of the delete button, it’s all over.
To avoid this, there are ways to be sensitive and indirect about getting the answers that will ultimately allow you to figure out if the person on the opposite end of the screen is someone you want to see in person. Here are some tips based on the topics mentioned above:
1. Religion – We live in a time when religion may not be as an important factor when it comes to dating as it was to previous generations, yet it’s usually still a common question asked in the online world. However, what is not usually asked is the degree of importance religion plays to the person and if they are devout and practice often. In most cases, it’s a personal question that should be asked in person and not through online chatting. This information can most likely be discovered through asking indirect questions about the person’s life. For instance, “Are you a morning or night person?” may be answered with, “I wake up at 5am to pray.”
2. Family & Parents – Another important aspect of South Asian culture is family. How close is the person with their family? Again, not something you can outwardly ask someone online or even in person, but you can delve into it by asking indirect questions about their family situation. For example, “Do you live with (or close by) your parents?” may be answered with, “No my parents live in the states and I barely see them.”
3. Language & Culture – Trying to figure out how “desi” a person may be, is probably the easiest thing to find out. Does the person speak their mother tongue? Does he/she like Bollywood music or watch movies? Usually, you can pick this up from the person’s description on their About Me page or simply during your first few conversations/chats with them. The topics of culture and languages are the most non-threatening in the South Asian difficult questions space.
4. Marriage – The topic of marriage is a definite no-no to delve into in an online conversation and even on the first, second or third date. There is just too much pressure in our culture already, so to bring this up definitely will make things awkward and will have someone running for the exit. Having said that, we all want to know if we are wasting our time or if the person is on the same page, so asking indirect questions work well. Ask about their siblings and if they are married or if they have any nieces and nephews. This will show a sense of how the person feels about the whole “having his/her own family” topic.
It’s important to focus the initial conversations and meetings around similar interests, and getting a sense of personality and compatibility before jumping into any sensitive and awkward topics. Furthermore, be yourself and have fun – don’t take it too seriously in the beginning.
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