'My family's Sikh but I love a girl who says she has to marry a Muslim'

It’s time once again for our weekly Sex Column, our regular series where experts advise readers on the world of relationships.

Our last question was just before Christmas, when we helped a woman who said she was tempted to cheat as her boyfriend’s mother was always around.

The first question of 2023 is from a man who is from a Sikh family, but loves a woman whose relatives are pressuring her to marry a Muslim.

Is there a solution to this issue? Let’s see what our expert says.

The problem

Although I was born in this country, I’m from a Sikh family who have lived here since the 60s. My generation are fully integrated into western society and although I’m proud of my roots, none of us makes a big deal about religion and various members of the family have married outside Sikhism.

I only wish the girl I love held the same relaxed view. She sits opposite me at work and although she herself seems chilled about religion, she comes from a strict Muslim family who are adamant she marries within their faith.

We get on well, enjoy each other’s company and share personal chats on just about every subject. We’ve had a couple of dates that have ended with passionate kisses, but sex is out of the question.

She has told me that she’s a virgin and waiting for Mr Right to come along, who must be a Muslim to please her parents.

I really believe we could make a great couple, but although I’ve tried to take things further by going ‘official’ as boyfriend and girlfriend, she says she can’t accept because I’m from a different culture and her parents would go crazy.

I try to focus on my job and not fantasise about her, but deep down I find the whole situation depressing. I know I need to forget her, but it’s not that easy when I see her every day.

What the expert says:

However much you wish it to be the case, it looks like this girl is simply not on the same wavelength as you.

‘Alas, people are who they are, not who we want them to be.’ says James McConnachie. ‘You want this girl minus the Muslim bit and minus the parents, but both are integral to the person she is. So when you say you’d make a great couple, what are you basing your belief on?’

Dr Angharad Rudkin agrees. ‘We can all find it difficult to appreciate that others don’t think the same way we do.’ she says. ‘To you, this is a simple problem with a simple solution – we like each other so let’s be together! But this girl comes from a different culture with different rules, and the pressure on her to comply is immense.’

McConnachie believes you have two options. ‘Either accept the relationship on her terms, enjoy it while it lasts, and let yourself get hurt.’ he says. ‘Alternatively, find a new job or different role at work, and let time and distance do their magic.’

Neither of our experts see a fairy tale ending here, but Rudkin urges you not to see the situation as a test of this girl’s love for you. ‘However strong her feelings, she can’t envisage being with you,’ says Rudkin. ‘Let her know you respect her position, then give yourself time to work through the sadness you’ll inevitably feel.’

Surround yourself with new people and distractions, until you can accept a relationship as friends. For now, that’s clearly all she wants.

What do you think?

Leave your own advice in the comments section below and we will publish a selection of the best reader words of wisdom.

The experts:

Laura Collins is a counsellor and columnist

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Got a sex and dating dilemma?

To get expert advice, send your problem to [email protected]

For more sex and relationships content join Jackie Adedeji and Miranda Kane for our weekly sex positive podcast: Smut Drop. It’s a whole new world of sexpertise where no topic is off limits.

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