I had it good back home. Lived in New Zealand my whole life, had a good relationship with my parents, lived at home, worked for a ‘Big 4’ accounting firm at age 25, and had plenty of friends. The only thing missing from my life was a stable relationship. As an Indian, for some reason I had only dated Indians and Sri Lankans. However, I had ended all my past relationships because the men I’d dated walked all over me and didn’t know how to treat females with respect.
Then one day I met a family friend’s son while on holiday in Melbourne and we got to know each other well. A few months later we decided for this relationship to work, one of us would have to move so we could live in the same city. I’d always wanted to move to Melbourne so I thought, I can be the one that moves. This took a lot out of me because I was leaving everything I was familiar with to move countries. But I was willing to do this because good relationships are not easy to come by.
Within two months of moving here, I was starting to feel trapped. He told me I couldn’t join an after work dance class because it was too expensive. He told me his friends and family took priority over mine. He expected me to cook and clean the apartment even though we both worked similar hours. When discussing wedding plans, his parents told mine that the wedding day would be at our cost – as this is what “Indians do”. Despite all this, I was determined to make it work and put all this down to “living together adjustments”. After all – you don’t move countries to give up so quickly.
One day out of the blue he didn’t come home from work. Behind my back, he asked his mother to come from New Zealand to break up with me. In my short four months in Melbourne, not once did they try to understand how much I had given up for the relationship. I had even put my CA studies on hold to move to Melbourne. I was adjusting to living away from home, living with a partner, having a new job, meeting all his Melbourne family and making new friends. All this when he hadn’t even given up much for this relationship in comparison; he’d already lived here for over 10 years. But just like that, the relationship was over and I was moving out.
For two months, I rang my parents every day and begged to go back home. I knew my extended family and community knew what had happened and they were all gossiping – deciding for themselves who’s fault this break up was – but I didn’t care. I just wanted to go home. My parents told me to give it a few months and see how I feel after that. Basically, as tough love, I wasn’t allowed to give up and move back home.
This is something I credit my parents for. They’re not the typical, strict Indian parents. They’ve always given me the freedom to figure things out for myself, even if it means getting hurt along the way. It’s made me stronger. It’s now been over two years since all this drama happened, and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. Even though I didn’t realise at the time, I’d been in an abusive relationship. Instead of encouraging me to be a better person, he looked down on my achievements and felt a lot of jealousy towards me because he felt intimidated by me. That I could speak Gujarati and he couldn’t, that I had achieved more with my education and hobbies than he had at my age… the list goes on. No one can be in a relationship like that, Indian or not. I also realised at this time that just because your partner follows the same religion and is from the same part of the world as you, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to have a good relationship. When we were together, I kept thinking because we are family friends, our families would be happy that we were together. What it really comes down to though is the individual and how they are raised, rather than the family they come from and keeping society happy. The very fact that his mother came to Melbourne from New Zealand to end our relationship showed me he was not a mature or understanding person.
Once I stopped thinking about what society thought, I realised I was happier and better off without that toxic energy in my life. I’m now happily in a relationship with someone that brings out the best in me, and who gives me all the freedom I need to be an independent person to pursue whatever I want at work and outside of work. I’ve learnt so much and had so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in New Zealand. It wasn’t all easy, but I’ve developed so much as a person and I’m so glad my parents convinced me to stay in Melbourne.