Love Aaj Kal: An Exploration Of South Asian American Romantic Relationship Beliefs And Behaviors




Mehta, Isha

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South Asian society is collectivistic, with arranged marriage being the predominant method of relationship formation, dating and divorce being taboo, and marriage following the institutional/companionate model. On the other hand, American society is individualistic, with love marriages being the predominant method of relationship formation, high prevalence of dating and divorce, and marriage following the self-expressive model. South Asian immigrants to the United States have to navigate this cultural divide, which impacts socialization messages from first-generation immigrant parents and identity formation of their children. This study surveyed 148 1.5- and second-generation South Asian Americans between 18-25 years old in order to understand how socialization of South Asian Americans into two differing cultures impacts their perceptions of romantic relationships. In the survey’s results, respondents identified key themes in parental messages about romantic relationships, specific challenges of romantic relationships in the South Asian American community, and how both of those factors impacted their conceptualizations of romantic relationships. Overall, socialization messages from South Asian immigrant parents were tailored towards romantic relationships that more closely aligned with South Asian values while their children attempted to pursue romantic relationships that more closely aligned with American values, if not in a liminal space between the two cultures, which is the root of many of the internal and intergenerational conflicts between these groups.



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