What I’ve learnt about love…

love is

….after ten years of marriage.

Love doesn’t always buy me expensive or extravagant gifts

Love doesn’t whisk me away to far-flung destinations

Love isn’t as spontaneous anymore


Love always brings me a cup of tea in the morning while I’m having my shower

Love always arrives on time when I need picking up from the station

Love is the one person who believes in my crazy ideas- and doesn’t call them crazy

Love babysits for me when I need a night out with the girls

Love gets excited about starting a new box set together!

Love knows how I like my toast buttered (right to the edges)


The excitement of fluttery, flirtatious love gives away to solid, enduring, fulfilling love that enables you both to do life together in the trenches. When cancer comes knocking, when redundancy happens, when life is so shitty that you just want to go back to bed and sleep until it’s better.

Because that love is the most thrilling, and it lasts forever.

Are “friends with benefits” really of benefit?

friends with benefits

In the Noughties, the Sex and the City girls popularised the phrase “having sex like men”, (which I might point out is very sexist: not all men have sex this way) ie with no strings attached. No feelings, no “is he gonna call me?” hang-ups. Fast forward ten years or so and films like “Friends with Benefits” (FWBs) have further cemented the idea of regular sex with little or no emotional entanglements.

What’s more, it’s become a part of mainstream dating culture. For example dating app Tinder- which allows users to peruse and rate photos of nearby potential matches, grew massively in popularity within its first few months of launching. The app has become synonymous with hook-ups and has capitalised on the casual sex trend.

Not that casual sex is a new phenomenon, as the Guardian points out.

Having said that, the Samantha Jones version of female sexual liberation certainly gave women a green light. She glamourised promiscuity which meant a woman could escape being labelled a slut, in some cases anyway (see: every case of misogyny ever. A woman is a slut, a man is considered a stud/lad. Double standards still exist.)

Anyway, I was watching something the other day where two friends were discussing whether to add benefits to their friendship. And it struck me: there’s never really such a thing as no-strings sex. Unless you’re utterly devoid of any emotion, one person will be left feeling something from their night of passion. As one commentator pointed out, at the very least, for FWBs, the string is the friendship.

As someone who has been in a meaningful relationship for many years, I can’t help but wonder: aren’t we selling ourselves short if we ask for nothing in return for physical intimacy? I mean, it’s never “just sex” is it? It’s the most vulnerable we ever get with another person. It is baring your body and your soul. Doesn’t that count for anything?

Perhaps I’m romanticising it too much. Well there’s a reason for that.

Men are from mars… etc

Men and women are wired differently; that’s clearly no secret. The source of a woman’s sexual desire is very different to a man’s- and much harder to identify, apparently. Studies have shown that men are aroused more spontaneously by visual images. Whereas women take a lot more nurturing before you can get us in the sack. It’s why we like the whole romance, seduction thing- it appeals to our emotions. When a man takes time and effort to engage with us on an emotional level, it makes us feel valued, special, and it makes us feel desired. It’s that desirability that makes for great sex!

So I find it hard to believe someone who says casual sex is fulfilling. It leads me to think they’ve never had the real thing. Or perhaps they would say I’ve never really experienced the ‘freedom’ and the thrill that comes with casual sex. But to me that in itself is counter-intuitive: I believe you can only really be free with someone who you know and trust explicitly. And the thrill comes from knowing you don’t have to worry about whether they’ll call you in the morning- you know they will. Yes that kind of relationship takes time to develop but it’s worth the work.

Relationship with herself

At the end of the first Sex and the City film, Samantha breaks up with Smith Jerrod- a kind, supportive, genuine not to mention gorgeous guy “to have a relationship with herself.”


Yes, you need to be comfortable in yourself before you can function successfully in relationship. But ultimately we were built for companionship. It’s why we crave love.

I think the idea of friends with benefits being a healthy, viable alternative to a committed relationship- that involves sex, will simply leave us confused about real intimacy, and open us up to heartache.

And personally I believe I am worth too much to give away the goods that easily.

No sex please, we’re Asian

intimate couple

Is it ok to talk about sex for a moment?

Because it seems Asians are not very good at talking about sex. I mean we’re very good at skirting around the issue (no pun of course). Bollywood films and Bhangra videos are full of highly sexualised content. And yet no one really talks openly about sex in the Asian community.

So let’s just deal with the elephant in the room first. Whether we’re talking about it or not, Asians are having sex. Outside of marriage. People need to deal with that. Teenagers are doing it without their parents knowing (their parents don’t even know they’re dating!) Couples who have no specific intention of getting married try each other out to see if they’re sexually compatible. Engaged couples do the sex-dependant- on- marriage- thing. And there are all the other permutations in between. Work colleagues. Marital affairs.  University students. Holiday flings. Bar hook-ups. One night stands. And on and on…

Why is sex still such a taboo subject amongst the Asian community?

Writer Abhilasha Purwar claims that “our old Indian society is trapped in the shackles of its values and traditions, and often repeats to the new generation: “Sex is for procreation, not for recreation”.

In other words there are some who still equate sex with the duty of having good Asian sons children and not with pleasure. It’s those people who judge others who have sex for pleasure or intimacy. One Asian editor asked me not to mention sex in an article about dating, go figure, because she didn’t think it was ‘nice’.

Come on people! We need to give a language to this practise.  Because it is a reality- people are having sex outside of the South Asian cultural, religious and traditional bounds. And at what point should I mention that it was Indians that gave the world the Kama Sutra?

Yes for some sections of the community, religion prohibits sex outside of marriage, so it’s a matter of sexual purity. I see nothing wrong with that at all. I’m not saying here I endorse sex outside of marriage; I’m not giving you my specific views on it. What I want is to allow those who choose to be sexually active outside of marriage to talk about it without causing shock and alarm and certainly without all the slut-shaming- which is rife.

I had wanted this article to be about whether British Asian women should have more sexual freedom. I wanted to ask whether it’s time to acknowledge that our culture is evolving and sexual freedom is one of the products of that evolution. But I realised that as a community, we are not there yet- we’re simply not ready to ask that yet.

But we do need to have a constructive and honest dialogue on the subject. It could enable us to deal with double standards, such as turning a blind eye to a man who “has his fun” before marriage, but insisting that women are virgins.  We can teach our young people about the emotional realities of a sexual relationship, not to mention the health implications; and yes, talk about the benefits of waiting for a committed relationship or marriage.

We can attempt to deal with rape culture by teaching our sons to respect women, and that sex is a sacred and consensual act; not something they are entitled to and can simply take from a woman (or sadly, a child). This would enable us to deal better with domestic abuse and sexual violence in our culture.

Instead we pretend that Asians only have sex after we marry and maintain a façade that no one is doing it. It’s time we do away with the silence and the judgement and have a mature and realistic discussion.

What’s wrong with dating “like Westerners”?


Arranged marriages are as typically Asian as chaa (that’s tea for those who don’t know!) and samosas, right? I’ve even heard it said that “they are the heartbeat of Asian tradition. Without this pulse coursing through our lives, everything we know….as British Asians….starts to die”.

Well, if that’s true, then our community must be dying because it’s no secret that many young British Asians are side-stepping arranged marriages and carrying out their own search for love. As life in the West influences our lifestyles and our identities, it’s also influencing how we marry- which is increasingly on our own terms. Family suitability and even parental approval are not as high on our agenda as love, shared interests and sexual compatibility.

Internet dating, dating apps, going out with work colleagues and friends-of-friends are all fair game amongst young British Asians in meeting The One. Even parents are starting to come around to this idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking arranged marriages. There are many happily married couples in my own extended family were arranged.

But let’s be clear, for most, arranged marriages are essentially the joining of two compatible families. The right caste, religion, race, not forgetting job status and looks all make a good marriage, by Indian standards.

But if we are marrying for love, where the priorities are often different to those of the older generation, some argue that we are eroding our community: Inter-marrying of castes, religions and races lays the foundation for a different community of tomorrow: mixed race children, mixed caste or mixed religion children (if there is such a thing) means a very different British Asian community of the future. That’s multiculturalism at work. And for those who are fiercely loyal to their Asian heritage, well it’s that erosion that is the problem with us dating “like Westerners.”

Those who have chosen the dating route would argue that only they- and not their parents- can know who is right for them; that they alone should be in full control of making one of the biggest decisions of their life. And because of this control, it could be said they are ensuring stronger marriages that have been entered into wholeheartedly; rather than because they make the family happy.

The fact is we are evolving as a community. Tomorrow’s British Asian community will look different to today’s, for a number of reasons not just those outlined here. Really, we cannot insulate ourselves against change, we have to embrace it, and all the while enjoy and celebrate the many, many other things that ‘make us’ British Asian.

This post was originally published on Indian Connect 

Men: would you date a woman more successful than you?

There’s a lot of talk about gender equality, particularly these days with fourth wave feminism such a prominent topic. But what about when inequality between a couple occurs naturally? I’m talking about when one partner is more successful than the other. This seems to be totally acceptable when it’s the man, it’s even expected. Very rarely though do we see a couple where the woman outranks the man in terms of job superiority or salary.

A few years ago we knew a couple where this was exactly case. The wife was incredibly ambitious and ran her own, very successful airline recruitment company. After they had their second child, the dad gave up his job as a fitness instructor to care for both children full-time. This made perfect sense as she brought home a lot more money than he did, and besides, as the boss of her own rapidly growing business, she couldn’t afford to work part time or not at all.

This all worked quite well for about 9 months or so. Eventually though he went back to working at the gym and they hired a full-time nanny. Her business continued to thrive and yes the marriage ended after not very long. It was never said that that’s why they divorced, and rarely is there ever just one reason that a couple break up over. But he openly said he was unhappy at her ‘attitude towards money’- take that to mean what you will.

We see it all the time in Hollywood marriages. Jennifer Aniston split from Tate Donovan at the height of her Friends career; Sandra Bullock famously split from her former husband Jesse James just weeks after her Oscar win.

Is it too simplistic and too sexist to ask whether many men are unhappy with their wife or girlfriend earning more money than them because they, the man, want to be the bread winner? Is it true that men have an innate sense of wanting to provide, in the same way that many women have a maternal instinct to care for others?

Well before every feminist shoots me down at that last point, let me say that it comes down to gender roles and what we expect from each other in a relationship. In some cultures it can be clear cut- that doesn’t make it acceptable, but at least the lines have been drawn.

For us Asians, men are very much expected to be the provider.  Women are often steered into careers considered more desirable or suitable for a woman so that she can make a ‘good marriage match’ by not outranking her future husband man. It’s fair to say that in the case of arranged marriages, a successful woman wouldn’t even be paired up with a man who was less successful than her, even if they were educated to a similar level. It’s simply not the way the culture works. The model is very clear: men provide for, women care for.


This is a situation where men are told that they have to be the more successful one, and women are given the message that they mustn’t be. That’s just all kinds of wrong and I’m not even going to get started on it.

But when it comes to dating there are no such parameters, and the guy would be seen as an ass hole for ending a relationship because he couldn’t handle that the woman made more money than he did.

Or is it just an unspoken rule of dating?




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That’s right, britishasianmum.com has changed to britishasianwoman.com! The same thought-provoking content, only now with a broader scope that will hopefully appeal to women (and men) from all walks of life.

Check out the new categories to see what I’m all about. From dating to current affairs, parenting to feminism- and much more.

Happy reading,

British Asian Woman x


Help! My daughter is dating a white guy!

How would you feel if your Asian daughter came home with a white boy? Or worse still, you found out accidentally that she was dating one behind your back?

I was boy crazy when I was growing up. That’s not to say lots of boys liked me or that I had lots of boyfriends (because as the only Asian girl in my class I simply didn’t- most of them stayed away from me; but that’s another blog post). But I pretty much had a new crush every month.

As I got older dating certainly became an issue. My parents were very strict and traditional. Absolutely no boys no way, I couldn’t even mention a boy’s name without arousing suspicion. This is of course not untrue of a lot of Asian households still today. And it’s the classic recipe for teen rebellion.

I pulled every trick in the book when it came to dating boys. It’s not something I’m proud of; it’s just the way it was. I hope as a parent to a daughter that I can be a bit more savvy when she’s at an age when boys are an issue.

For many parents the main question is should they let their kids date at all. Perhaps you’re thinking that you will arrange their marriage. But let’s be clear on this: if two youngsters are attracted to each other- despite their religion, caste, whatever,  they will more than likely find a way to be together, even if it’s holding hands at school and surreptitiously sneaking a kiss (which is why single sex high schools are a good idea!)

We cannot afford to be naive enough to think we won’t need to talk to our kids about dating until they are in their 20’s. It’s no secret that today our children are becoming aware of the opposite sex and their own sexuality at an earlier age.So how do we deal with that?

We need to make sure we foster an atmosphere at home where our teens (and kids) feel they can talk about sensitive subjects- that no subject is taboo and there is no judgement for them if they bring them up. Having said that, right from day one with our kids, yes literally from when they are babies, we need to be clear about the value system in the home. We can’t simply preach at them, we need to model the values we as parents proclaim so that one day that will filter down into every decision they make- including dating and pre-marital sex.

Would I be upset if my daughter one day came home with a white guy? Well this question is laughable for me because as most of my readers know, my husband is white. I think the bigger question for me is how would I react if she came home with another Asian guy? That might seem weird, but given my own experiences growing up, I think alarm bells would ring if my daughter was getting herself into the kind of family setting I grew up in, albeit as a potential daughter-in-law. But to be perfectly honest, I want her to make her own choices and I hope very much as her mum that I can support her for them.

But that’s an issue for another day. For now I’m hoping that as parents we can lay the ground work with her. I want my daughter to above all to have self-respect and value herself. She doesn’t need the love of a man to be validated. As you’ll see from a previous post, I try to make sure she has some positive role models in her life. And above all I hope eventually she’ll meet a man who is kind to her and adores her for who she is.

In the meantime parents, be on the look-out.  Just as the baby years went by so fast, so too will issues like dating, sex and marriage be on the table all too soon. Laying a healthy foundation for you & your teen to talk about them is a good starting point.