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Dating in India: The Do’s and Don’ts as a Foreign Woman

The following post is a guest post from Beth, who has been living in India for years. She’s dated Indian men and has a few tips to share for foreigner women dating Indian men here in India whether on their travels or if you are living here as an expat. Feature image photo credit via flickr

Dating in India as a Foreigner: The Do’s and Don’ts

I had only been on my first date in India for about 30 minutes, and already I was almost in tears and wanted to go home! It was a nightmare! A friend introduced to me to a nice looking Indian guy who asked me for my number. I thought, why not? I’m single and Indian guys are hot, so I gave him my number.

Several days later I accepted his offer to go out for dinner. But just as we were parking to go into the restaurant he pulled out a three pack of condoms and told me he was ready. REALLY? Ready?

Was he serious??

I struggled to maintain my composure. Frankly, I was pissed! How dare he assume he would get sex from me on the first date! I’m not saying it was completely outside the realm of possibility, but his presumption, and approach to it, shocked me!

After taking a couple of calming breaths, I asked him what gave him the idea that I was going to have sex with him on our date.

He seemed hurt, and equally shocked that I was upset. “I thought that was what you wanted,” he said, sounding genuinely confused. “I thought you would be happy that I was prepared.” I asked him how he got that idea and his response was that he thought that was what all American women wanted.

After further discussion he explained that he got that impression from watching American TV shows like Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives.

I didn’t go out with him, or any other Indian guys, for a few months after that. But when I finally did I had a much better experience. By then I had learned some basic do’s and don’ts of the Indian culture. It helped tremendously with my expectations.

I still had a few other shocking experiences though. While spending a weekend in Dubai I met a nice guy from India and spent most of the weekend with him. A few days later he left a marriage proposal on my voicemail! Yikes! Here are some helpful things to keep in mind.

dating in india
Do’s for Foreigners Dating in India

  • Dress modestly or at least according to the local standards. For example, Goa is much more modern than Delhi so you can get away with shorts and tank tops in Goa. However, if you wear such things in Delhi you will attract the wrong sort of attention.
  • Expect bars to close around 12:30, and they really don’t start rolling until after 10:00, so you might not have a lot of time to hang out.
  • Realize that our idea of friendliness might be their idea of flirtation. Not long ago I went shopping with my Indian boyfriend and was chatting with the clerk that helped me. My boyfriend said he thought I was being flirtatious while I just thought I was being nice and polite.
  • Ask if they have a car. Car ownership is not as prevalent in India so you may need to take public transportation.
  • Realize that they may think we are less inhibited (or easier) than Indian women. It does not take much to encourage them. Even sharing your phone number might make them think you are interested in more than just a date.
  • Be safe. This applies to dating in America as well, but it is even more important in India, where a white woman is viewed as a prize. Always tell someone where you’re going and who you will be with. Go to a public place and pay attention to where you are.

Don’ts for Foreigners Dating in India

  • Get upset if their mom starts calling around 9:00. Most Indian young men live with their parents until they get married. Even then, their new wife often moves in to the household rather than them getting their own place. So it is expected that his mom will worry about him and call him to make sure he is okay and behaving himself.
  • Be afraid to offer to help pay the bill.  We make a lot more than most of them do.
  • Be surprised by chivalry.  It’s alive and well in India. Guys still open doors and bring over flowers.
  • Expect to be introduced to their family any time soon. I have been with my current boyfriend for eight months and still haven’t met his family. 90% of marriages in India are still arranged and I’m sure I would not be the type of traditional Indian girl they would want for their son.
  • Be shocked if people stare at the two of you a lot. Interracial couple are not common in India.

kirti-and-me1Beth and her boyfriend, Kirti, living it up at the Grub Fest in Delhi

I am lucky to have beaten the odds and to have found a great boyfriend in India, but it did take some effort. We still have some major culture differences but we enjoy each other’s company and are open to the possibility of a long term future together. I hope you will step outside your comfort zone. You never know where you might find love.

Beth Bauer is an author, freelance writer and entrepreneur working as an expat in India, and is soon going rogue. Follow her adventures at www.TheJourneyofBethB.com. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus.

2016-12-15T15:01:55+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing to live on the beaches of Goa, India almost four years ago where she is now a travel writer. Her website gives advice on the 35+ countries she's been to but has become the go-to site for India travel, focusing on offbeat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine, Tripadvisor, and Thomas Cook. Her blog is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world based on traffic. She also enjoys writing for BravoTV.

12 Comments

  1. Sailaja December 15, 2016 at 1:57 am - Reply

    Though i am not in India now. I think many of the points are true. Especially guys presuming foreign women would expect sex on first date. That’s how US has been portrayed most of the times, like how India is slumdog millionaire for most foreigners.

    P.S: The second section is dont’s. It is written do’s for both the sections.

    • Rachel Jones December 15, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Thanks I’ve fixed that typo. And yes, these stereotypes do exist from both sides.

  2. Ryan Biddulph December 16, 2016 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Hi Beth and Rachel,

    Really cool to read about the dating scene from Beth’s perspective. I’ve heard many times – while living in India – that some Indian men do suppose American women are promiscuous, based on our TV shows. Sex in the City, and Desperate Housewives, well, yeah, some of these women are getting busy quite a bit LOL. Toss in how the Kardashians dress and some from different cultures get mixed – on in their minds, clear – signals, and just go for it. Being polite, not being offended by their misunderstanding and dissolving any confusion by stating your intentions can definitely help set things straight.

    Ryan

    • Rachel Jones December 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Yeah it’s interesting here how something we might see as a friendly gesture could be taken a completely different way.

  3. venus john December 16, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    well written..

  4. Tim UrbanDuniya December 21, 2016 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Interesting tips! I had thought about this a lot actually – my partner is Indian – but you’ve summed it up fairly well here. It’s difficult to see past the cultural differences sometimes… they can drive you nuts! But a bit of compromise is good in any relationship I guess…

  5. Betsy December 26, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Nice Post! Very funny. I agree with the stereotypes and it is super conservative in Udaipur, where I live so it is good to be cautious. I am in a relationship with a non-India. I have an Indian friend and he is one of the nicest guys on the planet. He knows he has no shot as he is also friends with my partner, but when I returned from a visit to the States, he brought me flowers. So sweet. He has also escorted another friend of ours all the way to Delhi by train with no expectations of getting lucky. I think he is a rare bird on the planet, not just in India. I agree with Beth, be safe, know some of the cultural differences and if you want to date in India, have fun!

    • Rachel Jones December 26, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Nice to see your take on it Betsy. The only issues I ever dealt with is when I used to do massage people would ask me on dates after? So weird. It was a thai massage (so with clothes on) I’m like no and get out now! It was just so inappropriate and happened a lot. But in terms of dating, I haven’t done that here of course since I met Ben so early on. My India guy friends are the nicest and I can’t imagine them acting in a bad way – but also Goa is very very Westernized.

  6. Avery February 3, 2017 at 2:15 am - Reply

    I nearly died when I read the part about the marriage proposal via voicemail! Never experienced this myself although when I started dating my Malayali boyfriend I remember being a bit flabbergasted at how quickly he wanted to put a label on our relationship.

    All of this is so true, from the casual friendliness being mistaken for flirting to the assumptions of white women being “easier” to the big romantic gestures.

    Thanks for writing this post, I think if more white women knew what to except and understood Indian culture better they might give more of these guys a chance. Who knows? They might even find the love of their lives :)

  7. Tathagata Choudhury April 4, 2017 at 9:57 am - Reply

    I agree to a lot of things that you say here. Your experiences are also pretty interesting especially about the guy who assumed sex on first date seeing some sitcoms which is a very clueless 90s thing to do. I do hope you have come across some more balanced dudes as I can personally assure you that most guys won’t make such lame assumptions these days. I agree that that Indian men need a bit more maturity when it comes to dating as the concept of romance is still culturally a bit different from an Indian point of view and there are biases.

    • Rachel Jones April 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      thanks for sharing your opinion of this! Comments and thoughts on it are definitely helpful for women traveling and dating in India.

  8. Mayank Shukla April 6, 2017 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    It is well written and I believe the people you have met are of mentality you have described. But it is not true for general males of India. Most of us know basics of dates and do not follow the trends of TV shows like Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives you have mentioned.

    Most of the foreigner in Goa, Kasol, Rishikesh meet guys who are either drivers, hotel managers, yoga teachers or agents or friends of them who are not well educated to understand feelings of a girl and basics of a relationship.

    I would propose to get along with teenagers of your age like college students, corporate guy because most of these youngsters are known to the facts like Dressing modestly, pulling out a three pack of condoms on the first date.

    Yes, I do agree that most of boys in India do live with their parents before marriage and usually their wife also get along in the same house. But it is because India does not have the fashion of separate house completely. But It is now changing since most of them are working in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and they buy their own house with the same logic.

    Let me know if you need more information.

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