South Asians are certainly not a monolith – we all have our own complicated ancestral histories, languages, traditions, and cultures, and yet there is a unique, familiar shared experience that brings us all together. It’s what allows us to laugh at the same memes, bond over generational traumas, and even impacts our choices in the dating world.
Without getting too deep into the science here, there is a ton of research that shows that we tend to like people who are similar to us (or those that we perceive to be similar to us). This Psychology Today article outlines a few potential explanations for this, such as the fact that meeting people who share our attitudes makes us feel more confident in our own attitudes about the world, and we assume that someone who has a lot in common with us is more likely to like us.
We’re constantly seeking an outlet or community for our passions and hobbies, whether that’s painting, dancing, or running half-marathons. Being desi just gives us a default community to tap into without even trying. That’s why (whether you hated it or not) that one brown kid sometimes entered the classroom and chose to sit next to you, the only other brown kid in the class. They might not know whether you like basketball or have the same taste in movies, but it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll have things in common to bond over. That’s honestly the same thinking that extends into some of our dating decisions as adults in the desi community. It’s not a guarantee, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. Here are our top five favorite things about dating another desi:
1. Just being brown isn’t everything, but it increases the chances that you might have cultural backgrounds, hobbies, or childhood experiences in common that you can bond over. It could be as simple as the fact that you can freely play Bollywood music at home because you’re both big Arijit Singh fans or remove your shoes naturally when you enter the house. Or it could be the total opposite, and you might bond over constantly feeling like an outsider or being called a “coconut” growing up. Or maybe you just want someone who can keep up with your hyphenated identity and attend a Diwali party by day, and then party-hop to a Halloween rager at night. 😉
2. They get the whole parent situation. They don’t need an explanation for why you have to be home at a reasonable time, or why you might have had to come up with an elaborate lie to leave for a date. And they’re certainly not going to ask you to meet your parents when you’ve just started dating casually, because they get that meeting the parents is a big deal. Going on family vacations with a casual S.O. is some white people shit.
3. THE FOOD. Sorry in advance if you are the rare desi that can’t handle spice…but imagine going your whole life thinking pepper counts as adequate flavoring and spice?! While this should certainly not be a deal breaker, we spend a lot of our time cooking, eating, and thinking about what we’re going to eat, and it’s just a pain in the ass if you and your partner aren’t on the same page. Plus, life is always just going to be better with some pani puri and paneer in your life.
4. Laughing at the same brown memes and TikToks (if you don’t know what we’re talking about, you need to discover brown TikTok ASAP). Okay, we’re half kidding about this one, but the magic of bonding over meme sharing is undeniable. It’s fun to share the same niche sense of humor and get jokes that other people in your life might not understand. I guess what we’re trying to say is, sometimes it’s literally just more fun to hangout with someone that you have things in common with.
5. No need for code switching. While sharing our culture with people from other cultures can be really rewarding and exciting, it can also get exhausting. Some days you just want to quietly dip your Parle-G in your chai without going into a full-on explainer lecture on what biscuits are, why no you absolutely cannot call them cookies, and why the hell a random cute baby is their brand mascot. It’s also a freeing feeling to be able to be 100% yourself around someone without holding anything back, even if it’s something as small as your love of desi slang and hinglish.