Dear Miss Emily:

Oh my god, this is the 1st time I have ever done this. I really
need your advice, Emily. I am a 21 yr old Indian girl. The thing
is, I have never been in a relationship at ALL and it hurts so
bad not to have the experience of being loved by someone.
Being an Indian, the thing is people expect the girl 2 get married
by the time she reaches 25 and, since I am 21, I would love to find
my Mr. Right and get married, rather than have an arranged marriage
(this is done by the parents picking the guy who they think is best
for their daughter), but I don't know how to find him. My parents
are very protective. They dont let me go out, often, and people
consider a girl to be a whore if she hangs out of the house. She
will be viewed by the Indian community as a girl with loose morals.
You have to help me out ....I mean, I feel so suffocated living
with my parents, and I so badly want to break free from them and find
my Mr. Right.

Lonely Girl

--------------------Miss Emily's advice-----------------

Dear Lonely:

You do not say where you live. I am going to assume that you are
in the states, because if you live in India, the abuse
you would receive would not only be from family and a small
community, but from the entire population! If this is the case, I
can't advise you. To adhere to a cultural identity in the United
States, is a difficult one; especially when you are a young
person. Parents have an established identity with their culture,
yet to force this on their children is unreasonable. They, of course,
do not see it that way. However, you see your life going in two
possible directions. One is to be guided and controlled by forces
against your will --not a typical American life for a woman in the
21st century. The other is to break free of the cultural restraints
put upon you. You risk, by doing this, cutting ties with your family
and forging a new life for yourself. This kind of freedom comes at a
price. Being 21, and not having experienced real love is not that
uncommon. I wouldn't see this as missing out, as much as the fact
that you may never have a choice in this matter. Find interests that
get you out of the house -- interests that would be approved by your
parents. Could college be the answer -- getting a master's degree?
Move in personal directions that take you closer to making some very
tough decisions. Family is extremely important, but I will quote a
friend of mine who once said, "My friends are my family!" Life is so
very short. It would be a shame to have to live it for anyone else,
but yourself. Good luck in you quest away from feeling helpless to
finding your inner strength. If it's any consolation, you are
not alone. It just feels that way.