Old World Lessons on Love


Born in the 1970s at the tail-end of the women’s lib movement, I was a Gen X girl trying to figure out my role in an era of change and uncertainty.

Girls in the 80s grew up fast. My mom’s lectures regarding my future involved college and career choices, not marriage. All of the girls I knew had boyfriends and little pills. Boyfriends were a cultural norm and very much a part of family nights and holiday dinners. The idea of one true love, romance and the ritual preparation of a woman to transition from virgin to bride slipped away in our modern, egalitarian culture in which overnight prom outings and living with one’s fiancé before marriage were encouraged.

A world away in Pakistan, my future husband and sisters-in-law were experiencing a very different introduction to dating and love. One of my sisters-in law said she “had boyfriends” prior to getting married at the age of 19. Further probing on my part revealed that though a kiss or two may have been exchanged, these relationships were platonic fairy tales enacted through phone calls and letters passed through mutual friends. There weren’t many face-to-face conversations and certainly no open, familial acceptance of the boy in question.

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