Ask an Expert: Have a query?
A renowned clinical hypnotherapist, management consultant and counselor, Dr Prakriti Poddar specialises in Pre-Marital and Couple Counseling.
A certified and experienced life coach, NLP practitioner (Neuro Linguistic Programming), workshop leader and published author, Malti Bhojwani mainly offers expert advice where her clients have lost weight.
Query: I’m a 21-year-old guy and my girlfriend is 26-year-old. We’ve been in a serious relationship for about a year now and we plan to get married soon. We belong to the same cast but it’s the age factor that could create an issue for us. Our parents may not accept it easily. I believe, what really matters is how understanding the couple is more than the age difference. We understand each other really well. Moreover, I’m sailing in the same boat like Sachin Tendulkar who’s 5 years younger to his wife. He too got married at the age of 21 and he wasn’t even that famous then. I’m just trying to give a live example. Today, Sachin and his wife have great understanding and trust for each other. I request you to please give me some advice. We don’t know how to convince our parent’s.
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: 21 is too early for you to get married. I would suggest you wait for a couple of years before taking this decision. Marriage is not based only around two people understanding each other, but based upon several other factors. Just because your girlfriend and you understand each other well, doesn’t mean you should get married. Time is on your side and if you are committed to each other, you two shouldn’t have any problem waiting a little longer. Financial security is important in a marriage and especially for you, since your parents would probably be against the match. Once you are stable you have a better ground to approach the topic of marriage with your parents. Remember, it’s not your parents responsibility to take care of your wife financially. Children too are a big responsibility both, financially and emotionally. Marriage progresses into having children and since your girlfriend is considerably older it seems that she will be ready to have babies in a couple of years. Also, the feeling that you experience as love or falling in love is only a mix of feelings coming from the physical, sexual, emotional, mental and spiritual experiences you may be sharing with each other. Since you are just starting out your career you cannot afford to have a family of your own without financial support from your parents. And, the reality is that if you are still dependant on your parents even today then you have to do what they say. If they are intelligent people, they have weighed the pros and cons and only then have come to the conclusion that this is not going to be a sustainable match. Sachin Tendulkar made his debut at 13 at the CCI. Tendulkar scored 100 not out in his debut first-class match for Mumbai against Gujarat when he was 15+. He was a professional with an unstoppable agenda, so of course, he could choose to live his life as he wanted. Are you really in the same boat? I cannot give you advice on how to convince your parents, but hopefully this has shed some understanding for you to hold on to your decision till you are settled.
Query: I’m from Bangalore and I’m a very shy and introvert person. I feel scared to approach women. I’ve tried talking to a couple of them but I literally begin to shiver. How do I change myself and feel confident while interacting with women?
– Sumeet S Hande
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: You have a fear that is irrational and must be treated. I suggest you visit an NLP practitioner to get rid of the phobia as soon as possible. Meanwhile, start practicing some tools that I am listing down for you, to get rid of the fear of talking to women. Stop emotional reactions: I’m sure you have women in your life. For eg; a mother, may be sisters or cousins. You must have a few good memories and good relations with women. Please focus on that while talking to any woman. Women are human beings just like you. Take away the stress of communicating with a woman by removing the desire to be approved of or liked. View the conversation as any conversation that you would have even with a male. Change core beliefs: Do you think that a woman will never accept you for who you are and that is why you fear the rejection so greatly that you can’t communicate with a woman? Then analyze it and note how irritational it sounds. Change the core belief by telling yourself everyday that you are worth it. Someone else’s approval or disapproval will not alter your belief in yourself. In fact, whenever the voice in your head says something negative and tries to put you down, combat it by saying, “that is an old fear, I’m making place for new growth.” This will bring about some confidence in you. Develop self-respect and self-approval, only then will you be able to communicate with anyone minus the fear of being judged.
Query:I’m a 25-year-old girl in love with a 30-year-old man. He’s married and has a 1-year-old child. He say’s he’s not happy with his wife, as she never value’s his thoughts, feelings and emotions. He also feels that she’s neglecting his child. The child’s grandparents and maid mostly look after him the whole day and so the child is more attached with them. My boyfriend’s mom had an attack recently and she’s been asked to take complete bed rest. Too much of stress is not good for her health but his wife doesn’t understand that. I really love him and his kid a lot. He want’s to leave his wife and settle down with me. How do I convince my mother? I recently lost my father, so I’m a little worried about discussing this with my mom. Please help!
– Sakshi (name changed)
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: First of all, the process of divorce takes a while. Let your boyfriend secure that bit. Once that is done only then look into trying to convince your mother. How much you love your boyfriend and his child is of zero consequence until the divorce is passed. I would suggest you focus on that first. Your boyfriend and his wife may have their issues and since he talks to you, it seems you have insight into it. But as a matter of logistics, a married man with a child has very little chances of actually leaving his wife. Please do write to me once the divorce has passed. Until then, you should not be putting all your eggs in one basket, unless you have no problem playing second fiddle to his family. A divorce once filed takes at least six months to process and six months is a lot of time to convince your mother. I can help you with that process once the divorce is on the way. However, since I am in the business of emotions, I feel it’s necessary to warn you that you are getting carried away with this man’s stories. I can assure you if the man is serious about you he will make sure he leaves his wife. Until then, these are just stories. Keep your head above the cloudy judgement.
Query: I am a 23-year-old working professional from Kolkata. I’m a Brahmin and I love an 18-year-old SC girl, so my family is against our relationship. We’ve been going around for a year and a half. She’s scared to talk to her parents about us, because she thinks it might upset them. Also, since her HSC exams are nearing, she feels it might affect her studies. The problem is when we started going around, she was a different person. She would love spending time with me, but not anymore. Also, her ambition in life is to be a choreographer, for which she says she needs at least 8 years, until then she doesn’t plan to get married. I feel she’s suddenly started giving her career more importance. There was a time when I had an opportunity, but I didn’t take it up because I was asked to move to Bangalore for that job and I didn’t want to go far from her. But for her, career comes first and then love. I’m unable to understand what is she up to? This really upsets me, as I’m quite clear about getting married to her, but don’t know what’s on her mind. Please guide me.
– Sandip Banerjee
Expert Advice by Malti: I’m sorry that this upsets you, but it’s clear that your 18-year-old has her head on her shoulders and wants to pursue her education. She has a career vision in mind. Holding her back or making her feel guilty about the fact that she’s choosing her own future over hanging out with you, would be very kiddish and selfish. If you turned down a promising opportunity just to be close to her, it shows your lack of responsibility for your own life. I understand, it hurts when you are no longer getting the attention that you are so used to getting from someone you love. I understand, that it hurts to know that you are no longer her only focus or her priority. My coaching question to you would be: What could you divert your focus on in a positive way that would improve your life and at the same time make you more attractive to a women you choose to marry when you are older?
Query: My girlfriend has pursued M.Tech in IT, whereas I’m a B.A. graduate. I’m also pursuing MBA from distance learning and managing my business at the same time. My height and weight is not that great, so my girlfriend doesn’t feel attracted towards me. She wants her partner to be an engineer, settled in Delhi because she lives in Delhi, while I’m based in Ahmedabad. What should I do to attract her? Please help!
– Ravi Arora
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: It seems you are pursuing the wrong girl. Why are you calling her your ‘girlfriend’? Is there an indication that you are dating or is it just that you are friends over long distance? There’s nothing you can do about your height and if she doesn’t like you because she has some height fixation, you should just stop thinking about her. If you have extra weight on you, work towards getting healthier and fitter. It’s more attractive to the opposite sex and better for you. To me, it seems like your girlfriend is clearly telling you that she doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with you. If I was in place of you, I would call it quits and find a new partner. You need to know what you want in your partner. If you are clear about what you want, it will be easier for you to find and attract the right partner. Secondly, understand what your driving values and life’s purpose are and see if that matches your prospective partner. (In the case of your present girlfriend, it obviously doesn’t.) Also, understand that attraction is not only based on your ‘looks’ but also based on inner-self, hobbies, interests, desires, reactions, motivations, and extra-curricula’s. If a woman relates to these areas in your life, she stands a better chance in liking you. Often women find a ‘Danny De-Vito’ (American actor, comedian and director) desirable and that is because of his confidence, sense of humour and his ability to laugh at himself. More importantly, a woman finds a man very attractive when he knows how to treat her. And if a man has a complex about his looks/height/weight, etc it is an absolute turn off for attraction. So, define and work on what you need to do to be the most attractive ‘You’. Identify your gaps and fill them with the new improved Ravi. Once this is done, go out and find a link with a partner.
Query: I’m a 25-year-old guy and I like a girl who’s my age, but my parents are against our relationship. They do not want me to get married, at least for the next two years because I’m currently pursuing a PG course. I’m a doctor by profession and the girl is an engineer. We belong to different castes and that is a major issue for my parents. I’m also emotionally disturbed, as the girl’s mother passed away last year and she doesn’t have many friends to connect with. So, she’s developed a depressive attitude towards life. I have supported her and tried to bring that lost positive energy in her, but it hasn’t helped. She also feels that she is crossing her age of marriage. My parents want me to stay away from her and when I try to do that I feel a moral sense of guilt inside. I really don’t know how to make it possible or if not how to finish it without having this emotional baggage in my heart. Please give me some advice.
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: Statistics prove that a good marriageable age for a man is when he is stable and able to provide well for his family. Once you are at that level, nobody questions your decisions. If you are socio-economically dependent on your family, you will always feel torn in your decision because you will always need to value their decision over your own feelings. Only when you are earning, you and your spouse are capable of independent decision-making. Belonging to different castes shouldn’t be a problem, as there are a lot of inter-caste marriages that work out well. I unfortunately get a sense that you have put a lot of emotion behind this girl and this relationship, but are now beginning to feel a little drained. I know that you want to help her, but it is not your place to do so. You are not a trained professional in helping someone get out of depression. Your trying will bear no results and the outcome will make you feel low. If she is passing marriageable age and you find that there are too many blocks preventing you from getting married to her, please let her go. The emotional baggage from your heart is the ‘guilt’ and that has no place in this situation. You are not her keeper and neither do you have any contract with her. If you really are in love with her and know beyond a doubt that you want to be with her, you could and would marry her despite all the blocks. But, since that is not the impression I’m getting from your mail, and since there is so much doubt, please do not pursue it out of guilt. I suggest, she should meet up with a counselor. Here are some quick tips before she find’s a counselor:
* Separate your emotional issues/needs from hers
* If you feel any sense of guilt in not being able to help her heal, remember that it is not your issue. You are not to be blamed at all. Her depressive attitude is ‘Her Choice’
* Try to figure out what is it that attracts you towards her and what part of your personality is it fulfilling?
* The most important piece of the puzzle is forgiveness. You have to forgive yourself for walking away from her. Try to forgive your girlfriend for not being able to heal as quickly as you would like.
Query: My sister is currently working for a corporate company and wants to pursue her MBA soon, but my parents think she might fall in love, get involved with a wrong guy and would be misguided. My sister is sure that she’ll never let them down and will always live up to my parents expectations. She doesn’t want to hurt them, but at the same time wants to pursue her MBA. My sister is depressed due to this. Can you please suggest a solution?
Expert Advice by Malti: I can’t say much to you, as a coach can only work with an individual directly, who wants to be coached. In any case, your family and you seem to be putting a lot of pressure on your dear sister, suspecting and doubting and expecting her to do the wrong thing. You are depriving her of education, which today, is far more important than finding the right match. Where is the trust and faith in your sister? Wouldn’t you be proud if she did her MBA? So, stop holding your poor sister back.
Query: My parent’s finalized my wedding with one of my friend’s sister two years ago. The girl and myself, we’re both from the IT industry and we talk over the phone sometimes. When it comes to meeting up, she mostly denies. I also share my feelings with her, but she doesn’t. She treats me like a friend and doesn’t want me to have any expectations from her before marriage. This kind of attitude upsets me. Also, I feel we’re not compatible or may be, she already has someone in her life. I’ve tried to tell her that I’m emotionally attached to her and that I feel good every time I’m with her, but she feels I’m expecting a lot from her. Please tell me what to do?
– Nikhil Das (name changed)
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: When you say ‘marriage is finalized’, does it mean that you’re engaged? This sounds like two years of just a verbal understanding with no real dating at all. How often do you two meet? Once in two months? What has caused this emotional attachment? Why is a third party causing you to feel good? Do you not feel good otherwise? You need to ensure that you’re a complete, independent, and a happy person who feels good about himself at all times first. Women want mature, confident and self-reliant men. Especially, working women prefer an equal partner. It becomes a burden when it’s one partners job to keep the other ‘happy’ or even when they are the ‘feel good’ factor in someone’s life. You are upset because you are in love with her and she treats you just as a friend. You may be right that she’s not in love at this moment, but just because your marriage has been fixed doesn’t mean that the emotions have to flow immediately. At least, one thing is clear and that is, this girl is honest and upfront and doesn’t lie about her feelings. Hence, there’s no pretending that she is in love. It is possible that she may allow love to happen in the safety confines of a marriage. By a quick analysis of her character she seems candid enough. It’s best to ask her if she’s dating someone else? Do you feel she won’t tell you? Ask her if she really wants to marry you or is it the family pressure? Lay all your cards on the table. Do not guess and second guess or ask a third party. Talk to her directly. Your emotional attachment has happened too fast and too soon. I suggest, you seek some professional help for that. Here are some introspection tips:
* Recognize that you have a problem. I can see that there’s one, as there has been no basis for you to feel so deeply for this person, since she hasn’t given you any reason what-so-ever. Acknowledge this first.
* Identify what you’re good at and what makes you different from others. What are some of your greatest pro’s. Focus on it for a while everyday, so that it can help raise your self-esteem.
* Go slow. If she wants to hold off till marriage, try to honor that. Don’t spend all day thinking about her or wondering why she isn’t thinking about you as much, because this is not a battle of who wins the needy race. Remember, she has her own life and she is free to live it. She’s not compelled to act the way you want/expect her too. Slow down your expectations.
* In fact, make sure your expectations are realistic. This girl has not dated you, so how can she be in love with you? It obviously wasn’t love at first sight, so why are you expecting her to react like that. Look at the real situation Nikhil to avoid self-inflicted pain.
* Give her space to grow and come to you at her own pace. Don’t try to rush things.
Find out the main cause of why you have fallen so deeply in love with the girl. Also, find out why you are expecting so much in return.
* Change your focus from her to other things that you like doing.
* Develop your interests and personality.
Query: I started working at the age of 20 and have been managing my own business since then. Things were going good but I recently suffered a great loss in my business. A person cheated on me and ran away with the cash. On the other hand, my parents have been forcing me to get married. I’m just not in the right frame of mind and I don’t know how to find a suitable partner. Please help.
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: I’m sorry Arjun that you got cheated in your first business endeavour. Losing money in your business or losing someone close to you goes through the same process. Identify where you are and at what stage. Grieving takes courage, stamina and patience. It’s a process that takes time, but there are things you can do to make things better. Identify what is stopping you from moving on? If you had linked your approval of yourself and your self worth on your work only then would this be effecting you over a long period of time without any release or healing. I would suggest you seek professional help for it. Most highly successful people have been bankrupt at least 3 times in their lifetime. The skill of success is how fast you can rise after a fall. So, start to rise!! Through this grief you can reveal hidden resources of resilience, compassion, and insight. Since you have already been through getting cheated you will be more capable of analyzing when someone you are opening yourself up too much in trust. It has given you a new skill therefore, it will free you of the fear of being cheated again. Start to work on getting over the shame/guilt of being cheated. As for the marriage bit, I don’t really know how old you are and what you are up to now. So, to give you an accurate assessment is not possible. I suggest, first you work on the above and in the mean time keep yourself open to the possibility of getting married. You are already on Shaadi.com, which is definitely one way to meet women. Network of friends and their acquaintances is another great way to find a suitable partner. Expanding your interests and social network is very important in finding a suitable partner. If there’s something you enjoy, find someone who enjoys similar things. For instance, volunteering, sports and recreations, exercising etc…Most importantly, get back on your feet and leave your past behind.
Query: I’m a Shaadi.com member (ID: SH93177053). Can you please advice me any changes you think I need to make in my profile to start getting more Interests.
Expert Advice by Malti: A photo with glares, hiding your eyes and looking to the side looks like you have something to hide. So, I suggest you change your profile picture first. You talk about your past in Australia and your returns that you get from your investments here in India. It sounds like you do not work here and then you go on a little about how money is not important to you. Sounds like a few negative thoughts and energy around money. Your profile is not looking open and honest. Be specific about the ethics and morals you want your partner to have. Focus on who you really are and what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Good luck!
Query: I’m a Chef at ITC: Fortune hotel, but not highly qualified. I’m looking for a partner who’s well educated, so that our future is bright. Since, I’m not very educated, I at least want my partner to be educated and take good care of our family in the future. Could you give me some advice about how to find the right match.
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: Rather than looking for a partner who is highly qualified, I recommend you work on improving your professional skills. There are plenty of courses available where you could do this. The reality is that a woman is looking for someone who is more qualified than her and has a brighter future than her. You will be lucky if any woman is looking to support her partner and family. You, as the man, have to be the prime breadwinner in the family and you will have to support your family to the best of your abilities. If the woman you marry is a professional bringing in a salary, then you are in luck. However, be aware that when you have a child/children, there are chances that your wife will quit her job and be at home with her child for a few months. At that point you again will be the sole breadwinner. For a woman, love and respect go hand in hand. Women respect men who are capable and are able to support them, emotionally and financially. You won’t really be happy if you look for someone above your means. Either an equal mate or someone who is thankful for all that you can provide is what you need to sustain and fulfill a happy married life. You need to become the right match, then the perfect partner will come to you.
Query: I’m a 24-year-old working professional from Ghaziabad. I recently broke-up with my girl friend. I’ve tried to forget her and move on, but it just seems impossible. I’ve lost trust in love. Also, my parents want me to get married, but I don’t know how the girl will turn out to be after marriage. Please guide me.
– Sumit Arya
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: The best part about relationships being unsuccessful is that you have enough data to analyze and draw up a list of things that did and didn’t work out for you. This helps you understand things that are important to you in a relationship. You first have to understand that your ex-girlfriend is not going to come back in your life. So, it’s best to forget your past. You say, you’ve tried to forget her and move on, but I don’t think so. If you had, you would have got over her by now. Did you seek counseling to get over it? There are steps involved in it:
* Talking to a professional
* Talking to your ex-girlfriend to put closure on the situation
* Writing a journal and addressing your feelings. (This helps you understand why you feel a certain way and helps you release the emotional connection you choose to maintain with your ex)
* Allowing cathartic release to take place. This may mean crying, boxing a pillow, shouting out loud (in a secluded place)
* Lessons from the experience is very important for us to realise why we went through a certain situation. Write down all the things you’ve learned, as a result of the break-up.
You need to understand that your personal development and emotional stability is the most important thing in life and if you’re not emotionally stable and happy inside, you’ll never be happy. If your cup of self love isn’t full, there’s no way that you can give your love to someone else. Start to enjoy your own company by doing things that you enjoy. Introspection is important. Losing trust in ‘love and marriage’ is an over dramatization of your feelings. You need to stop repeating that to yourself. Instead, remind yourself everyday that ‘I trust in love and marriage’. The subconscious mind will make adjustments and trap this as the new belief system. Also, how the girl will turn out to be after marriage is something that can’t be predicted, but I recommend, get to know what is really important to you and ask your prospective partner what are some of the key things that are important to her. If you match on the fundamental requirements, life is always better shared with a companion. Be open to good experiences and don’t be scared.
Query: I’m a Shaadi.com member and needed some advice on finding the right match for my daughter who’s living with hepatitis B positive? Her ID is SH95735863. Please help!
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: I can understand your frustration regarding the slow progress of your daughter’s profile, however the chances of someone wanting a partner who is Hepatitis B positive will be slim. I’m sure you are well aware of the facts of the various ways in which it can be transmitted to another party. However, on her profile, the Hep B is not mentioned, so it cannot be the cause of you not finding a suitable match for your daughter. Sometimes, getting the right click takes long. If you’re generating interest and when things seem to be working out, you talk to them about your daughter having Hep B. It is not something that should be kept hidden or under wraps. Not only is the partner at risk in this case, but also the child in the future. This is not an easy journey, so please brace yourself and be patient.
Query: I registered on Shaadi.com a year ago. I’m currently working in Bhopal and my family is based in Surat. My parents had an inter-caste marriage. My dad is Hindu Brahmin, whereas my mom is Muslim and I think this is one reason, why I’m unable to find the right match. Could you please give me some advice about how to find a suitable partner?
– Aman Bhardwaj
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: When a woman is looking for a man on a matrimonial website, she’ll definitely take a good look at your profile. If you feel your parents inter-caste marriage is an issue, make sure everything else is good in your profile. If you are liberal in your religious views, chances are you will find a woman who is liberal as well. Also, the girl has to like the city, after all she has to settle down with you. This also means that she is giving up her career and in most cases, moving to a new city. She has to feel confident that you can provide her with adequate emotional and financial support. Emotional support would mean that your lifestyle, interests, friend circle, education, etc must be in sync with what she requires. On the other hand, the woman should also feel financially secure. She should be convinced that you’ll be able to take care of her and the kids in the future. So, focus and enhance those qualities in life as well as on your profile and you are sure to attract a very compatible partner.
Query: I’m from Africa and I quite like Indian women. But, I don’t understand why is it taking me so long to find the right match in India. What do Indian women actually look for in men? Could you please guide me.
Expert Advice by Dr Prakriti: Women in India are more likely to first look for their own ethnic group and their own religious background and sometimes, even their own caste. Once that search is exhausted, only then do they start looking beyond that. So, you need to be patient. Moving to another country can be quite overwhelming for some of the young prospects. Unfortunately, the wait is inevitable. In the meantime, focus on putting everything else in place. Sometimes, you can jump the queue if everything else is in order. When I say everything else, I mean:
* Your intelligence: work, interests and ability to make money
* Your social skills: hobbies, friends, etc
* Your religious and spiritual views
* Your family structure
Women need to be sure that you’re advanced enough in your career to be able to provide resources more adequately. Therefore, intelligence can go a long way. Women need to be reassured that the man they are with, will be able to understand them better. So, if all this is in place, you may not have to wait too long to find a good mate.