I FIRST met L in one of my tuition classes and we hit it off right away. We used talk on the phone and text each other all the time. He is a really sweet guy.

However, I didn’t want to start a relationship with him because I was afraid our parents would disapprove. He’s a Buddhist and I’m Muslim. Both of us are very strong in our faith. Most of our friends told us not to worry about what our parents think as we are 18. After a couple of months, I started having doubts about our relationship.

It’s not that my feelings for him have changed, it’s just that I felt our relationship would not develop further because of our different religions. We even tried to stop communicating with each other but it didn’t work out. He just couldn’t let me go and found different ways to contact me. I admit that I encouraged him a bit as well. One day, his parents found all the messages he’d sent to me on his phone and they were furious. His mum even called and told me that if I continued to contact her son she would tell my parents about it. I begged her not to, and since my parents haven’t said anything, they don’t know about it.

We’re both really in love with each other, though. I can’t bear the thought of not being able to hear his voice or read his messages. We are willing to defy our parents’ wishes to be together but I’m not sure if that’s the best way to handle it. — Behind The Wall

Have faith

Differences in people, including in religion, is a very beautiful thing and should be embraced rather than feared. Often we are taught to be wary of people who are different from us, but it is important to consider what we think is right and what others tell us is right.

Some important questions for you and L to ask yourselves are: What is wrong with being in love with someone of a different religion? Do your religious practices clash? Is there no room for compromise and helping the other person grow in their religion while we follow our own path of spirituality? Will these paths never intersect? L and you need to figure out your answers and what your relationship mean to each other.

Your parents want what’s best for you, but they are afraid of the unknown. His parents must be feeling the same way. If you truly love L, it behooves you to convince and show them that if your faith and spirituality are strong enough, it will not be shaken by difficult questions, tough situations or critical thinking – and even love.

Don’t think about this relationship as an act of defiance. Rather, think about it as a challenge to help your parents understand harmony, different religions, and how to learn to love the people that their children love. This is an extremely valuable experience that can help bring you closer to your family, rather than divide you. It won’t be an easy task. But if you believe enough in yourself, your faith and your love, the right methods will come to you. — Su Ann

Be patient

His parents acted out of anger because this is a new situation for them. It scares them that their son is dating outside their religion. They might be scared that he is growing up and he’ll be out of the house soon. It takes time for people to get used to new experiences, and we forget that parents go through the same. They work hard to give us a good life and part of that is to keep us on a “straight path”. When you present them a situation that’s not in that path, they’ll worry. They’ll get scared and react in anger. It’s something all parents do.

You’ll have to be patient as they adapt to L and you. This will be a cycle of learning and adapting for your parents. Take it slow, there’s no rush. Emotions have a tendency to narrow our vision and make us feel like things have to happen now. Apart from your feelings, your parents are involved too so ask them, even in heated moments, if they are okay. Remind them that you love them, and you’re not doing this hurt them on purpose. There are two outcomes to this – either your relationship continues, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, look at the possibility of friendship. It’ll be strange, but consider that having him in your life is better than not at all. What matters is learning from it – about your self especially – and moving forward with your head up. — Rusyan

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