Hi everyone, I’m Jan, the face behind Jan On The Blog – a multifaceted lifestyle blog that talks about wellness, parenting, food, things to ponder, life hacks etc. because variety is the spice of life! While Melbourne is where I now call home, Sri Lanka is my motherland. That’s why this post is about the dating in Sri Lanka – or rather my take on it. I’m thrilled to write this guest post for Growing with Spawn – thanks Shelly for inviting me!
First, a bit about Sri Lanka
For anyone who didn’t know, Sri Lanka is a beautiful little paradise island in South East Asia. You will fall in love with Lanka’s sandy beaches, shimmering waterfalls and forests abuzz with wildlife. It’s where some of the finest teas, cinnamon and gems in the world comes from. Once a British colony called Ceylon, it is a land of diversity in geography, people, culture and beliefs. Lankans pride themselves in tradition and heritage – which is why you may find their way of doing things somewhat conservative when compared to the western world. With that said, let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? ☺️ In answer to Shelly’s questions, here’s an inside scoop of Sri Lanka’s dating landscape.
What’s an acceptable age to start dating?
Wait till you’re an adult
I would say 18 (years) is when dating becomes ‘formally acceptable’ in Sri Lanka – because hey you’re now an adult! Seems a bit much? Possibly, but that’s what I gathered from my own experience. That said, as a millennial whose been married for 9 years, it has been a fair while since my dating days – so quite possibly things may have changed since then.
…or do it anyway
This doesn’t however stop the rebellious teens from dating as early as 14 years, or possibly even before. It just means they are more careful about how they date, so as to stay off the radar of parents, prying relatives or ever-watchful school teachers. In my early teens, I only managed to date ‘virtually’ for the most part, which meant an insane amount of texting and phone conversations – because FaceTime, iMessage or Snapchat didn’t exist back then to save the day.
What is dating in Sri Lanka like?
That’s a pretty difficult question to answer. Low key is one of the first things that come to mind. A large part of dating in Sri Lanka is about staying off the radar of anyone who doesn’t approve – like strict parents, gossiping relatives or nosey neighbours, to name a few. Another reason for going low key is because public displays of affection (PDOA) is gawked at – I’m not joking. Even holding hands is stretching things a bit. A cuddle or kiss in public could end up on the news! 😊
As it is everywhere in the world, finding date-worthy people is difficult. Lankans typically first meet their dates through friends, work or class (school/ uni). Over recent years, social media and dating apps have also started playing a part. Even then, it’s extremely difficult to sort through the possibilities and find someone who ticks all your boxes, and come without any disclaimers or warnings. And all the good ones seem to be taken – am I right?! In my late teens and early twenties, I had a knack for dating polar opposites – and not the good kind either. Looking back, they were some of the most unpleasant times in my life. Dating is hard – no matter where you are.
How soon is too soon to meet the parents?
‘..you shoulda put a ring on it’
Meeting the parents…makes you nervous just reading that doesn’t it? It’s a big step. In a Sri Lankan context, there’s an underlying expectation that you should date someone with an intention to get married. With that in mind, I would say it is too soon meet the parents unless you’ve already popped the question or are planning to at some point in the future. That is not to say, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. But it is how most Lankans tend to go about it. In my case, while my parents were vaguely aware that I dated several people, my now husband is the only one they officially met. We had been dating for about 2 years by then. Although we didn’t get engaged/ married till a few years after, we had every intention to, and that’s why we took the step to meet the parents.
What’s it like dating between races and social classes?
The answer to that depends on who you ask because some Lankans are more accepting than others. My view is that times have changed and Lankan beliefs along with it. Most people today are forward thinking and do not look to differentiate between race, religion or social status. The youth particularly are more inclusive thanks to the influence and information from their global interactions. I chose to date and marry a man of a religion different to mine. It made no difference to me. What mattered to me was the person he was inside – his values, priorities and behaviours. My parents weren’t ecstatic, but they respected my choice and accepted my partner/ husband into the family with open arms.
When you go out, who gets the bill?
Ah that power question of being your own person 😊 With a Sri Lankan couple, the norm is for the man to get the bill – at least at the start. Don’t forget that as a former British colony, Lankans are influenced by the traditional English way of doing things. That said, there are also couples who break free from norms and share bills right from the start. Either way, in longer term relationships bills tend to be shared or even paid for by women at times. Until you get married that is, then it’s all back on the husband 😀 – because it’s ‘our’ money not ‘his/ hers’.
What’s one thing I wish was different?
Perception about dating
I love Sri Lanka because it’s where I was born, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But I’m a realist and I think Sri Lanka has a few leaps to make in its perception about dating. Dating needs to be socially accepted as a normal way of life. Everyone needs companionship and that’s what dating and relationships are about.
I was educated in a convent-like, all-girls school run by disciplinarian teachers who basically shunned anyone who was brave enough to date – or even make friends with the opposite sex. This meant that as a young adult I went into the world without a real understanding of what partners and relationships are like. This shouldn’t be the case.
Children should be educated about relationships, what to look for in people and how to be safe. This would mean that as adults they have a better chance at finding the right partners. It would also help to get rid of the ridiculous concept of arranged marriages – which is where the parents of two people ‘arrange’ for them to be married. While it isn’t very common today (thankfully) it still happens. And my opinion is that, no two strangers should be expected to make a lifelong commitment unless it is by their own choice.
And that’s my honest opinion
Dating is a complex subject to talk about because it’s heavily subjective. Everyone has a different view and experience, no matter where in the world they are from. There are those who find love at first sight and stay together their whole lives, while some don’t date the same person twice. I’ve shared my honest opinion of Sri Lanka’s dating landscape in this post, and I hope I’ve done it justice.
What’s your experience with dating been like?
Thank you for reading! Do come pay me a visit at Jan On The Blog. Thanks again Shelly for having me over at Growing with Spawn! Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
© Jan Perera 2020. All rights reserved.