Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell


I am still new to the world of Asian relationships. I guess one could say, I’m an outsider looking in, seeing as how I am not technically speaking, in a relationship. I am, however, still doing backflips from the cyclone of emotions known as an intercultural relationship between an American and an Asian. *sigh* Somehow, I thought that after the relationship reached its abrupt smack against a big thick racial brick wall, I’d feel some relief. NO! Nope, not at all. Although the lover in question has cut all communication, the Universe felt it necessary to facilitate a random encounter with former lovers sibling.

Let me preface this with, I love this sibling! Not in a romantic way, but in a, “I love you so much dearest sibling that I would happily celebrate having you as a sibling for my entire life and feel even closer after knowing you three hours than I feel with my biological siblings.” sort of way. I have not spoken with this sibling in several months at the request of former lover. Its been painful, especially when sibling texts to wish me well or ask how I’m doing and I’m simply ignore these words in an effort to show loyalty to ex-lover. And then I watched Sita Sings the Blues. Sita employs this tactic of undying loyalty and to what avail? Suicide? So, I decided that, I don’t support Sita’s choice and it was absolutely silly to live as Sita did. Afterall, did Rama ever appreciate her efforts? NO!

So, when the universe so apparently offered up the meeting between sibling and I, it seemed like a good opportunity to do what my heart suggested, and appreciate the synchronicity. Loving wonderful sibling that they are, also commented on the Universe’s role in this chance encounter.
This sibling requested a chance to catch up more later in return for a promise not to inform former-lover. I apprehensively agreed. My Asian and Desi friends advised me not to. They said that it will only complicate matters more, and it probably will. And yet, I am a firm believer in not letting coincidences go, because they occur for a reason.

The words of advice that struck me most is the fact that between sibling and former lover, there seems to be an awful lot of “don’t tell.” When with ex-lover, I often heard “don’t mention, don’t talk, don’t tell, keep secret” in so many realms. When I brought this up with my friends, one friend said that all Asian families have the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on communicating with each other.

I just don’t understand it. In the states if you say don’t tell someone its usually because it would otherwise be wrong to say what you are saying or because you don’t like the other person, or because you are spreading lies around. I also don’t understand how a family that supposedly cares about nothing more than family values can run so rampant with this “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  I’m not supposed to know, or if I do know, shouldn’t tell, but its okay to know and or tell as long as the person I am telling is adamant to follow the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as well.

It sounds like a game of telephone gone wrong. If you don’t want it to ever slip to the wrong person, why tell me at all. I mean, I’d get told all sorts of “don’t tell mom, don’t tell dad, don’t tell so and so connected with mom and dad” and that thing I sort of understood. But “don’t tell sibling, that I’ve already talked to about this same issue we are now discussing.” just doesn’t make sense. My friend says that, it has to do with not hurting someone’s feelings. Not hurting who’s feelings? Because my feelings have certainly not been recognized in this “don’t ask, don’t tell” format of discussion. It seems that only “former lover’s” feelings are the ones that need to be protected. Because even sibling’s feelings have been made clear by former lover, that they don’t matter. Although, I have serious doubts that sibling’s feelings have been accurately described to me. As the last I heard, former lover says sibling thinks I’m a stupid idiot and that ex’s choice to kick me out of their life is a good choice, then why would sibling give me such a loving hug and ask to talk later and say that they are worried about me?

I guess, I shouldn’t ask and definitely shouldn’t tell.


2 responses »

  1. I hate the “don’t ask, don’t tell” aspect of Nepali culture sometime. It makes me feel like people can’t be close because they are keeping important things from each other. For instance, I would feel very sad if my children didn’t feel comfortable telling me about an important relationship in their lives.

    I’m glad you stayed connected to the sibling. If you feel it is an important relationship for you I don’t think you should feel bullied to not stay connected.

  2. I am sorry to say that but your ex sound so selfish. How can he choose to let you go and still make sure to use you to his advantage, If I were you, I will do what I want and don’t listen to him. Never see him and make sure he doesn’t exist in my world.

    I think Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is used in Asian culture a lot mostly because they used to live in big families. Imagine parents with 3 sons, all married and have at least 2 kids living in a same house and eating together. I think in that instance, it will be relevant as you might already know there is lots of jealously and competition in families. So until something is finalised, people didn’t want to tell the news so if something goes wrong, they don’t want to be laughed at. When I was little, I lived in a joint family so I kind of saw that first hand.

    With my family, I am really close and we share a lot. My mum is like my friend in many aspects even we are so far away. So we don’t have this culture. I don’t tell anyone anything if I feel I don’t want anyone to know something because there is always a risk involved if you tell anyone.

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