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Title: The experiences of British Indian women in secret romantic relationships : an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Author: Mehan, Arti
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 8538
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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There is an immense amount of research, most of it quantitative, on the topics of romantic relationships, romantic secrecy, bicultural difficulties, acculturation, and issues for individuals who are in the first or second generation of immigration. However there is a paucity of published research on the personal experiences of bicultural, specifically British Indian, people in secret romantic relationships. This research attempts to address the gap by exploring these experiences to gain deep insights into issues for second-generation British Indian women who are in romantic relationships that they choose to keep secret from their first-generation parents. The hope is to help expand the knowledge base of counselling psychologists in this area, and to increase awareness both of the mental health of bicultural women and of the issues they might face. For this study, the qualitative approach of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to interview, and analyse the transcripts of, a homogenous sample of six British Indian women. They were born in the United Kingdom and raised by parents who had emigrated from other countries. They were aged 20 to 22 and, at the time of the interviews, were all in long-term relationships kept secret from their parents, except for one participant who had ended her secret romantic relationship. The following three superordinate themes and their subordinate themes emerged from the data: Biculturalism - A double life - The culture clash - The negotiation of personal values Dependent Decisions - The particular choice of a partner - Holding on to one’s virginity - Retaining the image of a good Indian girl Freedom - Experiencing the short-lived freedom to date - The costs of being in a secret romantic relationship - The right time to reveal the secret romantic relationship The research findings indicate that the experiences of British Indian women in secret romantic relationships are complex, and suggest limitations on the women’s autonomy as they make decisions that are dependent on other people’s happiness. Their psychological distress is a product of psychosocial and bicultural issues, inter-generational conflicts, intense pressure, and stressors that have an effect on their well-being and how they manage their relationships. The research suggests that bicultural clients may be attracted to therapy to aid them through any bicultural stress or potential familial conflicts they may experience. Counselling psychologists are well placed to work with this particular client group due to their understanding of the psychological issues surrounding the group, allowing practitioners to tailor their therapeutic interventions appropriately. Moreover the research findings could be used to encourage British Indian women to be more open about their feelings regarding their hardships by raising their awareness. Future research might include a follow-up study on how this sample of British Indian women experience their secret romantic relationship during the next few years. Furthermore a study following the experiences of British Indian men in secret romantic relationships could shed new light on this relatively hidden world. Additionally further research, in the light of this study, on the culture-clash that first-generation parents experience with their second-generation children may also be revealing. The research outcomes illustrate the importance of providing the support that bicultural women need, as their difficulties are not always articulated openly, making them less evident to healthcare professionals. It is hoped that this contribution to research in counselling psychology offers fresh understandings and might prompt an increased awareness of issues facing clients from this culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral