Finding love at Northwestern is no easy task, but February calls for romance! A special Valentine's Day episode starring a relationship, hosted by Rachel, explores love in Asian households and a sweet story to savor. XOXO!

Rachel: Hi everyone. My name is Rachel and you're listening to AmericAZN Girl, a podcast about the intersection of Asian identities and girlhood. Instead of our usual co-host, Judy, today we're switching it up for Valentine's Day with some special guests. So if you guys could just briefly introduce yourselves.

Diane: Hi, my name's Diane and I'm a freshman at Northwestern. I'm studying theater and economics, and I'm happy to be here.

Clayton: Hi, I'm Clayton. I'm also a freshman at Northwestern University. I'm studying philosophy and sociology, so I'm the poster child of unemployment, and I'm also very happy to be here.

Rachel: Okay, perfect. So the first question is for Diane. You know, just to make it a little Asian. We know how Asian parents can be about dating, so I was wondering if your parents ever had any rules for you.

Diane: Okay. I wouldn't say my parents are super super strict about having relationships. I feel like for me, I was just a very awkward person growing up. In high school I was a theater kid, so I didn't really see myself with anyone ever. And so, my parents never had to deal with that problem of me finding a boyfriend because I just never did. Up until maybe my junior year, that was my first experience with a guy. And I just remember myself being so terrified to tell my parents about him or doing anything romantic in a sense. Because I just felt maybe it was frowned upon or they would make it into a big deal and I didn't want it to be a big deal, I guess. So I think, in a sense, I wanted to figure things out just by myself, instead of actually telling people what's going on in my life, you know, like a teenager. They don't want their parents to be snooping around in their stuff.

Rachel: Yeah.

Diane: Yeah.

Rachel: When I wrote that question, I was lowkey thinking about it because my parents never really had rules for me either.

Diane: Yeah.

Rachel: Maybe it's literally because they had nothing to worry about. I don't know why. Anyway.

Diane: So yeah, it's a good thing, but also a bad thing in the sense of, you learn from the people around you, you learn how to navigate relationships from either media that you watch or your friends who are dealing with relationship problems, but never the people that know you the best,  like from your parents. It makes things a bit complicated, navigating what a healthy relationship should look like because you just really don't know.

Rachel: Oh, okay. I saw it was your 11th-month anniversary today. That's actually so impressive. So I'm going to ask the story of how you guys met.

Clayton: Okay. So Diane and I, in high school, we had two clubs that we both ran. They were a little conflicting. Okay. So Diane runs the Contemporary Music Club, which is a performance-based music club. And I ran the Music Appreciation Club, which was not really a real thing. We sat around in a circle, we talked about music, but I wanted to play jazz in public settings. So junior year, I think the first time that we were, I mean, we had a class the other junior year, but we were separate friend groups.

Diane: Yeah, well, let me just interject really quickly. Throughout high school, up until the end of junior year, we did not speak. We didn't know, I didn't know he existed and he probably didn't know I existed. Maybe at the end of junior year, we went on a trip together and, I only saw him then. We had a brief conversation.

Clayton: Do you want to say what the brief conversation was about? We were in a store in the airport. Yeah. And someone made a joke that a bra would look nice on me. Yeah, that was the conversation.

Diane: That was me! I thought it was cute. And so I was like, what if I just made a joke and was like, ‘this bra would look good on you’, as you can see. This is why I never had a boyfriend.

Clayton: So she's downplaying the fact, she likes to talk about how she was awkward. I was, absolutely just a social trainwreck, but, so then going on from that, we had a class together beginning of senior year and then…

Diane: I think AP English lit.

Clayton: Oh boy. Mr. Jared Lemole. The moment that I, I'll stop it at that. So we both went to this Yale info session together for college admissions. And so we were just talking about the college, and I was like, ‘Oh, do you have anywhere you want to ED to?’ because our high school was just obsessed with that. And she was like, ‘Oh, I was thinking about RA Yale, but, I think I’ll ED Northwestern’ and I had decided that I was going to ED Northwestern seven months before that. So then I was like, ‘No way, that's crazy. I'm also EDing there’ and we talked about that and then we just started talking and never stopped talking.

Diane: Yeah.

Rachel: Okay. It's been almost a year now, so and I've literally seen you with her mom before,  the three of you guys. Okay, so how was meeting the parents for the first time?

Clayton: Oh, it was terrifying. It was so terrible. So we had a long series of very unfortunate events that prevented us from really interacting with each other's parents for eight or nine months. The first time that I had a sit-down meal with her mom was, what, three weeks ago?

Diane: Yeah, for the first time.

Rachel: Really?

Diane: Yeah. But, before that, they've interacted. But, like a sit-down.

Clayton: We just never sat down for hours at a time and had a full conversation. And I just very distinctly remember, your mom was very insistent about me trying all the food. Every single time that my plate didn't have food on it anymore, there was more food on it, instantaneously,

Diane: You know how Asian parents be like!

Rachel: That’s a good sign, you know? Oh, wait. Where did you guys go?

Diane: We went to Shang’s Noodle. It was good.

Clayton: Her mom was very surprised that I knew how to use chopsticks. And now you can tell the story of meeting my mom.

Diane: Okay. So I was also very, very terrified. The first time I met his parents, very briefly, was at Senior Dinner that we had. Your mom wasn't even there.

Clayton: That was my dad.

Diane: Yeah. I only said hi to your Dad.

Clayton: My mom was the scary one.

Diane: Yeah. And so I didn't meet his parents formally, have dinner with them, until winter break of 2023. And I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to talk about. I felt like I was going into an interview. It was that kind of feeling where you're like, okay, I’m gonna be, formal, I need to impress them, I mean you know, have ideas and facts to talk about, have questions to ask them. Yeah. So that's what it felt. But honestly, I think it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  

Rachel: I'm glad it worked out.

Diane: Yeah. I think also we were a bit, not hyping it up, but making it seem like a bigger deal.

Clayton: It was because there was so much anticipation to it.

Diane: We would talk about our parents a lot. And so, you would have a notion in your head of  who that person is before you actually met, which made it even more nerve-wracking.

Rachel: Mm. Okay. Well, yeah, I'm glad it. It was okay for both of you, though, because, you know, it's sometimes, it's so hard if the parents don't like you. Yeah, yeah, but you don't have to worry about that. Okay.

Clayton: Unless your dad just hates me.

Diane: Oh, yeah. He hasn't met my dad yet. Yeah, ’cause my dad works overseas, so he hasn't been in the country for a while. So that's going to be interesting because, you know.

Rachel: But wait, does he know?

Diane: He knows.  

Rachel: Okay because, I had a friend back home that she would hide all of her relationships from her dad. So her mom would be in on it and her sister would be in on it, but her dad never knew. But anyway. Yeah. Okay, so it's been a while. What do you think is really important in a relationship?

Diane: I would say just being friends with the person that you're in a relationship with. If you really don't enjoy talking to them outside of a romantic context, in terms of just sharing how your day went, having inside jokes, just, you know, being best friends with the person that you’re with. I don't think that's the person for you. So, being best friends with the person you're in a relationship with is important.

Clayton: Communication. I guess part of that is just inherent to talking to each other. But I think part of it is also once you get into, the long-term phase of any sort of relationship, whether it be  a friendship or a romantic context, if you're not open and honest with each other about how you're feeling at points that you feel could be pivotal. I've at least personally thought, this is something that is a very small thing now, but it's very easy to foresee it snowballing. And I think if you really care about another person, then you're going to make a conscious effort to prevent that from happening. And that starts with just being comfortable enough to have open and honest conversations and just actually express how you feel. So I feel if you don't have that, then you're not being yourself. And then if you're not being yourself, then you can't really be best friends with a person because it's not really you and it’s not really them, and it just undermines the whole purpose of it.

Diane: So yeah, I think it can go wrong really quickly if you're trying to maintain this facade of the perfect partner when that just doesn't really exist. And it's better to be honest about everything you're feeling.

Rachel: I mean, I kind of wanted to ask that just because I know Diane, you're so busy. I don't know.

Clayton: Yeah, she's insanely busy, and I'm legitimately just a bum.

Diane: No, you're not.

Clayton: I don't have class on Tuesday or Thursday, at all.

Diane: I mean, you have other stuff going on.

Clayton: Name three things.

Diane: Intramural Basketball. That's fun. And Jazz club.

Clayton: I would have to go.

Diane: Boomshaka!

Rachel: Thank you. Thank you, guys for talking to me today.

Diane: Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Rachel: Although love can be hard to navigate, it transcends boundaries and brings people together. Thanks for listening to this special episode of AmericAZN Girl and we’ll see you in the next episode.