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In Indonesia, where family plays an important role in partner selection, a courtship and finding the right partner is a family affair. Most parents believe that the best candidates for their future daughter or son-in-law should have a good background based on the crucial aspects of “Bibit, Bebet, Bobot” which has a Javanese origin, referring respectively to family wealth, social rank, and ancestry. Parents believe that their future in-laws should at least come from the same social status and religion.
Indonesian culture places higher importance on the acceptance and approval of community or family. Therefore, at the early courtship, both sides try their best to be accepted by their parents. There is a saying in Indonesia, “Kalau kita menikah, kita juga menikah dengan keluarga” which means when you marry your girlfriend or boyfriend, you also marry the family. The engagement period is rarely recognized in Indonesia, as the couples move to the marital stages soon after a long courtship.
Young people in Indonesia usually develop a romantic interest in Junior High School (Sekolah Menengah Pertama or SMP) when they are around 12 years of age. Even though, they are involved in a romantic relationship (berpacaran or pacaran), they spend most of their time with friends, siblings or family. They rarely go out on their own. Parents usually urge their youngster to focus on education and discourage them from having an early romantic relationship. They often tell their children that they are “masih kecil”, meaning, they are still a child or too young to date.
Young men who have a romantic relationship while they are still in Middle School or High School, commonly visit the girl in her house. Although a boyfriend may visit his girlfriend on Malam Minggu (Saturday Night), they spend time with the girlfriend’s family. They watch TV, have interesting conversations, or play guitar and sometimes, the boyfriend also brings with him his male friends to hang out with them.
When couples go out, they usually go to the movies, eat at street food vendors “warung” while having a conversation to get to know each other better. They don’t show physical intimacy openly, but holding hands is acceptable. However, Indonesians are increasingly doing more than just holding hands in public. “Kencan” or dating is also gaining acceptance in Indonesian society as a path that does not always lead to long courtships and marriage.
Related terms and words:
|Malam Minggu||Saturday night|
|Berpacaran or pacaran||Exclusive dating|
|Pacar||Boyfriend or Girlfriend|
|Bertunangan||To Engage with someone|
|Tunangan||Fiancé or fiancée|
|Menikah||To be married; married|
|Calon mertua||Future in-laws|
|Berpegangan tangan||Holding hands|
|Cinta monyet||Monkey love|
Images were taken from Flickr.com/creative commons
1. By Lan Rasso
2. by Dony Ismanto
2. by Tamahaji