In any intercultural relationship it can be difficult to know what things are cultural concepts and which are the work of a scam artist. You can't rely on face to face interactions, body language or even word choices to know when someone is using you for the wrong purposes. It's even harder to see some of these issues when you're blinded by love or infatuation. Normal, healthy relationships don't come with impossible demands. Always remember that.
It's also important to remember that people do not get better after marriage. Whatever you are willing to tolerate before marriage, will escalate and become worse after marriage. Something about that piece of paper and ceremony seems to make people think they own you, you're not going anywhere and thus they can get away with more. This doesn't always happen but it can.
Expensive gifts - In Indian culture the price is not considered an issue when purchasing gifts. Only the happiness and the emotions the person will feel when receiving it do. So it's not uncommon to be gifted expensive gold jewelry, iPhones, laptops, etc. If your SO (significant other) asks you for these items then that is not a problem. You can accept or decline. Try not to feel pressured to purchase them just because you were asked. It's common for them to voice their wants.
- Yellow Flag - If they ask you and you hesitate or voice concerns over pricing, shipping safety (as in you don't think it will make it there alive/in one piece/etc. and they pressure you.
- Red Flag - You've already said no to gifting the item and they continue to pressure you. This is a good sign that they either think you're there to cater to their whims or they are not concerned with your financial situation or thoughts and feelings. If they can't care about you in this aspect, then they won't be any better caring about you in other areas either - like health and well-being. You could wind up in a very dominating/abusive/selfish relationship and you won't be the one reaping the benefits.
- Yellow Flag - Using terms like "as a family" to make you feel like you have to go.
- Red Flags - Setting ultimatums that you must attend the church/gurudwara/temple or insisting on conversion before or after marriage. This includes if they want you to convert so they can get married in a special church or for the purpose of marriage registrations.
- Yellow Flag - Telling you before marriage that they could never live anywhere but with their parents. This is a very close-minded mentality IF they have never lived anywhere else. They could be speaking out of fear or it could be they come from a domineering family. Either way you need to find out before you commit to the relationship for life.
- Red Flag - Disrespecting your country and demanding that you live in India. Whether it be in the family home or not. If they cannot respect your country and your culture, they will never respect you. You will always be associated with the country and they can't reasonably rebuke the country and not include you. This eventually leads to you having (or feeling like you have) a lower place in their life. It can become demeaning and abusive.
- Yellow Flag - Inability to agree on the number and timing of children. Sometimes these things take a lot of time and thought and sometimes you must have one to fully understand how much work they are. You will have to judge whether your Indian partner is simply not understanding the time, effort and money that children require or if they're being selfish and controlling with their views.
- Red Flag - It's a deal breaker for your Indian to demand you start trying for children immediately after marriage or that you stay home with the kids once they are born. It doesn't matter if they say they are concerned for your health and welfare. If you give in to these demands (or any demands for specific timing you don't agree to) then the next thing could be to isolate you at home with the kids and never help you raise them. DO NOT.....I repeat....DO NOT agree to have children you don't feel ready for and if you've never stayed home to care for kids and value having a job then don't agree to that either. It can easily destroy you if this is not the kind of lifestyle you want.