5 Things You’ll Learn When Dating Someone From Another Culture
Dating someone from another culture can be a mix of the good, the bad, and the very, very awkward – especially if they hail from a country you’ve never visited and a culture you’ve never experienced before. When I was younger, my parents always told me that dating someone from the same cultural background as myself would be a wise and easy choice. Why? There’d be less to fight about. While this can be true, having a significant other from another culture can be an enriching and exciting experience, and sometimes it’s the differences that allow for a relationship to work harmoniously. So to all you romantics and risk-takers out there, check out these 5 things you learn when dating a person from outside your cultural bubble and get ready to take the leap with that someone special!
1. You’ll have to learn a new language
While dating someone from a foreign country doesn’t always ensure you’ll learn a new language, if you’re in the relationship for the long haul you’ll most likely start to pick up your partner’s native tongue without even realizing it. Visits home can mean days of listening to people converse in another language. Sure, in the beginning your SO’s parents might try to speak English to you, but the more comfortable they get with your presence the more likely they are to simply fall back into speaking the tongue they’re more familiar with. This can be a great thing because it’ll mean complete language immersion for you and opportunities to learn a language as people speak it in the real world and not just in the classroom.
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2. You’ll have to spend time away
One of the biggest struggles of being in a multi-cultural relationship (that’s right folks, it’s not all roses and bunny rabbits) is having to make the decision of where to live. If you’re from different cultures on opposite sides of the globe, at least one of you is going to have to make a hard choice about living far from your family for extended periods of time. Resentment can arise in a relationship when one person begins to feel that the other has stolen them away, or it seems unfair that one partner lives close to the people they love while the other has to take fourteen-hour plane rides to see theirs. From personal experience I can say that the easiest way to deal with this is to try to live somewhere in between where you both have to travel nearly equal distances to visit family.
3. You’ll have to try new things
For me, one of the best things about having an Indian SO is that I can experience a foreign culture in a way that I never would have as a simple tourist. However, it has also meant that I’ve needed to be open to experiences that, at times, have weirded me out or made me feel uncomfortable. When you become an important part of your dating partner’s life, you’ll have to partake in all kinds of new cultural experiences. This can mean trying authentic, local food, or having to join in on religious rituals you don’t completely understand. Whatever it may be, approach it with an open and willing mind, and ask your partner LOTS of questions to make sure you’re doing the culturally appropriate thing in each scenario. Even the experiences that make you feel strange and unsure will one day be a wealth of memories you can look back on and laugh about.
4. You’ll have to make your own culture
An incredibly amazing part of having a partner from another culture is that the two of you will create a mini culture of your own. You’ll want to observe holidays and religious traditions from both your backgrounds, which can be fun (who doesn’t like twice the holidays, right?). It also means that having the food they love from their childhood and the food you love will become a regular thing in your household, as will watching movies and listening to music in both your respective languages. And, if you and your partner ever decide to have kids, raising a child in a multi-cultural household will make them a more flexible and well-rounded human being!
5. You’ll have to get used to being a novelty
A lot of your SO’s friends and family will regard you as a novelty, like some sort of strange, exotic bird that suddenly alighted in their lives. While this will diminish somewhat as the relationship progresses, you have to get accustomed to being looked at as ‘the foreigner’. There will be quite a bit of mirth surrounding your adjustment to their culture. People will laugh while watching you try new foods or listening to you butcher the language, but remember they aren’t laughing at you in a mean way. They are enjoying the experience of seeing you try to assimilate (and let’s be honest, your friends and family will do the same to your partner, so you’re both in the same boat anyways).
Are you in a multi-cultural relationship? What are some of the things you’ve learned from dating someone from another country or culture?