When you date someone from a different culture, there’s an even greater chance of misunderstandings and communication issues than when you date someone from your own culture. This is especially true if there is any type of language barrier, if either of you don’t speak the other’s native tongue fluently or have heavy accents, simple conversation can be a bit challenging.
There are many reasons why someone would choose to date someone from a different culture than their own. Making sure you have the right motive is also important. If you’re dating someone from another culture simply to agitate your family members or friends, or for “shock value,” then your relationship won’t last- especially if the other person realizes that he or she is being used as a “weapon.”
While many romance novels and movies center around a “foreign” lover and romanticize relationships with those from other cultures beyond our own, no relationship is just like a romance novel or “the movies.” A relationship takes a lot of work, a lot of compromise and a lot of patience and understanding on both sides. Depending on what kind of culture the other person is from, you may both end up sadly disappointed, due to unrealistic expectations and cultural differences.
When dating someone from a different culture, make sure you learn about their culture from other sources besides just them. He or she will be pleasantly surprised that you took the time to learn about their little part of the world and their society, and they can also help correct you in any misunderstandings you may have about traditions and etiquette.
If you find yourself getting serious with someone from a different culture, make sure you are both on the same page about long-term goals, the way you’d like to raise a family, sharing household chores, etc. Amazingly enough, it’s the minor cultural differences such as how involved the in-laws are in day to day life, who should be the primary bread-winner or do the household chores that actually will make or break a long-term relationship or marriage between those from different cultures.
Dating and relationships aren’t easy, even if it’s with someone you’ve known all of your life and whom you have every interest in common. Each person has his or her own little personality quirks, bad habits, and their own personal baggage. So when dealing with dating someone from a different culture, this is important to remember. And it’s important to realize that you may have to compromise more so than most other couples you know if you intend to make a long-term commitment.
If you find that the cultural differences are simply too much for your budding relationship, it’s best to be completely honest with yourself and the other person. Don’t attempt to continue a relationship that you know will only lead to heartache and stress for you later on. If it comes down to making the crucial decision of whether or not to continue dating a person from another culture or not, remember that while many things can be overcome and compromises made, some parts of our culture are too deeply ingrained. Attempting to force another person to adapt to your culture is as unfair as them expecting you to do the same thing for them.
Dating someone from a different culture is a wonderful way to make lifelong friends, learn about other cultures, and maybe even find your life partner. But understanding, patience, acceptance and compromise are key to making it work.