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Cultural differences between two people in a relationship can be both, a blessing and a curse. Here are some important things you need to keep in mind.
He will never get tanned even if he stays out in the sun for ten hours. You stay out in the sun for 30 minutes, and your yellow skin turns golden brown. You eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She will be like, “What rice?” He can never shower without hot water. You have been doing the ice bucket challenge every single day of your life. You probably go to the church every Sunday or worship on a Saturday night, and she will be like, “Do I need to pay an entrance fee?”
Cultural, physical, religious differences are just a few of the challenges interracial couples go through. It is more than just, “East meets west.” Every day is like being in a classroom with a thousand new things to learn about your better half. It’s like tasting a foreign dish for the first time: you don’t know if the presentation of the food will offer the same taste.
Now you are probably wondering, are intercultural relationships really that difficult and different from any other relationship? But if it is difficult and different, how come you see a lot of these types of relationships everywhere? You have Europeans and Asians, Arabics and Americans, Australians and South Americans, Africans and Canadians, and almost every possible combination out there.
What is it like to date someone from a completely different culture?
Before you join in the bandwagon of adventure, take note of these ten things that might just save you a future heartbreak.
#1 It’s all about your English proficiency. How are you guys even going to begin the relationship without having to utter at least a couple of words? Staring at each other would probably work for the first five minutes, but then afterwards, you would both need to open your mouths and say those words that would make the first impression last.
If both of you are bearing different passports and citizenships, you’re most likely to speak different languages. Unless one of you can speak the other’s mother tongue or have a different language in common, then English would be your lifeline.
Now, the difficulty lies within the depth of your English knowledge. Direct translations of words from your mother tongue to English may not work so well, and may be misinterpreted. It’s better to simplify what you want to say, just to ensure you’ll both understand each other.
#2 Worldly cuisine. Food is definitely one of the things that you should know a lot about when in an intercultural relationship. For example, some Europeans do not like mixing sweet food and salty food in one dish. Some of them would not even eat grilled meat coated in sweet sauce.
On the other hand, Asian cuisine likes the mix of sweet and sour. And let us not forget the Asian’s love of rice, while the other half of the world like their pasta and bread, and prefer to have rice as a side dish for certain occasions.
It’s important to consider that coming from two different geographical locations entail different palates. It would take time to get used to having a meal with your partner eating bread and you having a bowl of noodles. But you will get there, even if you have to hunt for that restaurant that caters to both of your taste buds.
#3 It’s 4:00 am here, but it’s 10:00 pm there. Even though you and your partner might be in the same country now, there will be a chance that one of you will have a vacation to their motherland. Hence, we commence the battle of time zones!
You will need to open that extra bag of patience you have hidden under your bed for this, because having to wake up and read messages that your significant other is just about to sleep is going to be difficult. There will only be a few minutes or windows of opportunities where you both can talk, and sometimes, if both of you are busy with engagements, it would not even be possible. This will be both, a test of patience and trust, at the same time. The great news is that when you both get out of this alive, it will mean a stronger relationship and the ability to survive more difficult challenges ahead. [Read: How to make your long distance relationship work]
#4 But that is not in my job description. Not only will your life be twisted and turned upside down, but also your work ethics. If you have met your significant other at work, you will probably notice by now that there are a couple of things that they are fond of doing or saying that you strongly oppose.
There are some nationalities that insist on only doing what is written in their job descriptions and refuse to do extra work that they deem to be unrelated to their labels. But lo and behold, there are other nationalities that will go above and beyond their jobs descriptions, and even volunteer overtime work for something that is not even under the brackets of their departments. The key to getting through this will be to understand and not to impose your beliefs on your partner.
#5 My dad, your tata. My mami, your mum. Getting your significant other to meet your family that has raised you from the other corner of the world will probably top the list of things to make you the most anxious. You’ll introduce your partner to relatives who were born and raised in an entirely different culture, and their little habits may come off as strange to your partner, and vice versa.
Likewise, your more traditional family members might ask you why you chose to date someone who’s so different from you. You may then need to defend the idea that the world is becoming one huge melting pot, where people can mingle and get married to other cultures. [Read: Things to remember when meeting the parents for the first time]
#6 We have one faith. Or two faiths. Or even maybe three? Oh yes, religion. That age old debate that you will never want to get yourself into. Let’s face it, the odds of you having the same faith as your different raced partner is very little. But the mere fact that you are both willing to be in a relationship already means that having different faiths will not be a problem.
Just have a heads up about respecting what your partner practices in terms of religion, and do your best not to get into a heated religious debate, because those arguments will never truly be resolved. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts of a relationship argument]
#7 Happy Christmas/Merry Hanukah/Blessed Easter?! Different parts of the world celebrate different holidays. The Hindus have their Diwali, the Chinese have their new year in February, the Americans have their Thanksgiving, and the Irish have St.Patrick’s day.
While you may not be celebrating any of your partner’s holidays, it would be nice if you can try to join in and have fun with their celebration. It doesn’t mean you have to share the belief and the meaning behind it, but to see your partner basking in that holiday mood would be enough to make you want to blend in.
#8 Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall. Some parts of the world have four seasons, while others just have summer all year long, and the tropical countries experience a mix of rain and sun. With these weather conditions that you grew up in come the clothes for each of these as well.
Those who hail from snowy countries may find it appropriate to wear shorts and crop tops in the coldest season of a tropical country. Likewise, those who hail from hotter countries may be all covered up in the warmer seasons of a snowy country.
Aside from clothes, the way their bodies react to different weather conditions will also be different. Some may be more sensitive to the pollen in the air during the spring, while others may be prone to migraines during the summer. It’s all about being prepared!
#9 Are we going to move to your country or to mine? At one point in the relationship, especially if staying in the common country is no longer an option, couples will have to relocate. For some, this might be the breaking point or the decisive end to the relationship, but for others, this will be the start of another adventure.
There are so many things to think about like working opportunities, climate, geographical area, food, housing – your mind will most likely explode from all the thinking, so it would probably be best to plan slowly and deliberately. You and your partner might not be in this phase yet, but it would be nice for your mind to meander on this. [Read: What makes a long distance love survive the odds?]
#10 It must be lust. They won’t have a future. He must be after her money. And so many other numerous judgmental phrases from the onlookers as you and your partner pass by. You are lucky if both of you resemble each other physically, so it will not be an attention seeking pairing. But if the physical contrast is great, for example, a Japanese male and an African female, not everyone has an open mind.
The reality is that interracial and intercultural dating, no matter how commonplace, will always be subject to the scrutiny of those who don’t accept or understand it. What you can do about this is to just let the snide remarks slide and find solace in the company of people who support your partnership.
[Read: 5 more thoughts about intercultural dating to remember]
Intercultural dating can be a rewarding challenge, especially if you and your partner are willing to work through your differences. Just imagine how much richer your cultural knowledge would be when you open your hearts and minds to the wonders of a foreign culture!
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