With worldwide travel becoming much more affordable and a greater movement of people looking for work it has become much more likely that you will date someone from another country. A cross-cultural relationship can be a truly amazing experience. There is so much to learn and so much to explore, it is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons. However, it’s not always easy to get beyond the first few dates because of differences in language and culture & religion. Here are a few tips to make sure your new relationship gets over those initial hurdles.
One of the main causes of conflict in a relationship, especially a new one, is the language differences. Miscommunication is an issue at the best of times but if you don’t both speak the same language there is a lot more potential for misunderstanding. If you are both speaking in a third language this can also be difficult because one partner is usually more fluent than the other.
Whatever language you do decide to converse in, the key is to be as patient as possible. Always make sure you speak clearly and remember not to speak too fast. In addition, mumbling, making jokes or using phrases that only a native would understand will all put pressure on your relationship. Over time you will both improve your language skills but in the beginning it is very important to be careful what you say and how you say it.
On the other hand, if your partner does speak a different language it can be a great opportunity for you. Learning another language has many benefits including improving your mind (and your CV!) but there is nothing better than to hear ‘I love you’ in your native tongue.
Cultural and religious differences
You may find that your new partner comes from a country with very strong traditions and significant cultural differences from your own. Try to learn as much as you can about where you partner is from, what the culture is like there and in particular what their religious beliefs are.
It can be quite surprising what is considered acceptable or not in another culture, especially where women are concerned. Potential causes of conflict could be what you can wear, what you can say and to whom, whether or not you can go places on your own and what is considered to be your role in the household. Some cultures are strict and their traditions can be jarring if you come from a liberal country.
To avoid or at least minimise potential problems, it is worth learning as much as possible about their culture as soon as possible. Be very careful with what you say and how you act at the start of the relationship. Don’t change who you are but be a little cautious until you know what might cause offence and what is acceptable.
In both instances flare-ups are usually accidental. One of you may have done or said something without thinking or without even realising it might cause offence. When this occurs just take a step back, think before you start speaking and just remember that it probably wasn’t done on purpose. Not many people want to start an argument or want to antagonise their partner so try to be as understanding as possible and try to resolve the problem before the situation deteriorates.
Cross-cultural dating is a great opportunity to expand your learning. Your new partner can teach you so much about his or her country, culture, language, traditions and religion. If you can overcome these first few problems, it is a great chance to learn more about the world we all live in.