In these times when globalization has brought together different people and cultures closer than ever before, dating someone from another country is an entirely plausible situation. Whether at the workplace or through social contacts you may have met an attractive foreign student or guest worker. Indeed the presence of online dating has added further fillip to getting to know people from other lands. Here are a few things you can expect when dating someone from another country.
Be prepared for cultural differences
If the person you are dating has recently arrived in your country, chances are that he/she is still getting used to the ways here. Both parties need to adjust to one another’s culture. You can start by learning more about values and traditions of the country of your partner’s origin. By doing this, both of you will create mutual respect for each other’s personal beliefs. In general people from traditional societies like south Asian and Middle East are rather conservative in their cultural ways and may be hesitant to stay out late in the night on a date or show affection in public. Apart from broad differences in values, you can expect some quirky ways and things from your partner; women for instance from some North European countries like Norway and Sweden are used to paying on a date and you may find your lovely Scandinavian partner doing the same with you as well. Likewise people from Japan are quite formal in their behavior and even if your Japanese admirer is the one to initiate the date, you may be puzzled when he politely refuses to be drawn into a game of flirting. Instead of taking offence at such acts, you will learn to appreciate your partner’s position better once you do your homework on the culture and ways of their country.
Communication may require an extra effort
Usually guest workers and foreign students are required to have a functioning knowledge of the language of the country they are visiting. Even then communicating with your date from another country may pose some problems especially when more complex issues like values and culture are being discussed. You may have only enough have limited knowledge of each other’s language; indeed there are many words and phrases that are unique in a culture and appear to be impossible to translate into another language or make it relevant to another culture. All this could make conversation during a date rather stilted. There could be awkward gaps in the conversation and it may become rather tiring having to explain simple things which you take for granted in your life, like why hot dogs are called so when they have nothing to do with the canines at all.
If you have just started dating someone from another country, be careful to avoid controversial topics of conversation. Usually religion, sexuality and politics are considered taboo on initial dates and with good reason too since they inspire attitudes and passions which can quickly get conflicted and extreme. In fact your country may be at odds with nations and cultures of many parts of the world and when discussing politics, each of you may feel obliged to defend your country even at the risk of a potential relationship. Rather ask your date about his/her work or college if he/she is studying. Invite them to tell you about their friends or describe the best vacation that they took. You could also chat about favorite films, actors and writers if you want to stick to something safe and yet interesting. Avoid asking too many questions about her culture or background on the very first date. Actually this could be a sticky point since it could be a source of pride or consternation for your partner. The best thing for you to do would be to take your cue from him/her. Make a general, positive remark about their culture and then see how they responds – if they seem happy and eager to talk about it, you can ask them a few more questions; on the other hand if they seems to clam up, go on to talking about other things. In any case, think carefully before you say anything since cultural and religious differences could be a sensitive issue here.
Foods and their importance
Dietary habits are one of the most important markers of nationality and culture. Dating someone from a different country will always involve eating foreign food. So expect some changes in your diet. The key here is in being open to all kinds of dishes. Some of these may have smells, textures and flavors that are completely unknown to you and thus you may be reluctant to try them out. On such occasions keep in mind that your date too has the same thoughts when exposed to the culinary traditions of your country. More than once, your dates may be planned around culinary experience, whether your partner wants to eat his/her native food for which they are homesick or whether you wish to introduce your partner to the best and most interesting of what your culinary culture has to offer. Then again, your partner may keep off certain foods like pork or beef as part of their cultural or religious ways. So when dating someone from another country and culture, always check with your date before ordering the menu or cooking something for them yourself.
Opportunities to explore
And yet dating someone from another country does not imply walking on eggshells all the time. This can be the most enjoyable way of getting to know another culture – partaking of its culinary specialties, celebrating its festivals and who knows maybe even visiting another country and being hosted by your partner’s family there. Indeed traveling is one of things to keep in mind if your relationship takes a more serious turn. At one point or another, you will be invited to meet the family or to learn about another culture. If you are looking at marriage or a committed relationship expect some discussion on moving half way around the globe either permanently or several months a year. Whatever both of you decide on eventually, be open to adjustments. All you need is understanding and patience to adapt to another culture and delight in the best that it has to offer.