How To Date Someone From Another Culture

July 19, 2013  |  
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As if love doesn’t naturally come with enough obstacles, falling in love with someone of a different culture has even more. But you can’t help whom you fall in love with, including a foreigner with different ways of thinking. But you can take steps to relate to them and make things work. Here’s how!

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Don’t do it for the shock value

Let’s start by getting all the wrong reasons to date someone of a different culture, out of the way. Don’t do it to prove to anyone that you’re open-minded. Don’t do it to upset your close-minded family. Don’t do it because it’s “cool” and “exotic” to date a foreigner. Not only is this not fair to the person, but the allure of that wears off after a few months—at tops a year.

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Don’t do it because they’re “cute”

Yes, it is cute to hear a foreigner struggle through a language that isn’t his. But if you want to date a foreigner because their “otherness” is cute, you are undoubtedly underestimating them, and failing to see the intelligence, charisma and unique personality hiding under that accent. Nobody can entirely be themselves when speaking in a foreign tongue, and they need their significant other to work extra hard to see what else they have to offer.

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Don’t do it to elevate yourself

Many people think it’s trendy or sophisticated to date someone from another country. Many even do it for the possible visa…But dating someone from another culture, to elevate your status in society, is no different from dating someone because of their financial standing, or because of their fame—it’s all for the wrong reason.

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Learn about their culture, but not just from them

Study up on the person’s culture, but not just by asking him questions. Research online. Ask others you know from that culture. Your significant other will appreciate you putting in extra time—even when you’re not with him—to understand him and his upbringing better.

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Discuss long term goals sooner rather than later

When dating someone brought up the same way as yourself, you can pretty safely bet he has the same ideas about household roles, family, how to raise children and so forth. But these areas vary greatly from culture to culture, and while things might be great while it’s just the two of you, you could bump heads when it comes to having a family. Talk about this ahead of time so there are no surprises.

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Expect resistance from his family

Even the most open and warm of families sort of wish their kids would marry within their own culture to carry on tradition. And because, face it, grandparents like their grandkids to resemble them as much as possible. Don’t get totally thrown off guard or act offended if you sense resistance: it’s not personal…most of the time.

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Expect jealous females

If you and your man are living on your home turf, but he has an extended social network of individuals from his culture, expect some jealous females. There are only so many men from his culture in this country, and you’re taking one of them.

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Remember that a different culture could mean different religion

The predominant religions vary from culture to culture, and even the predominant denominations of the same religions. Even if religion plays no role in your relationship now, it could when you want to marry and have children. Some individuals who don’t practice religion at all want to get back to their religious roots when they become parents. So discuss this.

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Discuss religion and kids

If it’s non-negotiable that his kids be raised in his religion, you need to know now so you can A) back out if that doesn’t work for you or B) start getting acquainted with that religion now, because converting is a life- changing decision, you should feel completely immersed in the religion before doing so, and that takes years.

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Don’t make changes that are solely for him

Be honest with yourself: if there is a change he wants you to make, do you yourself want to make it? If he wasn’t in your life, do you still think that change would make you happy? If not, you’ll end up resenting him.

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Don’t over-help him

There will be customs he fumbles on, words he can’t pronounce, situations in which he is awkward or naïve and definitely needs help with. Sit back. Let him figure it out. People are proud and men are especially proud. Help him if he asks for it, but otherwise, let him feel the accomplishment of getting acclimated to a new place and way of doing things all on his own.

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Don’t correct him in front of others

If he mispronounces a word, or chooses the wrong one, don’t correct him when you’re in front of others. It emasculates him. You can tell him later, in private.

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Visit his country

For the majority of the relationship, it will feel like you’re the “boss.” You’re on your home turf, you’re the one who knows how to get around and you feel totally at ease there. Let your partner feel like the “boss” sometimes and travel with him to his country, where he can show you the ropes. It will not only make him happy, but it will also give you a deep understanding of what he goes through every day in your country.

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Expect career difficulties

A man’s sense of accomplishment and of being a man is so deeply tied to his career success. Unfortunately, foreigners have a tougher time than locals getting jobs and rising on the ladder. Don’t feel guilty if you feel a little turned off to see him struggling, it’s only natural. But know that he will overcome it, and that you have to—more than ever—make him feel like a man right now.

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  • Dee

    IHM where are you?

  • ImaniJemilahJones

    How To Date Someone From Another Culture: Don’t.

    • Clara

      Why not?

  • kb

    Umm when someone is learning a language, is OK to correct them. Only Americans think this is rude.

  • Kam

    Can’t with the 15 clicks. They need to contact Huffpost, and a lot of other online publications to see who set their slideshows up and ask if they can help out. That being said, if your going to date/marry someone from another culture keep and open mind, and enjoy the experience. I married a Black/Mediterranean man, and the Mediterranean side is entertaining and interesting to say the least.

  • Charlene25

    Haha good article. Especially about the jealous females. I’m Jamaican and my boyfriend is Persian and some look at me like I killed their pet. :-p

  • L-Boogie

    Be open-minded and enjoy the ride.

  • Simple, learn as much as you can from them. Ask questions if you dont understand something. And spend time with his/her family and friends when the chance comes your way. Trying their food helps also. Sorry I couldnt take clicking through 15 pages of this.

    • Yanez

      I saw 15 pages and just went straight to the comment section. That is just too much. Please find a more user friendly way to prove how much traffic your site gets. @Crystal I agree with you 100%. If you want a lasting relationship be interesting in learning all aspects of who they are. That should set a solid foundation.