Differences are normal in every relationship, and our differences should be celebrated. But dating someone from a different cultural background can have its own unique challenges and learning opportunities.
Growing up in different environments with various beliefs, values, practices, and behaviours can make it tricky to understand each other at times. Things can get confusing and even frustrating, but the important thing is to respond to cultural clashes with respect, kindness, and understanding.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when dating someone from another culture.
Reflect on your own experiences
Our experiences shape our beliefs, and our beliefs significantly impact our relationships and our lives in general.
When it comes to dating someone from a different culture, knowing yourself and what has influenced your own worldviews is a great place to start. Spend some time reflecting on your personal experiences, upbringing, and culture. How have these things made you who you are today?
Some questions for self-reflection might include:
- How would you describe your cultural identity?
- What family traditions did you have growing up?
- What does it mean to be polite in your culture?
- What is considered rude in your culture?
- What do you like most about your culture?
- What do you like least about your culture?
- What does success look like in your culture?
- What is a unique belief that people from your community have?
- What are the three most important things that people should know about your culture?
- When people from other countries think about your culture, what do they usually think of?
Learn about their culture
Knowing more about your partner’s culture can help you understand why they have certain beliefs, behaviours, and traditions, instead of relying on assumptions or stereotypes.
You can learn about their culture by doing your own research, asking them questions, or a combination of both. If your partner speaks another language, you might even take the time to learn a few phrases.
Expressing an interest in their culture shows you accept and embrace them. It could be a great opportunity to learn more about each other and increase the intimacy in your relationship.
Discuss your expectations
A difference in expectations is only going to lead to problems – especially if those expectations are unknown or unclear.
Communication is key in every relationship, particularly when your differing cultural backgrounds often have you on different pages as a default.
Discuss your expectations and listen to your partner’s point of view. You’ll likely find that with open communication and an open mind, you can find some common ground and compromise to keep both parties happy.
See differences as learning opportunities
Dating someone from another culture requires ongoing patience and understanding.
Embrace disagreements as opportunities to expand your mind and empathy. And most importantly, remember that at the end of the day, you’re both human beings with more similarities than differences.
Celebrate your differences as well as your shared interests, dreams, plans for the future, and love for each other.
If you’re having a tough time navigating your relationship, a counsellor can help you explore your concerns and potential solutions. We also offer multicultural programs that are sensitive to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) clients.
You can call us on 1300 364 277 to make an appointment or learn more.
Keen for more relationship tips? You might like our blog post How to be a Good Listener.