Every successful relationship takes work and has unique problems to overcome. When merging cultures, as in intercultural dating, dealing with new routines and customs can be stressful. Every obstacle becomes amplified, and minor issues, such as dressing, diet and religion that did not matter in previous relationships, suddenly become immense.
If you are in an intercultural relationship, our advice to you is to prioritise what you and your partner want. There will be challenges and barriers, but this article will elaborate on how to overcome them, the benefits of intercultural dating and the top five tips to guarantee you a successful relationship.
What Is Intercultural Dating?
Intercultural dating refers to relationships involving partners from diverse cultures with different values, views, and practices. Recently, the number of intercultural couples has increased tremendously due to people relocating from their native lands. Besides, the advancement of communication technology has also promoted the intermingling of people from different cultures.
Culture refers to a particular group of people’s behaviours and includes factors like language, diets, social activities, music, religion, and practices. Although most times daunting for couples, intercultural dating has so much to offer in cultural exchanges. Besides, it requires a lot of effort, understanding and patience from all the involved parties.
What Are the Common Barriers to Successful Intercultural Dating?
Intercultural couples have to deal with several barriers that include:
Language is a crucial part of communication, and not sharing a common first language can hinder your relationship development. It can result in misunderstandings, feelings of alienation, especially when interacting with your partner’s family and friends, frustrations and lack of shared humour.
Religion has a significant impact on the values and beliefs you apply in your life. Religious differences will affect the compatibility of your beliefs, your basic ideas about life and the general happiness of your relationship. Disagreements on religious views can eventually crumble your relationship.
Society expects you to date someone from the same culture as yours. There are already predetermined negative labels about certain cultures, and there are no expectations of you to find love from there. Overcoming these detrimental stereotypes with your partner can leave you drained and, if not handled well, will pose a huge problem to your intercultural relationship.
The Benefits of Intercultural Relationships
There are several exciting benefits of intercultural dating. Read on to find out.
Dating outside your culture introduces you to a new culture that you should learn and explore. Explore all aspects of your cultures, including your communication, the rites of passage and how to relate to others.
Most times, intercultural couples speak different languages, and it is interesting to have your partner as your language teacher. Even when you share a common first language, you need to learn unique slang and pronunciations from each other.
The differences in languages will necessitate developing more effective ways of communicating and understanding each other.
Your new tolerance and acceptance of a different culture will enable you to understand and get close to different people from diverse walks of life.
You will become more cultured as you learn from your partner’s different views and approaches towards life due to their different upbringing and culture.
What to Expect From Intercultural Dating
Here is a discussion of what you should expect from the intercultural dating experience.
Every successful relationship hugely depends on communication. Understand and accommodate each other’s communication styles to avoid unwarranted issues and heartbreaks.
If you have different cultures, you will most likely have different foods and diets. As you learn foods from your partner’s culture and them from yours, expect to improve your cooking skills and tastes.
Your partner’s society may have negative perceptions about your culture, but that should not discredit your relationship. Navigating these murky waters may hurt but let the negativity not get to you. Stay focused on your partner and your relationship.
Most intercultural couples are usually in long-distance relationships. They have to travel to meet their partner. Enjoy the thrill of going to new places and make life-long memories with your partner.
TOP 5 Tips for Successful Intercultural Dating
Intercultural relationships come with unique challenges that intercultural couples do not face. It is crucial to prepare adequately before deciding to date outside of your culture. Here are five random facts that you won’t believe are true but will guarantee you and your spouse a smooth intercultural dating experience.
Tip #1: Understand and Respect Your Differences
Respect is a fundamental aspect of all relationships and especially intercultural ones. In as much as you respect each other as people, you also need to respect your partner’s practices, beliefs and traditions as per their culture.
It is essential to stay genuine while also accepting your partner as they are. Allow them to be genuinely themselves and compromise on the things they do that you find different from your culture.
Dietary restrictions are some of the common differences that couples have to handle. For instance, if your partner’s culture is against consuming certain foods, respect their principles and offer alternatives. Besides, if your partner enjoys foods that you are against, avoid making a big deal out of it. Just find a balance.
Accepting and respecting your differences will avoid unnecessary disagreements while allowing you to focus on other core parts of your relationship.
Tip #2: Explore and Discover Your Cultures With Each Other
As you keep getting to know each other, you will realise that your partner has not experienced all that their culture has to offer, and neither have you exhausted yours. Take turns to experience both your cultures together.
For most intercultural couples, discovering each other’s traditional cuisines is one of the best parts. Besides, you could research recipes from your culture and strengthen your bond with your partner through cooking.
Besides, you can both occasionally plan trips to visit historical destinations and uncover more about your cultures. As you explore, you will share new perceptions of each other’s cultures and further strengthen your relationship.
Whichever way you choose to explore and discover your cultures, stay open to new things and experiences. It will help to avoid judgements and accept each other’s ways of life.
Tip #3: Overlook Third-Party Opinions
Most intercultural couples always encounter unsolicited commentary and weird looks from strangers and sometimes family and friends. Dealing with negative criticism may be draining, and giving in to unwanted pressure may look like a great option. It would help to ignore what the criticisers have to say and focus on your relationship.
Besides, your partner’s family’s negative stereotyping of your culture may leave you anxious when it is time to meet them. Some families are not open to intercultural dating and maybe harsh towards you. Be patient with them and keep working on you and your partner. They will come around with time.
If your family is having a hard time accepting your partner, they may be afraid of losing you to your partner’s family and culture. Let them know that they have nothing to worry about but take a stand on how important your partner and your relationship are a priority for you.
From the start, communicate to your friends and family that they should respect whoever you choose to date regardless of their culture.
Tip #4: Try to Learn Each Other’s Languages
Good communication is one of the key ingredients of a successful relationship. Intercultural couples who do not share a common language have a difficult time resolving arguments. Understanding a new language may be the hardest thing you will ever have to do, but it will save your relationship.
You do not have to understand everything; start by learning the basic words and improve with time. Teach each other the basics of your languages and get a professional to help with the advanced levels.
You will understand the importance of your partner’s local language when you visit them. You do not want to be left out of conversations when their family converses in their most comfortable language.
In cases where you share a common first language with your date, make an effort to learn their native language. It shows you are interested in them and their culture.
Tip #5: Have a Conversation About Religion
Religion is a very personal aspect of everyone’s life and is closely related to cultural beliefs. Whether you share a religion or not, have a profound conversion about how it impacts your lives.
Religion often affects values, and when people from different religions and cultures date, they bring different values to the relationship. It can result in huge barriers, and it is best to talk about them early in the relationship to avoid future irreconcilable differences.
If you foresee that your relationship may end up in marriage and children, discuss and agree on what religion you would want to raise your family. Ensure you are on the same page about your religions for a successful intercultural relationship.