Dating a foreigner may seem exciting and it definitely is. There are so many things that you have to learn in a relationship, apart from each other. His culture, his traditions, his holidays and so much more. You expand your horizons and your knowledge of his culture and him to yours and while all that may be fun and thrilling in the beginning, you will, inevitably, feel the strain at some point in the relationship.
Being in the dark
You go back to his hometown and meet his family and friends who have been part of his life for 20something years. The ones who love him and the ones he love. The ones who helped to sculpt him into being the man that you fell in love with.
But if you are just like me and don’t completely understand his language fluently, social events may prove to be difficult situations.
When there’s laughter involved, you awkwardly smile because you don’t quite understand the joke.
When there’s a group conversation going on, you sit around twiddling your fingers because you don’t quite understand the topic.
When a question is directed to you, you answer awkwardly, hoping that you have understood the question correctly.
Will I ever be able to understand and integrate with his people?
While most of your friends and his will be happy for the two of you, there will definitely be more than a few people who think that all the differences you have will eventually kill your relationship. You get defensive and start to stand up for each other and before you know it, you find yourself in a trap.
You’re second guessing yourself and asking if this relationship can make it through all the differences. Never mind personality differences, what about cultural differences? Behavioural differences?
Will this make it to the finishing line?
You spend so much time with him that there’s no doubt that you will pick up some of his lingo and he will pick yours up too. But when you start using his lingo, your friends may snigger and make fun of you. Worse, if you use his lingo in front of HIS friends and they outrightly laugh at you for the way you’re saying it.
Of course, there’s always the scenario of his friends finding it endearing that you’re trying to learn their lingo.
Open up your ears
No matter how well you speak his language, there will always be a slight language barrier. He may need more time to translate in his mind and even when he explains it to you, you may still not understand him. Have I mentioned expressions, idioms and phrasal verbs?
Needless to say, it’s going to frustrate you even more when you try it in his language and the same thing happens.
Hence, you’re going to have to listen harder and pay more attention more than you would with a fellow native. Look at it on the bright side, you’re practising your listening skills!
If you’re just starting to learn the language (which means there’s no way in hell you can understand 2 natives speaking), you will have to rely on your boyfriend to translate the conversation for you.
Having to play translator when he wants to have fun and spend time with his friends and family is going to guilt you up every single time he translates for you.
You are going to have differing beliefs, habits and practises. He may go to bed at 10pm while you are an owl who only gets to bed at 2am. He may want to eat every single meal together while you just want to eat whenever you want. The truth is, apart from the fact that you are both individuals and have different personalities, you were both raised in very different ways.
What seems right for you may not be as right for him.
Here’s a tip: If you’re the one living abroad and in his country, then it’s on you to adapt to the new culture as best you can. You were the one who chose to be in a new country and should therefore be ready to embrace all parts of it.
It is very common to hear stories of massive arguments that started out because of a language barrier. In some countries, “ok” is perfectly fine to say to your partner and yet it could be deemed as rude and abrupt in other countries.
Communication is the key if you are in a duo nationality relationship. You have to be ready for misinterpretation and it can take a while to get used to expressions, tone of voice and even the way of speaking.
If the relationship gets serious, THE CHAT is unavoidable. You know… marriage, kids, where to live. Regardless of where you decide to live, one of you will definitely be far away from your family.
However, if you’re not planning on returning back to your home country, then this is moot. Either way, the decision you make can change your life forever.
As I like to say, love conquers all and if you truly love each other, all the difficulties in the world won’t stop you from wanting a life together. So take that plunge and go deep.
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