Cross cultural dating relationships

Guilt - The ideologies we grow up with never really leave us. Even if you reach a point in life where you lose or change your faith, those core principals you grew up with can leave their mark. Guilt is a big part of letting some or all of your beliefs and practices go, and this guilt can quickly lead to one partner resenting the other for leading them away from their birth culture.

Religious differences have been known to rip good, loving relationships apart. Learning how to deal with them is paramount. Religious differences don't have to signal the end of a relationship - having conflicting views about the world can be a healthy and enlightening experience.


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Couples counselling is designed to help you step back from your relationship and see it as a separate entity, away from both you and your partner. Your counsellor will encourage you to investigate the role religion plays in your relationship. What parts does it impact? The way you feel about each other? Next, your counsellor will help you identify the point at which religion started to have a negative effect on your relationship. By looking back at how your relationship formed and the role religion played right at the beginning, you can work on reclaiming those initial feelings.

Your religion need not smother your personal identity. It is possible to accept and embrace your partner's beliefs while staying true to your own. Variety is the spice of life, and as long as you respect one another's decisions, the odd disagreement shouldn't stand in the way of happiness.

Cross cultural dating and relationships - Expat Guide to Spain | Expatica

Language is an important part of communication, but it is not actually necessary. Thousands of unspoken messages pass between people whenever they meet.

We are all the same – no matter where we come from

A glance here, a foot tap there, a flick of the hair, a tensing of the shoulders. Every movement tells a story and romance offers the richest vocabulary. While many cross cultural couples start out not understanding each other at all, normally at least one partner speaks the others' mother tongue - albeit basically. While a shared first language is not necessary for a happy romance, not having one can bring up challenges in the long run, including the following:.

Crossing the boundaries of love

Humour - A lot of humour is verbal; could you cope with your partner not understanding your jokes, or you not understanding theirs? Misunderstandings - Language is the key to instructing, directing and expressing. If you can't do these things properly then you open yourself up to misinterpretation, which in turn can lead to conflict.

Frustration - When you have feelings for someone, you probably want to get as close as possible to them. Not speaking the same language as them means you will always have a barrier between you, something which can become very frustrating over time. Alienation - Meeting a partner's friends and family is a nerve-wracking experience for anybody. When you don't speak the same language, this experience can be 10 times as daunting.

When everyone around you is speaking in a different language, it can sometimes feel like they are talking about you. Although they probably aren't, the paranoia and the frustration of not being able to engage in the way you want to can lead to feelings of alienation. Counselling can help to improve communication pathways between couples, even when those couples don't share a first language. By clearing up misunderstandings and voicing secret feelings about alienation and frustration, couples can step out from the tangle of problems miscommunication presents and start with a clean slate.

Make the effort - Even if your partner is a foreigner in your country, by taking the time to learn their language you can show that you want to be a part of their world as much as they've become a part of yours. Strengthen other communication channels - Find ways to reinforce messages to avoid misunderstandings - especially things like times and places to meet. Consider social gatherings - Ask friends and family to speak in your partner's language if possible, or to speak slowly without using informal language they might not recognise.

Be patient - It takes time and practise to learn a new language. Eventually, with patience and understanding, you will find a unique way to communicate with your partner. If you've moved to a different country, changed religion, or sacrificed your own culture to embrace your partner's, you may begin to feel a little departed from the person you used to be.

When you integrate into a new culture, you often have to leave some of your old habits behind. Soon, it becomes apparent just how important those small habits were to you, and how much they impacted your own sense of identity. A counsellor will help you to think of ways you can reclaim parts of your old identity in a way that doesn't stop you integrating well into your partner's culture.

It is possible to hold onto your identity while embracing a new culture and, with the help of a counsellor, you can start to explore what makes you you. After all, you are an individual and while the culture you grew up in might have helped shape your identity, it does not own you - you are in control.

Cross Cultural Relationships: 4 Ingredients for a Successful Intercultural Love Story

There is no single formula for a happy, long-term cross cultural relationship. Relationships are always different and what works for one couple might not for another. Whatever challenges you face on your journey, whatever complications arise from the differences between you, it is important to always remember that there was a reason you started your relationship in the first place. It might become tainted, marred, or forgotten - but that reason will never really disappear.

Don't expect your partner to settle seamlessly into your way of life. Even if they're the foreigner and you're the native, you should see the relationship as a merging of cultures rather than that person adopting yours. Respect their differences, learn about them and look at where you might have to compromise to help them feel happy. Relationships should always be about finding a comfortable balance. If one of you isn't making enough effort, then cracks will start to form. Visit each other's home country, learn one another's language even if they speak yours and read up about their religion and cultural history.

If you're not interested, why are you with this person? Making the effort to get out there and experience life from their perspective shows that you care and that you want to know them better.


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The issue of children can be a big one for cross cultural couples. How do parents from different heritages instil a solid sense of identity in their child? Instead of seeing yours and your partner's separate cultures as two different identities, see your relationship as one. Teach your children about both cultures and explore with them the differences between the two, focussing on how they work together and the positives that can be drawn from both.

Cross cultural relationships

Rearing your children to be bilingual is also a good idea so as not to alienate one half of your couple. Having a different perspective on life is a valuable thing - you have so much to learn from one another. See your differences as a good thing that enhances your relationship, rather than a stumbling block.


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First, however, a little disclaimer. The city is infamous for being a particularly soulless, superficial and harsh place thanks to the allure of Hollywood. Every day beautiful people arrive from all over the world with one goal in mind: As a result, the town is full of narcissistic personality types with pretty faces. There also seemed to be a more natural beauty to European women and an approachability to them.

But the differences were more than skin deep. Then again, the whole concept of work is much different in Spain.

Cross cultural dating and relationships

I have also been told the idea of dating is a particularly American thing to do — another aspect of life in Barcelona that surprised me in my first year. Many locals my age were with their high school or college sweetheart and some already had children. It was more Hollywood than Hollywood, where most of my friends and I thought of settling down only when we were at least Luckily for me, not all Spanish women married their first love, as I met my future wife at the ripe old age of Relationships are incredibly complex things, which like dark matter, I only vaguely understand.

And being with a person from a different country definitely adds an element of unpredictability. Like any couple, we squabble from time to time. Written by an American expat, From Barcelona is a blog dedicated to the city, the life and the people of the capital of Catalunya Catalonia. This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience. Which cookies and scripts are used and how they impact your visit is specified on the left.