Dating someone from another culture is something that can at once be beautiful and fascinating, but it does come with its own unique set of challenges, and in some cases these challenges might be more than you would face in a relationship with someone from your own culture. For example it may well be the case that in dating someone from another culture you find you have very different beliefs views and values. For example, if you have children and you are from two different religions, then how do you decide which one to bring the children up with? Likewise if you celebrate different holidays do you choose just one? Do both? And then there are the problems that can be faced by your friends and relatives, with many cultures not smiling on marriages or dating between cultures. Often you will find that parents either frown upon the coupling or even forbid it, and this can be very distressing individually, and can also place stress on the relationship that is often going to come out as an argument or debate – it is never nice to feel as though someone’s parents do not like you, and it can be hard explaining to a girlfriend or boyfriend why you have not introduced them to your parents.
All this can mean that for many people dating outside of their culture or even nationality seems to be more trouble than it is worth. However this is to miss out on many of the fantastic opportunities it brings. First of all, it shows you a whole new way of life and for many people this can be incredibly eye opening and help them to be more understanding and accepting of other people’s beliefs and traditions. It can also be a great experience in that you get to sample a new way of life – you get to visit a new country perhaps, try new food, listen to different music and generally see the beautiful things that another culture has to offer. You can then take the best that both your traditions have to offer and create something new and unique. If you do have children as well you can expect them to be far more worldly and understanding than most children are. At the same time it might surprise you to learn that mixed nationality children have far better genetics and are much more immune to genetic illness than children from other cultures.
More to the point though, if you love someone, and if you really enjoy being around them, it would be a terrible travesty for your culture or religion to stand in the way of you being together. Even if you do have differences, these might be the things that attract you to each other, and like any relationship they are worth fighting for if you want to be happy. It is also important to recognise that we all have different beliefs and cultures, and that no two people are really completely alike. If you go out with someone from the same culture, and even from the same exact region, that does not mean there will not be disputes. You still might argue about how to raise your children – whether you should be strict or un-strict, which schools to send them to, whether to let them have a Playstation. At the same time you might find that your views on relationships differ – maybe one of you likes great sweeping displays of emotion while the other finds them embarrassing. Maybe one of you thinks you should get married as soon as possible, while the other thinks it is important to wait until they are a bit older and have some life experience… These differences will still come from our culture – the way our parents behaved, the way our friends are acting and more. At the same time it will also come down to what you believe personally, and your own character. These things are just as likely to get in the way of a relationship as any cultural differences, and at least with the culture and religion you know what you are getting going in. To avoid a cross-cultural relationship because of the differences you will have then is really folly, as all these problems are still going to come up in a relationship with someone from a similar background.
Making these differences work, just as in any other relationship, is all about compromise and understanding. Do not judge someone for believing what they believe or for behaving the way they behave. They’ve been brought up that way and they probably find the way you are acting just as odd. This is a part of who they are and if you love them then you should learn to love their loyalty to their culture and traditions too. Do not try and change them, and do not change to be more like them. Then when it comes to the big questions, like ‘where to get married’, or ‘where to send our children’, try to find a suitable compromise that you can both agree on. You might just have the most colourful and international wedding of all your friends.