Dating in Different Cultures

It is difficult enough dating the girl (or boy!) next door without the additional stress of going out with someone from a totally different culture than the one in which you were raised. Dating in different cultures can obviously present some very real problems, but it can also be an experience of a lifetime that just might last a lifetime if you are prepared for seeing things in a different light. Sometimes there are serious obstacles to overcome such as when two cultures are traditionally ‘at war.’ Other times, the obstacles are nothing more than a different way of doing the same things and easy to remedy. Even so, before dating in different cultures take the time to do a little research. It could save a lot of heartache in the end.

When Culture and Religion Overlap

Although there have been many lovers in history that came together against all odds because of differences in faith, this is perhaps the most difficult cultural difference to overcome. Take for example someone from a radical Islamic background trying to date an Israeli. Of course this is a bit extreme and would probably only happen so rarely as to not even enter into statistics, but it could very well happen. In this case it would be necessary to either choose to ignore one’s faith or to find a way to work around it.

Unfortunately, Islam and Judaism aren’t the only two faiths which have an ongoing conflict. Closer to home there are cultures such as the Catholic and Protestant Irish. Many young couples have been disowned because they chose to date ‘the enemy.’ Dating in different cultures can be a heart wrenching experience if there is enough history between the two. Before even agreeing to date, consider the ramifications that would result from this. Dating doesn’t mean that the relationship will end in marriage, but the two families will not see it that way 99.9% of the time.

Playing by Different Rules of Conduct

Perhaps nothing compares to the problems encountered when religion and politics enter into the equation. If two religions are diametrically opposed or two countries have been traditionally at war, then it might be a difficult obstacle to overcome. However, there are other things to consider as well. Just like no two people are ever the same, no two cultures are ever the same either. Things that are a part of everyday life for one may be unheard of in another culture.

Take for example children raised in the United States. They are taught to be independent and often have a vocabulary to go along with that independence. Kids in the States make no bones about telling their parents how they feel at any given moment while kids from other cultures are taught never to speak unless spoken to. Even adult children in many cultures of the world respect their parents enough to be quiet and listen when being addressed. Dating in different cultures can be especially embarrassing when meeting members of the family. Different cultures play by different rules of conduct.

Proper Etiquette Varies From Culture to Culture

As mentioned, American children are extremely outspoken and think nothing of speaking their minds. Other cultures are more disciplinarian in their approach to childrearing. However, proper etiquette carries over to other aspects of life as well from table manners to what can be done in public. Some cultures traditionally have the women walking a few steps behind the men while others find that holding hands in public is almost obscene. (Forget a kiss goodnight on the doorstep! It just isn’t going to happen.) Everything from holding hands to opening the door or pulling out chairs for ladies is viewed differently around the world and the way in which you behave may be seen as offensive.

Other traditions which might impact dating in different cultures could even include getting the father’s permission to date his daughter. When asking a lady out from a different culture, if she says you will need to speak with her father or elder brother first, don’t be alarmed. No, she doesn’t think you are asking for her hand in marriage. That’s just the way things are done in her culture. Likewise, if you are a woman who is used to having your dates arranged for you, don’t be reluctant to tell a man that he will need to talk to your family first. If he is any kind of gentleman he will have no problem with that.

Recognizing that there are differences form nation to nation as well as between religions of the world should pave the way for dating in different cultures. Even though there are some radical differences in the way in which we were raised or the God in whom we believe, we all believe in love. People are people even if they see the world from a different vantage point. Perhaps dating in different cultures would make each of us a better person in the long run as it would mean understanding that our own culture is not the center of the universe. If you have been reluctant to date someone from another culture, perhaps this information can give you the courage to take that step. After all, you never know until you try.



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