International forum: Romance & Friendship - How Do Cultural Differences Affect Relationships?
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6 Jul 2014 03:19

There are many factors that can affect relationships and one that may get overlooked is culture. Living in the India the tendency is to assume that everyone you meet who is born and/or raised here has a similar viewpoint when it comes to dating. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! And, if you date someone who has been raised within a different culture then dating can get even more complicated. Just because someone doesn’t have an accent or he/she “doesn’t look culturally different” doesn’t mean there aren’t significant differences when it comes to their approach, practices and expectations to dating. Some of the differences can be subtle where others can be much more overt. I believe it is your job to take the time to learn about his/her culture so it can add to the relationship versus take away. Of course, it’s only fair if this is a two way street and your partner learns about your culture too. I hope this can be a fun part of the relationship and will be a great way to learn more about each other. In addition, you can learn about your dating partner’s culture via other sources and he/she will probably be very touched that you went to the trouble to do so. Be sure to ask questions as general cultural practices are just that, general and they may not apply to your partner. Be careful about assumptions!
It can be very enticing to date someone of a different culture. Because of the cultural differences they seem unique, special, exciting and sexy. This may all be true. Keep in mind they are also just human with their own personal background and they want to be understood and accepted. I want to highlight some of the differences that may come up that can affect the dating relationship.

6 Jul 2014 03:22

Personal space – this is different from culture to culture. Be aware that in some cultures it is the norm to be very close in proximity to the other person and in some cultures it is just the opposite and you might offend them by getting too close too soon. Learn about this early on especially prior to meeting friends or family members of your dating partner.
Family – In some cultures it is the norm to live with extended family well into adulthood as opposed to moving out of the family home at 18 or 19 years of age. Be aware of this as a cultural issue versus a sign that your new dating partner is immature and needs to live with his/her parents. You can imagine how this might affect a dating relationship because it may feel like you are dating the whole family and one-on-one time may be hard to come by.
Male and female roles – In some cultures the gender roles are very traditional and may seem “old fashioned” compared to what you are accustomed to. Your partner might be fairly flexible over time but his/her family may not be so this can be a relationship hurdle to get over. Are you willing to make compromises? It’s helpful if you can both bend a little and meet in the middle to make this work.
Getting serious – This varies from culture to culture. Is it okay to live together? Is it okay to have premarital sex? How long does a couple date prior to getting engaged? How involved is the family in your lives? If your relationship is moving in this direction we strongly recommend that you have some detailed discussions about how to blend your cultures and lives so that you can both be happy.
What have your experiences been dating someone of a different culture? Please share your stories friends!

11 Sep 2014 10:42

Cultural differences often become more acute when it comes to getting married or having children. Once a relationship becomes serious, you may have to make important decisions about where the wedding will be held, if/where you will worship and how your children will be raised. For example, if your partner regularly attends church, but you want to continue going to synagogue, your choices might include: 1) attend your respective services alone 2) rotate the weeks you attend at each location or 3) go to both services each week together. Cultural differences can also affect parenting decisions such as discipline, helping your child define and understand his/her cultural identity and what language(s) will be spoken in the home.
Our culture is part of our world

11 Sep 2014 10:43

While understanding your partner’s culture is important, you shouldn’t feel pressured to discard cherished parts of your own cultural traditions. Inter-cultural relationships require compromise but should not force one party to abandon core parts of his/her identity.