If you’ve ever travelled to a different country or known a person from a different culture, you will understand immediately that understanding language, lifestyles, and popular words and phrases can take some time.
I have been dating a native Irishman for over a year. Still, after 14-15 months, he often says something that I’ve never heard before. Today, I discovered that rashers are bacon and bangers are sausages. Since we are both vegans, those words never came up before. I have learned to listen to the small ways he uses language different than I and inquire a great deal. The tiniest nuances can change the meaning of a sentence, even in an English-based language.
Personally, I think it’s fun to discover something new and out of the narrow box I’ve lived in for 50 years. What about cultural or language difference, though, that might get in the way of relationships? Should you consider this before dating someone from another country?
I answer the question below:
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Continued from above:
Love comes in many packages. However, understanding love when it comes in a package wrapped in a foreign language and unusual cultures may be something you would want to investigate before moving forward with the relationship too quickly.
An example that happened to me before I got involved with my fiancé was dating a Cuban man in South Florida. The Cuban culture is very different than most Latin American cultures. The men are more dominant. Being gay is not something most parents would accept. Passion and love are two very different things. The word “dear” is not used for someone who is a lover. Dear (estimado) is more of a friendship term and dear (cariño) is a more intimate way of expressing closeness.
When you express something in English, it can often be offensive to the Cuban. And ultimately fiery anger can happen. I have found this to be true with most Latin Americans. When North Americans might consider angry outbursts offensive, in other cultures they are quite normal. Does it mean that this person is not interested in you or doesn’t love you? Does it mean that they will be violent? The questions begin to mount as the relationship gets more serious. The language barrier becomes more and more prominent as you begin to desire to express deeper feelings about your love.
Americans have one word for love. Spanish people have many ways to express loving someone. So, when they use the word love, you have to inquire about which kind of love they are expressing. Is it love like a family member (quererse), is it like (gustarse), love like “really enjoy the most” (enamorse), love as in marital love or the love of a parent to a child (amar), expressing that you are a boyfriend or girlfriend (novio, novia), a couple (pareja), etc. There are actually some 36 ways to show different kinds of love at different intensities in the Spanish Language. Also, each Spanish-speaking country has different ways as well.
My point is this: Getting involved with someone from another culture who speaks English can be quite an eye-opener. More importantly, when you meet someone that you care for who speaks an entirely different language and has an entirely different cultural background than you do, you may be in for a really bad experience when expressing the much-needed “deep conversations” it takes to communicate your authentic feelings.
Personally, I’m not sure any lasting relationship can happen without being able to share the deepest words of your heart. Actions can express feelings, but words are our greatest way of sharing how we feel. When we can’t share these words, then this becomes a barrier to deeper love.
If you seek to not want to share your deepest feelings, this may be exactly why you are attracted to foreigners. But, getting into the relationship with full knowledge of your intention is very important. You do not want to end up marrying someone that you are passionate about and realize you have been deceived to get a Green Card, because you were never able to ask the questions you needed to ask.
Remember: a person doesn’t have to lie, when he or she doesn’t understand the question.
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