Diversity is a beautiful thing. There is no end to what we can learn from different cultures. Still, cultural differences can present certain challenges, especially when two people are trying to make a romantic relationship succeed. T-Pin and Bobby (that’s me) know that from experience. What are some keys to bridging the cultural divide and making love grow ever deeper? Here are some useful points:
Keep an Open Mind
Culture is deeply ingrained in every human being. To a large extent, it has a bearing on how we act, how we think, and how we feel. Culture is one of the major lenses through which we see the world. If you find yourself head over heels in love with someone whose culture is vastly different from your own, keeping an open mind is important because you are going to have to learn to see things from a new perspective.
That doesn’t mean you have to change your own values or give up the things you love about your culture. It just means that you must be willing to see the value of different ways of thinking. And always remember that when it comes to a lot of different aspects of life, there is no culture that is “right” or “wrong.”
Be Patient (Especially if You Have Different Native Languages)
T-Pin’s English is truly excellent. In fact, he knows a lot of technical things about English that I’m clueless about—and I’m a professional writer. However, the way a native speaks a certain language is almost always going to be different from the way a non-native speaker does. That means there might be some confusion about the connotations of different words and other little nuances of language.
If your partner says something that, on the surface, seems blunt or even inappropriate, be careful not to overreact. Instances like that are usually just due to language differences. Ask questions to find out what your partner really means. T-Pin and I usually end up laughing about those little moments. Sometimes they even create inside jokes for us.
Explore Each Other’s Cultures
If it’s possible, both parties should spend some time immersed in their partner’s culture. I only got to spend a couple of weeks in Haiti, but I’m so glad I did. Before I met T-Pin, I had no desire to go to Haiti. In fact, I had no desire to go anywhere tropical. Yet, there I was, in the Pearl of the Caribbean. My experiences there with T-Pin and his family helped me better understand the culture and what kind of man my T-Pin is.
Of course, you don’t have to travel to another country to get at least a taste of other cultures. Eating a country’s traditional food, doing research about its history, and listening to its music cand do a lot to open your eyes to the way other peoples think.
Don’t Be Afraid to Compromise
Disagreements happen in all relationships, which means that compromise is vital in all relationships. Learning to compromise might be particularly challenging if your partner has a vastly different background, but it’s worth every effort. Here are a few keys to compromising, according to a nifty article from Lifehack:
- Don’t always try to be right
- Know when to let things go
- Rethink your expectations
- Be willing to change
- Respectfully express your point of view
- Show your appreciation for the other person
Communication is essential for establishing, maintaining, and growing a romantic relationship. But it’s not always easy. Language differences, different ways of thinking, and other factors can make communication tricky sometimes. But you should never let those things stop you from communicating.
T-Pin and I talk pretty much every day, and sometimes we don’t have anything new or profound to say to each other. We just enjoy each other’s company. Because we always keep the lines of communication open, it’s easy for us to talk openly when we need to discuss something serious. That’s super-duper important, especially since we have different communication styles. The more we talk, the more familiar we become with how to say what we need to say in a way that kindly and respectfully gets the message across.
Enjoy the Differences
This might be the most important point in this article: Enjoy being in love! There is lots of negativity in the world, and it is easy to focus on the bad instead of the good. But there is lots of good—especially if you have found that special someone. That is true regardless of how different your cultures might be.
Being close to someone from another culture has tons of advantages. For example, you get to try new food and listen to new music. You get two homes (Haiti has a special place in my heart now). And, best of all, you get to be in love with someone whose feelings for you are strong enough to overcome any challenges that cultural differences might present.
Are you in a cross-cultural relationship? Use the comments section to let us know how you and your special someone make your love thrive.