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5 Tips for Dating a Foreign Man
Dating a foreigner can be exciting, exhilarating and just a bit tricky. There will most likely be hurdles that need jumping in the culture department, but with a little tact and finesse these can be overcome with relative ease. I have dated foreigners in my home country, and I have dated foreigners in foreign countries, and I've been the foreigner dating someone in their own country. Therefore, as you might imagine, I've pretty much got all the angles covered when it comes to the topic of dating a foreigner! So have a look through the following tips and get the edge on the best ways to deal with certain situations that will inevitably arise!
1. Learn his language
If you're an expat living in a foreign country, it's just plain common sense to learn the local language. So, if you're dating someone in their own country, you'd be wise to start learning their lingo asap. You can do this by taking a course and I highly recommend doing so, even if your guy is already fluent in your own native language. This will make it easier to blend into his culture, and when you're the foreigner, it only makes sense to learn how to do this. If you're in a situation where you and your guy are both foreigners in another country, it still makes sense to learn his language if you intend to stick with him for the long haul.
Never, ever, ever say:
"You (insert nationality here) are all the same!" I've heard this loads myself, and it's highly annoying. Don't say this to your man, no matter where he's from! Nobody likes to be painted with that brush, unless you're saying something like, "You Frenchmen are all fantastic kissers!" (Although, now that i think about it, that could lead him to ask just how many Frenchmen you've kissed... See? Better to not go there at all!
"You (insert nationality here) did this, this and that during the war!" Odds are slim that your specific guy is responsible for any particular war crime, so don't blame him for something his government did. I was not fond of people asking me why "I" went to war with Iraq for no apparent reason, so please don't do this to your man.
"Your English is really crap, why can't you speak well?" Unless you speak his language fluently, you really aren't in a position to criticize how well he speaks yours. And if you do speak his fluently, help him learn yours! You get more flies with honey and all that, right?
"My country is the best!" I hear this a lot in the country I live in. I can deal with it because hey, I prefer living here than in my own. But when you say things like this it totally alienates everyone else and it's not a nice feeling for the foreigner. So don't make your man feel like you're a nationalist. There isn't a perfect country on this Earth.
"Your religion is stupid." Or any version of that. Even if your think your own religion is stupid, you don't want to put anyone else's down, especially those who grew up in a country where religion was really important.
And if he's the foreigner in your own country, it will probably impress him to no end if you go out of your way to learn his language when there isn't a pressing need to do so. Miscommunications can take a huge strain on a relationship when one person thinks the other has said something utterly different than what was really said... this is why it always helps to speak their own language! Besides, learning his language will probably also endear you to his family, and that's never a bad thing!
2. Learn his country's history
No matter where you and he are living, it would do you well to learn about his country's history, particularly the time-period in which he grew up. Even if you think you already have a general idea, make a point of learning the finer details. You can do this on your own via the internet, but you should also ask him to give you background on it, as it shows you're interested in where he comes from. But be sure to do this sensitively if he comes from a region that was oppressed for whatever reason. Do not assume that your history books are totally unbiased -- research the facts well.
And be prepared for a heated description of events if he does come from one of these areas. I dated a Serbian who was drafted into an unbelievable war at the age of 18, and whose country's history was then widely distorted by western media, with many groups all being painted with the same brush. And even though most of the truths of that war have been established by now, it's still a very sensitive topic. So if you're dating someone from a country like this or others, approach it with sensitivity, and remember that many people from Eastern Europe, the Balkans and other countries that were oppressed tend to cringe when Americans and other westerns ask these questions, because they often feel like they've already been judged before questions have even been asked.
3. Learn the difference between his culture and the next one over
It's easy for many westerners to lump certain groups into one big "people". This is very annoying for some, and you really should make a point of understanding the difference between his culture and that of nearby countries. Don't lump the Chinese and Japanese together and think he's simply "Asian". Don't confuse an Arab with a Persian or Turk. The importance of this can be easily appreciated when you consider that even NY'ers would not take kindly to being confused with Texans, even though they are both Americans. Ok, that's a little oversimplified, but I think you get the idea! Every country is unique and everyone is proud of their own heritage.
4. Learn about his religion and show respect for it
Your man might have the same religion as you, but if he doesn't, you should take the time to read up on and it learn what it means to him. In some parts of the world religion is a passing thought and in others it's a daily way of life. Be aware that if his religious beliefs are very strong, he might want you to convert. Alternatively, your own religion might require that he convert to yours before you can be married. These could be very important issues late on, so be sure to think about them sooner than later.
5. Learn to compromise
There will surely be cultural differences that both of you find difficult to adjust to. For example, in Germany people tend to be very punctual and will show up on time if invited to dinner. In the middle east. people often show up 2 hours late to a dinner party and this not really considered rude. In America you'd probably walk through your host's home wearing your shoes, but in many former soviet bloc countries this is considered extremely rude and you should remove your shoes at the door. When you're dating a foreigner you will need to adjust your behavior, and they theirs, so that no one is offending anyone to the extreme. You can get around these things easily enough. For example, if you hate it when people are 2 hours late for dinner, simply suggest a time that is 2 hours earlier than when you want to eat! There is always a solution, you just need to be creative. Don't compromise your principles, however, as that could lead to subconscious hostilities between the two of you.