So many times recently, I’ve seen more and more blogs or questions with regards to being in an Intercultural Relationship with someone from an Asian culture.
The core of the issue is the Asian partner’s relations with family, society and culture. Countless times I’ve seen people with the same questions over and over again…will my significant other’s family accept me?
In all honesty, while this question is an important one, it should not be the first one.
This is the topic I want to discuss today. One of my previous posts was on the importance of communication (you can see that here) but that particular blog focused more on when the relationship has already progressed and is understood by both people to be one that is heading towards a commitment or marriage. Now I want to discuss how you get to that point.
As a woman, and far too many times to count, I have taken a back seat to my life when it came to being in a romantic relationship. It’s not the way I was raised by my father, who taught me to be a strong individual, but it nonetheless happened that in some situations I was weak and didn’t do what I knew I should be doing. I should have taken a more active role in my relationships.
I know from my own experience, I was more afraid of losing the person that I loved than asking questions that might be hard to hear or answer. I had my own issues with self-esteem which caused me to always try to please. And, naturally, I had a fear of being alone. Over the years, I’ve grown and learned that even being alone is ok. Being with someone for the wrong reasons was NOT ok.
Also, even in a loving and mature relationship, it’s sometimes hard to discuss certain topics. We can be too polite or nice and hide behind the rules of ‘engagement’ with those of the other sex. Especially when your significant other is from another culture. You don’t know if by asking a certain question you are being rude, or perhaps offending. These are acknowledged and logical reasons to be careful of how we asks questions, but doesn’t excuse them ever being asked.
Being in an Intercultural Relationship can be a lovely, rewarding, exciting and broadening experience, but it also comes with some responsibilities if you truly want to have a mature relationship. Even in a relationship with someone from your own culture, you would want to get to know more about who they are, what they like and the traditions they were raised with. Why would an Intercultural Relationship being any different?
So, here are a few points that I think are important.
- Gnothi Seauton. In Greek this means “Know Thyself”. Before you can be in a truly mature relationship, you have to have a grasp on who you are, what your faults and strengths are and what you want in a relationship. Why? Well, I for one know that I do not deal with authoritative mannerisms or personalities. Therefore, I know (now anyway…after trial and error in previous relationships) that I cannot be in a relationship with a man who is ‘bossy’. He can direct me or help me or suggest to me, but do not tell me. Also, because I know myself, I know better how to tell Bear what I need in our relationship. This also helped Bear to understand that I was the girl he wanted to be with, because he was able to understand me better through my expressiveness.
- Be the Captain of your Ship. Also known as, don’t take a back seat to your life. My father used to ask me a question when I was younger… “If all your friends jumped off a cliff…would you?” I always thought that was silly…of course not…jumping to my death just because my friends had a momentary lapse in judgment and behaved like suicidal idiots? Noooo way. But when we are young, we tend to take things too literally. Now I know that this was an analogy. I understand now that too often in life, in small things as well as large, we sit back and let other people make decisions for us. Sometimes we don’t even question those decisions. Never let someone else make a decision for you without being informed yourself of the reasons why they came to that decision. Do the research yourself. Make an informed choice and if it happens to be the one they advised you to do…well isn’t that nifty?
- Truth. Be honest with yourself and your significant other. If you’ve just begun dating someone, it’s ok to just sit back and relax a little bit. But not too much. For example…if you think that this new relationship isn’t going anywhere so no reason to ask certain “deal breaker” questions…then imagine how hard it will be to ask those questions and deal with the answer two months down the line when you’re head over heels in love. By all means, don’t ask what his intentions are towards you on the first date…or even the second, third or fourth. But when you start telling yourself that you might actually like this person more than you thought…then it’s time to start asking him/her questions. What are their thoughts for the future? For marriage? What do they think about your present relationship? What are their intentions towards you?
- The very first rule…communication. Just because your love is from another country doesn’t mean that they are from another world. We all want the same thing and really, we all share commonality no matter where we were born. If you were dating someone from the US, you wouldn’t just take a back seat to your relationship and wait for them to tell you what’s going on would you? I know I wouldn’t (and didn’t). I asked questions, I let my fiancé know what my thoughts were, my opinions and ultimately what I was looking for out of our relationship. If you’re in a secure and mature relationship, you should both feel comfortable enough to talk to each other about potentially uncomfortable topics. At least you should if you’re considering marriage. (From my blog…Communication is the Key)
- The Dreaded Arranged Marriage. Ok people, we’re living in the 21st century…and even though India is still a young independent country she is still in the 21st century with us. Read this part carefully…no one can make you do anything you do not want to do. And this is not just the opinion of an American girl. This is being said by people of India as well. Want to know more? Read Aditya’s blog on Arranged Marriages and Intercultural Relationships at Gori Girl. His blog is insightful, thoughtful and honest. )
- Don’t be blind. If you are already dating someone and haven’t asked these questions to them but are asking them of yourself (or other people) then it’s time to start waking up. If you’re serious about your SO but aren’t sure how they feel then it’s time to ask. It’s scary…but it’s better than deluding yourself and getting hurt worse further down the line. If he/she puts you off and tells you to “just trust” them…don’t. I’m not saying that they are lying to you, what I am saying is that they are probably just as afraid of the situation as you are and are putting off having to deal with it. That’s natural and nothing to be angry at. But it doesn’t change the fact that you wouldn’t trust your life to a drunk driver so why would you trust your life to someone who is blinding themselves as much as you are. You should trust your SO, but not blindly. Together through thick and thin. You’re a couple. Nothing is impossible if you work together. Talk to each other and be honest, even if the truth sometimes hurts. Remember that the other person is just as stressed, worried and scared as you are…so have each other’s back.
- Meant For Each Other…or not. I believe that we all have a ‘soul mate’. That one person that God created just for us. Sure there may be some people on this earth that we can marry and do well with…but I think there is one special person that makes everyone else pale in comparison. If you are meant to be together, if this is “True Love” then it will work if you both work at it. If it’s not meant to be, it’s not. Trust me; I once gave up on ever finding the one person I could marry. Now I’m glad I waited. Because I found my “one”. He shines so brightly in my life that he makes all other of my past relationships seem pale and shadowy. Breaking up really is hard to do, especially if you are in love. But like I said earlier, being with someone for the wrong reasons is a sad existence…and you might be missing out on the person that you were supposed to be with. Or perhaps the person that you are with IS the one…but how will you ever be sure and happy unless you are both honest with each other?
I happen to like this following quote quite a lot. It’s from the movie Ever After with Drew Barrymore. In it, Prince Henry is questioning Leonardo da Vinci about relationships and the possibility of finding your “soul mate”.
Henry: Do you really think there is only one perfect mate?
Leonardo da Vinci: As a matter of fact, I do.
Henry: Well then how you can be certain to find them? And if you do find them, are they really the one for you or do you only think they are? And what happens if the person you’re supposed to be with never appears, or, or she does, but you’re too distracted to notice?
Leonardo da Vinci: You learn to pay attention.
Henry: Then let’s say…God…puts two people on Earth and they are lucky enough to find one another. But one of them gets hit by lightning. Well then what? Is that it? Or, perchance, you meet someone new and marry all over again. Is that the lady you’re supposed to be with or was it the first? And if so, when the two of them were walking side by side were they both the one for you and you just happened to meet the first one first or, was the second one supposed to be first? And is everything just chance or are some things meant to be?
Leonardo da Vinci: You cannot leave everything to Fate, boy. She’s got a lot to do. Sometimes you must give her a hand.