Culture clash or culture match?
Someone’s background shouldn’t be a big deal. But there can be culture clashes and The Parents.
Dating someone from a culture different to yours
Getting to know someone who’s from a different cultural background to your own can be exciting – you might get to find out about different customs, foods, family responsibilities and ways of seeing the world. But there might be a few added complications in getting to know them.
Sometimes you or your BF/GF need to work a bit harder
You might need to:
- really be honest with yourself. Ask yourself:
Do I make assumptions about people based on their ethnic background?
What are they?
- Ask your boyfriend/girlfriend/date what they think and believe – don’t just make assumptions based on a stereotype of what you think they’re like.
- If your ‘dating rules’ are be different to your boyfriend or girlfriend’s, then tell them – it’s not a bad thing to be different.
- Talk with your own parents and family to sus out any prejudices they have.
- Learn each other’s cultural ‘manners’ – what’s polite and what’s not.
- Make sure your BF/GF feels comfortable with your family and friends.
- Talk heaps instead of assuming they’re thinking the same thing.
- Respect and accept each other’s differences.
Cultural stereotypes (suck)
Often, people will judge you on their stereotypes about your culture, without really knowing you. We don’t encourage this of course, we’re just saying that it happens.
The problem with stereotyping people is that we don’t fully get to know each other as individuals.
Stereotypes are often negative. Maybe you’ve heard of stereotypes like these: Asians, Greeks, Whites, Lebanese, Aborigines, Arabs, Sudanese… (and so on)
- want to have sex more
- are uptight about sex
- have bigger/smaller dicks
- have bigger/smaller boobs
- have bad attitudes towards women
- are violent/hang out in gangs/drink all the time/are obsessed with money etc etc etc
Stereotypes can also apply to other groups of people, like a school or a suburb, eg “Girls from this school are ….”
Do you have any stereotypes? Do they affect the way you act towards certain people?
In some communities, people might have to be introduced to each other by their families or community elders. Older people might have to give their approval for the couple to get together in a relationship.
They may have to get to know each other in the company of older people, or even wait for their marriage to be arranged by their family. Negotiations might be complicated by dowry arrangements between families, and religious ceremonies.
All this can be cool and exciting if it’s what you’ve grown up to expect. But of course there can be difficulties and disappointments too.
We’re all shaped by our cultures
You can’t expect or want your boyfriend or girlfriend to change and become like you – meet in the middle instead.
There’s cultures within cultures
Cultures are complicated things! There’s different groups within cultures, with different
- customs and traditions, including dating and pre-marital sex
- attitudes beliefs, including religious beliefs, and
- amounts of $ and education.
And of course, every person is different and has their own take on all of these.
Basically, don’t assume anything. Instead, be curious, learn and ask questions.
Image from Flickr by fredcamino