The Culture, Society and You - Different Cultures In A Long Distance Relationship
Dating, regardless of the distance, is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and someone else. In addition, when dating someone that is from a different cultural background and that follows different societal norms than you, it is a chance to further develop your knowledge of people and the world at large. Of course, these differences can be seen in the same or in different countries.
For instance, different regions in the same country can follow vastly different customs. On the other hand, families from countries across the globe could be more similar than the family that is next door to you. One of the many exciting but also challenging aspects of a long-distance relationship is understanding the cultural norms and different perspectives that you’ve never encountered!
First and foremost, what united you and your significant other? Was it your similarities or differences? Was it the communication styles or life goals? Regardless of what brought you two together, we assume that there were certain aspects that you both were unfamiliar with. Understanding and defining your differences is healthy but overemphasizing those differences and using them as negative points against each other could be both damaging and painful.
For example, in certain societies or regions, it is normal to walk into and throughout the house with shoes on. For others, this is uncommon but also seen as a sanitary or traditional issue. If your partner grew up in a household that does allow shoes within the home, how would you respond? What would you say to them? If you both planned to have kids together and they wanted to pass along this norm to the children, how would you react? In fact, what compromise could you and your partner work through? In what aspect can you think of a resolution?
As mentioned, this is only an example, but it is a very real scenario for those that have conflicting, cultural, societal, or religious customs. We believe that cross-cultural dating is a beautiful and amazing opportunity for two people to learn more than what’s in their inner circle and to broaden their understanding of other people and the world; but at the individualistic level, there can be struggles and challenges to keep in mind.
Don’t be afraid to speak with your partner and be open to having your views and ideas questioned. To be perfectly honest, we think people should be open to understating why they do or do not do things. To question and keep their minds open to expanding how they currently think. Therefore, it can be a blessing to have a partner that asks you why. Why do you follow this custom? How much do you believe in this particular aspect? If this custom did not exist, what would you do instead? Of course, these questions must be asked and answered in a supportive and healthy environment. To question someone about their beliefs from a negative point of view will do nothing for either party.
On the other hand, dating cross-culturally can also mean that there needs to be a willing compromise on both sides. Something different about long-distance relationships is that your own world can continue, despite being in a relationship.
For example, because your daily tasks or activities do not intermingle with your significant other (as you both are physically apart), there is still a lot of individual traits that remain intact despite the months or years being together. That is why when you and your significant other can finally spend time in the same physical location, it can be both frustrating and a potential culture shock. From how and what time each of you sleeps; to the morning, day, and nighttime routines, all of this, can be a challenge for two people that don’t normally interact in person due to the distance.
Our behaviors are affected by our upbringing, cultures, societal norms, and or religions, by interacting with someone that is different or completely opposite to what you would consider as “normal” it will either become an opportunity for personal growth or a slow and challenging season in order to understand and accept each other.
The name of the game is to be respectful of cultures, ideas, opinions, and in this situation, treat your partner like a stranger. For example, with someone you don't know, you’d actively listen and care about what they say because you don’t want to offend them. This courtesy should be extended to your significant other. Relationships, provide both familiarity and comfortability, it allows people to easily say or do something that they would normally would not do to a stranger. Although this is good, it can be a problem when you become so comfortable in a relationship that you don’t actively listen. This includes communicating through a lot of “yeah, mhmm, yeah” without bringing anything else to the conversation unless it's something meaningful to you.
In a long distance or in any relationship this is detrimental. Especially, if the other person is speaking about their culture and customs. In my opinion, conversations like this should flow naturally but should happen towards the beginning of the relationship. Don’t look through rose petal glasses in the beginning of your relationship. Try to form a bond with your partner where you both understand and are comfortable with each other’s differences. Use those differences as learning and improvement topics. Understand the aspects that are negotiable and the ones that are not. Both partners need to be open to this process.
Within this discussion, we believe that you and your significant other will not only become more knowledgeable and well-rounded but also a stronger couple with a more full-filling relationship when you’ve come to learn and accept that person for who they are.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog!
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