Intercultural Dating Stories
I am very interested in intercultural dating and dating between people with different native languages. I created a questionnaire and asked people to fill it out. Much to my surprise there wasn’t a lot of responses. There was a lot, but not what I was thinking. I was thinking it would be a lot more. I suppose this means that this type of dating isn’t as common as I thought.
I come from a multicultural and language household and my relationships have always been multicultural and multilingual, which, I suppose, gave me more of a bias view of relationships.
Some wrote a lot of information which I will be posting in their own dedicated postings. Some wrote a decent amount of information, but I will combine their stories with others.
Here is one of my Intercultural Dating Stories Series.
A New Start
This next contributor wrote a lot about her relationship with her now, as of writing, fiance. I decided to keep the question and answer format to maintain her wording.
Where did you meet your significant other? (Online/what platform, school, etc)
We met at a beer garden in Prague. I was already living in Czech Republic (Josef’s country) for about one year by the time we met.
If you met in person, was it in a different cultural place than what you are used to? (EXAMPLE: I am from California, but went to university in Boston) Was there any differences in dating in regards to the “steps”?
We met in Czech Republic, which is very different than Canada. The biggest cultural difference I can remember was on our first date he kissed me on the cheek when we met, which would be pretty uncommon in Canada. Not really a cultural thing, but I thought Josef spoke much better English than he did, and he pretended to understand me… so I thought he was pretty boring when we first met, because I couldn’t really joke around with him.
Where are both of you from? (Country/State only is fine)
I am from Ontario, Canada. Josef is from Central Bohemia, Czech Republic.
What are your native languages?
I speak English, Josef speaks Czech.
Do you both speak the other person’s native language? Or do only one of you? Or neither if you use a 3rd language to communicate?
I don’t speak Czech.
A. Do you and or your partner know multiple languages (like 3 or more)? (EXAMPLE: He speaks French and also my native language of English, but he also speaks SPANISH). B. Do you have another common language? (EXAMPLE: We both speak Spanish (neither native language) fluently) C. Has this extra language helped in communication?
Josef speaks Czech and English fluently, and German at a very low level.
If you have kids, or want to have kids, how will you manage having different native languages in the house? (EXAMPLE: each parent speaks the native language to the child, family rotates languages throughout the week, etc.)
We’re not having kids – but we do have dogs, and we only speak English to them.
Can you describe your relationship?
We’ve been together for almost 3 years, Josef’s English wasn’t great when we met, so I have had a huge influence on the way that he speaks and especially how he jokes around, which I think has connected us more. I am very reliant on Josef to handle anything for me that involves speaking Czech (even if I’m capable of doing it on my own), or even just dealing with cultural things in Czech Republic.
What cultural differences have you seen?
I think one of the biggest differences is that although we’re the same age, we feel as though we have grown up in completely different times. Josef grew up in post communist Czech Republic, which obviously means he didn’t have access to the same things I did. We often joke that his childhood was much more similar to my parents, than it was to mine. He does a lot of things, like saving every empty jar and plastic container, that is clearly from growing up in a poorer country, but it drives me nuts.
I sometimes forget how differently we grew up, and have a hard time seeing things from his point of view. When we first started dating I would always tease Josef and use a lot of sarcasm, it took him a very long time to not only understand that teasing can be affectionate, but also to get used to it and learn how to use it. Josef has a more difficult time communicating verbally how he feels, which is pretty common for Czech people in my understanding. And on the other side of this, I have a difficult time with the amount of kissing that is expected when greeting his friends and family, as well as just PDA in general which is common in Europe. The least important cultural difference is the fact that Josef never gets any of my references to movies or shows, it’s like he hasn’t seen anything!
What have you done to work through those differences?
It has taken a long time, and a lot of talking… but now our main goal is to notice the cause of the issue and bring it up to the other as soon as an issue arises.
If you live together, where do you live (is it a 3rd country/state or one of your native homes?) (EXAMPLE: He is from Georgia and I am from California and we both live in Canada/He is from Italy and I am from England and we both live in England)
I am from Canada, he is from Czech Republic, and we live in Czech Republic.
If you live in a place that isn’t your home country, how was the visa process/how did you manage to move there? (Please only answer if you live in a different country than your home country)
I originally moved to Czech Republic on a youth mobility visa, but I got my Italian passport right after we met which has allowed me to stay in the country long term.
When in your dating time frame did you move in together (if you do live together) (EXAMPLE: We moved in together after a year of dating).
We moved in together (officially) 3 months after we met.
If you are married, when in your dating time frame did you become engaged and then married?
We’re currently engaged. We got engaged just over 2 years after we met, and our wedding will be 4 years after we met.
If you are married, did the different cultures/languages come into play during the ceremony? How?
We are getting married in Greece, and want to try to combine some cultural traditions from all three countries. Josef’s mom wants us to do every Czech tradition, so we will have to try to include some, but it will be a battle if we don’t agree to every single one. Our wedding ceremony will be in Greek and translated to English, which his mother is very offended by, but we have agreed to have our vows translated to Czech and give his family members a written copy.
Do you have any tips for those looking to date someone from a different culture/language?
Obviously in all relations communication is key, but I think this applies even more so to relationships where things can get lost in translation. Make it clear to your partner that they should bring up any concerns or things that you do that may seem weird to them, check in as much as possible. One thing I wish we did earlier was talk about our favorite movies, songs, etc. and anything that the other didn’t know, you get to show them for the first time! This would have been such a great way to get to know each other and spend time together earlier on in our relationship.
Have you noticed that language is tied to culture or vice versa?
I would not say that the cultural differences we run into are related to language at all. To me, language plays a way smaller role in our relationship than culture does, however that may be because we speak my language and live in his culture.
You can follow along on their adventures through their Instagram.
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