Many times we can have very romantic but not completely realistic dreams of what it would be like to have cross-cultural relationships, whether the romantic variety or not. The problem is that even though these types of relationships can be extremely fulfilling and life changing, they are not without some work. To be able to truly get along with someone who has been raised in a very different social system can be a big challenge especially if you are not prepared for it.
Step one to having a solid foundation for your relationship is to make sure you can step outside of your traditional way of thinking. It is easy for some bias to sneak up on you when you least expect it. You should be aware that this can happen and always be on guard against it. All cultures and ethnic groups will have their own ideas of right and wrong; sometimes two cultures can clash violently. It is very difficult to overcome a lifetime of preconceived ideas about a certain culture unless you actively stay on the lookout for that bias.
Always try to keep your mind open and, at least sometimes, shut your mouth. It is by listening that we learn the most when you are in a relationship with someone else; especially if happened to be a cross cultural or interracial relationship. Make sure to try to ask respectful questions and listen to the answer. Most of us would be thrilled to share our views and our unique customs and outlooks with others who are open minded. Respect and understanding is mutual. As long as you are respectful, your partner will probably enjoy the opportunity to talk about their culture and their beliefs.
If the time ever comes up when you find that you simply aren’t comfortable with some aspects of their beliefs or activities, talk to them about it; a candid, respectful, honest and gentle conversation. Do not ridicule what they are doing (it could be very easy to do so if you are not really mindful). Let them know that you are not comfortable and you can leave and give them space to practice whatever beliefs they want to practice. If your significant other is respectful of you they will understand.
Remember, that even though a custom may seem weird or primitive to you, it is important for you to act respectful. Also remember that many of your customs will no doubt seem weird or primitive to others. By keeping that fact in mind you will be less likely to fall into a judgmental way of thinking and acting.
Whenever you are beginning a relationship it is important to be patient and understanding. This is doubly important when you are entering into a multi-cultural relationship since the customs and beliefs can be very different from your own. The most important trait you will need to learn if you want this type of relationship to succeed is the ability to step out of your normal comfort zone and be open to new ideas and customs. You don’t have to change your own beliefs, just be willing to respect someone else’s beliefs and acknowledge theirs are just as valid as yours.
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