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When I first brought Steve home to New Jersey to meet my parents, the first thing my mom said was, “Neha, he doesn’t eat Indian food.” When I went to Missouri to visit his family, his mom’s response was, “Steven she’s nice, but she’s not Christian.”  These obvious cultural barriers have proven to be both a struggle and a very interesting learning experience.  Our lifestyles have been no doubt exotic to one another, leading to questions, answers, and more interest.  Just because cross cultural relationships involve more work, there’s no reason to not give them a try: open up your mind and have a good time!

The best part about dating someone is getting to know them inside and out.  I was born and raised in the United States so we didn’t grow up completely differently, but there were definitely differences.  When he asked me to “talk in Indian” to him, I knew that we were not on the same page.

The most important thing is to ask questions.  Rather than just accept that you have different backgrounds, get a feel for your partner’s culture.  Chances are that you don’t have the exact same views on religion, family, values, and morals.  This isn’t a big deal: It’s an opportunity to diversify yourself. Expressing interest is an important part of relationships in general.  Being able and willing to understand each other brings you closer together.

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Another important part of dating someone with a different background than you is to be open.  Their way of living will be different and it’s important to be positive.  Even though they may not eat the same food as you, there is always something they will be able to find at your favorite restaurant.  Be risky.  The worst case scenario is you taste something, hear something, or do something that you don’t completely enjoy.  Just don’t do it again! Take the opportunity to try new things with someone who wants to build experiences with you. Being immersed in your partner’s different lifestyle is a really cool experience.  You can compare and contrast your living habits while experiencing something that you haven’t before.

Chances are that you will have major differences in your beliefs.  That is OKAY.  As long as you are willing to be understanding rather than judgmental, everything should work out.  If it’s a topic that you are truly passionate about and it seems to collide with the feelings of your partner, try to not discuss it.  If it still causes stress, then maybe that relationship isn’t something for you.  It’s important to hold onto your roots while still experiencing the lifestyle of your partner.

Despite your differences in race, you definitely have some things in common.  Make sure you remember these while still taking into account your differences.  You still watch the same television shows, have the same friends, and like doing the same things on Friday night.  Cross cultural dating is an experience that you will share and experience the results of together, so keep in mind how similar you are also!

It’s a huge world with lots of ideas and experiences available.  Don’t be frightened when given the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone.  If it’s someone that you care about, cross-cultural dating will entail many experiences that make you closer together while teaching you more about what the world has to offer.

Chime in with your own experiences and advice about cross cultural relationships: It’s a touchy subject that many people find themselves in!

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