The Internet has brought the world closer together than ever and with travel, study abroad and global career opportunities, more and more couples are finding their sweethearts in different countries. Speaking different languages is one big barrier to overcome if dating someone from another country, but even with a common language, the cultural barriers can be difficult to surmount. If the love if there, the couple will always find a way – but not before having a number of funny stories about misunderstandings to tell (even if they don’t seem funny at the time).
“Come Here” vs. “Good-Bye”
A Japanese woman dating an American man says her story takes place right before they began dating. When they were still feeling each other out and gauging if there was any interest there, she saw him walking by her in a café on the college campus where they both attended school. She wanted him to join her for lunch, so she made a gesture with her hand with her palm down flipping her fingers up and down. She was shocked when he smiled, started heading toward her, then nodded and walked away. He thought she was waving “good-bye” and for some reason didn’t want him to join her; she was actually making the Japanese gesture for “come here.” They both thought the other was rejecting them and they had to explain later that that wasn’t the case.
Giving a Gift with the Wrong Hand
An Indian man dating an American woman in the States assimilated a lot of the culture but couldn’t help his instincts from growing up in India. The woman, who was left-handed, would usually hand him things using her dominant hand. The man accepted gratefully but always shuddered a little – especially when she was handing over a gift – until he explained that the left hand is associated with wiping oneself in the toilet in India and people are careful never to hand things over with that hand.
Water Difference Between You
Sometimes you don’t even have to speak a different language for there to be a clashing cultural difference. Australians tend to think more about water conservation than their American counterparts – their toilets even often have a “half flush” option for when you’ve just gone number one. So when an Aussie woman dated an American woman in Australia, she was horrified by her long showers – showers that were just longer than three minutes. She even would come into the bathroom while she was brushing her teeth to turn off the tap. Eventually, the American got the hint.
If you’re dating someone from a different culture and a huge misunderstanding causes a disagreement between you, think of these stories from other multi-cultural couples and let yourself laugh about it. Learn more about each other’s cultures – visit each other’s countries and spend more time with each other’s friends and family members. If your first instinct is to respect each other’s differences and try to explain your intentions, you’ll be more likely to enjoy a long, happy relationship.