How to Handle Dating Someone From a Different Background or Country?
Ah, the trials and tribulations of dating someone that doesn’t share the same background as you, the same morals and ethics structure, or even the same country. It can be hard, because when we are young we are filled with impressions of what other cultures, other countries, and even how other social classes differ to you.
When I was a young man, and in school, I remember once being told that men were the warmongers; we started wars, we killed, we waged competitive fights with other people that destroy others in our wake. We were the destroyers of the human race.
What I wasn’t told though, is that only represents a small minority of men, and men raised in a different way to what we would ever be; we were going to be the workers of society, the people that make it possible for these other men to wage wars. Without us, there would be no wars.
Contrary to popular belief men don’t want to fight, or at least most men I have ever socialised with ever. At the core men just want to have a care free life and be accepted by other people.
See, we love to generalise. When people think of a certain thing then they will recall every single experience they have had with it, and then they will recall the education that’s been imparted on them about it. This happens in a fraction of a second, you can’t see it if you’re not trained to look out for it. What we don’t realise is that our own experiences and education reflect such a small fraction of what is actually out there it’s hardly worth taking it as “set in stone evidence” that the generalisation is true.
I used to struggle with this when I first started out in management. One of my major drawbacks was that I used to think that all women spoke from a position of authority and influence. I was used to being subservient to my mum, and all the peer-women in my life to that date had been overbearing and controlling, including most of my teachers. Thus, to me women spoke with authority and influence. I was subservient to them.
But anyone that understands a bit about human information processing would tell me that my experiences and education were polluting my ability to think reasonably. It was me that was seeing the world as different through a myriad of toxic relationships with women. There’s a lot more to this, anxiety and depression for example, and this is surface level analysis, but for the point of this article we will keep it basic.
When we were running around in our caves and throwing spears at each other we didn’t generally see much difference. The human mind isn’t designed to think on levels of diversity that we do now, therefor when we saw a man in red descend on us from the north, “all men from the north were red” — which is why the world almost always reverts back to tribalism at one stage or another. Evolution takes thousands of years, and not hundreds. The human mind has a long way to go.
Get rid of your prejudices.
All men are potentially rapists, all women are life givers, all Iranians are mass bombers, all Germans in WW2 were Nazi’s – This kind of shit needs to stay in the bin where it belongs. Until you have personally met ALL people of a certain group and have had a deep conversation with them about life, then using generalisations such as “all” need to be thrown in the trash. If you’re looking at starting a relationship with someone outside your sphere, it’s going to be a good idea not to insult them straight off the bat.
When I met my wife I was as working class as they come. There are things I do today that still horrify her to the point of disbelief. Licking my plate after an amazing meal. Something I’ve always done in the confines of my own home — it still horrifies her that I do this today, but now she has kind of accepted it rather than make an issue of it.
There are big divides in what I’ve witnessed in the social classes and it’s mainly to do with misinformation and prejudices. Don’t get me wrong — both sides tend to be as bad as each other. I’ve seen the working classes tell me that the middle classes are keeping them down, and similarly the middle classes telling me that the working class don’t want to help themselves — yet none of it is like this in reality. Life is too complex for a simple one lined solution that fits all.
The same can be said for people in different countries. I grew up next to a Pakistani girl and her family. Her parents never socialised with the locals and there was always that air of feeling that they were better than us. We all used to think Pakistani’s were horrible people, and smelled like curry.
Fast forward several years when new Pakistani’s took over the shop and it was a different ball game. The owner used to drink in the bar with the locals and his children were free to date with whomever they pleased – and most importantly they were interested in the community they were part of. I had a hard time decompacting my prejudices once he moved in with his family, but his niceness to the community — how couldn’t we not love him?
It can often be hard to not think you are “better” than the other person. I remember long-distance dating a young girl from Indonesia. In my mind I was “helping” her because she was in a poorer country than me, the national media constantly barraging me with how great my country is — yet failing to explain the true awesomeness of elsewhere. In my mind I was bettering her, but to her it may have just looked like I was an arrogant prick.
The trick is to be open to learning. Rather than tell it how it is, learn how it is for them. After all, they are living where they are, and in the situation they are in, and you aren’t experiencing any of it. My wife listens to me a lot. My struggles, my successes, everything. And I do the same with her. What’s amazing is that we’ve had such different childhoods and upbringings that it’s crazy we even came together.
When something new comes along, learn from it. Don’t judge. We’re often led into thinking, “our way is better” because we’ve done it since childhood and no-one has told us otherwise, and we can often be quick to judge our partners when they do it differently. Stop, watch, and listen, maybe even try it – you never know, it may be better. This works both ways.
Feminism is a core example of not learning. I’ve read a lot of feminist works, but none of it takes into account the other graceful means of achieving equality. I understand that Feminists want to live in a great and equal society — which is very admirable, but it won’t be able to do that without acknowledging that it lives amongst many other great and equally helpful movements that try to do humanly good.
I’m often told that because I’m not a feminist then I’m part of the problem, which is the worst example of inclusivity and diverse speaking I’ve ever witnessed. It’s like back in the 1800’s when Priests would say,
“If you’re not Christian then you’re going to hell for a lifetime of fire and brimstone”
Basically, my way or the highway.
Just because someone is privileged it doesn’t mean you should talk down to them
When I first met my wife I always had this swagger about me that screamed ignorance and arrogance. I knew she was more educated than me, that she had more money than me, and when it came to work she could do most jobs with more grace than I could ever have. I always thought because she couldn’t understand what I had been through in my life then she was never going to be able to fully understand me, therefor in some weird way I thought I was better than her. My understanding of the world was greater than hers, I had seen some things that she hadn’t. I’m not sure how I ever came to this conclusion but once upon a time I did. I guess I should call it the self protection system of viewing myself as a failure in life.
Looking at her as beneath me caused quite a lot of problems (and cognitive dissonance) for me at the beginning. Especially when she was rolling off encounters in her life that I couldn’t imagine to have experienced. Things I’d love to give as examples here, but out of respect to her I won’t.
You see she may have come from a middle class background but she has been exposed to aspects of life that I hadn’t, and in some cases had made me feel just as sheltered as I thought she was. This is why I always say it’s important to listen to your partner, and not speak at them. Soak up their stories, their life’s dreams, their hopes, and their wonders, and by listening and asking them deeper questions then you’ll have a better idea on how to support them in their partnership with you.
Most importantly encourage openness through storytelling. Some of our best moments have been through just cuddled up to each other listening to some of the experiences we’ve had.
That being said if it is you that is the privileged one then again, it’s very important not to get trapped into the saviour complex. Your partner is your equal that you support in every way in the same fashion that they support you.
I’ve said before, but the first time I had ever felt the feeling of respect was when I met Natalie. It was a feeling of mutual admiration, and not one where she was trying to save me from my sins, or better my social economic status. She just liked the person that I was, and wanted to get to know me better – and did not judge my position in life whatsoever.
People had a habit of patting me on the head and sending me on my merry way, just like a little boy. But that wasn’t their fault, it was how I portrayed myself.
I’ve had numerous relationships where it’s felt that I was the one being saved, and every time it’s ended badly. Partially through my own fault, because I was giving away too much of my own power — allowing others to make me feel in certain ways, and not realising that I had more control in life than I had understood.
You aren’t going to save anyone but yourself
A hard lesson for me was when I fell head first into the cryptocurrency sector. In my mind, learning about this had me a foothold above the rest of my peers — I was one of the first in a new era of freedom about to descend on civilization. I was part of the western civilization that yet again was going to shape the world.
It came as a shock to me that Asians are more adept and have FAR more invested in this sphere than anyone else. This caused me to re-evaluate everything. What I’ve been told, my sources, and what do they benefit from telling me this.
People are people, and as soon as you think you are better than anyone else, or you are coming to save anyone — then you’re going to lose what you have with that person. As I said in the earlier paragraph I had something amazing with that young girl, but I blew it because of my arrogance, and thinking that I was better than her, and that I was coming to save her. All she wanted was a relationship with someone nice and to learn from. I wanted to teach her our ways and to show her how awesome we were; Britain, my values, etc — when often it’s just different. Not better.
Being the saviour in a relationship is about power. It’s about dominance. It’s not about actually saving anyone. The only person that can save anyone from themselves, is themselves. When you set out to “save” your partner then you are transmitting the vibe of, “I know more than you, I am your teacher, I am better than you” which is wrong in my opinion. Everyone has something to offer. Even the guy I met in the locked psychiatric facility in Stratheden. He taught me to stick up for my principles. He probably could still teach me a thing or two, if I still knew him.
The exact same can be said for different social classes. There isn’t much social mobility between dating in what I’ve seen throughout the years; people too often live in their own bubbles. More-so now than ever. Working class people get rich, move out of their neighbourhoods but still bring the ghetto to their new home. The same can be said for middle class families falling foul to debt and having to move into the ghetto, bringing their morals and values with them. People just don’t change overnight and neither does the way they have been socialised.
Listen, listen, listen and more listening. Then do the reverse.
Okay, so I’ve already covered how important it is to listen to them and learn from them, but it’s also important that they do the same. Don’t make the same mistake that I did and think it’s one way traffic. Your needs are important too, just as theirs are. It’s important that you learn from them, but it’s also important that they learn from you. Everyone has something to offer this world, don’t make the mistake into thinking only you, or your partner has something to offer.
Natalie has had to shred some of her prejudices too. Some of the discussions we’ve had in the past I’ve had to tell her that not all bad behaviour is done by the working class. Me for example, although I’ve found myself in shitty situations with some shitty people, it’s definitely not through wanting to do bad or be rebellious, mostly it’s been because I’ve thought it was the right thing to do at the time. You can’t just slate an entire group for the actions of a few. She didn’t mean me or my family of course, she meant the invisible people we don’t know. This is how it starts, right? We only really judge harshly those we don’t know, or don’t like.
And the same has been for me, middle class people were tyrants. They would run away with workers pensions and not have an ounce of feeling for those that they had destroyed. They were my enemy — yet as I’ve branched out in Natalie’s social circles I’ve found and met some of the most empathetic and caring individuals I’ve ever had the grace to know. In essence, they were just like my working class friends. They ran their lives differently but their end goals, wants, and needs out of life were essentially the same, and most importantly – all of them, everyone I’ve met ever — they wanted to do good.
I can’t tarnish the many because of the actions of a small minority.
In essence, dating someone outside of your circle means a HUGE amount of openness and honesty. Keep open minded, and if you let it, it will reshape your world into further realms you would never imagine.