Multicultural relationships are hard sometimes and come with many challenges. They are very rewarding in the long run. We learn from each other and we understand our differences, but there are moments where the struggle is real. In my case, I don’t just have to deal with a different culture. I also must deal with a different language. Those two things can make a conversation extremely frustrating.
To explain a little my relationship, I prefer the words multicultural relationship rather than interracial relationship. Why? I don’t consider being Latina a race. Living in Latin America doesn’t mean you are from certain race. Here you can find people that come from Europe, Africa, Asia and obviously every country have their natives. And for the record… I’m not sure in what race I fit in.
So let’s start! The following challenges are from my side of the relationship, I haven’t asked my boyfriend about how he feels about this matter, but I’m sure we agree in most of them.
This might be the hardest part. English is my second language, and there’re still a lot for me to learn, like slang for example. Urban Dictionary is my best friend in those moments when I have no idea what my boyfriend means to say. It’s also difficult when I’m with his family. Sometimes they talk a little too fast for me. I can’t even count how many times I made them repeat themselves, which can be really awkward. Or the times I just nod, smile and say ‘yeah’… even I if didn’t understand what they were saying.
This goes hand-in-hand with language. It’s not something that happens all the time, but when it happens, it’s normally a big fight. There have been many times when I was trying to say something that, in my head and in Spanish, sound good! Then at the time of translating it to English, it sounds wrong. We forget we come from different places and that we have different ways to express ourselves. But we never mean it in a bad way.
I love celebrations, especially when it’s about a culture expressing itself. Each of us must be respectful of whatever we want to celebrate, or do in certain celebrations. My boyfriend’s family doesn’t eat turkey on Christmas because they do that on Thanksgiving. Yet we do here in Chile. In general, we don’t have many differences… which make things easier. But as general advice, enjoy the celebrations and be a part of it.
4. Meeting Each Other Families
My parents lived in Australia for a few years, so they understand English. My sister also knows enough of the language to communicate. So at least we don’t have a problem with language when my boyfriend visits us. However, this can be challenging when we need to do certain things in our homes. What it’s acceptable to do in his/my house? What happens when a certain family member has a different sense of humor? Chileans are known to make fun of people. My dad is exactly like that; he likes to mock and make jokes about sensitive issues. So I had to warn my boyfriend about him. The last thing I want is for him to feel out of place.
I have a thing for this. I’m half Peruvian, and for me that’s the best food in the world. For my boyfriend, not so much. Even though he loves many things! The problem is when I have to eat in his house. I’m not a picky eater and I find good many things… it’s just I can’t understand why they cook that way. Salad with sauces like ranch? How they can prefer that over the good old mix of salt, lemon and olive oil?
For example, in Latin America we kiss on the cheek when we say hi to a friend, family, acquaintances or even sometimes when we are just meeting someone. I have made that mistake of kissing on the cheek many times when in the States. I have to remind myself that some of them freak out a little with that. Even my boyfriend raised an eyebrow when I told him we do that. He didn’t understand why. So every time we find different habits or traditions on our way we have to learn quickly from them and try not to forget. The last thing you want is be disrespectful with a friend or family member (Oh, the horror!)
7. Fighting Stereotypes
This is stronger on my side of the relationship. For some people, being a Latina means certain things… when in reality it’s not like that. Especially because Chileans are a little different from the other countries of Latin Americans. Stereotypes goes hand-in-hand with discrimination. So as a couple, we need to understand the relationship is between the two of us and no one else. Not because I’m dating an American guy means I’m doing it with the secret intention to have a green card. Some people just don’t understand there is something called love.