A few things I learned as a Filipina dating the odd foreigner before marrying a Canadian.
I met Mike through work. We’d not met for the first couple years we worked together in one capacity or another, and we worked online via email, Slack, or Skype chats.
When we finally met, it was supposed to be work-related (we were starting Copyrise) but that changed on the cab ride home from the airport the night we met.
Before Mike, I’d dated a few other foreigners who I met either in person or online. This article is from my experiences, and those of my friends and colleagues that I’ve heard over the years.
Date a Foreigner: Tips
Whether you meet foreigner online, or you meet in person –every scenario has something in common. In this article I’ll discuss a few things myself and my friends have learned over the years.
1. They’re just a human, just like you
Maybe it’s the accent, the way they fumble over a word, or how they are often more romantic than the guys back home. It can be easy to put your foreign partner on a pedestal because they come from a totally different background from you and that makes them interesting.
Just remember, they’re only human too. Love them as an equal and have an open mind for new ways of doing or experiencing things. And never fetishize your partner, it’s a really shitty reason to date someone.
2. It’s easy to be stereotyped
Most of the time, when you tell your partner’s family and friends where you’re from, they’re gonna try to reference things they think they know about your country.
On Mike’s second time visiting the Philippines, we were living in my province where seeing a foreigner is a bit of a rarity. He noticed kids and adults on the street would hollar “Hey Joe!” every time they saw him.
He was curious (and mildly annoyed) so I explained to him that US forces in the Philippines during World War 2 were referred to as “GI Joe”, and hence the nickname.
It wasn’t that people from my hometown were being mean to him. For them, that’s just what you do when you see a foreigner, especially when it’s a 6’ 4” tall, blonde dude.
3. Cultural differences are real
Different cultures have a different way of viewing things. Even couples who come from similar cultures will find that they too have some obvious differences.
It doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed to fail. It just means you need to adjust and learn each other’s way of seeing things. Be patient and don’t expect your partner to act how you expect them to. Sometimes, it’s not even about cultural difference — You’re two individuals that have had different upbringings.
To remedy any friction, make an effort to get to know each other on a deeper level (how dating should be!). Talk about your childhood, interests, dreams, experiences, and views about the world.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, and sometimes a little bit silly. It’ll bring you a step closer to understanding your partner and why they are the way they are.
I cannot count the number of childhood stories Mike and I have exchanged with each other. One thing is for sure, it’s brought us closer to each other.
It’s like a puzzle. Each story is a piece; the more we share our experiences with each other, the clearer the picture becomes. It’s never going to be perfect but filling in the gaps help us to understand each other and be more patient.
4. Language barrier
Another obstacle to dating a foreigner is the language barrier. Pag kayong dalawa hindi fluent sa isang foreign language, siguradong meron kayong hindi pagkakaintidihan later on.
One of you is going to have to learn the other’s language to lessen the strain. You can start by learning several useful phrases and sayings. It’s nice learning a new language and your partner will appreciate the effort you put into it.
Ang native language ni Mike is English while sa akin naman ay Cebuano though alam ko rin mag Tagalog at nakakasalita rin ako ng English fluently. So you can expect that we’re both fine and dandy when we communicate right? Nope.
There’s still times where we misunderstand each other because of the way I pronounced a word or delivered an idiom.
Sometimes, it’s not even about that.
It’s just that we think differently. Kahit nga language nang pag iisip namin, minsan pa-iba iba! Hahaha!
Even though I can speak English, my upbringing is still Filipino so if Mike references a TV show from his youth back home, I might not get it right away. But over time, you’ll learn to accept these things and figure out your own way of navigating through them when they happen.
And hey, at least you’re learning about a new culture, right?
5. Travel issues
Travel will become a part of your life when you date a foreigner. You’re gonna be flying back and forth visiting each other, meeting family and friends, and attending important life events.
There’s going to be visa challenges.
Depending on where you are visiting, you may need to extend your visa or fly out of the country once every few months just so you’re allowed to stay where you’re loved one is. It’s no easy feat but if you are really committed to each other, you’ll find a way.
In the first year that he was with me in my home country, visa runs every one to two months became part of our routine.
It’s become normal for me now to get a bit antsy whenever we encounter anything travel or immigration related.
I learned that as long as you do your research and you are well-prepared, you’ll be fine!
6. Family approval
In some cultures, dating someone from a totally different background is discouraged.
This is more of an exception and not the rule; international dating is becoming more common due to how easy it is to start a relationship over the internet.
However, in some cases family opinion is going to have some effect on your relationship. Even though you have the choice to date whomever you want, it’s still good to be aware of this possibility since our families do hold some influence over us whether we like it or not.
7. It gets lonely, sometimes
Being with your loved one is a great thing but when you’re in a different country where you don’t know the people, the language, and the culture, it can get lonely (or boring).
One of you will have a network; friends, relatives, a life. And the other will be meeting all of the people in the other partner’s life for the first time as you roll them out.
It’s just a reality of life. When you date a foreigner, one of you may be away from home more than they’d like to.
This can be detrimental to your relationship because the homesick partner can just decide to break up anytime and leave.
Unless you’re really serious, you will find a way to make it work. To ease the loneliness, do something for your partner that reminds them of home.
Cook his favorite meal, watch a favorite childhood movie together, or learn a few funny phrases in their language. Little things like this they will appreciate and make them feel less lonely.
Make no mistake, it’s going to be a real adventure given how vastly different you are culturally, but by being a bit more understanding of each other, no language barrier can keep your relationship from blossoming.
Philippines online dating is incredibly popular, yet it’s hard to really know what it’s like to date a foreigner until you’re in person over an extended period of time.
I hope this article casts a little light on what to expect after the ‘honeymoon period’ when dating a foreigner. Did I leave anything out? Share your insight in the comments.