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Cross Culture Romance: 40 Secrets to Have a Happy Intercultural Relationship

A cross-cultural relationship is a beautiful way to experience love and a new culture. An intercultural relationship is hard sometimes, but worth it.

cross cultural romance relationship

Although many people are still in the dark about what it truly takes to be in a cross-cultural romance, most don’t care. As long as they get to be with the person they truly love. That’s a beautiful way to think about it, don’t you agree? However, it would be ignorant to assume that intercultural relationships are a piece of cake.

When you’re coming from two different cultures, your way of thinking and your values may differ in a big way. Meeting in the middle is important, but learning about cultural differences and compromising is also key. [Read: 20 relationship problems that push a couple apart or bring them closer]

Why it’s awesome to be in an intercultural relationship

There are pros and cons to a cross-cultural romance and we like to air on the positive side! Let’s take a look at the fantastic plus points of loving someone from a different culture than your own.

1. Sharing different types of food

With a new culture comes new recipes and culinary adventures. Even though there are hundreds of foreign delicacy restaurants popping up every day, you will still be surprised by traditional dishes you never knew existed.

As part of your cross-cultural relationship, make it your aim to try as many new dishes as possible! [Read: Foodie dates – 15 trendy dinner ideas for new couples]

2. Extra holidays

A lot of cultures celebrate different holidays for various reasons.

Many of those holidays are being integrated by other cultures, but it’s good to know there are some to add to your calendar. This is one of the biggest perks of a cross-cultural relationship.

3. Discovering new customs

Some customs seem crazy to people of different cultures, but some are actually fun to follow. Weddings are a good example. Some cultures have parties that go on for a whole week!

Some customs are even designed to help those in need, like those which require you to participate in charitable activities. Others are just plain fun, like drinking in honor of a dead hero. [Read: How to accept your differences for relationship success]

4. Shopping with a new perspective

Your pantry will have a lot more food and your closets will require a little more space. Intercultural relationships foster a newfound appreciation for different cultural products.

It’s not about trying to identify with your partner’s culture. It’s a show of support to buy products influenced by each other’s cultures. You’ll see the change if you redecorate and move in together.

5. The parties

Integrating yourself into a new culture can be fun and exciting, especially when it involves having a party. Weddings, birthdays, christenings—intercultural parties during those kinds of events are sure to have lots of people, food, and music. [Read: Memorable things couples should do together to deepen their bond]

6. Learning a new language

It’s not mandatory to learn the language of your lover’s culture, but most people opt to try it just for the sake of saying “I love you.” Even then, living with someone who speaks a different language easily influences your education.

That’s why people in intercultural relationships learn new languages faster. They have a personal tutor. [Read: Thoughts to remember about dating someone from another culture]

7. Developing a new appreciation for perseverance and determination

It’s not easy being in an intercultural relationship, but that obstacle is exactly what makes you and your partner better people.

You know it takes hard work to keep your relationship intact, especially with all the outside forces trying to pull it apart.

8. Multiple citizenships

Let’s admit that this is basically one of the best perks of being in an intercultural relationship, although the process is often difficult. Bonus points for your kids, if you and your partner already sport dual citizenships.

But don’t get married for the sake of citizenship. It’s illegal, so you’re better off just being grateful you fell in love with someone from another culture. [Read: Reasons traveling is a great test of compatibility]

9. Traveling

There’s a chance that you and your partner want to explore each other’s roots and this is going to include a lot of traveling. Now is a great time to pack a case and go on a cultural trip together.

In any cross-cultural romance, there are plenty of adventures to be had!

10. Breaking cultural stereotypes

Stereotypes are more damaging than amusing. Yes, a lot of people laugh at the jokes. It’s high time we stop assuming the worst in each other’s cultures, and instead, try to find the good in everyone we meet.

When you and your partner are part of different cultures, it becomes easier to accept that we are not identified by our society. We are a new generation that aims to be equal, while still treasuring our heritage. [Read: Dating stereotypes of women in a man’s mind]

11. Sharing new cultural knowledge with your nearest and dearest

Think of it as having more fuel for conversations. You’re not just finding out about a new world within your partner’s life. You are also in a position to share this knowledge with your family, friends, and community.

That’s one of the unique parts of having a cross-cultural romance.

12. You get to promote love and equality just by being with your favorite person

By accepting your intercultural relationship, you make a statement that you don’t care about cultural boundaries as long as you have mutual respect and affection for each other.

This is the most important message of love—not caring about superficial things, but caring about a person as a whole. [Read: Does true love exist? Signs that might make you a believer]

13. Learning what it takes to overcome cultural boundaries

There is a huge lesson to be learned when you undertake something as progressive as a cross-cultural romance. Sometimes you coast through life with hardly a problem in sight. But in a world reborn with new ideals and beliefs, expect a few lashes you can’t ignore.

Your intercultural relationship means more than a few barbs from ignorant people. This is your life, your relationship, and your beliefs. Fight for them and know you will succeed in the end.

What are the inconvenient truths about intercultural relationships?

We’d be lying if we said a cross-cultural relationship will be the easiest thing you ever do in your life. But it’s about balancing the good and the not-so-good. The challenges will make you stronger, but it’s important to know about them ahead of time.

Here are some of the things you may need to work through in order for your cross-cultural relationship to work. [Read: Reasons why relationships are such hard work]

1. A lot of cultures have meddlesome families

Most tendencies to meddle are derived from the family values they have passed down since ancient times.

Although you and your partner should be allowed to make decisions on your own, some immediate and, most of the time, extended members of the family will want to put their two cents in. [Read: The non-Asian guy’s guide to dating an Asian girl]

2. Some cultures have rules for marriage

Some marriage customs are difficult to adhere to. Like giving a dowry, for example. The problem with this is that some marriages don’t receive the welcome they deserve because the couple failed to follow the customs of said wedding.

If you are hoping for smooth sailing, don’t just ignore the traditions unique to you and your partner’s respective cultures. Your cross-cultural romance probably depends on it.

3. Religion is almost always a crucial discussion

What religion will your future children follow? Will either of you convert? Those questions are gravely important to some people, and they can affect your relationship more than you realize.

There is also the issue of the practices that each religion follows, and how these will play a role in your daily lives. [Read: The need for purpose in life – things it can do for you]

4. Racism may affect your lives

As much as we’d like to deny the fact, racism still affects us in some of the most important aspects of our lives, like marriage, career, and community. Denial is dangerous, especially if you live in a place with fewer open-minded people.

Standing up for your right to be in an intercultural relationship is important. [Read: FYIs for dating someone from another culture]

5. Genetics is a sticky subject

Unfortunately, one of the most heartbreaking truths is that certain races have a predisposition for rare genetic diseases. You and your partner will need to be tested for these types of things, especially if you want to have children.

Most people ignore this fact, thinking they’re the exception. It is better to know what you’re facing in terms of health than to turn a blind eye and be shocked when something bad happens to your health or your baby’s. [Read: Things every couple needs to talk about in a relationship]

6. Parenting intercultural children can be challenging

The world can be a scary place for children born of intercultural relationships. It’s difficult to explain to them why people fight because of their skin color. They might also get confused as to what culture they identify with.

This makes parenting difficult, in the sense that you’re teaching your children twice the knowledge necessary for growing up. Sometimes, you might leave something out, but you should still do your best to teach them about equality and their unique identities.

7. Semantics can sometimes make things worse

There will be times when you make an offhand comment that’s uncalled for, and it can cut a person deeply. If said joke pertains to race or culture, it could signify that your relationship isn’t as clear as you thought it was.

We’re still learning how to be completely sensitive to each other’s cultures, which means mistakes can happen. In your cross-cultural romance, be mindful of your words. [Read: Relationship arguments – 38 tips and ways to fight fair and grow closer in love]

8. Moving to the other side of the world

If you think culture is your only point of contention, think again. There is a chance that you will need to move for your partner. Regardless of location, it’s going to be a really tough decision to make.

9. Language problems

If you’re a fluent English speaker, then you have a head start on any other language you wish to mention, as it is the world’s first choice when it comes to international communications.

However, even when your partner does speak English, if it isn’t their first language, it may not be quite the English that you know and understand.

Clashes most commonly occur due to linguistic reasons, where one of the two makes no effort whatsoever to learn their partner’s language—and by doing so, marginalizes a very important part of who their partner is. [Read: Intercultural relationships and big things you need to know about them]

10. Distance issues

Even if you live in one country together, at some point, one of you will probably need to spend a period of time in your home country. You may be able to go together, but visa issues may mean you can’t.

This could be for family reasons, or just to deter homesickness, but you will both have to prepare to put up with an occasional long-distance-style relationship. [Read: Things you should never do when you’re in a long-distance relationship]

11. Etiquette mistakes

By this, we don’t mean the right way to hold a fish knife or which way to pass a bottle of port around the dinner table. Each culture has its own distinct ways of behaving and not getting these right can cause massive offense.

Many East Asian countries, for example, will take off their shoes before entering someone else’s home, while Westerners don’t commonly do this.

Conversely, in the West, the act of spitting is considered an offense of etiquette, whereas in many Asian countries, it is a normal means of reducing the risk of ill health.

Getting either of these wrong will elicit feelings of horror in the offended party, but—and this is a big but—there is no excuse for either.

If you love your partner, you will make an effort to understand their culture and also patiently explain why certain things they do are unacceptable in yours. As ever, communication is key. [Read: Most important signs of relationship compatibility even if it’s cross-cultural]

12. Sometimes love isn’t enough

Love can only do so much. You can fight for your relationship, but winning is not always guaranteed.

It’s tempting to think that everything will work out the way you want it to, but there are forces out there that some of us can’t overcome. But don’t lose hope.

If you give up from the start, you won’t find out if there was anything you could have done to change your feelings or your situation. [Read: What to do when your relationship ends without warning]

The keys to a successful intercultural relationship

Now you know both sides of the coin, let’s get practical.

Any relationship takes work, but the stress can be daunting when you are merging two cultures and navigating new customs and norms all while trying to stay connected and in love with your partner.

But the trick here is to pinpoint and remember just exactly what each of you need and want from one another.

In an intercultural relationship, you are bound to meet a few of these challenges, but if you keep your head up and face them as a couple, you can avoid creating a barrier between you and your love. [Read: Top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook!]

1. Learn about your partner’s worldview

Take some time to talk about worldviews and make sure you listen. There will need to be a lot of compromises and that means understanding one another carefully while working out where you can meet in the middle.

But a lack of knowledge is no excuse, you must learn to make this work.

2. Be ready to change

But only if you want to and only to the right degree. You should not be forced into changing anything about yourself unless you choose to. However, there is a point of compromise to think about.

It’s true that in a cross-cultural romance, you’ll both need to change a little. However, this should never be on the things that you hold dear and never want to change.

For instance, you shouldn’t feel pressured into changing your religion if you don’t want to. [Read: How to change for your partner without compromising or losing you]

3. Visit your partner’s family

Once you’ve been together for a while, you’ll need to visit your partner’s family and this will be the time when you really get a sense of who they are. Of course, they will need to meet your family too, because then they can learn about your background in greater depth.

Meeting the parents can be scary at the best of times, but if there is a language barrier, this can be even more worrying. But remember that, at the end of the day, you’re just two people in love, trying to navigate your cross-cultural relationship.

4. Focus on your common goals

Rather than focusing on the things you don’t have in common, focus on the things you do. What things do you both want to work toward together? Keep your mind on those things and you’ll find it much easier to work together. [Read: Couple goals – 58 fake and real ideas you must add to your relationship goals]

5. Make your needs known

Your partner isn’t a mind reader regardless of whether they come from the same culture as you. However, when you come from two different cultures, there is a bigger chance of misunderstandings. Make sure you make your needs known and don’t be afraid to do so.

Of course, you should expect your partner to do the same and you should listen to them with an open mind.

6. Work on your communication skills

As in any relationship, communication is key. However, in a cross-cultural romance, this is even more important and could pose a few obstacles too.

In an intercultural relationship, you need to listen extremely well and if you don’t understand something, ask. There’s no room for assumptions here and if you want your relationship to thrive, you need to learn how to have open conversations a lot of the time. [Read: Communication techniques to finally get them to open up to you]

7. Celebrate your uniqueness

While a cross-cultural relationship can have its challenges, celebrate the fact that you’re unique! Life is too short to follow the crowd when it comes to love. If you have feelings for someone, act on them!

Celebrate the fact that you’re in love and dealing with the challenges.

8. Have a laugh!

Sometimes the best way to deal with life’s ups and downs is just to throw your head back and laugh about it all! So whenever you don’t understand something or you have a bad day, laugh together and all the stress will melt away. [Read: How to make someone laugh when they’re down and lighten their burden]

9. Don’t expect too much from your partner

Remember, different cultures go about things differently. You can’t expect your partner to do what you think they’re going to do and then be angry when you don’t get the desired outcome. Again, they’re not a mind-reader.

Keep your expectations low and you’ll find that your cross-cultural relationship is much easier to handle, allowing you to focus on the good stuff.

10. Talk about children before having them

This is an important point in any relationship but in a cross-cultural relationship, it’s even more vital. What are your values and expectations about being a parent and how you will raise your child? What about your partner?

Come to a suitable piece of middle ground on all the important points before you go down that road. [Read: 19 things you must do as a couple before having a baby]

Things you can do to understand your partner’s culture better

Of course, throwing yourself into your partner’s culture and learning as much as possible will help you to understand them better, as well as the people around them. On top of that, you get to learn so much for your own self-development.

So, what can you do to help you to understand your partner’s culture better?

1. Get to know other people better

Don’t just assume that the way your partner does things is about their culture. Perhaps it’s just a quirk of their personality! Get to know other people from the culture and compare what is true generally versus what is true for your partner.

2. Do your research

Read some books and watch movies about your partner’s culture to help you get some background knowledge. Learn about the history and traditions. [Read: Love lessons you’ll only learn from experience]

3. Live in the country for an extended period of time

There is no better way to get to know a culture than to immerse yourself in it. If you can, live in your partner’s country for an extended period of time and you’ll understand them and their way of life so much better.

In that case, your cross-cultural romance will stand a much better chance of success.

4. Try to learn some of the language

It’s not just about being able to get around easier and understand what people are saying. You’ll show your partner’s family that you’re serious about “fitting in.”

On top of that, you can get a lot from words and expressions that would otherwise be lost on you. [Read: Lack of communication in a relationship and why it signals the end]

5. Avoid generalizations

There is a lot of misinformation out there and assuming that what you hear to be true is only going to get you into trouble. Generalizations and stereotypes are dangerous. After all, would you like it if your partner believed stereotypical ideas about your culture? Probably not.

Instead, do some research and learn. It will help your cross-cultural relationship to grow. [Read: 15 gender stereotypes about males we need to let go of for good]

The most important piece of advice for intercultural relationships

The bottom line in any relationship is that you will face obstacles, whether from external or personal pressures. Yet, when you are navigating through two completely different cultures, the challenges can often be harder to understand and seem near impossible to overcome.

But, before you become overwhelmed by it all, be truly honest about what each of you needs and wants from the beginning. Then, you will be able to build a relationship that is uniquely yours, each need and want determined by your partnership, regardless of any additional pressures.

You can stumble through the differences together, and strengthen your cross-cultural relationship along the way!

[Read: Stages every couple goes through in their relationship]

Although intercultural relationships come with their fair share of obstacles, the pros far outweigh the cons. With some love and determination, you can have a successful cross-cultural romance and break barriers. 

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...