Curious about cross cultural relationships? so am I. At the end of 2008 I conducted an open-survey about cross-cultural relationships, inviting my open and willing blog readers to share their experiences of CCRs. This series of posts highlights some of what the participants shared about their cross cultural relationship experiences.
Previous posts include :
This second part is about cross-cultural differences in behavior and body language.
The open question was – “Have you experienced any misunderstandings between you and your partner that were caused by cultural differences in behavior or body language? If you have, please provide an example or two. “
Shortly after we met she waved her palm up and down to me, which in her culture indicates "please come here" but which I misinterpreted as a wave hello. So I waved hi and walked on upstairs. Unknown to me, she thought I was rudely ignoring her and stomped off to a friend’s house. I had to go looking for her, since she had just disappeared. Really, she stays angry far too long. But I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing.
Yes, not talking with something upsets me and expects him to guess why?
He is not so particular about extended family members’ birthdays and special occasions.
when he first time kissed me, I thought that was just manner.
My husband comes from a more conservative society. At the begining, we all have some kind of stereotype of Thailand – from those travelling/tourism programs or people talking about the sex industry, but actually Thai society is more conservative (if you are going to join a middle class or even upper class) than Taiwan. My husband always has to remind me that I have to be more cautious of the dress code…even if the weather is hot hot hot hot hot, I can’t just wear clothes (which they think sexy but normal to us) like I am a tourist. Because people would misunderstand that I am prosititute. However, that is because I have an Asian face. If I weren’t, things wouldn’t be so complete like this, because Thai people also have stereotype that "foreigners" (usually means people outside Asia) always wear "sexy" so that they have better tolerance.
Childishness (sā jiāo 撒嬌)
Yes. Asian girls tend to whine a lot, or to make random childish noises in higher pitch when we want to be pampered. At the beginning he thought I was complaining when I made such noises, and got confused and then offended. Now he got used to it and thought it is cute.
In American culture we tend to be a little more expressive with our feelings. This sometimes confuses my boyfriend who is used to much more reserved displays of emotion. Especially if we have a fight, sometimes he will think that I am much more upset than I actually am and think that I am blowing the situation out of proportion. Sometimes I have to be very careful to stop and explain exactly how I’m feeling and to what degree or else he’ll misinterpret my tone, body language, etc.
Showing affection in public
in the beginning of the relationship, he is very distant in public, does not walk close to me or hold my hands and does not like me touching him in public. so i got very upset but then it turns out that is just how he is brought up. i am not sure if it’s cultural or not. but his family is very conservative and do not encourage public display of affection while i am a lot more liberal.
In girlfriend changed her behaviour a lot when she came to Europe, concerning kissing, holding hands etc. I was puzzled, cause we never did this in Taiwan, as the there custom does not allow that.
He doesn’t look me in the eyes much, believes you can know a person better by studying their behavior from behind.
Touch / personal space
Yes, touching someones with your feet is offensive to my partner but not to me. Personal space issues
Yes, some. It’s a small difference but one that surprisingly hurt my feelings quite a bit. In my culture, if you have a guest or someone you care about, and you are the only person they know in a room or at an event, I would sit next to them, be their host for the night. My partner grew up in a culture where everyone just hangs out with each other and there isn’t the same concept of "strangers" and "social discomfort" as we have here. So, when we went to parties or get-togethers, he would often tell me I can go sit with his sisters, and he would go sing or do something else with his cousins or brothers.
cleanliness and hygiene are approached differently in America and China, so that’s a subject that Matt and I have addressed.
Yes. Filing one’s nails. Drinking beer.
hand counting is different in China and Taiwan, so tthis was one.