Relationship Help Forum: From Different Cultures

The Relationship Blog runs a relationship help forum. From time to time we publish real stories of women and the genuine problems they face in their relationships. All identifiable details have obviously been changed. These real stories - and the relationship help are published here so that other women who're going through the same situations in their relationships can be offered encouragement and help to move on with their own lives.

The relationship issue below deals with problems that arise from relationships in which the couples are from different backgrounds or culture. This needn't be a problem unless the people involved make it one (as we'll see from *Mariam's  story below).
You can access our other real relationship stories at this page: Relationship help forum.

Relationship help forum: from different cultures

relationship help forum: from different cultures
is your true love from another place far away from yours?

Mariam's  (not her real name) story

Dear Anne
I’ve been dating a guy on and off for the past 4 years. We didn’t speak for a year and recently got back in touch again a few months ago. I just moved to London from Cardiff and coincidently he has been here as well working on a project in a large company. I'm White and he's Asian.

Different cultures, different needs from relationships

One night he texted me and we got back in touch and started seeing each other again. We hooked up one night and afterwards he told me he didn’t see it going anywhere because he was involved with someone in Pakistan - long distance. He told me they’d never met, but his family thought she was the one he should have a relationship with.

Even though he told me this I hung around because I thought he knew me, and at least that was one advantage I had over this other girl in Pakistan. We were always amazing together, and because I felt so in love with him I didn’t want to leave. Eventually though, we started fighting again and I got tired of knowing that I was his second best so I broke it off with him, but it wasn’t easy.

Culture and family getting between what could be a good relationship

I got angry knowing that I could never be with him due to our diverse cultures and his unwillingness to ever try to invite me into his. Why wasn’t I ever worthy of his acceptance after the 4 years we spent together? He had a lot of qualities that I look for in someone, but I knew he could and would never marry me. It ended by me leaving a message on his voice mail telling him how upset I was.

I was so angry that he came back to me knowing he never wanted me and that he wanted to stick to his culture all along. I haven’t spoken to him since and want to cut all ties, but I still find myself thinking about him all the time and am disappointed it will never work (despite the strong feelings I had for him). I know its time to move on but its hard to imagine I’ll find someone else like him. I just wish he’d left me alone to begin with. If he wanted the other girl I don’t know why he came back to me.

My advice to ...from different cultures

Dear *Mariam,
I’m truly sorry to hear about your story. You seem to be totally in love with him. Sometimes traditional parents and family members make it difficult for someone to marry outside of their culture. Many times people who dare venture out of this situation are disowned by their parents. I blame this guy for answering your call, except that he was honest enough to level with you from the start.

Culture can be stronger than feelings about a relationship

You chose to remain with him, thinking that you could change his mind. The only good that has evolved out of this, is that you now know that you cannot change someone else’s mind for them.This is an unfortunate situation, but I am sure that if you choose to call him again some time in the future, the same thing will happen again.
You have to now pick up your life and move on. Maybe you were uncertain of the terms of this affair the first time you split, now you are not! As a married woman I can tell you that a vital part of any marriage is being able to accept one’s in-laws. Even, if you had married this man, you may not have lasted very long together because his parents would’ve never accepted you. This is a shame and it is certainly their (and his) loss.

Chemistry in a relationship can only count for so much. That has now been explored and expired from his point of view. As you know, a relationship is not one sided. He has his eyes on a girl and she isn’t you. Restore your self-esteem and believe that you’re worth loving just as much as you’re willing to give, and this will help you move on swiftly. It’s time to leave this behind, isn’t it?

Have you experienced a relationship like this one where your culture (or his) stopped you from being together? More importantly, do you have a relationship which has survived and thrived despite your different cultures? If you have, please let give us your opinion and tell us why yours worked and how you were able to put your differences aside and focus on your love - the thing that truly mattered. 
Thanks for your input. Please share Relationship Help Forum: From Different Cultures on your favourite social networking site. Thank you.
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Photo by Dee Hough.


Harleena Singh April 29, 2012 at 8:09 AM  

I think your advice was good!

Yes indeed, it's tough to get together if you are from different cultures, because when you marry, you marry the family of the person too. And in this case, his family would never had accepted her.

He was of course was under parental pressure for marrying a girl more of his culture, due to whatever reasons. However, if he had been man enough and really been in love with this girl, he would have stood his ground and got married to the girl, and not really be bothered about the consequences. I say this because I have often seen parents accept their kids likes and dislikes, though with time.

Sadly, he wasn't that much in love, or his love was not as strong enough to face the storm thereafter. He chose the easier way to give up on this girl and go ahead and get married to the other one.

Anyways, it must have been an eye opener for the girl, though she must have been heart-broken and badly hurt. I guess we all learn our lessons the hard way, but when we do they are always helpful in the future - isn't it?

Thanks for sharing. :)

Anne Lyken-Garner April 29, 2012 at 3:51 PM  

Harleena, I think you're right that if he was strong enough, (or loved her enough) he'd have stayed with her.

Having said that, some people from real traditional backgrounds just can't stand the pressure and torment their family puts them through. They'd rather marry the person the family chooses and live the rest of their lives having affairs and basically doing what they want. They always have the excuse to fall back on: I didn't want this in the first place.

Of course, not everyone does this. My best friend years ago married the man her parents chose and lived with him faithfully. He was mean to her and treated her badly, but she stayed with him because she wanted to honour her parents' wish.

Icy BC May 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM  

It is very difficult when married to a different culture, but it could work if the couple has trust in each other and be the strongest support for one another.

Mine failed because he is more into his own parents :-)

Anne Lyken-Garner May 6, 2012 at 5:38 PM  

You're right, Icy. Trust will help the couple know that whatever happens with their respective families, they'll always have each other's best interest at heart. Sorry yours ended in this way.

Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, editor and freelance writer. Her specialities include relationships and confidence building. You can find her inspirational memoir here.
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