In continuation of my Dating Abroad posts I wanted to discuss language usage between international couples. Whether dating someone from another English-speaking language country or dating someone from a different country of non-Latin language origins (i.e. Arabic, Asiatic, African-dialect, etc.) language usage always comes into play when communicating with one another.
In my personal experience language has played a significant hindrance in communication in both my past and present relationship due to me and my BFs native languages being entirely different – English and Korean. However, never did I consider language to be an inhibitor to my relationship’s growth in either relationship. When looking from the outside it comes as no surprise that my family, friends, and even co-workers would ask me first how do me and my boyfriend communicate. If ever asked the question I reply by saying that we use both our languages, English and Korean. But, in truth due to us meeting in Korea and me already possessing sufficient Korean language skills, the first time we communicated prior to dating was solely in Korean. Due to this I tend to chime in to the inquirer that me and my boyfriend primarily communicate in talk, text, and letters in Korean because that is the language in which we are most comfortable and better understand one another.
Communication is important in helping any relationship (whether domestic or international) thrive. But, for some international couples languages can be an inhibitor in clear communication flow. A major reason for why communication maybe inhibited for an international couple is largely due to international couples not being native speakers in each others mother tongue. As non-native speakers of each others native language communication may not be at 50~80~100% percent due to a partner’s language skill, comprehension, and engagement level.
When a partner’s language skill, comprehension, and engagement level does not match or equal that of their BF/GF communication may become troublesome at times, especially when discussing topics non-related to casual or everyday conversation. In my personal experience in my past relationship communication was difficult, and often times both me my ex felt misunderstood. While communication did not end the relationship it did bring to light for me that while dating internationally you & your BF/GF should be helping each other learn ways to effectively communicate on a level that can reduce instances of misunderstanding.
One way to help your BF/GF and vice versa is by teaching one another each others native language. Similar to studying a language with a friend or language-partner international couples have the benefit of being able to become each others personal language teachers. This is a positive move towards helping one another in building communication, and also a positive move towards strengthening the relationship. After entering into a more serious relationship with my current BF we became each others language partners. He would help me with building my Korean language skills and vice versa I would help him with his English skills. Together we started supporting one another in building up our language comprehension.
Learning your partner’s native language:
For some international couples language comprehension of their significant others native language can reach 50~80~100%. However, this is not the case for every couple. This is due to the actual ability of being able to master a BF/GFs native language and fully be able to grasp innate meanings, idioms, and connotations associated with the language. Acquiring full language comprehension & ability of a partner’s mother tongue is no easy feat. It requires not only a sincere interest, but strong commitment toward learning that not every international couple can achieve, especially within a non-specified span of time.
For further language comprehension taking appropriate language courses is recommended.
If language acquisition for either one or both languages does not reach a strong level of comprehension then communication between the international couple may lag. In the case that one language remains insufficient then it is important to note that eventually the international couple will choose to use the dominant language that both parties were able to comprehend from the beginning. The dominant language will remain the primary language for communication while the second language and mother tongue of either BF/GF will remain less used.
Choosing the most dominant language:
Falling back on the language used at first meeting is common for most international couples. In my relationship Korean is the domineering language choice that my BF and I rely on for effectively communicating with one another. As mentioned before due to meeting in Korea and because of my already acquired language skills we communicated in Korean solely when we first met. Since the beginning of our relationship communicating in Korean was preferred by us both, however, it was majorly due to us being able to more fluidity share, describe, and profess thoughts, feelings, and emotions on topics outside of daily or casual conversation.
Having reached this point where we can converse on more heavy discussions became my reason to support our language choice.
Having to choose a language choice(*especially a language not familiar or related to one’s mother tongue) when dating is not as easy as it may seem. When looking from the outside in it may seem simple at first, but in truth it is not. For many international couples it may become a deal-breaker in the relationship, marriage, or in child-rearing. Language may also become a problematic factor between family relations.
At the beginning of any relationship physical attraction and genuine interest play a significant role in developing relationships. However, over the first stage of the relationship often called ‘honeymoon’ stage communication on what each partner might want going forward will come into play. These wants might be a conversation partner, a listening partner, a family oriented partner, etc. Whichever the case communication will shape and grow the relationship further so long as communication does not possess any constraints, particularly with expression of feelings, emotions, or thoughts.
Even though the topic of this blog discussion relates to international couples communication remains an important centerpiece in all relationships. Being able to communicate and communicate effectively is very important. With that said it is okay if you are in an international relationship and communication is at 50% so long as you and your BF/GF are supporting each other to reach 80~100%. There is no rush, for every relationship runs on its own time. However, it is important that you never stop learning and remain supportive in your partner’s mutual language acquisition.