Gender & Identity, Life

My relationship with a guy from another culture was doomed from the start

It was a problem that I was dating someone who was not a Latino. At least in the eyes of my Hispanic friends.

I met Maneet during freshmen orientation. It was my first week in Boston as an international student and he was my “IOL” (international orientation leader).

Our first encounter was nothing out of the ordinary. I wanted to bombard him with all my freshmen doubts, but I only limited myself to find out the basics: his parents were from India but he grew up in Taiwan. I also found out that he was a senior.

I was from South America, while he was from Asia (which looking back are two very different regions) but we were united by one common fact: we were both strangers to the country we were in.

[bctt tweet=”We were united by one common fact: we were both strangers to the country we were in.” username=”wearethetempest”]

That first semester we had classes across from each other, which meant that I saw him on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Right before (and after) our classes, we would talk about our classes, friendships, and, eventually, dating.

The first time we went out, we got lunch right after our Thursday class.

Me: *looks at phone*

Maneet: Can you please not look at your phone?

Jeez. That was the first time I understood a thing or two about dating courtesy. For some reason, I didn’t think it was a problem… I mean, my Latino friends did it all the time.

Which brings me to an interesting point. It wasn’t a problem to check my phone when I was eating with my Latino friends because the act of eating isn’t something serious in our culture. But it was a problem that I was dating someone who was not a Latino. At least in the eyes of my Hispanic friends.

[bctt tweet=”But it was a problem that I was dating someone who was not a Latino.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Honestly, I couldn’t care less.

Soon I learned that Maneet was really into me…like perhaps too much. Like more than I was into him. I don’t know if it was my commitment issues playing a trick on me or the fact that I didn’t want to ruin an awesome friendship, but I decided to stop dating Maneet after two dates. After all, we were three years apart, which is why we had very different relationship priorities.

We stayed good friends. But I didn’t really know how different our cultures were until a year after we stopped dating.

Soon after his graduation, he was preparing to go home. We were having our last lunch when religion came up in the conversation. Only then – when I was getting ready to say goodbye to my International Orientation Leader and good friend – did it become clear that we were actually very different. Although I was fascinated by the fact that he was a Hindu, I was shocked by the idea that these cultural differences didn’t come up sooner.

Once he was back home,  more things started to come out.

During our FaceTimes, he would show me around his house, which, according to him, “looked very Indian.” We would also talk about his sisters’ weddings, his family, and more about his religion, which I didn’t know much of. Although we had such an amazing friendship and connection, I started to wonder if our romantic relationship would’ve ever made it past American borders.

[bctt tweet=”I started to wonder if our romantic relationship would’ve ever made it past American borders.” username=”wearethetempest”]

In American soil we had many things in common: we were “immigrants,” students, communicators, and friends; but in the context of our homes and backgrounds, could we ever be more than that?

I hadn’t really thought about marriage until recently that I found out that one of my close friends is getting married. Out of curiosity, I texted my IOL and asked him what he thought about marriage.

His answer surprised me more than anything he has ever told me.

“I need to find a nice Indian girl to marry.”

This statement really, really, got me thinking: is it realistic to date someone from another culture or are we simply letting ourselves fall into the “Americanized” version of the other person? Will things change completely when we bring family and religion into the picture?

After that last conversation with Maneet, I realized that our relationship could’ve never been anything more than a great friendship. Although this makes me sad (because what if I do fall for someone from another culture), I think closing myself up to dating only Latinos is not very smart either.

Yes, it will inevitably be easier to date someone from my country, but when have I chosen the easy way out anyway?