Love has no borders, but when you are dating someone who literally speaks a different language, it can create a bit of a barrier. Communication in relationships can be difficult enough, without having to worry about language differences. Translators and dictionaries can help, but not being fluent in a common language can mean the relationship will require more work.
Frustration and Impatience
Not being familiar with your significant other's language can make it hard to fully and accurately express yourself, which can cause frustration. Mispronouncing words or not being able to understand an accent can be frustrating for both the speaker and the listener. Try to be patient with your partner and yourself. Eventually, you will learn more about the other person and her language. Until then, you can figure out a way to understand each other, through body language or short key phrases, suggests psychotherapist Denise Pickup in her article, "Cross Cultural Relationships," on the Counselling Directory website.
Misunderstandings and Miscommunication
Trying a new language can also lead to misunderstandings, which can cause conflict in a relationship. Getting key words confused or even a slight mispronunciation can change meaning, says author Martin Cortazzi, in "Cross Cultural Communication A Foreign Language Perspective," published in "Fountain Magazine." For example, your boyfriend may be used to placing emphasis on different syllables of a word, because that is how he is used to speaking in his language, but this may not translate well in English, causing you to misinterpret his words as angry or aggressive. If he accidentally misses one word, it can change the meaning of the sentence. He may use the right word, but with a different definition in his language.
Laughing together is a way that people bond and connect, but humor from another culture can be easily misunderstood. Jokes told in another language may not translate well and may not make sense in English. Although her culture's humor may be lost on you, try to give your girlfriend a chance to explain her joke. You can also use humor to ease any tension there may be around misunderstandings. If she is not easily offended, tease her about her accent or let her laugh at your unintentional misuse of a word. This can be a way for you to bond over any awkward moments and let her know that you don't take things too seriously.
Awkward Social Situations
You may eventually be able to communicate with your partner despite not being fluent in the same language, but things can still get awkward when you are hanging out with other people. If he is meeting your friends or family for the first time, playing translator can get tricky. He may also feel left out if everyone is talking fast in your native language and not including him in the conversation. He might get paranoid and think that people are talking about him, even though that may not be true. When bringing your boyfriend out with friends or family, ask them to be as considerate as possible. Doing things like speaking slowly and not using too much slang can help him feel a little more welcomed.
Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".