This piece of writing is about my experiences of international and inter-racial dating. It is simply an account of what I have witnessed and experienced myself over the course of my life so far, although at 55 years old, I am nearer the end of it than the beginning. It is my guidance on dealing with an international or inter-racial relationship.
It all started at an early age when I was in infant school at seven. There was a Filipina girl in our class and I could not take my eyes off her, although I almost certainly did not know much about it then. We parted at eight when they moved closer to another school and I never saw her again.
My next encounter with a foreign girl, was the mademoiselle assistant teacher at school and I was certain that I would marry a French country girl when I grew up. That passed when the German helper arrived.
When I was fourteen, I went on a school cruise to Leningrad and there was a group of exchange students going home to Sweden on the same ship. I went out with one of them for roughly a week and first realized the problems that can come from international dating. There was a minor language barrier, but it was fun getting over that. The real difficulty came, because I had predetermined ideas of what Swedish girls were like, most likely instilled in me after years of silly ‘Carry On’ films.
At sixteen, I went to Germany to work for the summer and I found it very easy to get on with the German girls, although they were shyer that I was expecting too. Also an outlook I owed to silly Health and Efficiency ‘sex films’.
After finishing university, I moved to The Netherlands to live. It was the seventies and Dutch girls were great. However, I made friends with male British colleagues first and soon saw some of the issues that can come from an international relationship. Most of the men I knew were typical Brits and made totally no attempt to learn Dutch at all. Surprisingly, many Dutch people could not speak English either, particularly the parents.
This lead to a surprising number of stressful moments in a week and that put a lot of strain on my friends’ relationships. It is so easy to start name-calling when you are angry and it is the worst thing you can do. The Dutch girlfriend or her parents or friends would be called ‘a stupid cheese eater’ or something equally foolish and the relationship was over or in trouble for days. I do not remember what the Dutch called us.
I vowed to myself there and then never to get serious about a foreign girl because the arguments were just too much. Food was never a problem. Culture was not much of a problem, although where I was in southern Netherlands, most people were Catholic and I am not. This did perplex some parents but not me. Travelling was always going to be the drawback. Do you live by her parents or yours? Especially when children start arriving. Most countries have stronger family ties than Britain.
Then, at 50, having never been married, I went to Thailand, where I met my wife-to-be. Asian society is very different from British or even European culture and it is a real shock to both parties. Anyway, five years into our relationship and we are still fine. I recollect the reasons I gave myself for not marrying abroad when in The Netherlands and I was wrong, but not much.
If you are going to enter into an international or even inter-racial relationship, you had better learn how to control your anger. It is the most important advice you will ever get. Being understanding of other points of view is important too, but not getting angry is more important. Furthermore, you must try to learn something about your partner’s land, background and language, otherwise you cannot join in any discussion your partner may have with someone who does know a bit about it.
I have never seen religion be a hindrance ever, except in an argument. My wife is Buddhist and I am not. We chat about it, but there is never any tension. Food, again I have never seen a problem in this area. Clothing, again no problem in my life. If you get into an international or inter-racial relationship, keep your temper, do not shout, do not get angry and talk things out calmly.