Inter-Cultural Dating at 31

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-26-2013
Inter-Cultural Dating at 31
Fri, 12-27-2013 - 3:29am

Hi Everyone,

I've been on 5 dates and we really chat up a storm!  We have different cultural backgrounds which I think influences how we date. He's from a middle-eastern country where  there is regulation of relationships between the sexes. I'm American but lived in a moderate muslim culture before, so I do expect someone who is serious about a relationship to move slower and I'm ok with that. I know he feels kisses are for affection and can't sleep with someone he doesn't care about. (That's good).

On our first few dates he shook my hand so I decided to hug him at the end :) That worked because I got a big hello hug on the fourth date. He also took my hand with no further prompting on the fourth date. We meet weekly so it's been a month, and lately have been in touch more by phone. He's vacationing abroad, and sent me a text before boarding and made sure to send me a Merry Christmas, some photos from his trip so far and to tell me he wishes I was there with him. I didn't expect that actually.

There has been no kiss yet. On one hand I have moved from feeling relieved that he obviously isn't only interested in something physical to ok...let's test those waters since we have have plans to go places and see things all the way to the summer! I'd like to find a way to approach what his dating goals are and how to tastefully show him that I'm interested in more affection. Question: Should I just kiss on the cheek next time I see him and see how he reacts? I feel that a kiss can tell you if there is romantic chemistry. It's hard to tell with a guy who doesn't flirt or is not very touchy. I think that is a cultural difference maybe.

His profile says dating is set to the category "wants to date but nothing serious" but he writes that there should be no rush and let things evolve to create a more solid relationship. I haven't asked him about his dating goals because I thought that was part of the exclusivity talk. I think it's too early for that talk, but I've also never met a man who openly is thinking ahead and involving me in that future...but who isn't flirty. But we have good conversations. I'm confused. He introduced me to his good female friend from his country and her husband on our second date.

Question: I'm curious if I should be dating other men or not. It occured to me that because our cultures date in different ways, that he may not be dating anyone else whereas I'm going on first dates still and I'm not sure how he will react if that came out. His profile leads me to think I shouldn't expect a relationship but his actions paint the opposite picture. I'd like to tastefully inquire and could use some advice so I can decide if I should continue meeting other men because my relationship goal is to meet a potential partner.

** I use the term relationship goals becasue at we are 31 not teens

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2010
Sun, 12-29-2013 - 12:19am

As you're aware, there are tremendous cultural differences between Islamic and Western values, particularly as to gender roles, relationships and sex. It is quite easy not to be on the same page. The fact he hasn't even kissed you at a time when many American men would expect to sleep with you underscores this. I don't think you can avoid a conversation with him about what he is looking for, how he thinks a relationship should progress, and what aspects of gender roles/relationships he likes and dislikes in the West as opposed to the Middle East. You could possibly turn off the guy by such a common wardrobe choice as showing up in a miniskirt. So, clear and direct is the way to go to prevent misunderstandings.