Intercultural Dating, Part One

I did not intentionally set out to date an Indian.  Most people in mixed relationships say they did not plan on marrying outside their group.  Both of us were looking outside our cultures due to location.  I did not meet any other Scandinavian American Catholics on the East Coast.  If Satya had stayed in India, he most likely would have married another Lingayat.


Below, is my dating advice and links to a few helpful resources.  Most of it applies to dating in general. I will write a future post about some of the specific challenges we’ve faced as a mixed couple.


 Be Open

At first you need to be open to know what you like, what you don’t, and what you can tolerate.  This requires you to meet different people.  One book that explains this well is “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping” by Dr. Henry Cloud.


Neither Dr. Henry Cloud nor I recommend having a lot of relationships, but I am recommending going out on dates (just dinner or coffee) with a variety of people and getting to know them.  Of course, use your common sense.  If someone is dangerous or just seems “creepy”, just say no.


This also means that when you are on a date with someone, listen to them.  Don’t just talk about yourself and don’t judge people without listening first.


Have a Checklist

In my head, I had a generic checklist of qualities I was looking for: kind, intelligent, tall, non-smoker, no drugs, responsible, somebody with similar interests, etc. 


Satya’s list was a bit different.  He had some disastrous dates with Indians so he was mostly looking outside his culture.  He had some quirky (in my personal opinion) requirements.  One of them was that he wasn’t interested in dating someone in his same field.  His reasoning is that if the economy goes bad, the chances of both being out of work at the same time are decreased.


One book that advocates this is Neil Clark Warren’s book “Date…or Soul Mate?  How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less” His major piece of advice is to write down what qualities you desire in a partner.  He calls these the “Must Haves”.  Then, when you meet someone, listen to them carefully to try to discern if they have those qualities.  Even if only one or two are missing, discontinue the romantic relationship because that mismatch will just build a greater divide over time.


It may take more than two dates to decide if you’d like to persue a romantic relationship with someone.  That’s ok.  The point is not to compromise on things that you believe are important. 


Be Honest

Satya and I met each other when we both were nearly burned out of dating.  The hidden benefit of this was that we both decided we were tired of playing games and we both decided to be honest.  I think this is why people often say that you meet somebody when you aren’t looking…it is because you are honest. 


What does this mean?  First off, don’t lie.  If you don’t like something, say so.  I decided not to continue dating a man whose passion was baseball.  Baseball to me is one of the most boring things in the world.  I just couldn’t envision myself by his side at the baseball stadium.  Hopefully, he has found a woman who can share that passion.


Secondly, be honest about what you are looking for.  If you are interested in meeting lots of different people, say that.  If you are searching for a marriage partner, say that.  If you don’t know, say that.  Satya and I decided individually we were ready to marry and were looking for that type of relationship. 

       Be Strong

Dating is tough.  It is tough to go through the roller coaster of emotions and to keep your optimism and hope.  One of the books that helped me put dating in a better perspective is, “It’s not you, It’s him” by Georgia Whitkin, Ph.D.  If things do not turn out how you’d like, remember this.  Hopefully, in the future you will find someone.


This book does have some controversy.  Some people who read the book believe the author is advocating that women should be extremely demanding.  This isn’t the message I took from the book. 


The main message I took away from the book is remember, if things don’t work out, it isn’t always your fault.  I do think that women do take relationships too seriously and blame themselves needlessly.  Some relationships just weren’t meant to be.


Give everything your best shot, learn as much as you can, and then move on.



Dating is tough, don’t let anyone tell you different.  Hopefully, someday you will find your match and grow a lot in the process.





4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. masheski
    Nov 07, 2008 @ 06:44:28

    How did you guys meet , and build a relationship?
    How long were you dating before you guys deciding to tie the knot.

    I am dating a girl and I am in a similar situation


  2. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Nov 07, 2008 @ 16:47:19

    We met through an online service.

    We built our relationship by meeting once a week in the beginning. We’d do simple things like going to museums, going to festivals, etc. Towards the end we were spending half the week together and talking on the phone every night.

    We dated 6 months before getting married. 6 months is a bit fast by American standards, but Satya said he was mostly certain after a month. It helped that he visited my family over Christmas before we married. He then knew more about my family and I knew my family approved and liked him. Both of us felt that if we hadn’t married each other that we would have missed out on something very special. So far, no regrets : )

    Does this help any?

    Good luck!!


  3. masheski
    Nov 07, 2008 @ 20:18:04

    Thats awesome.

    But after reading your post and suggested reading I have a few points to make.

    1. Its intriguing that you guys carried a checklist to evaluate a potential partner. Putting a check mark right next to each quality you look for.

    2. I am in an inter-racial relation myself. But I had to systematically attract my girl. Every girl sure wants a tall, dark and handsome guy. If thats the case nearly70% of the men who is not tall, dark or handsome will not ever find a partner. there iss definitely more to it. Please correct me if i was wrong.

    3. This part about dating from another culture sure intrigues me. Please dont get me wrong here. He had terrible dates with indian women who share the same cultural, logical, emotional,lingustic values and yet he meets a girl like you and then there is satori.
    And you having bought up with different views see a guy and you started to believe this is the guy you wanna be with.

    What prompted you guys to take that big step?

    4. and the last point, “being honest and not playing the game” just imply the same.
    Men go out of their way to “impress” a woman.
    Have you ever been annoyed by guys attempts to pick up? all the coversations seems so superficial.

    But when you dont care about impressing someone, you talk normally. without saying things the other person wants to hear

    in the end every girl wants to see that “normal”guy. what is he on a day to day basis?

    For the record how old are you guys? Just wondering if age had any say in making a big decision


  4. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Nov 07, 2008 @ 21:57:27

    I will try to answer your questions. Some of your points aren’t so clear to me, but I will try.

    1. We both had figurative checklists in our heads of what qualities we wanted in a partner. No, we did not actually carry around a checklist on dates and carefully check things off.

    2. What do you mean “systematically attract”? I do think my husband is tall, dark, and handsome. I’m tall too so that works for us. My youngest sister on the other hand thinks that short Oriental guys are the cutest. People come in all shapes and sizes and shades so I think everybody can find somebody to their physical preference.

    3. We do share a lot of the same values-emotional and cultural. In some ways we come from similar cultures. We both come from calm, quiet families. In some ways it would have been more difficult for him to have married a stereotypical Punjabi for example or for me to have married a stereotypical Italian. True, the details are different, but the general values are not.

    4. Playing games? Of course when you first begin dating someone you naturally want to impress them. I do think though, there is a distinction between wanting to give a good impression and deception/games. I agree every girl does want to see the “normal guy”. I agree to that pick up lines will likely annoy a girl. Pickup lines are games.

    He is 30 and I’m 27.


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