International relationship: does and don’ts

Marco Adragna

Today I will share with you an interview with Marco Adragna on does and don’ts in international relationship (i.e. relationship, where partners are from different countries, different cultural/ethnical background).

Marco Adragna is a professional coach certified by the International Coach Federation, a counsellor and a trainer. He is the only certified coach in italy who specializes on relationships and he has been interviewed in many television programs and popular magazine on such subject.

What are the positive aspects and which are the challenges in international relationship (IR)?

  • The best part of dating someone from a different country is the amount of novelty that we are likely to experience: each day can bring the discovery of a custom we didn’t know about and of an idea we hadn’t previously thought.
  • Such novelty might help in keeping the relationship fresh and passionate. The biggest challenge is the misunderstanding which can occur between people that have different mother tongue and cultural background.
What is important to evaluate/think of, before you begin cross-cultural relationship?
  • Mutual expectations are the first thing to check. Each one of us has slightly different ideas on who “A good girlfriend” is and on what “A good boyfriend” should do. Such ideas varies within a country and can vary even more in the case of IR.
  • For example, a ukrainian woman is more likely to expect their man to pay the bill at the restaurant than a Danish woman is. In fact, the Danish woman might be even offended by a man who insist on paying for her! Other difference in expectations might appear subtle but are important too. For example: what is Love?
  • For some people Love means being open to make sacrifices for each other. For others the priority in a loving relationship is being successful together. Other people feel that love is impossible without a little bit of mystery. The list could continue… In order to understand what a potential partner expect in this area of his life, a good starting point could be to chat about what he liked and disliked in previous relationships.
Is the language important in IR?
  • Very much. We use language to construct our thoughts.
Should we try to adopt partner’s culture or stick to our own?
  • A certain degree of flexibility is necessary but we shouldn’t try to compromise on our deeply held value for the sake of the other person.
How to avoid cultural and linguistic misunderstandings?
  • Don’t jump to conclusions and double check if you got that right.
  • Paraphrasing is a good way to do it: repeating with your own word what you’ve just heard to double check that you understood correctly. Misunderstanding are frequent even with people that share the same background, so stay open and curios of learning about the other person.
In which cases it is better to avoid IR, i.e. even not to start it?
  • If there is a big difference in expectations and values, or if the person is about to go back to his/her own country, I would think twice before making long-term projects.

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