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cultural differences in relationships?


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To start off, the cultural difference i'm referring to is my fiance, whom is asian..and I'm white.


My fiance of almost 5 years rarely shows affection (usual couple things such as hugging and kissing), and it's always been like that our whole relationship. The first 2 and a half years of our relationship was long distance, so I couldn't tell at all then, but I've been realizing it the past 3 years and asked him a while back if he really even loves me. He does, and I believe him because well, things he does and the sacrafices he's made (such as moving all the way to my state for me).


So I asked him why he doesn't show as much affection as I do to him, and he said it's because he's not exactly accustomed to it. Basically, his family very very rarely shows any affection, they very rarely greet each other by hugging (which is what my family does every time). I guess it's just sorta weird to me, not weird in a bad way, just different from what i'm used to. So i'm glad I kind of got this issue resolved with my fiance, because really sometimes it just feels my affection is either not wanted or whatever.


Basically, I want to know if any of you have cultural differences (I guess this slightly fits under that) such as this that you've experienced. I'm guessing after twenty-something years of being around his family he'll never change in that aspect, and will continue to be sorta non-affectionate to me. I wish there was a way I could make him open up more to hugging/kissing me. Even though he's explained it to me, I can't help sometimes feeling ignored or getting this cold vibe when I hug him and it looks like he really just doesn't want me hugging him, you know? I also have several dreams of him ignoring me. Guess this is tied to it.

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Hi there, I'm Asian, as you can obviously tell, but I've never had any problems being overly affectionate in private or in public. Is he Japanese? If so it's more than likely that this stems from their culture and it has very little to do with him. In most Asian cultures it's not really approved, such physical contacts.


I LOVE cuddling and kissing my ex, hugging and all that to do with being physical. Damn, I miss my ex... she's Caucasian by the way...


Hopefully he isn't like that in the bedroom, like a stiff prop, excuse the pun, heh.

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Well, I guess you should have chosen me then, heh.


Anyways, Cambodia is a poor country, and most of what consumes their time is work, so in effect they don't really have the time to relax or to be this affectionate with loved ones or families. Hard work comes first! Feeding the family comes first...

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Well, I guess you should have chosen me then, heh.


Anyways, Cambodia is a poor country, and most of what consumes their time is work, so in effect they don't really have the time to relax or to be this affectionate with loved ones or families. Hard work comes first! Feeding the family comes first...



I know sometimes I wonder if I could ever find anyone that good to me but would just show me more love and make me feel loved and not ignored, lol. When I met his mom a few months ago...she seemed sorta cold like him too..and he told me his biological dad (who lives in cambodia) was a mean person. So yeah....lol.

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It might not be such a cultural thing as it is just how he was raised. Some people can find it hard to express themselves in that way because its what they were used to growing up. It can change over time. But that said, it might never change. The question is are you willing to accept him for who he is? Does he treat you well otherwise? Is he a person you can believe in? Do you like him genuinely as a person? These are the things that matter in the end.

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I completely agree. Is everyone from North America all touchy-feely? No. Likewise, not everyone from Cambodia (or whose parents are from Cambodia while they themselves were born in the States) are reserved.


Have you discussed how the abstinence from hugging is affecting you? Maybe you can tell him that it's important to you and see how he responds?

Also, why not just hug him, instead of waiting for him to hug you? Maybe he'll like how affectionate you are and start "mimicking" how you express love/affection?



I have discussed it with him, and i'm still trying to show affection to him and have him mimick it but still no mimicking lol. Oh well, i'm just going to give more time and if I get nothing in return I will just tell him how I feel again.

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It is a cultural thing. In Asian cultures, hugs are less common than in North America. People have different ways of showing affections in different places. For instance, in China, especially in the old days, women who were friends would hold hand all the time. If they're living together, they might sleep in the same bed. But not a lot of hugs.


I bet it's the same in Cambodia.


Growing up Chinese, I can't remember my mom hugging me even once. But our bond is stronger than most other families.


Even though the guy in question appears unaffectionate, he no doubt appreciates displays of affection from his girl. thereforee, the poster should keep showing him affection. She should also tell him that she would appreciate more affection.

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Hey there.


This thread is particularly interesting to me because of my own experiences. I lived in a few cities in mainland China for almost 2 years and out here in Hawaii for 4 more where I teach ESL to Japanese students who are immigrating/matriculating. I've talked about this very topic with a number of people and gotten differing viewpoints.


Your fiance's lack of PDA or even Non-public affection is common enough. What you should realize is that these displays of affection are not bound to 'humanity' but to 'society'. We are trained on some level to behave the way we do. In a number of Asian countries it's considered impolite to show affection in physical ways, and sometimes to show emotion at all. There are many happily married couples that don't kiss and hug regularly.


So in essense, what you desire is something that you've learned to associate with love/feelings; whereas, he does not make this association and most likely feels that he is showing his love in the appropriate ways. If you can't imagine this then picture this:


Two teenage boys are walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon holding hands, laughing and talking.


To an American, this might look like a young gay couple, but in Asia this is a common way for guys to act in friendship.


Now all this being said, there are many who break out from these traditional societal norms. There are teenagers all accross Asia who are becoming 'westernized' in their behaviors. Kissing in public, hugging friends, lovers and even newly met acquaintances is becoming more popular. This is hugely evident in the cities but if you venture to the less populated areas of Asia you see less and less of this behavior.


As for your solution, you and your fiance will have to find a happy middle ground. You can't deny the urges you have to be close to someone and have them show their affection physically, and he can't deny the way he was raised. If his father was particularly cold with him then it might take a bit longer.


You just have to be patient and remember that this is a learned thing for him and it may make him uncomfortable on some level. Take baby steps and make sure you respect his side of the whole thing as well.


Best of luck to you both



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Cultural differences can be immense in a relationship. I have just finished a 14-month relationship with a Chinese girl, partly because of the cultural differences and the problems which arose. I live and was brought up in England, she in China. She came over here 6 years ago and we met here. In my case it was the ‘battle for power’ that was the problem, well her battle for power. Being a modern type of guy I am all for ‘equality’ in a relationship, whereas Chinese GF’s/wives feel they have the right to tell their men what to wear, think, eat, do etc… she really did become too much, my self-esteem was left on the floor. This passage is from a web site, which informs English teachers of what to expect when working in China:


As one unattached 24-year old Chinese girl, from an affluent family with excellent English language skills, clarified: "In public, I will give my future husband 'face'. I will not argue with him or yell back at him, but, in the house, I am the boss. I will tell him what to eat and what to wear and he will have to listen to me." Please be advised that this is a very common and typical attitude among educated and middle-class Chinese women. The only real exceptions to this may be found among poor and relatively uneducated Chinese girls. Thus, as a rule, foreign men who report the greatest degree of contentment in and satisfaction with their marriages to Chinese nationals are those who typically prefer being married to, and have deliberately sought out in the past, a strong-willed and dominant maternal-like figure.

In this context, many Western men, soon after intentions of marriage have been discussed, or, at the very least, once the girl has achieved a certain level of security in the relationship, report how Chinese women metamorphosize into partners who are controlling, domineering and hypercritical. Love and concern are often expressed in a manner that we would refer to as both critical and overbearing. Feelings of love and concern will be expressed with, for example: "Why did you wash your hands before flushing the toilet? You are supposed to wash your hands after you flush the toilet"; "Why did you leave the light on in the bathroom. Are you using it now?" and; "You better do a good job or they won't ask you back!" If you can understand and accept these very common types of condescending admonishments from your Chinese girlfriend or wife as "true love," than you are a better man (certainly a more accepting and patient one) than most.



This is so so true. I think you maybe need to read more about the Cambodian culture, here is one web forum about Cambodia, maybe you could post a couple of questions on there:


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I think I would have benefited from reading more in the early stages, so to understand.


Hope it all works out for you!



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