My fiancé and I have been dating for close to 2 years. I am an American and he is Thai and we met in Shanghai at the gym. To be honest, I have never dated a foreigner before, much less someone so culturally different as Thai or even Asian in general. This relationship has very much been an adventure.
One of the most difficult and yet most interesting aspects of our relationship is that he does not speak English and I do not speak Thai. Weirdly enough, our entire relationship is conducted in Chinese. His Chinese is actually way better than mine and when we first met, I just assumed he was Chinese. I am now aware that he is MUCH too dark to be Chinese haha. We initially had a lot of problems communicating. However, what we lacked in ability to communicate he made up for with persistence, and by the end of the summer I was his girlfriend.
When I go home, I get a lot of questions about what it’s like to date an Asian man or a Thai man. There are definitely some cultural differences (Thai people are obsessed with showers and my fiancé is super Buddhist, so there is that), but sometimes it is hard to tell what is an “asian” difference or what is just different based on his personality. That being said, I would argue that my Asian fiance is way more attentive than any western man I have dated. Yes, he did try to hold my purse when we first started dating, which I thought was very Asian of him, but I vetoed that pretty quickly.
When I say more attentive, I mean that he is very observant and always makes sure that I am taken care of. He knows exactly what I like and don’t like to eat and always is concerned about whether I have eaten enough or if I am cold etc. Initially, as a western woman, I was torn between being insulted (I can take care of myself, thank you) and offended (how dare you think you can order food for me), but after a while, I realized he wasn’t doing it out of being presumptive or controlling, but he genuinely was concerned for me and was trying to take care of me. When we go to Thailand together, he inspects every dish before I eat and pulls out anything I might not like (I am a very picky eater, this is a huge help for me). Once I told him I liked blackberries and from then on he would stop anywhere he knew there were wild blackberries and go pick them for me. It was the little things for me. Pele has never been into grand gestures or big gifts, but his ability to know me, and to go out of his way to do things tailored to what I like and need is what makes him so wonderful.
Needless to say, every relationship has its ups and downs, and dating outside your culture or nationality definitely makes it more difficult, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Happy Valentines Day!