One of the interesting/infuriating things about dating someone from another culture are the differences. Once you have been dating someone for a while, inevitably bits of reality and issues start to crop up. And we analyze (or at least I do) each thing, trying to figure each other out.
Are these differences culturally based? Is it personality? Both? Neither? Does it even matter? Are the issues actually even about the person, or just me projecting onto them? (I am currently going with the last theory). When relationships are cross-cultural, it is all too simple to blame any dearths or 'defects' on differences in norms and upbringing.
Some differences are indeed cultural. Affection shown less in words and more in gestures and acts. A tendency towards modesty and reiteration in conversation. Others are personal. The decision to dress formally at all times. A quiet nature.
Cultural differences can be difficult, if both parties are unwilling to budge. Some are deeply ingrained, and only show up unconsciously, which can be the scariest to deal with. I think talking about things is the only way forward. People are not mind readers (as I often tell two of my 'unsatisfied' sharemates), and while some conversations are harder than others, it is better than simmering in silence.
But mostly it requires a journey inward. I am not one for 'new-agey' stuff, but I have become more concious that what we dislike in others tends to be what we dislike about ourselves. It is easier to focus on those traits in someone else, rather than accepting and dealing with them in ourselves. For those who tend to keep others at a bit of a distance, a relationship with someone from a different culture can start out feeling very 'safe', as cultural differences do have the effect of a mental wall. However that wall does not remain there forever, and you find yourself wondering again.
My apologies, this post ended up being more introspective than intended, but I would love to hear what others think about the subject.