1. Getting into arguments about which country is better is just about the worst thing you can do. Not only is no one ever going to win the argument, you’re both going to end up angry at one another and even more convinced that your respective countries are superior. And these arguments can drag on for literal days if you allow them.
2. Some of us call it “soccer” and some others of us are just going to have to get over that.
3. In the best case scenario, one of you is going to be stealing the other away from their family and their home country. No matter how well you get along with the SO’s family members, there will always be that palpable undercurrent of “Yes, we love you, but can’t you both just stay here?? Why must you go across the world and take our hypothetical grandchildren with you??”
4. Even if your language is the same, your cultural references are not at all. You may very well be dating someone who hasn’t heard of the show Recess, used MSN messenger instead of AIM (???), and never even once ate Toaster Strudels. These are the true communicative barriers in the relationship.
5. Sometimes, even if it’s just for one of you to go back to your home country for a visit with family and friends, you’re going to be separated. And part of loving someone from another country is embracing the idea that your relationship will occasionally transform into a long-distance relationship. (In fact, there is often something revitalizing and empowering about spending a little time apart to go back to your respective homelands.)
6. The relationship doubles your opportunities for care packages full of delicious treats from family members.
7. Occasionally, you will get all pretentious and try to explain the other person’s country to them. This is something you should avoid doing at all costs, because it’s so, so obnoxious.
8. If you let it, “not being a native” or “the cultural barrier” can become a catch-all excuse for everything unacceptable that you both do. Learning how to draw the lines between “genuine cultural mistakes” and “just being a selfish asshole” is one of the first things you have to accomplish if you’re going to truly communicate.
9. You have to start thinking about serious things (“Where will we live?” “How will we handle immigration paperwork?” “If we had kids, where would they be raised?”) much sooner. And it’s not a bad thing, just something most of us aren’t used to, because we take the “we’ll figure it out as we go” nature of same-country relationships for granted.
10. Having parents who can freely communicate with one another, and even see each other without buying thousand-dollar plane tickets, is a huge gift. Having to translate between sets of parents is one of the most stressful things you can possibly do.
11. Always give each other’s music, movies, and books a chance. It’s important to embrace their cult classics, even if you didn’t grow up with them, because it will tell you more about that person than nearly anything else in their life.
12. It is possible to be perpetually in the process of saving up for plane tickets, and nothing will make you budget better than realizing you have a trip to their country coming up and haven’t even begun to save for it.
13. To their friends, there will always be a little novelty about you. You’ll be “The American,” or whatever nationality you are, and sometimes it can get a little annoying. But be honest, your friends do the same thing to them.
14. When at their grandparents’ house, always try the traditional dishes. Even if they inspire a great sense of fear in you when they hit the table.
15. Never make fun of each other for trying your best to adapt to the other’s culture or language. Not even a little joke.
16. Your happiness will begin to revolve around the whims of immigration bureaus and endless paperwork, and it will be incredibly tedious and frustrating at times, but nothing can quite beat the deep joy you both feel when one of you finally gets that crucial piece of paper.
17. Airport kisses are the best kisses in the world.