I recently indulged in the world of Tinder in a country whose first language I do not speak. Unsurprisingly, I found many of my conversations with matches starting with “Sorry, I only speak English. *monkey covering eyes emoji*”
One day, however, I was pleasantly surprised to be asked out on a date. Long story short, we’re together now.
Seeing as English is not my SO’s first language, I’ve faced several challenges that have shed a completely new light on my dating experience. Hopefully a few of them may even enlighten your own.
1) If answering the question “What are you thinking about?” was hard before, now it’s even more of a challenge.
Phrasing certain things in each other’s languages can be a challenge. “How do you say *insert alien-sounding word here* in English?” Followed by, “Ummm, I have no clue” is now a constant reality that I think we’ve both learned to cherish.
But it does make everything we say more relevant, and we listen to each other much more carefully than we would if we spoke the same language fluently.
2) Unfortunate translations will happen.
You’ll laugh, you’ll be embarrassed and you’ll learn how many different things a single word can mean. You’ll also learn how many things can actually not be translated. On that note…
3) You inevitably learn bits of a new language, even if you didn’t really mean to.
Both because you hear it so much more often now and also because it’s fun to say small phrases to your SO in their own language (even if you’re terrible at it). I’m trying, okay?
4) You grow to be a lot more comfortable with silence.
Silence is sometimes perceived as awkward, especially in the dating arena. But with a language barrier you learn that silence is better than forced small talk, especially because of the effort you both have to put into it (even if you both do it gladly). You start to become more self-aware of what you say and try to make all of it count.
5) The idea of meeting his friends suddenly becomes a little more intimidating.
It’s not about the potential inside jokes you might not be able to laugh along to, or the feeling of having to impress them anymore. It’s about the possibility of comments in a different language, or worse, about not being able to communicate efficiently with them.
Personally I am very outgoing. I make new friends easily, have a gift of being able to make people comfortable around me, and can easily make someone smile. But for this they need to understand me, and I need to understand them.
However, stepping out of a comfort zone never hurt anyone. As long as you assure yourself that your SO won’t leave you just because you might have had a hard time communicating with his friends, you’ll be fine.
6) It is the ultimate cure for over-thinking.
Shout out to all of you out there who, like me, tend to analyze texts down to the very last word. The person who just replied to your text with a smiley face definitely hates you now. You’re sure of it.
But when your SO can barely figure out the original meaning of the words he is using in his texts, there is definitely no hidden message.
You will learn that most of the time – and I find this to be especially true with guys – they mean exactly what they typed. Trying to break it all down will just drive you, and whoever you are texting, absolutely crazy.
7) You have a constant reassurance that he’s truly into you.
Last but not least some of us need constant reassurance (both from friends and lovers) that we’re wanted and needed. If you fall into this category, join the club.
This language barrier may just be the blessing you were looking for.
This guy is not only trying to think and speak in your language, he is also improving by the second. For you.
He could be out there dating someone who speaks his own language, which would clear up many problems, but he’s not.
A for effort, anyone?