Reverse Culture Shock II: Romantic Relationships

Hei hei! I hope you’re having a great week! I certainly am. I want to thank all my friends and acquaintances who have supported this blog fervently after my last post. I’m very grateful for having all of them and I’m very happy to announce that thanks to them, my previous article regarding reverse culture shock, was a success! 😀 so I decided to write a part II. I’ve decided I’m gonna keep on writing about all the different aspects of my life that have changed (and how) ever since I came in contact with Norwegian culture. Previously, I just kind of summarized a few of the aspects of my life in which my opinion has changed drastically so I’m going to retake some of those, plus some others, and do a deeper analysis challenging my own culture’s beliefs and contrasting the way it used to be before Norway and the way it is now. Hope you enjoy it :)

This time, I’ll be writing about romantic relationships: the pattern of local romantic relationships, gender roles in heterosexual relationships (sorry gay friends, I’m afraid I have no experience in your area, I’ll make it up to you!), a local man’s perspective of women, machismo deeply rooted in our society, and finally, about the big refreshing difference that dating someone outside your culture makes.

 

I. The pattern of local romantic relationships

Everything started earlier today, around noon. I had just finished working the morning shift so I went to up to my boss’ office (as usual) to chit chat about god knows what. She’s looking through her phone looking for a conversation she’d just had that morning with a guy friend of hers. She started reading the messages out loud because she was a bit overwhelmed about their little talk and wanted to share it with me. She said she asked one of her guy friends

“why do guys always go for hot dumb chicks?” (no offense).

My poor boss had just had a long wedding season: many of her friends got married between October and December 2014 (with more weddings to come starting 2015) and she had been invited to all of them so she couldn’t help to notice a pattern. She then started explaining that all of those guys getting married had the same fit: young, attractive guys, alumni from prestigious colleges, starting their careers with a well-paying job…. and then there’re the girls: beautiful girls, great bodies, pretty faces, and that’s about it. Some had gone to college, some hadn’t, but the ones that had, weren’t interested in achieving further, well, anything. They were typical daddy’s girls who’d just gone to college so their parents would stop complaining or just to have some degree of education to show off.

(Disclaimer: I’m NOT saying not attending college is wrong, I’m NOT saying wanting to be a housewife is a bad thing, quite the opposite. What I think is wrong, is having no ambition in life. Life is a gift and if you’re not doing anything with it, I personally think you’re wasting everyone’s time by existing but that’s just me).

 

 II. Gender roles in heterosexual relationships

After my boss had eloquently described these couples getting married and their characteristics to her friend, the guy proceeded to reply this gem:

Hot dumb chicks are easier to mold. Independent girls have a life of their own while more dependent girls actually need men and it’s important for men to feel needed.

You could imagine the look on our faces lol. So my boss added “so you want a girl to be your key-chain? Is it a trophy wife that men want?” You see, to understand my boss, you need a little bit of context first: she’s a gorgeous woman in her late 20’s, great body, strong character, educated, very independent, as fair and just as they come, hardworking, and yet she’s currently single (wink wink boys!). The fact that she doesn’t have a boyfriend is completely delusional -but don’t get me wrong, she does get hit on a lot, the thing is that they don’t stay. She says that many men tell her she’s the perfect woman but  she’s not submissive enough. So, basically for a local relationship to function women should be passive and men should be aggressive? Do non-submissive women stand a chance?

 

III. A local’s man perspective on women.

Behold! a summary of the actual conversation between my boss (1) and her friend (2):

 1- I don’t know why most men prefer to date dumb women. And I don’t mean education, I mean dependency.

2- Well, there’s many reasons.

1- Are you afraid of self-sufficient women?

2- Yeah, there’s something about that. Independent women make colder decisions.

1- It’s something I’ve been analyzing lately.

2- The thing is that you can mold a dumb chick your own way. Someone submissive. And it’s not only local, it’s all over the world. It does come down to machismo.

1- It’s just that, I’ve noticed a pattern on the couples getting married lately. The guy is usually handsome, responsible and has a good job but then you look at the girls they get married to and it’s usually women who did study but have no interest in a career, needy women who only talk about their friends all the time and frivolous topics like such. A perfect key-chain for a perfect guy! They’d rather be with a girl who says “yes!” instead of one who asks “why?”

2- It’s not so much about asking questions… we just want someone to pamper us, you know? If it were up to us, women would never leave the house. They would only pay attention to us instead of being distracted by work. If we both are independent and we both have jobs, then who’s gonna pay attention to us when we get home?

Besides, a submissive woman would think it twice when it comes to cheating while an independent one wouldn’t.

1- There’s where you’re wrong. Dumb women are more likely to be unfaithful. Smart, independent women would think thoroughly before doing something as stupid as cheating. They would analyze the consequences of their actions because they know that could mean losing someone they value and not someone they need.

2- It depends on the person. Dumb girls are easier to mold our own way, they’re more flexible.

1- Ok, for example, I’m economically independent when it comes to dates.

2- So when you go on a date you always pay your own bill?

1. I do when they let me but it’s not like I’m gonna beg either. I would never go on a date if I didn’t have money on me. I can take care of myself.

2- Maybe you can, but, do you? Do you live by yourself?

1- I mean relationships.

2- If you’re looking for a partner then it means you’re not independent because if you are, then go love yourself and spend time with yourself. Modern women think they’re brave saying stuff like “I’m independent” and that’s what men don’t want. Why would we want a woman who can take care of herself? One who doesn’t need us?

1- It’s not like I’m looking for someone to take care of me. If someone whom I can share my life with comes along, then great! Someone to share with what I’m building. Why would you want to marry someone who’s just gonna be spending your money and taking space in your house? Why not be with someone to support each other, someone to be a travel companion and not just a passenger?

Now, even though this guy describes his ideal woman, not all men agree. While some men openly admit that that they prefer to be with submissive women who are easily molded, others aren’t aware that’s what they’re unconsciously looking for. They won’t admit it because they don’t know it but it only takes a relationship with them to find out (I would know lol).  He makes plans for the future, you make plans for yours but sometimes those plans don’t necessarily match.. and what’s the solution? to carry on with his of course, and her duty is to adapt to them. God forgive he adapts to her life. It is she who must adapt to his lifestyle: she must change to match his and this is expected from women in our current society. But what happens if she is a strong independent woman? spoiler alert: the relationship won’t last. And what happens next? find the next girl, dumber of course, who will follow along every step of the way with no silly ideas such as having her own dreams or any conviction whatsoever. These local men want someone to follow them, not someone to travel with like my friend said earlier.

 

V. Machismo deeply rooted in our society

One of the things I learned from coming in contact with Norwegian culture is that when they hear the word macho they think about manly men, brave, hairy and able to get any girl they want. For them, being macho is something positive unlike in Mexican culture.

Here in Mexico being a macho or machist (for lack of a better word) means that stepping over women is perfectly normal. Being macho means being sexist, and more often than not, misogynist. This might sound awful and by now you must be thinking Mexican women suffer lots of discrimination daily (and you’re not necessarily wrong) but for us Mexicans, this is perfectly normal. We might not be aware of this but we practice machismo on a daily basis, and both men and women are guilty of perpetuating it.

One time my mom scolded me because I let an ex of mine grab his own food; she said it is a woman’s duty to serve food to her man. But this is just a mere example… I can also tell you about how upsetting it is for many men to become fathers of a girl, or how some mothers spoil their little boys while they treat their little girls as a second class citizen who must learn to be the perfect wife. I can also talk about how girls are taught to behave properly so they don’t become victims of men, instead of teaching men to treat women as equals. I can also mention how society punishes women for exploring and enjoying their sexuality while men are encouraged to do exactly that.

As you see, I could go on and on about these issues and it still wouldn’t be enough. One would think all this is due to a patriarchal society, but truth is, matriarchal families tend to rule this ranch. Local mothers tend to idolize their baby boys, they tend to raise them behind the idea that they’re special because of the mere fact that they were born male; they do this unconsciously. They’re not aware and they can’t help it because they were raised under the same ideology deeply rooted in our society… in our culture.

 

VI. Dating someone outside your culture.

Wow, where to start? At the beginning of our relationship, my Norwegian boyfriend seemed like an alien to me -in a good way, that is. Even before getting into a relationship, he started to amaze me. He had personality traits unseen in any local man I’ve ever known!

For starters, the gender equality he treated me with. From the start, he treated me as an equal (now, after so long it seems comical how being treated as an equal was so shocking to me). He wanted us to be a great team. He’s never expected anything from me, quite the opposite, he’s always worked hard to give me everything he can and to make me happy. He’s never tried to tie me down to him but he’s done all he can so I, myself, decide to be with him because I chose to and not because he could offer something in exchange.

He’s always encouraged me to take my own decisions, to make up my own mind, to both look at the facts and to follow my heart when it comes to making any decisions… even if I ask for his opinion about silly things such as “should I listen to music or watch a movie today?”. He knows I’m pretty independent and I know he wouldn’t want me any other way.

My boyfriend wants me to be as capable, smart, independent and self-sufficient as can be. He wants the best for me, he wants me to be the best version of myself. He wants me to be complete because he knows that’s the best way we both can build a successful relationship.

There’s been hard times when the distance becomes overwhelming and I feel like I want to leave everything behind and just move to Norway. When this happens the first thing he tells me is to think about my education. We both know education is one of the most important things, HE knows I need it in order to build a better future so he motivates me to keep going, comforting me, reminding me of what’s important. He’s interested in what’s good for me and what I care about.

From the beginning, he  became interested in my own interests and tried to include me in his. He’s never tried to impose anything on me and respects all my beliefs, traditions and habits even if he doesn’t understand them. This has been specially helpful when it comes to adapting to each other’s culture. For example, holidays: here in Mexico we make a big deal about Valentine’s day, while in Norway, well.. not much. Also on birthdays, I’m a BIG birthday person so I make a big deal out of them but my boyfriend doesn’t. Even though is not traditional for him to go big on these events, he still does only because he knows I do and wants to make me happy. That is true selflessness if I’ve ever witnessed it.

All he’s done ever since we met is treat me with great love and respect. I’m proud to say that he’s never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to. He became someone I truly admire for what he does and not for what he says. It’s true, he doesn’t say much but he certainly does lots and it shows. He’s taught me selfless love, patience, the power of facts and of controlling your emotions. Overall, he’s helped me grow as a person and those are the kind of invaluable things that I cherish every single day.

We do make a great team.

 

Conclusion

As a conclusion, I just want to make it clear that I’m not talking about a 100% of local men. It’s never 100% of the cases. I know not all men are the same and that it varies. I do still think that this pattern is deeply rooted in our culture as a whole and people nowadays can’t easily escape from it even though some might not agree with everything said here.

Anyway, regardless of being a woman or being a man, it is essential to be the person you would want your partner to be. It is as simple as being respectful, caring and giving instead of taking. I assure you, the more you give, the more you will receive.

I will always encourage women to educate themselves, to be smart and independent, because I can tell you for  a fact that the best relationships are made up of two independent individuals who are together because they chose to and not because they need to. These kind of relationships are the healthiest ones and the ones that give you more instead of taking from you. If you have this, I assure you, you can overcome any difficulty.

Lastly, I want to thank my dear friend: my boss. This article would’ve never been possible without her, she was the one who inspired me to write about this and it was her whom I made this deep analysis of relationships with. Thanks for everything.

I hope you enjoyed it.

love, karo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *