Dating a foreigner, the family pressure on your Filipino lover
Controversial article I promise you! I am going to explain the possible effects of dating a foreigner on your Filipino girlfriend or boyfriend.
So, as a western woman, I try to explain how it is for your Filipino and what they have to put up with when it comes to family and friends and your relationship.
Family and friends can be a huge strain on a relationship. I have seen it happen, I have experienced it myself. When you fall in love in the Philippines and try to reach each other across cultural differences and cope with the (sometimes huge) economic differences and also the prejudice, the family joins in and it may become a huge blur for your significant other.
The Philippines is a divided country on money matters. There is this huge sense of sharing what you have, but there is also the selfish side and longing for life improvement kicking in with every day the awareness of the possibility that more money makes life easier grows.
As in every country in the world, also in the Philippines, the grass next door looks greener to a lot of people.
Is the grass next door always greener? I came to the Philippines living on a budget, like so many other Western people. Yet, although our budget might be limited we have more to spend than most of the Filipinos that surround us. But that does not mean we are rich. I try to explain that over and over again.
But it is a hard message to get through, not to the one you love, but to those he or she loves: family and friends.
So, here is your lovely Filipina or your handsome Filipino and you are in love, trying to keep your budget. And your significant other seems to understand that there is an end to your funds, but here is what happens:
family and with that, the pressure from being raised in a culture where children provide for parents.
I have seen the best of relationships struggle under the family money talk. And the sometimes the blunt greed for money.
The question most of the time comes wrapped up in a story, like: We are organizing a clan meeting and I do not know if I want to go, honey, for they probably will ask me to pay for the drinks since now I am dating a rich foreigner. But we are invited…….
Or the questions come out blank, frank and painfully honest: we have many loans we need you to help us, so ask your BF for money.
Your significant other will be torn. Mine was. He told me one day that the questions for money increased every week. If he could dip in with electricity bills, pay the store credits for this month and provide for house improvement, since now he dated a rich woman, he could help out.
When your relationship is open and honest, you talk about the money matters with each other. At least I did, and I know of a lot of expats that do. Explaining how and why money is not endless and how much there is to spend. And they will understand.
But he or she will also want to please the family, not lose face and be of goodwill to everybody. For that is how things are done here.
It takes a strong Filipino to resist the family pressure and not make their problem yours.
Most Filipinas and also my boyfriend, will turn to you and talk to you about it. And it might take a while before they know that the answer will be ‘no’ most of the time and they might as well say ‘no’ to the family right away, instead of the Filipino answer: maybe, I ask.
It puts a huge strain on your love life and your partner and the relationship in general, believe me.
You will overhear phone calls that are taking its toll on both of you for you do not want your loved one to be in constant turmoil when it comes to money and family and your loved one will not bother you with the need (or greed) of the family.
And believe me, I have tried to fill the need for money from the family, by helping out and creating many money-making opportunities and even creating jobs and negotiating for job opportunities, but some of them wanted it right out of my wallet and not through labor or personal investment of any kind.
When I asked about the clan meeting, willing to pay for a few bottles of coke and rum and such, I learned that the clan may have as much as 200 people. But nobody could tell me how many there were to attend. And since matters did not become clear to me and 200 people having a party can drink a lot, and there was no specific budget or bill, I decided to say no.
Guess what? The clan meeting was canceled. I was told so a few weeks later when I informed about the progress and if there was anything else I could do to help.
How come? I asked the person who was supposed to be in charge. That question never got answered and feeds my suspicion that the clan meeting would only be organized if the rich foreigner would sponsor the drinks.
Some partners have great families that will ask none and will be happy just knowing you
Of course, there are always exceptions to this story. Many families will not fit the profile you read here. There are a lot of good families that expect nothing, are just happy to know you and grateful their son or daughter has found love and is happy to be with you.
But many expats can tell you stories about family pressure involving money. I know this young woman, she was the dedicated child to support her family, born and raised to do so. She took a job her father wanted her to study for, they paid for all that, knowing one day she would pay back multiple times. And no matter how you divided the income of all siblings to lessen the burden on the girl’s salary, nobody wanted to dip in for it was her duty. And she was happy to do so.
She even took out loans for her parents on her name, she did not ask her Western partner for payments, but every month she struggled with the allowance he provided to fulfill the needs of her unemployed brother, her parents hospital bills and the payments for the loans, without thinking about her own.
One day she went home and never returned, she felt obligated to her parents to take a job her father wanted her to have so she could provide for them more. The saddest thing is that the family consumed the money she got from her partner for the return ticket. A sad case of greed that interfered with a relationship. She was willing to make her loving relationship a long-distance one, to fulfill her duty to her parents.
If you, as a foreigner in the Philippines do live on a budget, it sometimes is impossible to lessen the needs
Some tips to reduce the possible strain on your relationship:
ask for bills and pay bills directly
instruct your partner that you are not the family financier or ATM
work with the family for long term solutions and see if they are willing to improve their lives
buy groceries and clothing instead of giving money, this way you lessen the burden also
keep it up to your decision to help at up till what extent
no is no and no tampu or threats can change that, you hold the budget
give your partner an allowance and let her deal with family matters from her own wallet, but explain that the allowance is hers and what she has to pay from it (clothes, make-up, manicure, etc.)
explain to your partner how your budget works so he or she understands
do not boast about money, income, flash with jewelry or richness, it might tempt others in wanting to share in your wealth.
move away from the island where the majority of the family lives
And most of all, if you have not met your other half and you are in a long distant relationship: do not send money! Some girls make a business out of their long term relationships and you might not be the only one they talk to. be very careful. Being poor puts the western world and our budgets from a totally different perspective and not always from a realistic perspective.
And remember: in some countries a loan among family members equals a gift.
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Jeanette, a Dutch female nomad, started to travel the world at the age of 17. Walker of beaches, shell searcher and iPhone photographer. Writer and owner of two websites
Currently, she lives in Mexico.
She is an emigration coach and works online.