language barrier, foreign language, relationships
English Posts

I date someone who doesn’t speak my language

Dating across language barriers is a challenge. Dating across language barriers and also long-distance is even worse. When you are in love you want to share and spent time with someone. Still, it is do-able and possible to be happy under these circumstances.

People that follow my blogs on a regular basis know I have been dating in Mexico since Facebook rolled out its dating application. And after a long list of mostly horrible sexual tinted messenger contacts, I finally found someone that seems genuine and honest, and very eager to make things work in a normal way, not just sexual or on a “sidekick” kind of relationship.

I found dating in 2020 even more complicated than before. Not only is there COVID, that hinders first meetings and makes health safety even more complicated when you date casual, but also because the scene has changed. From a sincere partner seeking people, it seems more like a hookup thing where people tend to exploit each other in casual sex, or date for benefits and not for love.

It is probably my age, with 59 in passport it is hard to adjust to the fast-moving society of young folks that “just want to have fun” and my own generation of which most of us are hurt and damaged by past experiences and too scared to show and tell.

Anyway, I am dating someone. And although health and the past all passed and went in the first meetings, we still have our own extra hurdles to take.

Mexico street safety

He doesn’t speak any English and lives 1 hour by car away

That makes this relationship a huge challenge. We fight a lot, disagree, arguments all over small things and big things. I broke up with him twice already pure on not being able to understand what he was saying and because Google Translate makes such a mess of things.

We struggle our way through 4 languages

  1. Spanish
  2. Dutch
  3. English
  4. Love

He recently started using the translation app and found out how hard it is and understands my struggle to understand him now better than ever. Words get twisted, have different meanings, and when you add a comma here and there a whole sentence may change in meaning.

We manage, but that is about all. The hardest conversation I recall was the one I realized he called another woman his girlfriend and he tried to explain, wiggling his way out of it by making it seem no big deal while I could not communicate very well that to me it was a big deal due to my previous experiences.

Anyway, I made the decision to leave it behind me, because he emptied his Facebook, most girls are gone, and he wanted to show me his contact list and WhatsApp list, which I refused. There is something as privacy, and the intention was clear, he wanted to prove it was over and I am the only woman in his life.

That was just one hurdle and I tell you: That is hard to communicate with all emotions and my insecurities boiling up and the translator as your only guide in this matter.

We have come up with some rules to keep our miscommunications to a minimum, and I thought I share them with you, maybe you read this because you are struggling with the same problem and you can learn from this

  • short sentences
  • try to use commas
  • when you do not understand ask for different words
  • make sure you type correctly before sending or translating
  • correct mistakes
  • slow down the speed of messages so the other person has enough time to translate

And the most important one:
when it gets emotional or very important postpone the conversation and do it face to face

Meanwhile, I try to improve my Spanish, he started an English course and wants to know Dutch words.

A few more tips from my own personal experience

  • be patient
  • make sure you do understand correct
  • do not assume
  • try to rewrite sentences in the application to see if the outcome might be better
  • use “reply” if you fall behind in the conversation and ask for a pause.

So, communication has gone to an ever-higher level, besides communicating with a brand new partner in a foreign language and all those feelings, you also have to communicate about communication itself.

dating when social distancing

The fun part of dating someone who does not speak your language

  • Silences become golden, trust me!

We enjoy the silence, we speak the language of love, touch says more than 1000 words and to catch the other person’s eye and meet love is amazing.

That sounds a bit cheesy, but when you date someone that does not speak the same languages as you do, you know what I mean. We can say so much more by holding hands and squeezing it a little than by hours of conversations.

We sit together in silence and enjoy each other’s company in a way that we feel bonded and content. We are not bound by words but by hearts, by love, by attraction, by feel. And that is so hard to express in words and so much better done in silence, in touch, and in vision.

The way he looks at me, the way he holds my hand, the way his eyes express his feelings, the way he touches me, says more than any word can express. You learn to speak the language of love much stronger than any other language.

  • Learn each other’s languages and a mutual one

Teach each other a foreign language laugh about pronunciation and fun words. We had so much fun with him trying to say “Schatje” The Dutch word for a sweetheart. The “CH” is so difficult for foreigners to pronounce, so I told him it is like clearing your throat.

I love it when he speaks Spanish to me when we make love. I don’t understand one bit, but his words sound sweet, full of passion and desire. I answer in English, and none of us cares, for our touch and experiences are far more important than words.

  • Trust and love grows beyond words

It is an art to love in silence, that is my strong belief, and now I have the proof that this art form can be mastered, also by you.

Do not let any language barrier withhold you from loving a person. The world has become a smaller place because everybody is at our doorstep through the internet, use it to your advantage without fear.
Grow your knowledge of different cultures and languages and different ways to love another person.

Be abundant in everything and trust that the words will come later.

The bond you can create before the language sets in could be stronger than the bond you create while babbling away.

Long-distance sometimes is a blessing

About the distance, we try to solve that, we are planning a schedule that makes us both happy where travel is done equally and travel costs are shared.

The distance is okay, I mean, one hour is not too far. I am lucky he is not halfway across the globe. And some days is a blessing, for I can relax a little and rest from the tiresome intense conversation in which I become the world champion of copy and paste.

But some moments I hate it, for I like to be with him, and communicating in real life gives the benefits of body language.

Also about the distance,  you need to communicate about meeting and make plans together to meet. If you are dating someone long distance who is not making plans to meet, you have to think twice about the relationship, for it is only normal for your significant other to be willing to cross those miles to be with you. Either soon or in the near future.

Tell me your story in the comment section! I love to hear from you



2 reacties

  • JC from Holland

    Hey AJ, thanks for reading Floating Coconut. We are doing pretty well. We promised to be more patient, explain words when there is no understanding. as for me, words are extremely important, I have to let go of that. I am able to say: nevermind, and let it go. Because words just miss, for me Spanish is my third language, During the day I speak Dutch, English and Spanish in that order of importance.
    But my Spanish is improving, what helped a lot is when he started to use a translation app as well and saw with own eyes how idiotic some translations are and how important it is to add a comma here and there.

    For me, it helps that he is understanding. But there are moments, like last night, when he tried to confide in me over a family matter and I am tired, I can almost cry because I cannot grasp the total conversation only bits and parts and together they make no sense in the greater context of his worries etc. That are moments I have to take a deep breathe and let go. Tell him what I can with the little information I have and let go……we are doing good.

    Note: He installed a keyboard on his android phone that allows him to type in Spanish and I receive it in Dutch……I love his effort.

  • AJ

    I’m curious how it all worked out for you. Communication is hard enough between people who speak the same language.