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Communication Gap in interracial relationships..

Okay, I'm not sure how common this situation is around here, or in the lesbian community in general, but I'm having some problems with my relationship due to a hefty communication gap.

I was born in Hawaii and English is my first language, as well as the only one I really know. Just over half a year ago, I met my girlfriend through an online dating thing. She was interested in me, stalked me down for a while and we eventually went on our first date. Before we ever met in person, though, we've had some language problems. She's recently moved here from Beijing, China and her native language is Mandarin Chinese. She was taking a lvl 3 ESL (english as a second language) class when we started dating, doing okay in there, and the highest level to reach is lvl 6 or so.. if that clarifies her fluency in the language. Not bad, but very cute and usually very hard to communicate about anything deep.

We've spent a lot of time together since we first met, spending weeks and sometimes months with eachother at a time, and her English has gotten a lot better. I've also taken an active interest in learning to speak Mandarin, though that's a damn sight harder for me than English is for her. We both have goals to become fluent in eachother's languages.

In the meantime, however, some things are really starting to get me down. Like the fact that after being together for so long and getting so close to eachother, I still, when I step back and look at it, really don't know much about who she is as a person at all. I mean, of course I know by her actions and the ways she displays her personality.. but I don't know much in the way of her dreams, fantasies, how she feels about certain topics, what her interests were in China; all the things people tend to take for granted that they learn about eachother through that 'get to know ya' communication stage. I've found out a bit, but some things that really interest me, when I ask her for an explanation or elaboration, she just tells me she doesn't know how to say it in English.

I also think that part of what I find really attractive about a person is the wit and banter that can be exchanged in flirting. I love to see the intelligence of other women and let our minds play together. It's put me off to realize I can't feel that same attraction with her because of our situation. Most of the time, I'm speaking in the simplest words I can think of, stopping to ask if she understands every few sentences, and I end up being the one doing most of the talking and most of the initiating for the talking.

I am a person who thrives on communication and intellect in a relationship and this problem at times has gotten me so impatient that I question whether I should just be with an american girl... but really, honestly, everything about my girlfriend's personality and character is the best thing I could ever hope to find. She has a great sense of humor, albeit hampered by the language gap, and she's amazing in bed. She's the person I would truly choose to spend the rest of my life with. She's brought light into my darkness and I can't imagine giving it all up just for the sake of sharing an understanding with someone - for all I know the best communicators I could find wouldn't have anything worthwhile to communicate about.

So I guess I'm just venting, mostly. I've even considered asking her a question, asking her to write her answer out in chinese and send to one of her chinese/english friends to be translated so I could have some insight into that amazing soul of hers. Does anyone else share my frustrations, or have some advice to offer? I could use it.

- PK

Edit: Sorry, I posted this in the wrong bloody thread. Feel free to delete this one.

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When I started dating, up until my freshman year of college, I only dated foreign guys. I didn't plan it that way, but I always dated guys from other countries. So, I hear you on the finding it hard to communicate, and not having the same dynamic as with someone who speaks a language as fluently as you.

The way I look at it though, is she probably feels the same way. She probably is frustrated because the language barrier is there too, and she's still willing to work on it. I also try to look on the upside, you aren't going to know everything about eachother in the first year or two of your relationship. As her English gets better, or maybe your Mandrin, you can continue to learn more and more about each other. So, your "learning about each other" stage gets to last a heck of a lot longer than an average couple, and that stage is fun. Also, you get to both get very good at non verbal communication. You can know what the other is thinking or feeling just by body cues or, whatever else, because you are both used to not being able to communicate verbally the things you really need to say.

I just thought I would try to point out some upsides to a relationship with a language barrier, because I have been there. It can be very tough, but if you love her and she seems to be the right one for you it's definitely worth it, even with the struggles, to hang on.

Good luck!!

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I wonder maybe some of the communication issues you are having are cultural based? Some cultures are more closed about expressing things then others.

Have you tried writing? I know it sounds silly but i had a friend from Saudi Arabia- We had the hardest time communicating not just because of culture things but the language barrier. Until one day I was trying to right and essay for a class (Cultural Communications ironically) I had made a few (to put it lightly) mistakes in my paper, grammar, punctuation, spelling.

turns out the individual knew more about the English than I did but when written. Even understood a great deal more of what i was saying...

good luck!

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