In science, there are two fundamental key concepts that paradoxically co-exist in nature:
- “Like attracts like”
- “Opposites attract”
Even if you are not a science type of person, it doesn’t take much to realize that both make perfect sense but in drastically different contexts.
Well, unless the situation deals with love.
People have been postulating for centuries about the absence of the real, tangible and logical nature of love. The idea that “love doesn’t make sense” seems to be consistently thrust upon all naïve individuals who have caught love like a disease and are now drowning in a whirlwind of confusion. It’s almost like Tylenol: nothing but a temporary relief. Take one shot of “Love doesn’t actually make sense” et voila, now you can go on wandering through your day feeling slightly better but not really, because sooner or later, your brain will learn to reject this laissez-faire style of thinking, and as a result be even more MIA than before.
As if things are not already complicated enough, for those of us who are first-generation immigrants, the matters of love are becoming surprisingly more challenging as we get older. I mean, face it, it’s not like they teach us in school about what should a nice, traditional and agnostic Asian girl would do when being courted by a nice, traditional and Islamic boy from Iran.
Sometimes I think that a whole slew of clichés were invented especially for people like me. Things like “Love conquers all” and “Love doesn’t know cultural boundaries”—seriously, what were these people thinking? Had they actually been first generation immigrants, they would’ve never allowed these words go down in history. Fact is, it’s really tough being in a cross-cultural relationship. There’s so much to get used to, so much give-and-take involved and so much “put yourself in my shoes and see how I feel” that, even the most open-minded and idealistic person can sometimes become discouraged. A relationship is based on trust, understanding and equality, yet the precise definitions of these words vary from culture to culture, and for first generation immigrants, their values and beliefs are usually so well-shaped by their own cultures already, that they are unlikely to change much over time.
Fast forward a couple of years and let’s talk about marriage (because that’s what a serious relationship would ultimately lead to, and we are not getting any younger). People say that when you marry, you don’t just marry the person, but his or her family. I say: when you marry, you marry that person’s culture. Obviously, there have been lots of cases with happily married couples who are from different cultural backgrounds, but on the other hand, the mere thought of my potential husband and I arguing about whether we should have pasta or Chinese food for dinner, serves as a quick reality check as to how complicated a cross-cultural marriage might really be.
All these hardships raise the question: is having a cross-cultural relationship really worth it? And is it actually possible that, on some level, because we live in a multicultural society, we feel pressured to at least give this new version of “tough love” a chance? And if we are this serious when considering cross-cultural relationships, would that make us not fully assimilated to the Canadian culture, and, for lack of better terms, close-minded? Most importantly, should we choose to marry someone with the same cultural background, would it end up “down-regulating” the development of multiculturalism in Canada?
Since I am relatively inexperienced in this area of life, I’m afraid I don’t have the answers. However, after much contemplation, I am certain about one thing: that life itself is a contingency. Any outcome ends up depending on a million factors that perhaps only Murphy’s Law can effectively predict. In that sense, I think that cross-cultural dating is more or less a fine balance between openly accepting the unknown and holding tightly onto the familiar. Be brave to follow wherever chance might take you, but be true to yourself always.