Cross-cultural long-distance relationship advice
- Author Anna Reco
- Published November 14, 2017
- Word count 1,851
Lindsey and Juo met while Lindsey was studying abroad at Ewah Woman's University in Seoul, South Korea back in 2015. She was there to study for a full year when out of nowhere Juo sent her a message on Instagram. Lindsey was hesitant at first but decided it would be a great way to make a friend in Korea. They began messaging on KakaoTalk and after a month of talking, Juo asked to meet in person. After a few times of casual friend dates, Juo asked Lindsey to be his girlfriend on his birthday in November or 2015. Since Lindsey returned to the US in June 2016, they have been in a long-distance relationship with Lindsey living in Florida and Juo living in South Korea. They get to see each other every 4 months for 2 months at a time. Giving their full effort in the relationship and using the distance to make their hearts grow fonder. Lindsey and Juo will both graduate from college this December and Lindsey plans on moving back to Korea in July of 2018 after applying to be an English teacher there.
Questions to Her
On Our first date...
I honestly kept thinking of all the things that could happen…with the worst-case scenario being a scene straight out of the movie "Taken". He made the journey to my campus and waited patiently for me with flowers and heartfelt letter in hand. We grabbed lunch, tried to talk- but the nerves got the best of us, and then we went shopping for a winter coat since I had no idea how to prepare for the winter after spending my entire life in Florida.
During the first months of dating my deal-breaker would be...
any sort of lying. If you are not truthful in the early stages of our relationship, that is means for instability later on. The other (silly) thing for me would be eating with your mouth open…that has always just been a pet peeve of mine.
I learned He is right for me when...
He told me that he would always take care of me and that no matter how long it takes he’ll wait for the day that we can be together. His dedication sealed the deal.
I had culture shock moment when...
we decided to wear a couple outfit for the first time! In America, it’s not popular for couples to show off each other like that by wearing matching clothes, so when we did it I thought it was so interesting but I LOVED it at the same time. Now, I feel like Juo and I are matching some part of our outfits more often than not and we both enjoy that!
3 things I love about Him are...
the way he cares about me. He always asks me if I have eaten or how my sleep was. He offers me his coat when its cold or his shoulder when I’m feeling tired. For example, we were going home on the subway one night after a long day and Juo had taken the moment to use his jacket to cover my legs so I could sit comfortably in my skirt while resting my head on his shoulder.
Second thing is that he understands me. He takes the time to listen and hear what I’m saying. He’ll listen to me vent and then tell me everything’s ok and to let it go. He doesn’t let our language difference stand in the way. If he needs more explaining he’ll ask and does not ever say never mind or give up and to me that’s important.
Third, he gives his all to our relationship. He always thinks about our future and openly talks about it. He is comfortable around me and shows me his love continuously. There has never been a moment where I couldn’t feel his true mind or intentions. For example, one recent topic we have been stuck on is the idea of adopting a dog or cat when I move to Korea. It might seem like a simple topic but it really is planning a part of our future and wanting to grow together.
The biggest misconception about his country and culture was...
the idea that Korean guys in Korea would never see a relationship with a foreigner as a real one. I was always told to be cautious and that they may only see you as an easy target or a fun experience to brag to their friends about.
The most beautiful things he ever did for me was...
Make a personalized photo book of all of our memories from our first year together. As a one-year gift to me, Juo created a huge book filled with picture after picture of all of the things we had done together. He had dates written on all the pages and little captions for each photo. I couldn’t believe he had made something like that and to me, it was the most special thing I have ever received because I could see all the time and love he had put into it. It is something I will cherish forever.
Second thing was that he proudly waited for me at the airport with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers I have ever seen and we both fought back tears as we hugged each other for the first time in months. Seeing the love of your life standing there waiting for you with the biggest smile on their face is one of the best moments anyone in a long distance relationship can experience. Those moments are priceless.
During this relationship, the most important thing I learned about myself was...
that I can be patient and I can say that I learned what it meant to show love in ways beyond physical actions. Love can be seen in the words you say to each other and the effort you give every day. I know distance is only an issue in a relationship if you make it one. I have become such a patient person and I now understand that waiting is only part of our journey. Juo and I are in this for the long run and if it means waiting months on end then so be it. Honestly, it was a skill that I lacked in the past but this relationship has changed that.
If there is a piece of advice I could give to my fellow Western girlfriends who are into the AMWF relationships that would be...
to be yourself without limitations. There is never a limit on how much you can learn about another person’s culture. There is never a limit on becoming a better version of yourself without changing who you are. Finally, there will never be a limit on who you find love and a connection with. Know it’s ok to embrace those with different races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures because no one says you have to find love within someone or something familiar.
Questions to Him
Asking her out for the first time was...
exciting. I saw her for the first time on Instagram and thought she was so beautiful so I had to send her a message. After talking together for a while I couldn’t wait to meet her in person so, I just got my courage together and asked!
I learned She is right for me when...
She told me she would love me forever. Some people think that’s easy to say but to me, that is something so special because I can really feel her mind. Also, she always knows how to surprise me. For example, she would send me letters in the mail without reason and fill them with our photos. She always writes me a sweet message inside too.
I had culture shock when...
she told me there was not really a public transport system in Florida. She said there was no subway or big bus system and I was shocked! After I visited her in Florida for the first time I understood later that most people used cars so there was no need for public transport.
3 things I love about her are
She loves me unconditionally. I’ve never felt this kind of love before and it makes me feel special. No matter what, I know she’ll be by my side and I’ll absolutely do the same for her.
She’s always thinking about me. Recently she told me that whenever she is talking about me or thinking about me she’ll touch our couple ring that we wear. I feel like we share our feelings. If I’m happy I can share that happiness with her. If she’s sad I can understand her sadness and do my best to make her happy. She understands me, she makes me happy, she’s beautiful…how can I not love her? Sometimes I still can’t believe she is my girlfriend!
The biggest misconception about her country and culture was...
that I thought their eating habits would be similar to the ones I saw in movies and TV shows. I thought when I went to America I would see everyone eating fast food or frozen dinners every day, but that wasn’t true. I will say I do think eating out is definitely more popular there than in Korea but it is not what the movies make it seem like.
The things that She likes to do for fun with me...
are traveling and talking! We are obsessed with traveling and making memories across the globe. Every time we are together we always plan a trip. Our first trip together was to Tokyo, Japan in 2016! These days we are already planning our next trip for when I go to visit her in the US. With her, there is never a dull moment. Whenever we video chat or call or message we are always laughing about something or making each other smile.
During this relationship the most important thing I learned about myself was...
the need to understand. After being with Lindsey for almost 2 years, I have become better at understanding and listening. Even though she is American and I am Korean I realized that doesn’t play a role in our ability to understand each other. I feel like we know each other better because we both are interested in each other's culture.
If there is a piece of advice I could give to my fellow Asian friends who are into the AMWF relationships that would be...
that if you are in long-distance now or would like to have a relationship with someone from a different country in the future I will just tell you not to give up! If you guys can’t stay together now, you have to show all your love and feelings for that person. Talk about your future. Get to know where you both want to be in the future and plan for that. It will keep you both excited and sets a goal for you all to reach.
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