Category Archives: Dating

#2 Culture

While living in a foreign country, I experienced firsthand how vastly different people’s cultures can be: how and what people eat, the way people dress, greetings, and even the way people treat and act toward others. At times, it was difficult assimilating myself to the customs and cultural norms around me, but after a while, I often took on the persona of the locals. Walking quickly without paying much attention to those around me? I am amazing now! Dropping food from the family style plate and making a mess of the table? No big deal! It’s the sign of a good meal.

Now that I’m back in the U.S., I’m around the traditions that I see as normal: shaking hands when you first meet someone, eating with a fork and making sure not to spill, etc.

Just to make things more interesting in my life, I found a guy to date who is from a different culture than mine. Our expectations and customs are different because Mario grew up in South America. For the past 15 years, he’s assimilated himself to the American culture, but as he describes it, “I have two lives to keep up with: my background and what I know from Ecuador and my many years in America. They aren’t the same and learning to adapt is hard.”

My track record proves that it is tricky learning to adapt, but it was (almost) always a fun challenge. I’m excited again to be learning new things and expanding my horizons.

Here are a few cultural differences so far that I’ve noticed:

1.    Hugging of people you’ve only just met, including family members – All of Mario’s friends and his cousins hug me when they say hello and goodbye, even the first time I met them. His aunt and uncle were a bit harder nuts to crack. They clearly know that I’m American and are probably unsure if the whole “hugging new people” thing is what I would expect. Before I met his aunt, Mario told me to hug her; so while I went in for the hold, she stuck out her hand for a handshake = awkward embrace. The next time I saw her, I didn’t lean in and she didn’t either…hello from a few feet away is just fine with us! Afterward, Mario gave me the look, “HUG HER!”, so when I went to say good-bye, a proper ‘nice to meet you’ embrace was given.

2.    Dancing – Now, I love to shake my booty on the dance floor, but only like a white girl can. In the Latin culture, dancing is huge! When growing up, Mario learned many different versions of dance from the mamba to meringue and salsa. I, on the other hand, do a great booty pop and can wave my hands in the air while simultaneously snapping perfectly. I’m learning the steps to a few different types of Latin dances and while it’s more scripted than the way “my people” dance, it’s still really fun. A huge dance floor with lots of people doing the same thing…and while that might sound like Glee, it’s actually good ol’ fashioned fun. My favorite time dancing has been with a bunch of school kids. We recently went to a charity 5K with Mario’s school and a song telling the kids to dance sexy came on. Everyone around me – including the kiddos – starting shaking their hips, so I did too.

3.    PDA – I’m not sure who doesn’t detest watching others put their hands all over each other, but when you’re the one doing it, it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Latinos are known for their Latin Lovah personalities, so Mario has no qualms with grabbing hand (or my my butt, for that matter) or pecking my cheek in public. Hell, on our second date, we made out on a full dance floor while reggae music pulsed around us. He doesn’t care that others can see his affection for me because he has nothing to hide because he likes me. His inhibition may be my favorite thing about him.


Mario and I are different in many other ways, too, and learning something new and exploring someone else’s way of life is exhilarating.

P.S. Food is another huge cultural different – check back on another blog post for more on that!

#1 Learning the Language

This is my first post in a series of exposés regarding the trials and tribulations of a white girl and a Hispanic boy falling in love.

#1 Learning the Language
Mario was born in Ecuador, and until the age of 19 he had little exposure to English. He did take English classes in school, but just like Americans take French with no real purpose for future use, Mario didn’t care much for the language. That is until he visited Chicago and fell in love with the Windy City, deciding to make it his future forever home. English not only became a necessity, it became a priority. Two years of English language classes, two college degrees later, and here Mario is an English language speaker, but very much still an English language learner.
Because of this, there have been multiple times that our conversations are “lost in translation”: “I love fuck music!” he said once.
“Um…While that’s great babe, I don’t really know what you mean…”
“You know, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, fuck music!”
“Ohhhh! Folk music!! Let’s practice the long o sound now,” I said through fits of laughter.
My other personal favorite is his affinity for hillbillies and the use of the word “hilla-billy” when he explains how much he loves tv shows about them.
And while these sayings are endearing in English, I’m certain that I won’t be quite so cute learning Spanish. Because Mario’s parents and his entire family speak Spanish, it would behoove me to begin the treacherous uphill battle of learning the language. I took French for 5 years, so I at least have a grasp of the Latin scheme, but I literally know 10 words in Spanish. Not much of a conversation can take place when hola, como estas, and gracias are the main phrases I can say with a Hispanic accent.
If this 3-month long relationship progresses into a full-blown affair, I will be meeting his parents this summer, hanging around his family often, and potentially having kids who’ll speak Espanol. That means, I better learn! So for now, it’s being taught a Spanish phrase a day from Mario, reading every sign I see in Spanish trying to match words in English, and beginning an online language course. It’ll be hard, but trying new things is what you do when you’re falling in love, right?

Biting My Tongue

On “Rock Center with Brian Williams” last week, Gabby Reece (the ever-famous volleyball player) was featured for the new book she wrote about her marriage. In it, she states that to make her marriage successful, she takes on the women’s role commonly thought of as old-fashioned: the subservient person fulfilling her husband’s and family’s needs. That includes the cleaning, cooking, organizing the household, etc. She claims that doing all of this without complaining makes their relationship stronger. Instead of arguing about who takes out the garbage, she just does it without being told. But does this make their partnership unequal? What role does her husband play in the relationship? Even if she doesn’t want to wash the dishes tonight, must she? How can she not complain all the freakin’ time?!


As a strong female who believes in both equality and chivalry, I have a very hard time believing that women should do everything. Why should I work all day, then come home and do all of the work for everyone else? What happened to pitching in so everyone is happy and everyone takes ownership of his or her belongings?


Because of this, I should have been incensed by the claims, though as I was watching, I was definitely intrigued. I am a strong female with a loud mouth who complains too much and is entirely too sensitive about everything. I’m selfish and want things to go my way because of course I’m right…always. Damn, I know this about myself and in the same token recognize the ill ways of my behavior. 


So, maybe I do need to become more receptive and submissive. Not that I should do everything for everyone, but to benefit me in the long run, I could bite my tongue when I’m told to do something or given criticism. I’m not proposing that I don an apron and slather duct tape over my mouth, but maybe being quiet every once in a while would help me to chill out (yes, it’s been 4 months since I made my New Year’s resolution and I’m still figuring that out!). Wouldn’t it be great if I was less temperamental and more passive? Wouldn’t people like being around me more? Might I get into fewer arguments with my mom and my boyfriend if I just shut up every so often?


So while I’ll never act like or be someone’s servant, maybe I can be more contemplative in order to see not only a change in myself but in how I treat others and how others respond to me.

Take a Chance, Make a Change

“You are always one choice away from changing your life.” – a quote posted in a coworker’s office

One of my biggest fears in life is ending up alone, yet when I’m in a relationship, I tend to self-sabotage it. I get needy, raging jealousy, and stupidly defensive. Yes, I am a small part of all of these things normally (in the movies, they call these fatal flaws), but when I’m dating someone these seem to increase tenfold. Currently in a relationship, I’ve noticed these characteristics rearing their ugly heads. I’m acknowledging them, but now I need to kick their butts to the curb. No guy is going to like a girl who doesn’t act confident or self-reliant. So I’m saying sayonara to these obsessive behaviors and âllo again to the independent, happy woman I have become throughout my life’s journey.

One of the best ways to combat these terrible traits is to trust the person I’m dating, but that’s ridiculously hard to do when I’ve only just met a person and one of the last guys I dated cheated on me. It ain’t easy trusting a stranger with my full self until he’s earned that trust. Or am I backwards? Do you trust fully until that person gives you a reason not to trust them? My life in love would certainly be easier if I wasn’t constantly worried and instead enjoying the honeymoon period from which every relationship blossoms. So I’m going to work on this part of myself. Live in the moment, stop worrying, and chill the f$@* out (yea, I’m still working on that New Year’s resolution!).

Monogamy = No Sharing = I Love It

Growing up, my brother and I had different interests and ideas of what was fun. He didn’t share his GI Joes, and I certainly didn’t let him take my Barbies. Yes, I learned to share in preschool, but sharing my lunch (heaven forbid I don’t get to eat that entire peanut butter sandwich my dad had so carefully prepared) or my childhood sweethearts was definitely a no-go. I’m admitting it, I don’t like to share. I didn’t back in the day, and I don’t now. When I told my friends that I’d met a pretty cool guy who fit my 5 criteria and that I’d rather get off online dating (also known as, offline dating) and see what happens with just him (yes, only him, no one else), here are the responses that I got: “Are you sure you want to put all of your eggs in one basket?” And “what about the pair and a share theory?” And this multi-dating thing is good in theory, but really freakin’ hard in practice.

An article that I recently read stated it best:

My free-spirited dream self who’d swill wine in Costa Rica wanted to believe Kainoa was the first of many flings I would have until I fell upon the right guy, or the right guy for the moment, but the serial monogamist part of myself, the part that had been in one serious relationship after another since I was 18, was dying for him to call. Dying for him to fawn over me. Dying, secretly, in the most embarrassing depths of my soul, for this random surfer dude to be “it” so I didn’t have to do any more work.

I am a monogamist. I want one guy to love only me while I only love him. Why share when I can eat that whole pb sammie all by myself? And as another friend said, “Isn’t that where we ultimately want to be?” In the end, it’s only 2 people. Why not live that way all the time? So, as my dating saga continues, it continues with only 1 guy who’s taking out to dinners, inviting me to friend’s birthday parties, and sending me text messages whenever he thinks about me. I like this monogamy thing, I think I’ll stick with it for a while.


*Translation: My Foray Into Online Dating, Part Two

Date #4 was with a TV editor. Because it’s a small world after all, he was born and raised in Ottawa, IL! Definitely up on his English grammar, this guy could write well and even used capital letters! We had good chat and he paid for dinner, which in my book is a W. I was held back, though, by the fact that he could be gay. He was wearing a parka with a faux fur hood (sorry if you’re straight and you own one), leather gloves, and gave the rice bowl a tighter hug than he did me at the end of the date. We left with no future plans, but I would’ve seen him again if the opportunity had presented itself…especially if it presented itself in the plane that he flies. (Update: two weeks after the date and no word. I’m not fussed; I like bear hugs and cuddling anyway.)


Date #5 must be related to #3 – they both cancel at the last minute. This guy claimed he was sick and wanted to reschedule for the following week. My week’s busy, so he might not make the cut. You might be a comedian, but it ain’t funny to cancel 3 hours before a date. (Update: he texted me two weeks later; but no plans to hang out)


Date #6 is going to hate me for this because he’s read my blog and anxiously awaits his report card, but all I’ll say is that the date was good enough for a second date with the same guy…now that only took six guys’ phone numbers and numerous stupid douchebags’ messages to find! (Update: the second date was fun – went to a yummy Italian place and watched a blue grass band – but dropped it to friend zone. I’m searching for that spark with someone to make continuing to date him worth it.)


Date #7 is from Ecuador, only having lived in the US since college when he learned to speak English. He has a cute accent, but then again, aren’t most accents hottt? (An aside, I miss you British boys and your dreamy lilt.) He talked a lot, probably because I’m a good prompter so as to get the attention off of me. A kiss on the cheek sent me off, with a text the next day asking for another date. Bonus: our children would be bilingual…oh wait, maybe I shouldn’t admit that as an attraction after one date?? (Update: we had plans on Friday night at a “hipster lounge with a DJ,” all I’ll say is great enough for date #3 this week!)


Date #8…Two facts: swing dancer and works for a placed called Nerdery = ‘nuff said? No? You’d like to hear more, you say? Two more facts: he took me to a pancake house for dinner (ate the bacon waffle, mmm, sooo good) and said I had a good complexion. Still want more? He was nice, he was funny, he was awkward, he walked me home, he didn’t even try to kiss me at the door. Overall, C+ kinda date. (Update: there have been no more exchange of texts, guess we both got the hint.)


Date #9 was full of good ol’ fashioned banter. We discussed dates we’d been on, dating in general, and online dating – see a theme, here? Besides the piece of spinach that got caught in his teeth (I mean, seriously, how do you tell someone you’ve only just met that he has food in his teeth?!), it was a fairly good date. We have potential plans for a dinner date next week. He swears that if by date 4 with him, I’m not in love, then it won’t work out. Suspiciously…intriguing??

Stats: 1 month, 9 potentials, 2 cancels, 7 first dates, 2 second dates, no love…yet


If you want to read about Dates #1-3, click here: