14 Things You’ll Hear When Dating a Man from a Third-World Country

June 22, 2016
nepal, nepal men
14 Things a Western Woman Will Hear When Dating a Man from a Third-World Country

As a white New Zealander living in Nepal and seeing a Nepali man, I’ve received a lot of understanding and encouragement, but also some pretty offensive assumptions from friends and strangers alike. Here are some things that I keep hearing, over and over again, and that I know other Western women with Nepali partners face. I believe a lot of these comments are also applicable to women dating men from other non-Western, developing countries.

1. Don’t men from (insert name of country) just expect women to cook and clean?

Sometimes. But I guarantee that a proportion of men from every country are guilty of this. Patriarchy and misogyny are pretty borderless. My dad in New Zealand was justifiably offended when, after my mum’s death, his colleagues implied that he would be incapable of feeding himself without resorting to takeaways. I mean, with my mum gone, who was going to take care of the domestic stuff?! I’ll judge men on how they behave, not how others expect them to behave. (For the record, my Nepali boyfriend is an exceptionally good cook, he prepares multi-dish feasts with whatever happens to be in the fridge, and always cleans up after himself).

2. You’ll encounter cultural problems.

This is a very vague way of saying that we might do things differently. Well, I know people from my own country who do things differently to me, too. Some of which I don’t like, some of which I could learn from. This issue isn’t unique to people from different cultures. When I asked my Nepali boyfriend if there was anything I needed to know about how to behave in his village, he thought for a few moments. “Just don’t wear a bikini. Village people don’t understand.” That seems easy enough to me! Cultural differences don’t always translate into cultural problems, and if they do, I’ll face them when they occur rather than be put off from the beginning.

3. What class/caste/religious background does he come from?

An Indian friend warned me that my Nepali boyfriend may not be from the ‘right’ caste. How many f***s do I give about caste? Zero. It’s not a component of society where I come from, and even if it was, I’m certain I’d disapprove of it. When it comes to religion, as long as he isn’t fanatical and doesn’t try to impose anything on me, he can get on with it.

4. I’ve always wanted to do that.

Then what’s stopping you? ‘That’, I presume, is taking the risk of being with someone from a different culture, with all the difficulties and rewards that go along with it. What gets lost in the excitement here is that relationships still come down to individuals with unique personalities and values, and just adding ‘dating a local’ to the bucket list could lead to disappointment if such relationships aren’t entered for the right reasons.

5. Your (insert foreign language) will really improve.

I hope so. My boyfriend is very encouraging of my attempts to learn Nepali, and is happy to practice my currently extremely banal and limited sentence structures with me, ad nauseum. And while he may be rather optimistic in predicting that I’ll be fluent in two months (he said that two months ago, too!), there is no better way to practice and learn new words quickly than making the effort to learn his language.

6. You won’t be accepted by his family.

This isn’t a problem restricted to cross-cultural relationships. Anyone’s family has the potential to be difficult, even if you are from the same culture or country. Certainly, cultural and language differences can compound problems and lead to misunderstandings, but they don’t always. Many families are simply happy that their son/daughter has found a good person whom they care about. As it should be.

7. He might just be interested in your passport.

Clearly, this is offensive. Yes, there are unscrupulous people out there who see marriage as a path to living in a different, often more-developed, country. But firstly, this is assuming that all relationships have an end-goal of marriage, which isn’t true. Secondly, it’s not giving me a lot of credit as a mature, intelligent woman who can judge character for herself. And thirdly—and this is something that a lot of Westerners struggle to understand—many people from less-developed countries don’t want to leave everything they know to pursue a life of increased material wealth. Life in an economically poor country may come with specific challenges, but not everyone actually wants to leave permanently. It’s home.

8. It’s just a holiday fling.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. That’s not for someone else to decide.

9. I don’t get what you see in them.

Them?! Last time I checked, my boyfriend was only one person. Attraction is somewhat random and very individual, related to personality, values, behaviour and appearance. It’s not like I decided that I wanted to be with someone from Nepal regardless of these very important factors.

10. Long-distance relationships don’t last.

Who says there has to be any physical distance? With increasing opportunities for location independent work, coming from different countries doesn’t mean we have to be in different countries. Both my boyfriend and I have careers that enable a lot of travel—me as a freelance writer and editor, he as an outdoor adventure sport guide—so if we decide we want to be together long-term, the potential to travel together, or divide our time between our home countries, is on the cards.

11. A lot of Western women hook up with men from (insert country).

Often, the implication here is that I am a ‘type’ and my boyfriend is a ‘type’, rather than two people who like each other. It’s true that there are many cross-cultural relationships in Nepal, often involving Western women and Nepali men (more so than the other way around). I see that as a sign that open-mindedness is abundant here, and the potential for compatability, understanding and respect between Nepalis and Westerners is high.

12. What do you talk about?

What does anyone ever talk about!? Life. TV shows. What’s for dinner. Weekend plans. Childhood memories. Favourite travel destinations. Work highs and lows. How to time a hot shower around the power-cut schedule. (OK, that one’s a special highlight of life in Nepal!) We’re not fluent in each others’ languages, but that doesn’t restrict what we can talk about—just the speed at which we can do it!

13. You’re just exoticising each other/it’s a novelty.

Maybe some people exoticise their partners, but I see this as akin to being attracted to someone just because of their looks. It may be one small component, the cause of an initial spark, but unless there’s something more, it’s unlikely to lead to a deeper relationship. So I treat this response much the same as I would if someone said “You only like him for his looks.” It’s rather insulting and doesn’t give either of us much credit.

14. You’re so brave.

At the end of the day, I have faith that most people in this world are good and wish others no harm. I may be brave for many reasons, and I’ll welcome any compliments sent my way. But I don’t believe that being in a relationship with a man from a different country and culture—an economically less-developed country than my own, even—makes me especially brave.

About Elen Turner

AvatarElen Turner is a writer and editor with one foot in Nepal and another in New Zealand. As well as being Pink Pangea’s editor, Elen regularly writes about Nepal and New Zealand (among other places) for a variety of publications.

34 thoughts on “14 Things You’ll Hear When Dating a Man from a Third-World Country

  1. Avatar
    Nichole
    September 26, 2019
    Reply

    As a white American female dating a Nepali man- was so glad to find this and see someone else in my shoes. My personal favorite insulting and ignorant remark came from a family member who said if he comes here and we get married, he has the right to sell me for my organs to be harvested……… Okayyyy thank you
    Because “he only wants money” is too main stream I guess?
    I feel that being white and dating someone from a less privileged ( Yes I said privileged!) country really shows just how people think of women. Oh you are only good for your body, money, or kitchen skills- that’s the only reason someone from such a country would want you right? Not that people are capable of love and that money, class, status, or skin color matter to us- because we don’t even think about these things. Why does everyone complicate the fact that two people just love each other?
    Thank you for reading my rant I may be done now…..

  2. Avatar
    Morgan
    August 20, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this article…..its very helpful to hear that other people have shared the same experiences I’ve had in my relationship with a Nepali man. I am American and met him with the blessings of Shiva at Pashupati temple on Shivaratri 2 years ago. We are married now and live in America. In the beginning of our relationship many of the friends I considered closest to me would say that he was just with me to come to America…..honestly I consider that comment rather racist and it hurts the most coming from people you love. I lived with him in Nepal for a year and people judgements of us there were the worst. No one ever saw him as my husband, just as a tour guide or friend. Even in America people don’t ever think he is my partner, we’ve had every kind of assumption projected on us apart from him being my husband. We are the exact same age, born 7 days apart and we know we are each others soulmates. Thank god our families are accepting and loving towards our relationship….its just a struggle everyday having to prove/justify your relationship to the world. Anyway thanks again for your words….I’m so glad I’m not alone in my experiences around international love!

  3. Avatar
    Mica elle
    April 21, 2018
    Reply

    Hi there am so curious about the man from nepal inlove with women a foriegner.what should be happen to that man that fall in the girl.how about if he will married and the gf foriegner get pregnat what would happen?if that guy will accept there child and also the family will accept it too.thanx

    • Avatar
      April 23, 2018

      I think that would entirely depend upon the personal circumstances and personalities/values/priorities of the families and individuals involved. As someone who is married to and has a child with a Nepali man, I can say from my experience that I’ve had no problems at any stage. Obviously I can’t speak for all Nepalis, just as nobody could speak for any nationality or group of people, even their own.

  4. Avatar
    Debbie Blakeley
    March 16, 2018
    Reply

    Interesting article. Even though our relationship is relatively new (less than a year) we quickly made the decision that we needed to be together. My Nepali boyfriend is currently looking at how to get a work visa for UK, I however am completing a TEFL course which will guarantee me a work visa in Nepal. We have spoken of marriage and I’d marry him tomorrow, but I need to know all the facts,customs,tolerances and ‘rules’ for a Nepali wife. Do I lose my business/home/assets already accrued to my new husband? What ‘rights’ do Nepali wives have so many questions but still love each other and want this to happen. Our ideal is to spend amounts of months in each other’s countries, let’s see how easy/challenging that one is!
    The main issue others may have (and I’m sure they’ll be vocal about it) is that I am older than my boyfriend, let’s say I’m no longer child bearing age, it’s just a number to us, but I can foresee this being the main issue.
    Any advice??

    • Avatar
      March 16, 2018

      Thanks for your comment. I find these kinds of questions hard/impossible to answer, just like “how are Western wives expected to behave?” would be in reverse. So many things that I was told to be careful of have not proven true/relevant in my case because his family are very easy going. For other Western women with Nepali men who I know, the same cannot be said. So, of course, so much depends on the individuals and families involved. In terms of legalities–if you were living in Nepal and your husband was to die (or if you were to divorce), you wouldn’t receive anything. None of his wealth, or land, would go to you, it would go to the nearest male relative (a brother, uncle etc). But, that doesn’t mean that your assets automatically become his at all. If you have a home in your own country, or a business, or savings, or anything else, nobody has any right to take them from you in Nepal. Also, be aware that non-tourist marriage visas in Nepal don’t permit work. So, if you were planning on working in Nepal, you’d need to arrange for that separately, or independently of your marriage visa. Also, don’t be so quick to assume that Nepalis will be bothered by the age difference. Many Nepalis aren’t preoccupied with age, don’t even track it, may not even know their birthdays… I actually think you’d be more likely to face questions and resistance from Westerners regarding a large age difference than Nepalis, who likely wouldn’t care or notice. But, like I said, this all depends on individual families, as well as the social position and caste of your boyfriend. But, good luck!

  5. Avatar
    Charlotte Bunt
    February 5, 2018
    Reply

    One thing I’d like to add to your point about marrying for citizenship is that it is incredibly difficult to get a tourist visa let alone partner visa , at least here in Australia. My boyfriend is in Cambodia where I met him and
    we could not get him a visa just to visit. I will have to live over there or pay upward of 12k to go through an over 24 month wait to allow him into Australia even if we were married!

    • Avatar
      February 5, 2018

      That is so true! Although really, 12k in Australia? For a New Zealand partnership visa it’s like $350. I’d be surprised if in Australia it cost 12k for the same.

  6. Avatar
    Heartache
    December 16, 2017
    Reply

    After 4 yeas in a long distance relationship with the Nepalese man, I found out recently that he had married with a baby less than a year. Despite asking him many times on the girl noted to be at his family’s home during all the festive season’s, he denied and claimed that she is his uncle”s daughter. I have confirmed with some trusted source that girl indeed is his wife.I had booked a flight to be in Nepal 3 months ago and now is in dilemma whether to go or not tomorrow …Kind of heartaches as I really loved him so much but I felt betrayed. My heart is crushing into milions pieces. Need advice very badly….???

    • Avatar
      December 16, 2017

      Only you know the circumstances of your relationship so I can’t really offer advice here. It doesn’t sound like a situation that is normal or acceptable in Nepal, just like it wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere really.

  7. Avatar
    katka
    October 7, 2017
    Reply

    It’s like reading my mind. I am an Eastern European girl dating a sherpa man and it’s a fresh relationship, but a lot of people around me have that “it’s just a phase”, “vacanze romane”kind of look when I talk about him. Its not normal neither for my culture and for his, but than again, what is really “normal” and if I couldn’t adopt the “normal standards” of my culture till now, maybe that is not the kind of “normal” I need. I am defiantly aware of all the risks and differences, and I’m aware that more of unprepared situations and challenges are yet to come. But how can I know, if I don’t try. I have my doubts and fears about moving to Nepal, especially to a remote village, but we are still young and I don’t know what time will bring.

    • Avatar
      Elen Turner
      October 8, 2017

      Hi Katka, thanks for your comment. There are actually a lot of Nepali-foreign relationships, it’s not a very unusual combination at all, so go for it! Follow your heart and see where it leads 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Melissa Harper Khadka
    September 8, 2017
    Reply

    Yes! I heard some of these when I started dating my husband. People will just let anything roll out of their mouths these days. You can always tell when someone has never been anywhere or experienced different cultures.

    • Avatar
      Elen Turner
      September 8, 2017

      It is amazing how little people think before speaking! Sadly, many of the comments came (and still come) from people who have travelled a bit and seen some of the world, meaning that they just don’t have a filter between brain and mouth!

  9. Avatar
    Art
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    You forgot “you’re a race traitor”

    • Avatar
      Elen Turner
      April 2, 2017

      Aargh, I’ve never had that one! But I definitely wouldn’t be polite in reply if I did.

  10. Avatar
    Grada Trimble
    July 10, 2016
    Reply

    I’m afraid I attached my comment to someone else’s comment! So sorry. As I said in that comment, I am soon to see my boyfriend in Egypt. A lot of friends & family are afraid for my safety & really don’t understand the situation. We met online & have had extensive conversations over the last 7 months. Love is love is love. We connect on a very primal, initimate level & it is as though we have known each other before, perhaps in a previous life. He’s just very intuitive, something I didn’t experience in 32 years of marriage! Anyway–thanks again for your article! Made me feel better about my decisions!!

  11. Avatar
    Candace Ingram
    July 7, 2016
    Reply

    This is a helpful, informative read. Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar
      Grada Trimble
      July 10, 2016

      Thank you so much for this article. I am getting ready to visit my boyfriend in Egypt for the 1st time & I’m sick of defending myself & my decisions to everyone when I don’t need to explain anything to anyone!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! !

  12. Avatar
    Katrina Marks
    June 25, 2016
    Reply

    This is exactly what I needed to read. I’m leaving in a week to reunite with my Zanzibari boyfriend after a year of long distance. In addition to the usual stresses of long-term travel, I’ve had to deal with all of the above commentary from family and friends. Next time I get these questions, I may just send them a link to this article.

  13. Avatar
    Mary Grace
    June 25, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Elen. Thank you . I’m moving to the Philippines to marry my BF of 4 years. All my “friends” in America want to warn me that he only wants my money or he really just wants to come to the USA. And it’s simply not true. And all the Pinoy peeps want to know why I’m not bringing him to the USA. I’m hoping for the best when I get there… So far like any relationship my biggest fear is my soon to be mother in law! ?

  14. Avatar
    Hemantah
    June 23, 2016
    Reply

    As a white western man married to a Gurung Nepali, her family has accepted me. We have our miscommunications but who doesnt? living in another culture, country, language has so many benefits but it is not easy. i have been in nepal five years, and i am still treated like a tourist, even by those who see me everyday. that level of ignorance or however you want to call it is the hardest part, i will never be considered just a person here as our post colonial tourism runs too deep. even when i speak perfect nepali, i still have to pay tourist prices. my main point is that the western side of our life has accepted us way more easily and openly than the eastern side of our life. thanks for your interesting article.

  15. Avatar
    PP
    June 23, 2016
    Reply

    I am Nepali and My wife is from America, that restaurent billing and waiters treating me like if I was tourist guide hooking with white girl is little bit bothering me, but after we had kids, it has help them to understand relationship differently, but when we just go ourselves for dinner or lunch, it’s still the same. I guess Nepal will be different sometimes in future. Cross Cultural relationship really has a blessing to this world that we unite differences and break the barriers. challenges are only for couple to make it work as a successful marriage and provide for their children place where they also feel home.

  16. Avatar
    danny
    June 23, 2016
    Reply

    Nice read this one. Stereotyping is all over the place and actually i do agree that often its the immigrants of the less developed country who are even more conservative than the folks living in the less developed country itself! Good stuff Elen.

  17. Avatar
    ruth
    June 23, 2016
    Reply

    Love your articule. I reconize a lot being married with a man from Nicaragua. Does your husband get a lot of comenta too from people in nepal? Here my husband gets to hear a lot how lucky he is having his white woman and that he must have dollars to spend……for both sides is diffucult sometimes but what can you do??? Thanks for the artícul.

  18. Avatar
    Bradley Goodchild
    June 22, 2016
    Reply

    Yes a great article and unfortunately the ones who need to read it won’t and or wouldn’t even if it was recommended .
    I myself an Australian Man have spent the best part of the last 30 years living and working overseas from Canada , USA , UK , Europe , New Zealand and more recently 7 years in South East Asia and now have a Chinese wife …Wow that has put the cat among the pigeons ! all the western women have no concept at all with comments like oh he is just looking for a slave or Oh yeah she is just after a Visa , to the Aussie men saying Oh she is just after your money or aren’t Aussie women good enough for you !
    And I get tired of explaining that Asian Women are far from being treated like a slaves and the fact is China has one of the best economy’s in the world at the moment and most Chinese don’t want to leave and my Wife has Two degree’s and had a very respected job in her home country etc etc .. but their minds are just too small and parochial to understand ! but that’s ok as I won’t judge them on their short comings .

    • Avatar
      Elen Turner
      June 23, 2016

      Thanks for your comment, Bradley. Yes, I imagine it’s possibly worse for Western men and non-Western women (or at least more common to hear snide remarks) because of these relationships are perhaps more common. But as others have said, I think it’s a matter of taking everything in one’s stride and realising whose opinions really count for too little to worry about.

  19. Avatar
    Christina Subba
    June 22, 2016
    Reply

    I have been together with my Nepali husband since 2007 and we have been married since 2011. Almost every time we go to a restaurant they give me the bill, taking for granted I am paying for me and my trekking guide. It does not matter that my husband looks everything but a trekking guide, that I am wearing Nepali dress and jewleries and that we are acting like any old married couple – they just cant understand that we are married. Everytime it happens I tell the waiter, with a loud voice, that my HUSBAND will pay the bill… Hope it can open up the eyes for some “judging” waiters… Nice text!

    • Avatar
      Elen Turner
      June 23, 2016

      Oh dear… yes well my bf is a guide (though not a trekking guide) so I’m afraid I do fall into that stereotype. But I can see how frustrating that would be!

  20. Avatar
    Hokko Joshi
    June 22, 2016
    Reply

    Definitely, an interesting read!!! It’s really sad to see how many people still look at men from third-world country with gruesome vision. Love is the big thing!!!! Pricks who play games for passports are found all over the world, but on the other side there are Nepalese men who have settled with their foreign partners in our homeland and they are happy…

  21. Avatar
    June 22, 2016
    Reply

    Hi-larious and so true! I (American) married a man I met in Greece (but he is originally from Bangladesh). Americans have mostly been supportive with just a few “aren’t you sick of curry?” comments. Our friends simply love his cooking. His family in Bangladesh are great. It’s primarily the Bangladeshi immigrants here in America who are the most judgmental and snide. They don’t even pretend to be polite. We take it all in stride though! Enjoy Nepal and your adventure!

    PS – My husband was originally a summer fling!

    • Avatar
      Elen Turner
      June 22, 2016

      Thanks Rosina! That’s the thing, isn’t it, to take it in your stride? If you’re happy and secure in your choices (whether for a temporary or long-term relationship) then there’s no need to feel put down or made insecure by others’ comments. It’s just amazing the things that come from peoples’ mouths! Some clearly haven’t even considered how offensive they’re being with these comments.

    • Avatar
      kristin fellows
      July 13, 2016

      a bit of sage advice i once heard that i try to remember is this:
      what people say, tells you more about them than it does about you.

      it’s true 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
Loading...