Namorando uma estrangeira (post por um irlandês) 2/2


No post de ontem o R. participou falando sobre como é namorar uma estrangeira - ele citou coisas como diferenças culturais e barreira da língua. Hoje voltamos com a segunda parte do post - e R., mais uma vez obrigada por ter topado participar do blog!

irlandeses e brasileiras

Relationship with affection

One cultural difference between Brazil and Ireland which might cause some issues is public displays of affection.  In general, Brazilians are much more touchy-feely than the Irish, who tend to be more closed.  For example, the second time we visited Brazil, Bárbara's brother and uncle greeted me with a hug.  That's not so strange, even to an Irish person – we had travelled a long way and it had been a long time since we had seen each other – a hug was certainly appropriate.

With that said, consider this slightly different scenario that took place in Ireland: Bárbara and I met up with some of my friends from college for lunch during the Christmas holidays.  One of my friends was back from the US, where he's been living for the past 5 years.  He doesn't get home often - usually only once a year.  Another friend had travelled over from Bristol where he's been living for the past 2 years – not so far away, but my friends and I still don't see him very often, maybe a couple of times a year.  My other friends do see each other relatively often, but I see them a good deal less as I live in Dublin while they are in Cork - maybe 4-5 times a year.  We've all known each other for 10 years and I would say we're a somewhat close-knit group.  This lunch was the one time of the year that we would all be in the same place together.

There were zero hugs shared.  Zero.  Actually, that's not entirely true - one of my friends is actually American and he had to leave early, so he did hug everyone as he left.  That'll be the Yankee in him :)

To Bárbara, this is crazy, whereas to me it's pretty normal.  Part of this has to do with gender identity – only one of the group is female, so we're basically a bunch of guys, and in Ireland, guys don't hug each other all that much.

When I'm in Brazil, I find myself exposed to one of the larger cultural differences, in that Brazilians are much more likely to express affection freely.  However it may surprise you that it doesn't make me uncomfortable.  Sure it's certainly different to home, but I just relax and go with the flow and I'm pretty happy with that.

I think part of the reason why I'm comfortable with it is that Bárbara and I are very affectionate with each other.  I'm going to blame her for this because I think that this was her doing, not mine!  With that said, the behaviour has certainly rubbed off on me.  We are both very comfortable showing affection in public.   It’s nothing excessive, just holding each other and a little kiss on the cheek now and then.

However the fact of the matter is that we live in Ireland and it has been brought to my attention on a couple of occasions that members of my family can be a little uncomfortable with being witness to us being affectionate.  I suspect the same is true of friends, but none have mentioned it and even then I know them well enough to know that even though they probably do notice our affection for each other, they’re not particularly bothered by it.

This is something which I find hard to reconcile – on one hand I can see where others are coming from, but on the other I feel that myself and Bárbara aren't doing anything inappropriate.  It's not like we're behaving like teenagers hanging out at Barra Funda or anything!  I am conflicted on this point, because while I don't want to have to change my behaviour to suit others, I feel like I have to - it's a bit like I'm breaking the rules of my culture if I don't.  So

I was once at a staff party at work.  I was speaking with one of my colleagues and we were watching two others (both Irish) who work in a different department who were in a relationship with each other (it was the subject of some gossip at work since both had previously been involved with other people when they started seeing each other).  At the party, the two were being very affectionate – kind of all over each other.  The woman was sitting on the man’s lap, arms all around him and they were French kissing a lot and staring into each other’s.  Talk about “get a room!”

To me, this was over the top – they were all over each other, it was a work party and their mutual colleagues were all around.  It certainly caught my attention in the sense that it was inappropriate considering the environment, but it didn’t bother me personally.  If I saw two strangers like this in a night club, I would have thought very little of it.

What really surprised me was my colleague’s reaction – he was absolutely disgusted by it, and it wasn’t just because they worked in our company – he was repulsed by the amount of affection they were showing each other, because for him, there should be nothing of the sort in public, and relatively little in private.  I was shocked by this reaction, and left wondering whether people react similarly when they see and Bárbara and me.


The last topic I want to discuss here is a tough one – the impact of discrimination on our relationship.  I’m pleased to say that my friends and family are generally pretty open and accepting of the fact that Bárbara comes from a different country, and don’t hold any prejudice against her.  However they sometimes they commit minor faux pas – they make remarks that reveal some ignorance of what Brazil is actually like (I’ve had to explain repeatedly to my brother that there are no big bad spiders in São Paulo), or they forget that Bárbara comes from another country and might feel offended by some comments they might be making about foreigners in Ireland.

However, I have run into situations where I’m speaking with a new person and I tell them that my partner is from Brazil and they immediately feel at liberty to invoke some hurtful stereotypes.  I’ve had people whom I’ve just met come right out and say “so she’s here for the visa eh?” or “she must be great in bed.”  Usually I just smile and leave the person in their ignorance – I don’t spend any more time with that person.

Thankfully the number of times this kind of thing has happened has been extremely small, and never when Bárbara was present, but it’s a horrible feeling to encounter such bigotry.  This kind of thing wouldn’t happen if I was dating an Irish woman.  However, every cloud has a silver lining – when people are so thoughtless as to come right out with such offensive comments, I can take it as an early warning indicator that this person is someone I don’t want to waste my time with – an asshole detector if you will :)

The final thing I want to say on the topic of prejudice is that it can have another way of affecting us. On a handful of occasions, Bárbara herself has been on the receiving end of racist behaviour from strangers.  Again I’m thankful that this is an extremely rare occurrence and the events were not in any way severe, but there’s no denying that for it to happen at all is very upsetting.  While Bárbara is the immediate victim in such cases, the impact to me is that I’m left feeling ashamed of people in my country and worried that something more serious could happen one day.

All in all, prejudice is probably the most difficult aspect of having a relationship with a person from another country.  All the rest is a delight in comparison.  Speaking of which, the love of my live has some Bolo de Brigadeiro for me, so I’m going to sign off on a high note.

Thanks for reading this post – I hope it has been of interest to you and offers food for thought.

Ai gente, quero que o R. faça posts pro Barbaridades toda semana! Massss olha só, estamos com sorte: semana que vem tem mais post dele - dessa vez, sobre como é aprender português!
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