Relationship advice from around the world

Are you feeling like your love life could use a little help? Instead of just relying on your best friends for advice, you might want to pay attention to how other couples around the world sweeten their romantic relationships. 

From France to India, there is a vast and diverse spectrum of thought when it comes to dating and compatibility. The way different cultures view romance may help you see your own relationship from a whole new perspective. 

Social norms in Japan

Eastern and Western countries tend to view love, marriage, and relationships quite differently. An article that was published in the International Journal of Sociology for the Family suggests that the collective society is more influential in Japan than it is in the United States, where people focus primarily on individualism. 

This very much affects how people conduct their romantic relationships. When it comes to Japanese culture, co-authors Gayle Kaufman and Hiromi Taniguchi state, "Individuals are socially oriented and commit themselves to social roles, obligations, and expectations." So while the operation of the family unit is usually a key factor in dating relationships in Japan, the same isn't typically true of Americans. 

If you're having relationship trouble, instead of focusing on yourself, take a moment to step back and look at the situation through the eyes of your family and their values. Instead of letting your parents' advice go in one ear and out the other, take it to heart. They might be able to see something about your relationship that you can't, and might even be able to provide some needed clarity. 

Blurred lines in France

The French generally have a much more relaxed attitude toward dating and relationships than many other nations do. For the most part, the concept of monogamy is rather hazy. A perfect example of this is the French term "le cinq a sept," which translates to "the five-to-seven." It's a period of time during the day when couples — even married ones — are allowed to have other romantic rendezvous.

For many Americans, this would be grounds for a breakup. For the French, however, it is very common for people to have affairs, as part of their relationship. In short, the term "open relationship" is very big Paris. 

Even if the French way of doing things isn't for you, their relaxed attitude about romantic relationships might be something to pay attention to. Instead of smothering or confining your significant other, sit back and chill out. If your partner is trustworthy, you won't have anything to worry about if you let them go to the bar with their friends while you do something else. If you find your relationship to be somewhat suffocating, ask yourselves what the French would have to say to you.

Compatibility in India

While India's youth is modernizing and adopting Western concepts of dating, there are those who believe in the institution of traditional arranged marriages. 

Where an American might ask, "But what about love?" the traditional Indian answer would be, "That comes later." Marriage is the ultimate goal and focus for Indian families, and is determined in a way that is far more pragmatic than falling madly in love. If two young people appear to come from similar backgrounds, have similar values and beliefs, and would make good sense financially, then they are deemed compatible. 

This is based on an idea that romantic love doesn't last forever. In the U.S., this phenomenon is referred to as "the honeymoon stage," when everything is exciting, new, and hot. After being together for a while, though, the energy calms down and becomes less about lust and thrills and more about commitment. Instead of getting disappointed when that time comes, the traditional Indian perspective is to accept that marriage is more about companionship, than anything else. 

Periods of excitement come and go, but companionship and friendship with your partner is what is most important. If you can keep that going after the honeymoon phase has passed, then you've got something real. 

Showing affection in Korea

Korea might just be the world's capital of cute couples. Korean couples will even find matching outfits to wear if they're out on a date. And men are a bit less concerned about their perceived masculinity: a Korean man will gladly hold his girlfriend's purse all day, whereas American guys might have reservations about holding a woman's bag for a few minutes. Essentially, Korean men are not afraid to show off their feminine side and be open about their love for their partner, and will perform romantic gestures on a regular basis for the one they love.

Men are often made to think that showing their emotions isn't masculine, but it actually helps foster a lasting connection. Guys, don't be afraid to show your soft side. Your lady will appreciate your love and devotion.

Universal wisdom from The Vatican

While some religions offer different romantic guidance than others, Pope Francis had his own advice to impart on the world. In 2016, he released a very lengthy document concerning love, marriage, sex, and family. In it, he offers good relationship advice that you should heed even if you're not a devout Catholic: taking the time to listen to your partner, working to overcome arguments, being understanding and patient about their flaws — all pieces of wisdom applicable to making any relationship work. 

The Pope's advice boils down to being kind to each other, keeping an open mind, and putting in effort. When we argue with our significant others, it can be hard to remember these things, but the ultimate goal isn't for one individual to win, it's for both of you to come out stronger. 

Facing challenges in Germany

On the surface, the German approach to relationships might seem like a bit of a bummer, but really it is anything but. Studies published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that Americans tend to focus more on the positives in a relationship than Germans do. But this doesn't mean that Germans are downers and Americans are all fun and sunshine. Co-authors Birgit Koopmann-Holm and Jeanne L. Tsai say that what these studies really point to is an American bias against confronting anything negative, and a German willingness to face it head on. Essentially, Americans avoid unpleasantness and pain at all costs while Germans take the time to acknowledge it. 

Harping on negativity all the time is obviously a bad thing for both an individual and a couple, but being afraid to deal with negativity is also detrimental. Life isn't always positive and you will encounter rough patches in your relationship. The important thing is tackling those rough patches when they occur and learning how to work through them.

"I love you" in different cultures

Americans aren't shy about saying "I love you" — to each other, and to our favorite meals. While we might not think much of it or see it as a problem, other cultures do. In Venezuela, for instance, saying the phrase every day, or even multiple times per day, devalues its meaning. In China, couples traditionally display their love instead of saying it. It is even considered embarrassing to talk about it at length. So, are Americans really doing it wrong? Are we creating problems for ourselves?

Consider this: don't be the only one who says "I love you" all the time. Let your partner say it, too. They may not say it every day, but that doesn't mean they don't feel it.

Intercultural relationships

If you're in a relationship that is intercultural (meaning each of you comes from a different country), it is important to take those cultural differences into account. As you can see from the various dating customs we've shared with you so far, each culture has their own approach to love, dating, and relationships. What may seem to you as a strange behavior from your partner may to them be the traditional or natural way of dating. 

Teach each other about your respective cultures and come to an understanding about how your mixed relationship is going to work. It is important to respect each other's heritages and traditions while also having both partners' needs met within the relationship. You may also learn something from each other's cultures that you've never thought of before. 

Many approaches to love

Everyone experiences love differently. Perceptions vary from couple to couple, not just culture to culture. But taking the time to look at your relationship from another point of view might actually improve your love life or help you overcome a problem. 

Part of fostering a lasting, loving connection is learning how to be flexible, like many of these culturally-diverse romantic concepts have proven. Yes, you are an individual, but at the end of the day it's about compromise, affection, and companionship.