Expats dating Indonesian girls are numerous, and many will find that though certain aspects of their relationships are much easier than with a western girl, there are also some difficulties that men need to take seriously if they want to be successful. I listed the 4 main hardships expats have to overcome when dating an Indonesian girlfriend:
Money: Dealing with the gap in revenues between you and your Indonesian girlfriend is not an easy task. It may not be a problem at the beginning, but soon, some issues will appear: Who needs to pay for the restaurant? For the plane ticket to Bali when you go on holidays? How do you arrange her coming to your home country? Should you help her when she or a member of her family gets sick, and to what extent?The situation faced by many expats is that they don't mind paying, because they understand that the girl cannot afford some expenses that are clearly part of the "expat lifestyle". However, they do not want to be considered as cash cows or walking ATMs. The guy may also wonder if the girl is "interested", meaning that as soon as the money flow stops, the girl will walk away without any regrets.
To reach the perfect balance between giving money and being treated with respect, I would recommend you to follow a few rules:
- Pay for goods or services directly. Do not give cash.
- Even for small amounts, do not give the impressions that money isn't important for you. Always show that the act of buying something is a rationale decision, not an impulsive one. Make her understand that you worked hard for the money you earned.
- If she asks you money for her family, take the matter seriously. Visit them, and make sure that everyone is doing its share too, including all the relatives. If you find out she is lying to you, do not tolerate it and walk away from the relationship.
- Depending on her income, make sure you don't pay for everything, everywhere and never get anything in return. You should make her feel as if you paying is not an automatic thing.
- Control yourself: Adapt your lifestyle too and try to spend less than usual. It can be very uncomfortable for a girl to have everything paid for her, without being able to give something back. By going to less expensive restaurants, you give her the opportunity to treat you as well.
- Do not put her down and do not use the fact than she has less money than you to feel you are superior than her.
Religion: This is the second most important topic when dating an Indonesian girl because few of them will make a compromise about it. If you are catholic and no ready to adapt, then you will have some troubles finding an Indonesian girl who suits you. Even if she is not that religious, chances are her family is, and they will not tolerate anything but a Muslim wedding. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, I think you need to convince your girlfriend that the best you can do is "fake" the conversion to become Muslim in order to look good in front of her family, but keep your own religion without telling people except her. If you are not ready to do that, and if she doesn't understand it as well, then you should find a Christian or Hindu girl, they make up 10% of the Indonesian people so it's not that hard to find.
Age Gap: The age difference, quite common in expats/Indonesian girls’ couples, is less a problem than one could imagine. Dating older men for an Indonesian girl is not necessarily seen as a bad thing, because older men are deemed more adequate to provide girls with the security they need. Yet, the age difference may also be a difficulty because it adds to the incomprehension between the two partners. When you ask backpackers in Jalan Jaksa about the girls they sleep with, they will often tell you girls who are dating older men. Once again, you will have to be careful to respect her right to be young and to party/go out/etc. If you don't give her this freedom, she will take it behind your back anyway.
Cultural Differences: Different conceptions of love, of the role of men/women in a couple, etc..: This topic has often been debated on other websites and it is one of the most interesting when considering your relation with your girlfriend. Working out these differences will teach you a lot of valuable lessons and you will learn to understand another culture which is just as fascinating as yours. The thing you have to understand is: What does your girlfriend mean when she tells you "I love you". I don't believe love is universal. Western Love is a luxury that people can afford only after they've reached a certain level of security. But the "love" of an Indonesian girl is nonetheless quite interesting as well: It involves a lot of respect and expectations that are different. It will probably take you years to see how beautiful your relationship really is. Take the time and explore it!
Money, Religion, Age Gap and Cultural differences, these are the 4 main difficulties most expats have when dating a girl in Indonesia. What do you think about it? Do you see some issues not talked about here? Thanks a lot for commenting!
The photos were taken on Flickr.
Kimono Girl: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sektordua/
Wedding Girl: http://www.flickr.com/people/docbudie/