Cultural clash: Vietnamese, foreigner relationship a tough challenge

November 12, 2021 | 06:00 am PT
Cultural clash: Vietnamese, foreigner relationship a tough challenge
Two people holding hands. Photo by Pixabay
What are the pros and cons of a Vietnamese-foreigner relationship? Here are some thoughts from VnExpress International readers who have been there, done that.

"As an English woman, having dated two Vietnamese men, the biggest issue was how the upbringing that they had had in a heavily patriarchal society, quite different to my own, influenced the way they treated me, perceived me, and respected me. Unfortunately, I would never date another Vietnamese man, not because I think they're all the same, but the risk and fear of meeting someone like my previous partners far outweighs the potential benefits of not being single."
Gemma Popplestone

"You are going to get very different answers from men and women. A lot of it depends on the two people and their individual cultures. Culture clash with the couple and their family can be hard.

I agree that the biggest issue is choosing to settle in one country may mean it's hard for the couple to see the other part of the family abroad due to passport and visa issues.

It's also frustrating to settle in Vietnam from a legal perspective as the visas to stay in Vietnam with your spouse are still only issued for 3 years (or 5 years for an exemption which needs continually stamping). If you are married and are settled here you shouldn't need to worry about visa expiry.

[...] Ultimately it shouldn't be a pros/cons issue though. Love who you love and be happy regardless of challenges."
Martha May Woolley

"Mix of good and bad, jealousy and hot tempered makes them lovable. Vietnamese girls are good and I describe them as a one-man woman, this is simply because they're fun to be around.

Pros and cons: they're there when you need them to be around, honest and loyal in relationships and they always try their best to achieve a good result in relationships.

Cons: hot tempered and culturally not justify to the level of men from another country. Simply, they want you to understand them instead of BOTH to understand each other.

Difficulties: almost all of them want you to settle here and by that I meant they put family and foods higher than anything else. Not mention that emotional stress will make a gap in between.

Interesting things to deal with: she tried her best to change me to become a better person for US, not just for me, she understood me in my difficult time and always was there for me. That means a lot to me, they are very loyal and honest in love relationships."
Hamid in Vietnam on YouTube

"Getting divorced from my Vietnamese wife. Cultural expectations from both sides and certainly communication was an issue. As with all relationships you have to work hard and both do so equally for it to work."
Calum 'Monty' Davidson

"I am happily married to a Vietnamese. We have a wonderful four-year-old daughter. Both stay in Vietnam and I can't visit them since March 2020. Already missed two birthdays of her. Hope that Vietnam will restart issuing family visas as soon as possible so that we can reunite."
Oleg Rybnikov

"Culturally there is a big difference in approach to relationships. Westerners tend to look upon relationships as semi-permanent. Vietnamese are looking for ‘the one and only’ and have a lifelong timeframe.

This sets up a clash where foreigners are taking things slowly but, once committed, a Vietnamese wants to go all in."
Chris Soho

"The first six months I was in Vietnam back in 2012 I immersed myself in the culture, foods, people, taboos and such. After my first visit back from Canada in 2013 I started to date.

One of the first things I was taken aback by was the lack of dating or no dating even by the women in their 30's. The positive to that was no baggage. The negative was no common experiences. There was one really nice woman, mid 30's, great English, communication was there. But her life had been from home to work, work 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, living with her sister for 10 something years. There was just no common ground, not even a little.

I didn't move to Vietnam to just marry someone, I think that's where the gap was. Many women I met and dated had that focus from the beginning. The woman I mentioned above didn't get herself out there and start dating with the intent to marry and move out of the house she shared with her sister, it was because of family pressure.

I think the pro is, if it is true there's a really good chance it will be loving and forever. The con is there's a pretty big gap you have to be prepared for, maybe it won't happen for you, but keep your eyes open for it anyway."
Michael David Kemp

"Singaporean, had a Vietnamese partner. Cons: treated like an ATM for loans from all kinds of extended family members who need to pay debts, rebuild house, buy land, uncle has cancer and all the reasons you can think of in the world. Extended family bà con can be so wide ranging, it's tough to draw the family tree.

Pro: Vietnamese have close knit familial relations, expected to support each other in good and bad times. So if you are not forthcoming in lending when someone from ‘extended family’ wants to borrow, it looks bad on you. Very polite on the surface, likes to end a statement with , which is a marker of reverence."
Paul Lam Par Kia

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
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