What I learnt as an Asian woman living with my European boyfriend

·Lifestyle Contributor
·5 min read
Growing up in an Asian household, moving in with your partner isn't something we do. (Photo: Getty Images)
Growing up in an Asian household, moving in with your partner isn't something we do. (Photo: Getty Images)

For a year now, I’ve been renting a studio unit and honestly, it’s great. Living alone means I’ve got an entire place to myself and nobody to worry about if I end up making a mess.

Recently though, my partner *Mark (not his real name) and I decided to move in together. Not only is this a huge step for us as a couple, it also means we now have a place together that we can call our own.

In the past, I would split my time between my place and Mark’s because we didn’t want to spend nights apart. I know, even I was disgusted writing that, hah.

I also felt it was about time. We’ve been dating exclusively for about eight months now and I was getting increasingly irritated by things I would find in his place that reminded me of the girls from the past.

Growing up in an Asian household, moving in with your partner isn't something we do.

Traditionally, we’d get married first before settling on a place together. Sometimes, married couples even live with their families for the first few years.

I also grew up with a relatively strict Asian mum who would sweep, mop and clean the house every single day.

She was also the type to hand wash certain laundry items because she felt the washing machine didn’t always clean clothes properly. I know, right?

For Mark though, moving in with a partner is completely normal. Being European, Mark lived with his ex-girlfriend for close to 10 years while they were both studying and working.

As some people might know, college is generally the time Westerners flee the coop and gain independence. By this point, they’re sort of expected to start a life of their own.

Now that Mark and I have moved in together, I’ve noticed that our childhoods and upbringing have definitely played a part in how we lead our lives now. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

Some people have zero qualms about walking around in their boxers at home. (Photo: Getty Images)
Some people have zero qualms about walking around in their boxers at home. (Photo: Getty Images)

There’s a lot more nudity

Not from me though but from Mark.

The man has zero qualms about walking around in his boxers at home. I, on the other hand, need to at least have a loose t-shirt and shorts on.

Sometimes, I have to remind him to put on a shirt when answering the door. My aversion to being (somewhat) naked is mostly due to the fact that I’m just not used to it.

According to Mark though, being somewhat nude is pretty normal in Europe. In some high schools where Mark is from, cubicles don’t really exist in changing rooms, so kids often shower together after PE periods.

The same goes for gyms and saunas outside of school. This is most likely why Mark is so comfortable with nudity — he sort of had to be.

We don’t always have time for sex

In between working from home, doing house chores, and having friends over, we’re not always in the mood for sex. In fact, we’re sometimes too tired to have sex.

As with most new couples, Mark and I had a honeymoon period where sex was almost always on the table. Now that we’re pretty settled in our relationship, we’re not always trying to jump each other’s bones, and that’s not always a bad thing.

Instead, we spend our time watching shows, planning things for the future, and head out for walks or a meal.

Honestly, this is the best part of a relationship for me, having a life partner to do things with feels more rewarding than anything else in the world.

Growing up, my mum would have killed me for leaving empty cups on tables. (Photo: Getty Images)
Growing up, my mum would have killed me for leaving empty cups on tables. (Photo: Getty Images)

I’ve learned to be a bit more chill

Dirty dishes in the sink? Empty cups and cans on tables? Laundry (almost) overflowing?

In the past, I think those things would have annoyed me. These days, I’m OK to just let things go. It’s not always worth it to get upset about small issues like that.

I think it’s got something to do with Mark and how he rarely loses his temper. In fact, I’ve never actually seen him lose it at me or anyone for that matter. Perhaps it’s his childhood and how he grew up in a household that was relatively calm.

Growing up, my mum would have killed me for leaving empty cups on tables and she would have probably skinned me alive if I forgot to use a coaster.

I’m getting better at recycling

While I try my best to reduce the amount of plastic I use, avoid purchasing bottled water, and recycle empty beauty products, Mark takes it up a notch and tries to recycle a lot more things at home.

He recycles plastic bottles, aluminium cans, and avoids taking plastic bags at grocery stores.

Again, this all goes back to Mark’s childhood growing up in Europe where recycling is a huge thing and grocery stores charge for plastic bags.

Needless to say, I’ve been making more of an effort to consider what I’m using and how I can cut down on things I don’t necessarily need.

There’s always alcohol in the house

Don’t get me wrong, Asian households can also be guilty of owning copious amounts of alcohol.

It’s just that drinking is steeped in Mark’s culture so having different types of beer, wine, and entertaining friends was commonplace when I started living with him.

His friends, who are mostly European, love drinking too. As a result, we always have alcohol in our house and are almost always ready to have people over.

It’s clear that our different cultural upbringings have influenced how we are now. Despite our different cultures, we both share similar values, which means we rarely argue.

I’ve always felt that mixed race relationships can be really exciting for the different types of perspectives and experiences it can bring.

A Millennial's Dating Diary series explores real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series features the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

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