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American Woman And Turkish Man

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Merhaba everyone Posted Image I am new to the forums.

I am dating a man from Adana and we have been dating a little over a month. He seems very sweet, but he is also very hard-working....which makes talking to him kind of hard, at times (because he is always at work!). Sometimes we have communication problems because he speaks English fairly well, but oftentimes he comes across something that he doesn't know how to say. Unfortunately, I do not know Turkish. Posted Image I have been trying to learn it but it is a lot more difficult because it is nothing like the languages I already know! (Spanish and English).

Anyway, I was wondering about cultural differences. This man has been a real gentleman. He always pays, he always drives, etc. But I feel bad for him paying; when I offer to pay he tells me, "I would feel so bad if you paid!". Also, my birthday passed, and he gave me some pretty elaborate gifts considering the short amount of time we were dating. He gave me a very elaborate Turkish shawl, an evil eye, and a shirt. I'm not used to someone spending that much money on me, and it makes me feel kind of guilty! But I do not want to offend him or make him think that his generosity is not appreciated. However, although I think this guy has good intentions, I worry that he is trying to "own" me by buying me so many things. However, he said that Turkish men are taught to impress a woman like this and that Turkish women expect this from them (I don't know if this is true!!

He seems pretty Westernized in some aspects. I was really worried about coming across as an easy, American girl, so I tried to not show a lot of skin in public, but he has traveled a lot outside of Turkey so I think that it doesn't really bother him. He is Muslim, but non-practicing.


Anyway, what can I expect in a relationship with a Turkish man? My guy seems very sweet and although he says that all Turkish men are jealous, I have never seen him get jealous or controlling. What do Turkish men want out of a relationship with an American girl? I am very independent and I worry if that is a problem. I just want to understand that cultural differences I can expect so that I can understand them and work through them. Posted Image

Also, he plans on staying in the US to work. He is in the process of getting his PhD.

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Hi chicaWelcome to the forum.

In all honesty, if you want to understand his culture, you would need to visit Turkey, and experience it with your own eyes, and then talk to him about things that don't sit right with you, to see where he's coming from. Obviously, it will depend on his upbringing and his family's expectations of him, which you might only really understand if you visit.

It was our 12 year wedding anniversary yesterday, I met my husband in Istanbul, and he visited my family in England before we got engaged.

Good luck.

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Hi Chica and welcome from me too. It's hard to generalise really, some Turkish men will spoil their girl friends and some don't same as American men I guess.

What can you expect from him as a Turk, again, it hard to say and would say that Sue was spot on really. To understand your man more, should the relationship get more serious in time, before you commit you should visit and stay with his family in Turkey and see how they interact with one another as you will get an insight as to how they live and understand a different side to him.

Although it is far too early to think about a future together you can ask him about what he thinks about the lives of Turkish woman and the role they play, it would be a fair question to ask as an American woman you would be curious to know. Turkish men can be jealous and controlling by not all, but as your relationship is fairly new those signs may appear later but then they may not.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! I have tried to learn a little bit about his culture. So far, most of the stuff has been pretty basic. I know most of the Turkish population is Muslim (but he is not practicing), he took me to a Turkish restaurant to show me the food, we've made Turkish tea together, I watched "My Father My Son" with him, and I understand that family is of extreme importance in Turkey. Some of the aspects of Turkish culture (like the strong family unit) remind me of the Hispanic culture that I have studied!)When it comes to relationships, he says that Turkish women expect more out of their men, but that it decreases over time. So a guy might go all out when he is trying to get a girl to be his girlfriend, but a few months in, he might not try as hard. I've asked him about the role of women in Turkey, and as far as I know, they are pretty liberated. They are Muslim, but have a lot more freedom than most Muslim women. While they are expected to take care of the kids and the house (like in the US), the majority of them work. I think it is also a generational thing. This guy is in his 20's, and he said that in campuses, college kids are a lot more liberated. Lots more drinking/PDA/ smoking. Hookah is also really common in the culture, but he tried to stop smoking :) And congrats on passing so many happy years with your Turkish husband! :) Do you speak Turkish as well?

If I spoke Turkish I would feel a little less out of the loop!

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My Turkish husband and I are in our 13th year of marriage, but I can't really offer any more than the excellent advice already given here. The only thing I would advise though, if the relationship appears to be getting serious, is for you both to set some groundrules based on the differences in both cultures...ie discuss your different attitudes towards everyday life, your expectations of each other, etc.

In my opinion communication is the key to a successful marriage...whatever your nationality.

Good Luck x

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I've asked him about the role of women in Turkey, and as far as I know, they are pretty liberated. They are Muslim, but have a lot more freedom than most Muslim women. While they are expected to take care of the kids and the house (like in the US), the majority of them work.

Sorry Chica but I disagree, maybe in the cities a lot of women go out to work but in Turkey as a whole the majority do not. Their "liberation" is not the sort of liberation that you have in the U.

S. and they are still very much under the rule of their husbands. Every now and then we hear a story about how a village has bucked the trend and started a womens' cooperative making or doing something but these sorts of stories are very few and far between.

As Antelope says you will have to set ground rules if your relationship is going to continue, particularly if you are going to come and live with him here in Turkey. It would be a good idea for you to read some of the posts in the Romantic Relationships and Marriage and Divorce forums to get more of an idea of the problems that crop up.

Having said all that I wish you well with your Turkish boyfriend and hope he will be all you want him to be.

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I think that if you browse through the romantic relationship forum and the marriage forum you may get a better idea of the culture, especially if you look at this thread although it's rather long.

 

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Sorry Chica but I disagree, maybe in the cities a lot of women go out to work but in Turkey as a whole the majority do not. Their "liberation" is not the sort of liberation that you have in the U.

S. and they are still very much under the rule of their husbands. Every now and then we hear a story about how a village has bucked the trend and started a womens' cooperative making or doing something but these sorts of stories are very few and far between.

I see. There isn't a generational difference though? I've read that there is a large difference between the older and younger generations. I've known several Turkish international students who are female and who are studying so that they can work. But you would know better than me, since you are Turkish :) Also, I don't think we would live in Turkey, but it's really too soon to think that far into the future! He plans on staying here and working in the U.

S., because (according to him), finding work with a PhD in Turkey is difficult sometimes because it is seen as being "overqualified" for the job.

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I agree with Cukurbagli about the situation of women and work. Many of the women with whom I have spoken do not see working for someone else as liberating. They are pleased that the little their husbands earn is enough for them to to able to spend time cleaing their own houses instead of cleaning someone else's. Apart from teachers who, unlike in most Western countries, are highly respected, working women are at best pitied and at worst looked down on.

As for relationships, part of the tingle of a new relationship is all that asking questions and sharing and finding out about each other. Take your time, you will definitely find good advice here but your boyfriend is the only one who is going to provide you to the answers to your questions.

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I agree with Cukurbagli about the situation of women and work. Many of the women with whom I have spoken do not see working for someone else as liberating. They are pleased that the little their husbands earn is enough for them to to able to spend time cleaing their own houses instead of cleaning someone else's. Apart from teachers who, unlike in most Western countries, are highly respected, working women are at best pitied and at worst looked down on.

As for relationships, part of the tingle of a new relationship is all that asking questions and sharing and finding out about each other. Take your time, you will definitely find good advice here but your boyfriend is the only one who is going to provide you to the answers to your questions.

Thank you Vic, that is good advice :) This guy gives me good vibes so far; he seems very sweet and gentlemanly. I can also talk to him about thinks, and even though we have a language barrier, we can talk to each other about deeper things.

Also, I am studying to be a Spanish teacher :) So maybe that changes things! heheIs it insulting for the woman to pay for the man, then? I don't really believe in splitting bills, but rather taking turns paying. But so far he has paid for everything, and I feel bad for not paying!

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Hello Chica, welcome. :birgits_coffee[1]: American woman here, and also in a relationship with a Muslim T
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Thank you Reyhan! That was all very helpful!

I could kind of see family values in the movie "My Father My son" (I can't remember the name in Turkish!) It was interesting to see how incredibly close the family was and how important family is in Turkey. My boyfriend also told me that at Turkish weddings, the man has to drink a cup of coffee after the bride pours salt in it :) Supposedly it symbolizes how the man should respect the woman in the marriage and not complain. I quite liked that :DAlso, he said that Turkish men generally respect women for everything that they do: cooking, cleaning, and sometimes having a job.

I am crafty and take care of myself (laundry, cooking, etc.), but he knows that I am by no means an excellent home-maker :) heheAlso, from a financial standpoint, things are a lot different. He said that he is expected to give a lot of gifts when he returns home to Turkey for a short vacation. He is also used to spending a lot of money. I, on the other hand, am frugal and save a lot. If I really want something, I buy it, but I think about it a lot first!

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Where I live in Turkey the coffee isn't drunk at the wedding it happens before when the families meet to discuss a possible engagement. The girl will make coffee to impress the propective inlaws, she can sometimes put salt into the boyfriends coffee either to test him or to show that she isn't in agreement with the engagement. In some cases if the girl makes the coffee badly she can be turned down as a perspective bride.

Yes, family is very important in Turkey and I've found that the bond between mother and son is usually very strong.

Gifts, I often wonder if its just about showing how well they have done in their new country. Unfortunately, the giving of gifts can get out of hand but that is a whole different topic.

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Oh my goodness. That coffee we had. I thought it tasted strange. So mrs fil was trying to tell me something, perhaps subconsciously. She said it was because she is culinary challenged. To find out after all these years.... :crying: :cry: :crying: :cry: :crying[1]: :crying[1]: :bawl[1]: :bawl[1]:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi ChicaI'm a little late adding to your thread, as I just got back from Turkey (to Uk) last week, and have been settling back home and catching up.

I'm a relative newly wed to some of the others here - I've been married to my Turkish hubby for 5 years.

Giving you my take on 'Turkish Culture' would probably take ages, and probably be useless to you. In the end, you make your own culture in a relationship. To what degree it's influenced by Turkey and to what degree it's influenced by your American / Spanish culture will depend on the little decisions you make on a daily basis together. If you have a future together and you visit / live in Turkey, you'll probably find that the life of a woman could vary vastly depending on where you go. The generational differences you wonder about are more apparent in some areas than others. There's a good chance that if you visit a village, you'll see that most girls move from their mother's house to their marital home - or maybe even to their mother-in-law's house - and they would expect to lead quite a domesticated life of housekeeping and visiting family. Within a city, there will be more opportunities to work - but not within all families, as not all families will want their daughter / wife to work.

As someone has said already, there's no substitute for actually going over there for a visit when the time is right. Visiting your boyfriend's family may give you an insight into the sort of family roles that he envisages - but then again, having expanded his own horizons, he may choose to live differently to them! Still, it helps build the picture of what has made him the person he is.

A member of the forum I run for girls with Turkish partners (sorry for the blatant plug!) would probably be able to answer a lot of your questions from her experience as an American woman who met and married a Turkish man. She's over in Turkey at the moment, having just had their Turkish wedding and staying with the family for the first time.

You could either look out for her on the site (see the link below in my signature), or I could put you in touch with each other if you like. But don't feel obliged - just if you think it might help.

I wish you luck in your relationship. I know many girls who having met a Turkish man have a real thirst and curiosity for all things Turkish - but in the end, I think it's good to see faults and pitfalls as well as seeing the good things. Every culture has its good and bad aspects.

Hope everything works out well for you.

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Guest Strawberry

Hi Chica,

Wow, you've asked so many questions that it's difficult to know where to start. Firstly, what I would say to you is, try to keep your feet on the ground and let things take their natural course. You've only been dating this man for just over a month, and as he works such long hours - and there is a language barrier - you'd do much better in getting to know him as a person by going out with him and sharing time together, than by trying to find out every nook and cranny about his culture - when he doesn't even intend on living in Turkey - and is hoping to settle in the US.

I know it's natural to want to discover a little about someone's culture when you start dating someone from a different country, but only having known him for a month I get the impression you're focusing too much on his background, almost as though you're banking on spending the rest of your life with him. It seems terribly quick to want to know all the ins and outs of his culture at such an early stage.

I know you say there's a lnaguage barrier between you both, but really, the onus is on him to learn your language - he's the one who wants to settle in the US ( out of interest, what is he reading for his PhD and what language is he studying it in?) It's also him who needs to learn about your culture and how he'll have to adapt to living and settling in the US. Of course, if your relationship continues, deepens and becomes serious, then you will want to know about his family background etc - just as you would any man. But trying to learn about this man by studying Turkish culture is pointless: he's an individual and you can't lump all Turkish men in the same boat. Some are very Westernised and some are not; some are very liberal and some are very staunch. And with all due respect, finding out how to make good Turkish coffee is not going to make him fall in love with you - he'll just think you're a good coffee maker. I can tell you now that my partner (who I've been with for 7 years) doesn't rate my Turkish cooking skills, but he still loves me despite that, and he still respects me.

When you said your boyfriend told you that Turkish men respect women who cook, clean and go out to work, I'm inclined to think it's more to do with them liking them to clean and cook, than respecting them for it. So if you don't mind me saying this, I'd be a little wary of that statement of his. It sounds like he's letting you know now what he expects from a wife, and he's sweetening it by saying it's a 'respect thing'.

Regarding him paying for you when you go out on dates, all men the world over usually like and expect to pay. There can be instances where the woman does pay her share, but as a general rule the man likes to foot the bill. So I don't see that as strange or abnormal. In certain circumstances a couple may split the bill, but usually it's the man who pays, so you should stop concerning yourself with that. Besides, he has no qualms about paying, so why are you so worried about it? Just enjoy it. He wants to pay - so let him. It's his choice.

As for him buying you an evil eye, shawl and a shirt for your birthday - I don't think that's excessive. Incidentally, where did he purchase them from? Do you have a Turkish centre near you? I did notice you saying that you felt he was trying to 'buy you' with gifts - what made you feel that? If you sensed he gave them to you with ulterior motives, it might be worth you delving more into what he actually wants from you. There's no suggestion at this stage that he's after a green card by marrying a US citizen, but it's something you need to be made aware of. It happens SUCH A LOT, and it's something you should watch out for.

Ultimately, if I were you I would just enjoy dating this man and getting to know him, and allow the relationship to progress naturally.....the fact he is Turkish should not be of such significance at this stage. Just enjoy your time together and see how things go - it's very, very early days, still...

Strawberry

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Personally I'd never go running after a man to do all things Turkish for him and I've never learnt how to make Turkish coffee although we do go to our neighbours most mornings during the summer for a cup.

Just be yourself and do things you're comfortable with. Too many young women like to rush around and do all things for their man instead of sharing work and then later they are not happy when he has got used to this way of life being waited on hand and foot.

Anyway, as Strawberry says, it's early days so take it easy.

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Hello Chica, after reading your post earlier this morning I have been thinking all day what other advise to give you but I cant think of anything as everybody have covered it all above. As Strawberry and many others have said dont go doing things for him that make you uncomfortable. I think he is doing all these things for you as he is comfortable with them and he is just being himself so you should do the same aswell and stop worrying about culture.

When I first met my husband 5 years ago I was the same as you and I was so worried about the culture and how would I cope to changes that it made the start of our relationship very stressful for me when I should have been enjoying the early days and taking each day as it came. You have only been seeing each other for a month, would you really worry about an american guy being to much of a gentleman if you were in a relationship with him? I dont think so.

This turk have clearly told you his plans are to stay in the US after he finishes his studies and he sounds pretty westernised to me, well he must be to survive in a country like America. The only thing I will say is to always communicate with each other, if you have a problem with him tell him and make sure he does the same with you. Even if there is a language barrier be patient and dont try finishing sentences for him or thinking they mean 1 thing when he means another. When I first met my husband he didnt speak alot of english and we had the same problem but slowly slowly we sorted that problem.

I hope it goes well for you, just relax and enjoy the relationship.

Lots of love Samantha

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I have to agree with many of the above posters, too, chica! (funny calling you that because in Spanish it's sort of flirty hahaha. like...oh hey chica! ;) ;)

But I can add some things from my own personal experiece (I've had my Turkish b/f for a little more than a year, now, and I'm living here in Istanbul with him).

My first advice for the coming months: patience. No matter what you do and how hard you try, eventually you will notice things that irk you, and it's hard to distinguish (at least for me) if he's acting a certain way/doing a certain thing because he's Turkish, or because it's his personality. If he says something that makes you feel controlled, in Turkish culture it could be considered a kind of protection. It's up to you to decide if you feel controlled....or protected. For example, I don't wear miniskirts on the street anymore (even in Istanbul). At first, my b/f told me not to, so I took it as a controlling, possessive thing. But when I did dress that way once (he left the house first that day ;) I realized that yeah, people stare at me and sometimes try to talk to you. And hey, it makes sense to dress more conservatively--I live here now, and I have a boyfriend. Why the hell should I be flaunting my legs downtown?! :D

Of course, some can still interpret this as a sort of controlling attitude from my b/f, but the reality is I've met a lot of women here too, and how you dress is SERIOUSLY judged in Turkey. So I have accepted that my b/f is only trying to protect me and he's not TRYING to tell me what to do after....maybe?!

More recently, I have expressed desires to travel to Vienna in Sepetmber (a place where I have lots of friends). Because his family would see this as me "not settling down" and in general "being somewhat trampy" we have two options: I don't go, or he lies to them. Which do you think he prefers??

Anyway use these example as a starting point for what I mean: be patient and try to understand his POV when push comes to shove. I'm also independent, and being with a Turkish guy....has taken a LOT of sacrifice.

buena suerte! :D

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I don't understand Atayavie, why you visiting friends in Vienna would be seen as not settling down and somewhat trampy? People I know regularly visit people in other countries with no negative comments. This definitely smack of control. You are only living with this guy, you're not married or engaged so what's the problem?

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I was also thinking the same Sunny. I went to Holland last year to visit a friend, couldnt take Harun with me as he didnt have a visa but nobody in his family thought it was wrong. Atayavie, did your boyfriend say his family think it is not showing that you want to settle down and trampy? What is meant by trampy aswell, I dont see anything about visiting friends and another country trampy!

Love Sam xxx ps I really dont mean to cause offence or sound judgemental

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atayavieThe young women in my family in Istanbul will wear mini skirts, and tight fitting clothes, maybe they don't 'look foreign' somehow, and give off a certain vibe?

Visiting Vienna to see friends is not something that anyone should make you feel odd about. Do it. If it results in an argument or a difference of opinion which cannot be understood, then you've learned something important about him and his relationship with his family.

I cannot for the life of me see any reason for you not to go alone if need be, and a 'Turkish person' shouldn't either! My husband would not express any concern about it, except for my safety, and as I've travelled independently for years before I met him, I wouldn't be apprehensive at all, and he knows that.

This is an opportunity for you to establish who you are with him....where would it end? Not getting on a bus on your own? Not going shopping on your own?

What is it that these b/fs need to control? It's great to be concerned about your well-being and safety, but to control what you wear and where you go? It's not like you're out at night with a big group of women drinking and snogging is it??!!!

It's a hard road to navigate, but remember what you consider reasonable is the important thing.

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As Sam said did his family say that if you went on holiday to see your friends they would see you as "not settling down" etc? My Turkish husband and his family never had a problem with me going to visit family or friends. I think as Sunny said he may trying to control you, maybe he is jealous that you may have a good time without him or just regards you as his property.

I do think if you do decide to go that you should not lie under any circumstance to his family, you have no reason to, and if you want to go you should do so.

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