Dating a Dominican guy for the first time
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While my parents did instill a strong sense of Dominican pride in us and tried their best to expose us to certain traditions within our culture, we were still in many ways raised very American.
In fact, I didn't even realize how American we actually were until I started dating my then-Dominican boyfriend eight years ago. Getting close to his family became more of a culture shock than I had originally expected. Strangely enough, I found myself dealing with more differences than similarities, from some of the dishes we ate to how we celebrated holidays. There were even times when it forced me to question my own Latina-ness.
Looking back, I've realized I've come out of that experience with a lot of life lessons learned. I've learned about the parts of my culture I want to preserve and embrace as well as the kind of relationship I'd want moving forward. The opinions expressed in this commentary by no means represents my feelings towards the Dominican community as a whole.
Just my personal experience with this particular person and his family. I've never been fluent in Spanish, mainly because I grew up in a home where my parents spoke to us in both English and Spanish and only allowed us to respond back in English.
While I can very easily carry a conversation, I still struggle with certain prefixes and my vocabulary is limited. Dating a Dominican whose parents and extended family do not speak English forced me to practice the language and improved my Spanish-speaking abilities. These days I just practice with my abuela. I learned more about my culture: I have to admit that before dating a Dominican man, there were a lot of things I didn't know about my culture.
I told him to move his ass back sharpish - "Mueve tu culo!
That is a very dangerous word as it could be days, not just minutes or hours. When they return from whatever, you will ask why they are so late and what they have been doing. The answer will always begin with "Lo que pasa I have learned that anything at all which follows this phrase will not be the whole truth!
So lesson two is whatever follows "Lo que pasa. And finally, another dodgy word is "Claro". Not the telephone and internet company, but the word meaning of course. You ask if they will be back on time and they answer "Claro", "Of course". The translation of this word is "No way". Telephone and ask if they have been to the supermarket and the answer is always "Claro" when they haven't!