5 Realities Of Being A ‘Gringa’ Girlfriend

My fiancé and I started dating when I was only sixteen. We are total opposites. He’s loud; I’m quiet. He’s openly affectionate; I am reserved. He’s often consumed by playful spontaneity, while I am cautious and serious. His skin possesses a golden Latino tan, and I am a gringa.

Gringa is a slang term referring to a female from an English-speaking country. In other words, it is an easier way of saying I am whiter than white—practically a descendent from Casper the ghost himself. Joking aside, it should not to be perceived as a negative. These differences have changed my relationship for the better.

Language Barrier

In some cases, the entire family does not speak fluent English, or they are more comfortable speaking in their native language. I have picked up enough Spanish to determine what a conversation is primarily about. However, that language barrier still exists. I realized if I want a serious relationship, I need to learn the language…or else “smile and nod” will be my future.   

Open-Minded Relationship

I remember it as if it were yesterday. After getting ready in a nervous frenzy, I had finally arrived at his family gathering. Mariachi music blared through the speakers, tequila shots rested in their hands, and tostadas lined the counter. I eyed a lime on the coffee table throughout the house. An aunt came and squeezed the juice onto her plate before placing it down again. A cousin soon followed suit.

For whatever reason, the used limes were the first indicator the culture was very different from my own. What might seem strange to me, isn’t to them, and accepting this has allowed me to be open-minded in my relationship. We acknowledge any idiosyncrasies and love each other for it.

You’ll Get Asked to Dance

The extent of my dancing skills come from swaying back-and-forth at homecoming my sophomore year of high school. So, when I was first asked to dance by my now-fiance, I was mortified. Like truly mortified. With my cheeks ablaze and two left feet, I tried my best to partake in the steps. Putting in that effort, despite reservations, is important in embracing the culture.

Be Prepared For Different Foods

Towards the beginning of the relationship, I attempted to branch out in my culinary endeavors. Food is a big deal in all cultures. Completely disregarding my weak stomach, I questioned every helping on my plate. I decided upon a chicken dish under the impression it was not spicy. To him, it wasn’t spicy, but to me, it absolutely was. My taste buds were not familiar with the range of spices used in Mexican cooking. I spent hours in the bathroom that day. I have not eaten it since! While it does make for a funny story, it has also strengthened our respect and understanding. Being prepared to try new foods (and have some upset your stomach) is a reality of a cross-cultural relationship.   

Racism Is Real

Waiting in line at Taco Johns (talk about Tex-Mex), another customer turned to cast us a reproving glance. I did not notice until I was later informed in the car by my fiancé. He noticed because he’s accustomed to prejudice. Although this is not the 1800 and 1900s, some are not fond of interracial relationships. A comment here, a look there—these sorts of incidents do happen. You must ignore such judgments for the sake of the relationship. Your opinion as a couple are the only thoughts that matter.

With that being said, many aspects of cross-cultural dating are an adjustment. It introduced a new world, our world, in which we have grown to face head-on together. Tacking gringa to my identity for the sake of love has been more than worth it.

Feature image via Alex Bocharov on Unsplash.


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