Cultural attitudes toward expressing feelings

Discussion in 'Culture' started by opi, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. opi

    opi New Member


    I am an American guy and I am in a long distance relationship with a Czech girl. We met last summer in the States. We had an great time and decided to stay together after the summer was over.

    I am really crazy about her, but she's a very private person and sometimes it's impossible to figure her out. One thing I noticed is that it seems that she really need her space. When she's in a bad mood, she absolutely refuse to reveal herself. Basically, she ignore people when she's in that state. In fact, when you try to help or ask her what's wrong, she gets really angry. This makes it a bit difficult to work with...especially in a long-distance relationship. Basically, you can't tell what's going on and communication completely breaks down.

    One interesting thing she told me in the past is that she really dislike the way Americans talk about feelings. I can appreciate that sentiment because I wasn't born in America either, but keeping all the bad feelings inside, isn't that a little unhealthy? Okay, I can understand that you may not want to burden other people with your depressions or issues, but isn't that what a relationship is about? Being there for each other? Sharing the good moments and bad?

    I guess what I like to know is what Czech people think about this? Is this a cultural thing? Keeping your feelings to yourself? Or maybe it's just her? Or maybe it's the long-distance thing? If you have some insights or experience about this, I would love to hear from you.

    Thanks so much.
  2. Eva2

    Eva2 Well-Known Member

    I can't say that this is typical of Czech people. It's true that we don't engage in I-love-you-father-I-love-you-son sort of effusions but, generally speaking, emotional issues are discussed with the significant one. Your girlfriend needs more than average space for herself. I wouldn't feel comfortable with her either.
  3. opi

    opi New Member

    When I told my situation to my German colleague, he told me that that he thinks some Eastern Europeans (Germans included) has the tendency to repress their feelings and keep stuff inside.

    I think in this case, I think you're right. it's probably not a cultural thing. I think maybe my girlfriend experienced some trauma from past relationships that's preventing her from opening up to people fully... especially when it comes to expressing emotions and feelings...

    Anyways, I thought I would ask. I wanted just be more understanding of any sort of cultural differences that might account for this behavior. Thanks for the kind response.
  4. rrulio

    rrulio New Member


    well its really something cultural.... eastern europe type...

    my girlfriend is just like that.... she┬┤s czech and im from portugal were we r used to express our feelings... But not everybody is like that.... sometimes its really hard... but if u really luv her and u r sure she luvs u..... (like in my lucky case, :) ) u (both of u) have to learn and get over these cultural divergencies! give her a bit more space... but not that much or she will think u dont care about her....

    well come to think about it...... all women r complicated.... ;) men 2!

    not sure if im helping...

  5. opi

    opi New Member

    Sorry, I'm a little confused. you said your girlfriend is just like that... I am not sure what you mean because you also say that you guys are used to express your feelings. Does it mean that she changed over time? Did you guys ever talk about this subject?

    Women are complicated? Boy, that's the understatement of the year :wink:
  6. Eva2

    Eva2 Well-Known Member

    Women complicated? That's BS, gentlemen. Just help us around the house and bring us a bunch of flowers from time to time. It's as simple as that. Ain't that so, girls? 8)
  7. Hi ! I'm new to this site but I couldn't help but reply to this topic and maybe ask something myself. I work with a czech guy who I am in love with more than anyone else I have ever known. He is wonderful in so many respects, except the showing of his feelings. He too keeps everything inside. He has said he loves me but only after he has been drinking. He gets "liquid courage". He becomes more affectionate and talkative and loving. He doesn't fear me rejecting him or what I may be thinking. But when he isn't, he is distant and keeps his feelings to himself. He was hurt very badly in a previous relationship and that is half the problem but he says czechs are like that. I can sympathize with you about your girlfriend.

    But he is changing slowly. As time goes by, he is becoming more and more able to express himself. I just give him space and time mixed with a lot of love and patience. Just ask yourself,"is every other aspect of your relationship good"? If so, hang in there. Love with a czech is always worth it!! But here is my question, "is it REALLY like this with czech men? Not being that open to expressing their feelings or what they want out of their lover?" I hate the guessing game but I love the prize at the end!! :D
  8. cechofil

    cechofil Well-Known Member

    Hi opi,
    I think what you describe in your girlfriend is probably due to upbringing but is not exclusive to Czech people. I was raised by parents of EU descent (2nd generation) in the USA. There was no display of affection or talking about feelings, ever. It affected all of my relationships with men because I couldn't open up or talk about feelings if I was upset. I would completely withdraw and sometimes even be angry like your girlfriend, if my guy was trying to prod me into talking about what was wrong. It is a personal thing that I still struggle with but I did manage to break that cycle with raising my own sons. We are open and loving towards each other although they too, are very guarded about expressing feelings with others. I think that with your love and patience your girlfriend may learn to unlock her emotions over time but it's a hard thing to un-do. Good luck to you both, though. Hang in there!
  9. cechofil

    cechofil Well-Known Member

    And an afterthought or two...
    It is quite funny in my relationship with my Czech guy. He does have the typically reserved Czech manner that you refer to but between the two of us, he has become the demonstrative one. Also, I just ended an entire week of silence on my part, with him. I was hurt about something little and it took me a whole week to decide to force myself to act like a grown-up and tell him what was wrong. I want to try and have a healthy relationship for once but it is an enormous battle against ingrained behavior. I hope this will give you some insight into your problem with your girlfriend because it was actually paralyzingly hard for me to share these "feelings". :)
  10. Hi Cechofil!

    I couldn't help but laugh at your last post. I, too, just ended 4 days of the silent treatment with my czech guy. He has a habit of saying things when the mood strikes him and he doesn't care if it's hurtful or not so long as he feels its the truth. Well, I didn't get mad with him but I was hurt and refused to speak to him until I calmed down. I can get pretty angry and I refuse to argue with him. His last relationship was nothing but a screamfest and I am not going to do it too. I don't think you were acting immature. Sometimes you just need to stay silent and sort it out before you just go off. He would rather have the yelling. He is very sensitive about getting the silent treatment from me considering how he loves having my undivided attention. But he is slowly learning to express himself better and take the chance of exposing his heart.

    In regards to Opi, your girlfriend sounds WAY too guarded but then again it's a matter of upbringing and past relationships as well. I agree with Cechofil in the advice of hang in there. Give her the time, space, love and patience she needs to come around. As long as she is making an effort, then it's all good. But if she is not, then maybe you should reconsider your relationship. Do you really want someone who doesn't want to meet you half way on this? Her behavior is LEARNED, so it can be UN LEARNED. Remember that and good luck!!!
  11. opi

    opi New Member

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for sharing your insight with regard to this topic. I sincerely appreciate your kindness. Somehow, listening to your collective experiences help better put things in perspective for me.

    Bella Italiana, it's funny hearing you talking about the "liquid courage". I also get the impression that a couple of glasses of wine helps loosen up my girlfriend as well :)

    Last time when my girlfriend visited me, I pushed a few buttons and she blew up at me and she broke up with me for a few days. During that time, she absolutely refused to talk about her anger or anything pertains to us. It's almost like she despises the concept of drama so much that she rather end it and have complete silence. (She did tell me that her parents screamed at each other endlessly when she was growing up). I guess I can see how that can affect someone.

    Despite her rigidity and hostility, I stayed open and loving to her and was eventually able to win her over again. It was very weird because when she went back to Prague, she became much more affectionate and communicative. It was a very nice surprise. But lately, she's been harder to get in touch with and seemed a little more aloof than usual. When I asked her if her silence has anything to do with us, she blew up again. Accuses me of being too demanding and wants to break up again.

    The frustrating thing is that I thought we really made a breakthrough and things were genuinely really getting better. It really makes me crazy especially since I was going to see her in a few weeks. I guess the only thing I can do now is to stay strong, express my love to her and just leave her alone and hope that she'll come around.

    Anyways, I just want to thank you all for sharing your experiences and being so kind. It's nice to know that I'm not all alone and it's especially encouraging to know that at least sometimes, love and patience can prevail. I just hope it will prevail in my case.
  12. Hi Opi!

    You are very welcome for any help I can give you. I am a die hard romantic and I have seen time after time how love can prevail and is worth everything, especially in my family. And up until my mom's generation, the women in my family always dated and married other Italians. My mom and aunts broke the cycle and I have followed suit right along with my sisters and cousins. We usually go for other Europeans because there is a certain mentality and background that we can relate to without having to stay within our own circle, as to say. I have found that out of all the Europeans I have dated (Germans, Englishmen, Scots) I can say that my Czech is by far the most complex and fustrating person I have ever met. He was, what I thought in the begining to be very cold, actually very shy and had been so heartbroken from previous relationships that he was very untrusting and cynical. Still kinda is but getting better every day!! :D

    He is one of those people who doesn't like to wear his heart on his sleeve and doesn't like to admit when he's hurt about something or feeling depressed. But will show you how angry he is in a heartbeat. I am not used to this because being Italian, we are VERY affectionate people. He is not until he gets his "liquid courage" kicking. Then he is all over me and telling me how much he loves me, etc. He is just afraid of getting hurt, which I understand, but I just let him know how much I love him, believe in him,and will be there for him no matter what. Difference between him and your girlfriend is that he is actively trying to change his ways and be more open and meet me half way. She doesn't sound like she is. It sounds like it's getting to be a bit of a headache. Maybe it will be different when you see her face to face. I wish you all the luck in this affair of the heart. Don't give up hope but stay open minded and realistic.
  13. Milewicz

    Milewicz Active Member

    Hey Opi,

    Check your PM. I'm the same boat. There is this Czech girl with whom I fell seriously in love, but we broke up a month ago. It isn't incompatability, but she just has other issues. And she has the same issues with expressing feelings... among other things. Any advice (anyone) would help. Thanks!
  14. schutnitza

    schutnitza Active Member

    You are soooo right about that!!! :lol: [/quote]
  15. julieteng66

    julieteng66 Member

    :shock: oh my god! after read everyone's input ..i got to say something...
    I am pretty new in here, and got to say after all all... czech people are pretty alike. I dating my boyfriend for 3 years now and live together about 2.5 years. No communication at all, all I got is silent treartment all the time, moody more than me. Yet, the biggest problem is he always think grass greener the other side (another word cheating on me left and right). He can be super sweet and caring when he feel like it, but just not respect women. I thought that was the way he been raised 'cause his mom are horrorable and super mean to me. The biggest problem that I had with him is he keep everthing so secret and wanting more and more personal time. personally, i am so burn out of all this, so I suggest him to see a conselor about it :idea: I believe the boy have some serious problem and don't really know how to love. :oops:
    I am on the other hand are completely different personality and culture as him that's why it does not make our relationship any easier. Chinese are all about respect others, and loving.
    everyone, please feel free to give me some input.
    **thanks for EVA2's help... :wink:
  16. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    Quote:"No communication at all, all I got is silent treartment all the time, moody more than me. Yet, the biggest problem is he always think grass greener the other side (another word cheating on me left and right). He can be super sweet and caring when he feel like it, but just not respect women."
    Julieteng and friends above:
    There is an expression "He/she is just not into you". Please do not use Czech culture as excuse for partner who doesn't love you enough, is not suitable for you or who behaves badly towards you. If they would really love you, time together would be beautiful.

    One trade of Czech girls is that they would very seldom tell you clearly and right into your face that their initial interest is over. They tend to "get talked into it" again and again, while other times hoping that with their miserable and uncominucative behaviour you get the message and they would not have to talk about it. I believe it is similar with guys, who just don't see how to get out of relationship.

    As for your man, Julieteng, he is not worth your time. Forget counselling, you won't "cure him". He is "just not into you anymore". :( Be glad and move on.

    Sorry to burst your bubble folks, but I am Czech born and lived at least twice as long as you....
  17. Milewicz

    Milewicz Active Member

    Ok, so answer this...
    My Czech gf and I broke up a month ago... but she loved me. She had said the words "I love you" many times, and she almost never said it to anybody. Now I don't know whether she broke up with me because she doesn't have feelings for me, or because she was talked out of it--I think it's a bit of both.

    However, she said she wanted to see me again (I am in the USA), and I told her, if she does I will definitely be trying to go after her, to which she replied "I know." So if a Czech girl comes to a guy after breaking up with him knowing he will try everything to get her back, how can she say she doesn't have feelings? She's walking into a trap and knows it. But on the other hand, why would she have broken up with me?

    I think she doesn't love me anymore. But that doesn't explain 5 or 6 emails a day, and 7 hours on IM. Nor talking about coming back to the USA to see me, knowing how hard I will try to get her?

    Help me with this!
  18. julieteng66

    julieteng66 Member

    All i can tell you is that she did not really love you, and all she want is come visit and have fun while she can. Believe me, my boyfreind (not for long) just came back from Czech and he cheating on me with this married women who have tow kids and all she want is come live in this free country. As I said before, those women don't know what they want, but they know what they can get. I don't really know you and your girlfriend, but she sounds like playing you like my boyfreind right now.
  19. magan

    magan Well-Known Member

    You are both right and you answered your own questions. There is so many wonderfull people around and one of them is just perfect for you. Just go on meeting new people. Good luck!
  20. Julie:
    It sounds as though you are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and its not a train!! :D ...My grandmother always says "you will get tired of being bitten all the time in love and one day you'll bite back". Sounds like you are getting ready to bare your fangs! I can't blame you. If my boyfriend ever returned from the CR (or anywhere else for that matter) and I found out that he had been cheating on me, his things would be all over the front lawn that same day and him out on "foot patrol". I can relate to your pain and anger in this. I have had it happen before and it hurts and makes you mad that he did it to you and that you stayed long enough to let it happen again. You deserve more than what you have and you shouldn't have to settle for this. There is a man out there who will love you the way you want to be loved, treat you like a queen and be your equal, not your superior. Lose the zero and grab a hero girlfriend!!

    To Milewicz: I really feel for you from a woman's stand point. It's girls like your former girlfriend who make all decent women look bad. We have a term here in the states among minorities for people like that: PLAYERS. And that sounds like what she is. It sounds to me like she doesn't really want you anymore and she wants to see what the grass is like on the other side but she wants to feed you a line of crap just enough to keep you hanging around and take her back in case she doesn't find anyone else as good or better than you. (which I don't think she will because you sound like quite a good catch!! :wink: ) I used to have a friend like that who had a wonderful man who loved her and gave her everything and adored her but she ditched him so that she could "play around" with everyone else. But she would call him every day and leave little notes on his car window or IM him all night long, she would go as far as making him a nice meal at least once a week. I asked her why she was doing all this if she didn't love him or want to be with him and she told me to my face "he's better than nothing and if I don't find what I really want somewhere else, at least he's the consolation prize." I was appalled at what I heard and I told him what she had said and what she was doing. We both have never spoken to her again and she wound up with some loser who's in jail now and she has a kid by him with one on the way. So trust me, leave her be. Stop answering the emails and IM's, let her know that you have a life and will have someone that loves you and wants to stay with you in it. And then get out there and get yourself a good woman who deserves you.

    I may sound a bit harsh, but I only speak the truth from past experiences and from my heart. I am not saying that our relationship is totally perfect but my czech is a king among princes and I am his queen (as he always tells me!) and we know what we have and fight for it with all we have. Love is not enough to hold it together for us or anyone else. You must have honor, respect, loyalty, and compassion. Not to mention the ability to compromise and at times sacrifice. I am happier than I have ever been in my lifetime and I guess I just can't bear to see people who want to be loved and deserve to be loved by someone else the way I am loved by him not get that with the people they are with. Thru courage you'll find strength, thru strength you'll find hope and thru hope you'll find love. I wish you and Julie luck and never give up.

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