I still remember the unfamiliarity I felt with my surroundings when I was doing an exchange semester abroad. People were extremely difficult to figure out, and that was when I realized how all-permeating culture can be. When I started seeing a boy, I had consult my host mother on all the do’s and don’t’s regularly. So for all of you international students who are
trying to date dating Malaysians, I feel you. It is definitely not easy.
That said, I have decided to write this article for the boys because, well, I am a Malaysian girl myself.
Tip #1: Know your Malaysian makan-makan
It’s a cliché, but it’s nothing short of the truth: we Malaysians are extremely obsessed with our food. It’s our staple. It’s our pride. It’s our identity. It’s who we are. To impress a Malaysian girl, learn up as many types of local food as you can. The average international joe will know the classics: Nasi Lemak, Bak Kut Teh, Roti Canai and Satay. But no, not you. You have to go beyond that. Wow her with your extensive knowledge of the unwritten mamak menu. Know your curry and rotis. Memorize all the possible types of fried rice. Learn up her list of favorite foods and where to get them.
Tip #2 Know her brand of Manglish
Now, we Malaysians love our very own version of English—Manglish. If you have been in Malaysia long enough to find a girl you like, you have probably started to understand this odd mutation of English. Note that there are many different versions of Manglish too. Although the use of –lahs and –mahs are fairly universal throughout Malaysia, the Chinese, Malay and Indian dialects differs in different states, thus creating varied versions of Manglish.
Tip #3 Learn how to pronounce ‘orang utan’ properly
… And ‘Kuala Lumpur’, ‘’jalan’, ‘one utama’, ‘langsat’… Seriously, we cringe every time someone pronounces ‘orang utan’ as ‘uh-raang-uh-taan’. It makes us so uncomfortable. Such a turn off.
Plus, there is nothing cuter than a foreign boy trying to pronounce the above Malay words properly, for real.
Tip #4 Know your potential in-laws
Many Malaysian parents are conservative, many are not. Some of them are extremely strict, while some are easygoing. But for most Malaysian girls, family is still a major part of their lives. Even if you two are still at the early stages of courtship, knowing what your girl is allowed and disallowed to do is crucial. Does she have a curfew to follow? Will her parents get worried if it’s just the two of you going out? Are they okay with their daughter dating someone from another country? Talk to her, communicate with them if possible. If you truly care, show it.
Tip #5 Respect her boundaries
If you don’t know already, Malaysia is still pretty much a conservative country. Coming from a different culture, chances are that you and your girl have different mindsets about what a relationship means. Also, the younger generation varies greatly in its opinion of love and relationship. While some of them are quite liberal, some still hold on to their traditional values. Talk to her (Refer to #8), and know what she wants and what she does not.
Tolerate Embrace her Malaysian timing
Okay, this is no secret: the Malaysian sense of time lags behind that of most countries’ by half to one hour. Although this may not apply to every Malaysian, most of us are pretty relaxed when it comes to following schedules and being on time. Oh, and if you call her and she said that she is ‘on the way’, chances are that she is still at home. When planning dates, allocate some buffer time for your Malaysian beauty to get ready and navigate through the jam.
Tip #7 Show interest in and respect her culture
The medley of cultures in Malaysia is something that all Malaysians take pride in. That means that we take them very seriously too. Each race has its own distinct culture, and some people are more influenced by the Western culture than they are by their race’s culture. Take care to know hers, and make the effort to understand it. Remember, culture does not only encompasses holidays, food and clothing, it influences the individual’s way of thinking too. Understanding your girl’s culture will help you to understand her much better.
Tip #8 Communicate, communicate, and communicate!
This is a no-brainer, but it’s something often overlooked by many in relationships. This is especially important if you are dating someone from a different country. To have a happy relationship, talk often, but listen more! Know that dating someone from a different background means that you will need to double up the effort in communicating. Always try to understand where she is coming from, even if it is difficult. Share your thoughts with her too! After all, a relationship is a two-way street.
Tip #9 Never, EVER, stereotype us
Each human being is a unique individual, this applies to us Malaysian girls also, in case you forget. Our cultural diversity, foreign influences, religious differences and myriad of education systems shaped our demographic into an extremely eclectic one. If you have noticed, some of the items on this list are quite unspecific, and I intended them to be so. It is dangerous to put any generalizations on any girl, actually. Appreciate each and every girl for who she is, and that’s the ultimate tip to remember.
All the best in your relationship! Great taste, by the way!