Thank goodness that I am not in this situation, but I have seen one too many friends go through this never-ending struggle. Whether you're on the English or the French side, it is not an easy situation.
Obviously, love is love, and people don't always fall for someone who has the same mother tongue as them. And in a place like Montreal, it's almost bound to happen to you or at the very least someone you know.
Bilingualism is a blessing and curse, but no matter how well you know another language, your mother tongue will pretty much always shine through. So, here are ten reasons why it can really, really suck.
Texting is such a huge part of our everyday lives. It's pretty much the easiest way to communicate nowadays, and no one can deny how popular it has become. Everyone texts. You may even have met your significant other over text for crying out loud. It's already super easy to misunderstand someone because as we all know, text does not convey tone. Now imagine texting in two different languages, with two different kinds of slang. It's a veritable nightmare.
2. Seeming stupid because you can’t catch expressions or jokes
Making your special person laugh is one of the best parts of being in a relationship, but it's downright impossible with the damn language barrier. Imagine laughing your ass off at a hilarious joke, telling your boyfriend and having them react with a blank stare. Ouch. It's even worse when they're trying to explain something to you and they just don't understand what the fuck you're talking about. Raining cats and dogs just doesn't make sense in French.
3. Needing them to speak like they're doing an oral presentation
"Wait, slow down! Speak clearly. Yeah, don't mumble." These are the most frequent things couples who don't speak the same language will say to each other. I would personally hate it if I have to be conscious of the way I talk at all times and make sure that I don't stumble over any words. As an anglophone, when I'm talking to a French person and they talk a little bit too quickly I have a reeeally hard time understanding what they're trying to say, especially if they use words that I don't know.
4. Introducing friend groups is a nightmare
Odds are, if you're English, you probably have English friends. And if they're French, then they probably have French friends. See the problem here? Yeah, it's a biggie. When you finally get settled into a relationship, introducing them to your friends and vice versa is a really important step. Even further, introducing your friends to their friends. If they don't have a language in common, there probably won't be much small talk at dinner. I can predict a silent, awkward atmosphere filled with smiles and side conversations. Not the best time.
5. You can't decide on a language for Netflix
Some people prefer to watch Netflix with subtitles (myself included), but they usually want to watch in their own language. Netflix and chilling is made ten times more complicated when your honey won't understand the movie properly if you watch it in English. Relationships are all about compromise, but Netflix is sacred and should not be tainted. English movies are made to be watched in English, and French movies are made to be watched in French. Period. So, you can see the dilemma here.
6. Choosing which language to speak in and always choosing Frenglish
Ah, Franglais, Frenglish, the best languages in the world. Living in Montreal, these are new languages that you absolutely must be fluent in, especially if you're dating someone who doesn't speak the same language as you. One of my best friends is dating this guy and they can never decide which language to talk in, so they usually just settle for a mixture of both. So, neither of them really gets better at speaking the other language.
7. Celebrating different holidays
All of my French friends get really excited whenever Saint-Jean rolls around, whereas I'm getting ready to celebrate Canada Day. If you live together, how do you decide which flags to wave outside your window. Well, I guess the solution to this problem is really easy and a win-win situation. Just celebrate both. Party twice.
8. Starting to use their French slang words around your English friends
It's pretty much expected that after spending so much time with another person, you start to adopt their mannerisms and expressions. It's downright impossible not to! The problem with this is that you don't only talk like them when you're around them. Their slang and expressions follow you wherever you go, including when you're hanging out with your English friends. I don't know if you've even gotten a giant look of confusion from all your friends all at once, but it's not a fun time.
9. Arguments are even more complicated
Understanding your partner when you're in an argument is already pretty darn difficult. Insults are flying, tensions are high, both of you are super emotional. Now imagine if you couldn't understand what they were saying! If you're trying to make sure someone understands your point of view, translating is a really annoying extra step that will only complicate things and make both of you ten times more frustrated.
10. You can't share books
One of my favorite parts about bonding with someone is finding out what kinds of things they like to read. And I can personally say that the only French books I've read are the ones I was forced to read in French class, and I'm sure it works the other way around for French people being forced by their English teachers. Maybe this is actually a good opportunity to practice the other language, but getting people to read is hard enough without making it even harder.