“I need to find some hookers,” says my boyfriend.
“Excuse me?”
“Yes, our hookers are too small.” He holds up his shirt showing that its shoulder is hanging past the hanger.

My boyfriend is Brazilian, and he had no idea about the major difference between a hooker and a hanger, and although we had a laugh over this communication mishap our cultural misunderstandings aren’t always so light-spirited. In relationships, communication is usually difficult enough as it is; add two people of different mother tongues and you’ve got a whole new set of challenges.

We’re not the only ones. As the world gets smaller, the number of intercultural relationships grows. And before you throw in the towel on yours, take a look at the following advice – it may keep your foreign love intact.

Never Assume.
When Jaycee, 28, started dating her boyfriend from Venezuela, it drove her crazy that he interrogated her about her nights out with the girls. She assumed he was incredibly jealous, based on the fact that the questions were never-ending. It wasn’t until she took the time to find out why he wanted to know that she realized he was just curious about what American girls do for fun.

Jai Kissoon, 27, the co-founder of OurFamilyWizard.com who himself has been in an interracial relationship for seven years, explains that expecting your partner to react a certain way is just as dangerous as a prejudice, “If you allow your expectations to guide your experience, you close yourself off to really understanding your partner.”

Do Your Homework.
For me, learning Portuguese was a necessity. Sure, I’m curious what my boyfriend is gabbing about with his parents, but, more importantly, this language shapes his world. “Language barriers can be hilarious or horrendous,” says Julie, a 29-year-old French-Canadian, whose Irish husband got coaching from her brother to ask her parents’ permission to marry their daughter in French. Because of an embarrassing practical joke her brother decided to play, her man ended up complimenting her mother’s breasts.