Love In Any Language: Multilingual Couples Explain How They Make It Work

The serious challenges are offset by some incredible opportunities. Tenor

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No matter what kind of relationship we humans decide to pursue, communication is a major piece of the puzzle. When two individuals don’t fluently speak the same language, however, that can make things particularly difficult.

Nevertheless, a significant number of couples who don’t always understand each other still find a way to express their affection.

A look at the data

Although this phenomenon can be found in countries around the world, the United States seems to be the epicenter as it becomes an increasingly diverse nation. Here are some factors that are contributing to the current trend.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau found that nearly 29 million households spoke a language other than English in 2021 — almost 4 million more than in 2015.
  • As a percentage of U.S. households, roughly 22.5% do not speak English.
  • Multilingual users of the OKCupid dating app receive, on average, 11% more matches and 22% more likes than those who speak only one language.
  • A staggering 92% of the site’s worldwide users say they wouldn’t mind being matched with someone who doesn’t speak English.

What it all means

It might go without saying that speaking multiple languages has its benefits. Some people report using one language in social situations and another to read poetry with, for example, which contributes to a deeper appreciation for the nuance of communication.

Jorge Aguilar spoke mainly Spanish when he met his partner, who spoke primarily French — but he had taken some French classes in high school, and that became their shared language.

“I think one major reason we started moving to French was when, several months into our relationship, we acknowledged we loved each other,” Aguilar said. “French was the language we chose to use in expressing that mutual, meaningful sentiment.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee February 15th, 2023
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