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Turkish girl is going to meet her Polish boyfriend's family - needs tips.

elif 1 | 6
24 Mar 2016 #1
Hi people... :) I am going to meet my boyfriend's family so soon and I need some tips. I am a little bit shy person and I don't know much about Polish traditions. In Turkey, we kiss the hands of elders as a sign of respect. Would that look weird to a Polish family? What gift should i bring my boyfriend's parents from Turkey? I plan to get some Turkish stuff like Turkish delight, Turkish coffee and such. And maybe some home-made cookies that I make. Do you guys think it is a bad idea for meeting? Can you give me some tips? How do you guys do it in Poland?

I appreciate any help that you can provide. Thank you!
Luke84 7 | 114
24 Mar 2016 #2
Hi Elif,

You shouldn't really worry to much, ask your boyfriend what type of parents he has, are they modern or old fashioned as this would be a key on how to act.

Don't kiss their hands, this would definitely be seen as weird/odd, you can kiss on a cheek (they usually do it 3 times) or just hug them, you cannot go wrong with hugging them :)

With what to bring - yes home made stuff is good, from Turkey you can bring Halva (not sure how to pronounce that), coffee would be good too, not too much of sweeties unless they love sweets - who knows... If you are planning to have a long relationship with your Polish boyfriend, definitely meet his parents now, you will have some idea if you've been accepted pretty soon and don't worry too much if you are not...

OP elif 1 | 6
24 Mar 2016 #3
Luke84, thank you for your reply. :)
All right, I'll not kiss their hands. :) It is called "helva" in Turkish and halva in English... Yes, I am planning to have a long relationship with him. I am 18 y.o. and he is my first boyfriend and I hope I'll never have any other boyfriends because I love him so much. And I hope his family will like me.
nothanks - | 633
24 Mar 2016 #4
Good luck Elif, it will not be easy especially given the current political circumstances. You did not give us enough background in the OP: are you/are they religious. Do you and your boyfriend live in Poland?

18 years old. You are so young and innocent and that is why I expect them to be gentle with you. DO NOT get too offended if they view your relationship as "1st or Blind Love". Ultimately, if you are pretty it will win over the Father :D. Focus on the mother: offering to help with cooking/cleaning. Offering to learn how she does certain things. If you win over the Mother, you are set.
OP elif 1 | 6
24 Mar 2016 #5

I live in Turkey and he lives in Poland. But now he is in Turkey.

Hmm, well I think I can win over his father because many people say I look pretty. I am interested in sports and I am into natural oils stuff, I mean I take care of myself. And for his mom. I help my mom at home, it is something so normal for me and I can gladly help his mom. Thank you for these tips. I'll definitely give them a try. :)
InPolska 9 | 1,816
24 Mar 2016 #6
It is not a matter of helping washing the dishes or kissing their hands, cheeks or feet. Since you guys are from cultures and religions that are very different, Polish parents may mind.... Poland being a closed society, people are not used of being in relationships with people from different backgrounds and that is what Polish parents may not be "comfortable" with.....
OP elif 1 | 6
24 Mar 2016 #7

My boyfriend's family knows that their son is with a Turk and they invited me to meet. I don't think they mind my religion or something. I just want to learn how you guys do this first meeting thing. I wanted to get tips from different Poles as well. Because it is important for me, I want to be respectful to them. Thank you for your reply. :)
InPolska 9 | 1,816
24 Mar 2016 #8
OK, good luck! However, if you later on think about getting married and having kids, then parents may feel different. ;)
nothanks - | 633
24 Mar 2016 #9
I live in Turkey and he lives in Poland. But now he is in Turkey.

Having spent time with Turkish families, I think you might find the Polish 1st meeting somber and even awkward (at-least in the beginning). This is where alcohol enters (they will most likely drink) and eventually the conversation/mood changes to what I have experienced with Turkish gatherings: louder and more free-styled.

Poles can be viewed as nosy but honest. So expect difficult questions from the very beginning to lay everything on the table, so you guys can move forward.

Beyond that, in terms of greetings or eating style. I do not believe you will find it too different than what I've experienced in Istanbul/Turkish-Germany.
Lyzko 45 | 9,430
24 Mar 2016 #10
Iyi aksamlar, Elif!

My advice would be if you're planning on meeting your Polish in-laws, probably fourty-fifty something in age, definitely to learn some Polish courtesy/religious holiday phrases and/or elementary conversation:-)

Especially these days, Poles are more aware than ever of Muslim-Christian tensions. Therefore, respect their strong Catholic faith as you would like and expect them to respect your religion.

A "Wesołego Alleluja!" on Easter Sunday might not be a bad idea, along with learning how to talk about yourself in Polish. They probably don't know English (certainly not Turkish):-)

nothanks - | 633
25 Mar 2016 #11
^ Great point on learning how to talk. Ultimately, if the female in the relationship is Polish/Turkish/etc: she can teach the "grand-children" Polish/Turkish/etc to some extent. But in your guys situation, the male is Polish. So it is extra important for you to illustrate some sort of effort to know words/phrases/holiday saying.

Speaking the native tongue (you are visiting them) is always a good traveler move. You need to do it in this scenario.
istannbullu34 1 | 100
25 Mar 2016 #12

Been living here around 4 years and i can say if you are connected with your religion, most probably it wont work. Muslims are mostly not welcomed here, these questions about religion will come up eventually and if you are a little religious you will be upset.

If you are secular and especially not religious at all ( this is also important for your mental health;) that will be easier for you and them to get along with and better chance for the relationship to work. Also do not forget, apart from the religion, the cultural differences are vast.

Shaking hands for the first meeting would be the best in my opinion
InPolska 9 | 1,816
25 Mar 2016 #13
Absolutely, Istanbullu! Sooner than later religion will be brought up.... Grandparents will be concerned about their grandkids. As you also say, although religion is number 1 aspect, cultural differences (it is not only for Turks and Poles but for all mixed couples) are vast and often hard to handle.

Anyway, the girl is just going to meet some Poles, not (yet?) to marry their son and bear their grandkids ;).
istannbullu34 1 | 100
25 Mar 2016 #14
Exactly, very hard and long way to go and she is so young to be able to handle all these issues.

Yes, that first meeting can be interesting:)

From my side, Although we dont have religion problem, sometimes cultural problems come up, which is easier to talk and handle - however, everybody has different mentality and personality that these differences can lead to disturbance and bigger problems. These thinga should be remembered and thought about, before starting something serious, not to be sad in the future, in my opinion.
InPolska 9 | 1,816
25 Mar 2016 #15
Absolutely, Istanbul! Have a nice weekend! (I'll be out)
OP elif 1 | 6
25 Mar 2016 #16
Lyzko... :) Yes, thank you. I've recently started learning Polish so my Polish is not well enough to express myself and I'll visit them in 3 days. But I can memorize some important phrases and words.

InPolska and istanbullu34, thank you for the information. You guys are right. Cultural and religious differences may cause some problems. I sometimes think of these and I found some international couples and asked them how they do it. Some of them say a marriage between two people from different countries has it's own advantages and some other say it is quite challenging.

I love him so much. And we get along very well. So I will always be respectful to his family so that his family can also get along well with me as well. In my opinion, coming from the same culture or background cannot guarantee problem-free relationship with the family of our partner because I see people from the same country and religion and still have fight with their wives/husbands and end up signing divorce papers. Or have fights with the family of their wives/husbands.

istanbullu34, I am sure you've already heard this: People who share the same feelings can understand each other more than people who speak the same language. :) I am sure you know the deep meaning in it.

You guys wrote all these for my good. That's so nice of you. Thank you! But I love him, he loves me. I think respect is the key. I will be respectful to them and I will be with him. Time will show what will happen. It may work so well (which is great!), if it doesn't work well I can still say "I did it for my love". Because now it is impossible for me to think otherwise.

Btw, we haven't talked about marriage but he implied it a few times.

(Sorry for my English)
InPolska 9 | 1,816
25 Mar 2016 #17
Yes, mariage is not for next week! ;). In case you guys stay together and get married, maybe you could live in a 3rd country, other than Poland and Turkey where things would be easier for a mixed couple. Well, you have time...

All the best in the meantime! :)
AdrianK9 6 | 364
25 Mar 2016 #18
Yeah I hate to break it to you, but if the boyfriends' parents are the conservative, nationalist type you're not going to have it easy - at least not at first. IF they are the very conservative Catholic type they may even go so far as telling the boyfriend not to marry you and that they don't want to have a mixed baby. Many older Polish generations are very much against marrying into other races or religions - especially against Muslims. I don't mean to offend you I'm just being honest with the thinking behind some of the older generations. I know my grandparents would certainly be concerned if I brought a foreign girl home, but then my parents who are more open-minded, not so much... One of the major sources of pride for Polish people is the Battle of Vienna and ever since then Poland has been very weary of Muslims which is now further exacerbated by the migrant crisis. Fortunately though, most modern Poles look to the Turks more favorably than the other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia for example. Since you are Turkish, and possibly Muslim (don't know if you are or not but I know Turkey is a majority Muslim country), you're may have more difficult time than say if you were German, Swedish, French, Spanish, or Russian.

It depends really on how conservative they are though - they may be the more liberal type and this may not come up at all. However, IF they are the more conservative anti-race mixing type, then just make sure they get to know you for who you are and there's a good chance they will eventually form a more positive outlook.

Again, I could be totally wrong - if the boyfriends' parents are rather open minded this won't be an issue and hopefully they'll just judge you for who you are which is what I hope happens.

Polish people do like Turkish coffee - it's actually all that my parents and my grandma from my mom's side and I drink (Aroma brand). Flowers, chocolate, and alcohol are acceptable gifts. Alcohol is a very very popular gift and highly recommended - especially for the man of the house. Vodka is most popular and enjoyed by nearly all Poles so you'd be safer presenting a bottle of Vodka, or even some wine or brandy, than say Arak from Turkey. Also, much of the older generation would exchange crystals and give them as presents like crystal vases, cups, etc. However, this would be more of a gift idea for a later meeting - not the first time.

As far as kissing the hand, I wouldn't do it - that will set a very bad first impression. Polish people don't really do that - the only time that happens is when a man kisses a lady's hand in a formal setting as an introduction and even that's becoming less common. A handshake or hug would be most appropriate then followed by presenting a small gift like flowers or chocolates for the boyfriend's mother and alcohol for the boyfriend's father.
Lyzko 45 | 9,430
25 Mar 2016 #19
Gosh, there Adrian! With a "build-up" like that, almost sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy for immediate disaster:-)

Perhaps in trying to be realistic, you're scaring the poor girl to death. Frankly, I think my suggestions are sure fire. At least this way she can try to make inroads into potential hostility by, as you put it, extending the olive branch of friendship...especially as her in-laws will undoubtedly be observant Catholics, this being the Holy Season (Wielki Tydzień) and all.

Am presently learning Turkish. A beautiful language, but as with many tongues marred by political interference, it's damaged goods in Europe for far too many bigots.

Let's pray on this Holy Friday, that they are beyond that:-)
Hellooo - | 28
25 Mar 2016 #20
I'm an Algerian Kabyle Muslim and i had a polish girl friend .First here parent they didn't accept me because of my religion one day i met them they welcome me and everything was great ,our relation become more stronger ,First i thought maybe they accept me because i was nice ,And the funny story when my girl friend tell me that here parent accept me because i'm blond and i look polish (European)

I think most polish parent will look first on how you look like
AdrianK9 6 | 364
25 Mar 2016 #21
Holy Season (Wielki Tydzień) and al

Yeah she definitely didn't pick the best time of the year to come by lol. Even Christmas would've been better than this week.

Yes, I am explaining that if she does encounter the conservative, hard-core Catholic Polish type of older generation, what she should be prepared for and what my recommendations are. I think we both know that as a Turkish Muslim there is going to be suspicion but I explained how she should divert the focus from that and show her best side by offering small gifts and showing that there's more to her than just being a Turkish Muslim. The fact that she said the parents wanted to meet her is already a good sign - if they were the ultra-conservative type and would never accept a foreign girl for their son, they would've already said so and not sent an invitation to meet her.

I'm just explaining a worst case scenario IF the parents are hardcore Polish Catholics like many are. My parents are the urban sophisticated type and deal with all different races and nationalities so if I brought a Turkish girl home, they'd most likely welcome her as normal. However, if we spoke of marriage, they'd be accepting and all but of course they'd prefer that I marry a Polish girl. Nonetheless, if she is a good woman, educated, smart, well mannered, and has all the attributes of a good wife then they'd be totally supportive of the marriage.

However, to my grandparents, who are much more conservative and not as open-minded, the girl's race and religion would be as important as her personality. Since it's a first impression, it may not go that well because they'd see right away that she is not Polish and most likely not even European for that matter. When you first meet a person, you make physical observations so they'd notice right away she's not Polish. Later on, they'd get a better idea of who she is. In due time if they see that she will become a great wife they will most likely come to accept her and race will matter less - but again, with time. The race concern may be brought up once again later in the future though if the couple wishes to have children. The more conservative Poles will be concerned the baby is of a mixed race. However, in time, just like with the wife would most likely come to love the child since it is family after all.

The very very closed-minded nationalistic type may never accept the girl, the marriage, or the children. These people are far and few in Poland though. More than likely either one of two things will happen - either it won't be a big deal at all and it won't even cross the parents' mind if they are the liberal, open minded type OR they will be concerned with the girl being from a different race and religion although that concern will pass with time as they get to know her and see that she will make a good wife and mother. Eventually, they will accept her as family.

Just don't show up wearing a burqa or niqab, kissing the elders' hand, and leave your prayer rug at home if you want to make a good first impression. Offer a handshake or hug, bring flowers/chocolate for the lady of the house, alcohol for the man, and Turkish coffee or halva as a general gift for everyone and that will make a wonderful first impression regardless whether they are the liberal type or conservative type.

Don't be surprised too if after a few drinks they start asking more personal questions. If they really like you they may even start hinting at marriage - that's a good sign!
OP elif 1 | 6
26 Mar 2016 #22
Thank you for all replies. You guys tried to help me. I am grateful for your help. :)

I bought Turkish coffee and halva to gift. And I'll offer a handshake or hug, no hand-kissing. :) Hand kissing is a sweet and respectful tradition in Turkey but I respect that things are different in Poland, so I'll not do that. And I've memorized some important Polish phrases and words.

I am a first year dental student and in the future working in Turkey, Poland or 3rd country will not be that hard for me hopefully (if I can learn Polish and improve my English). If things go well and we decide to marry, Janusz and I can live in Turkey without any big problems if he wants.

We have some foreign brides & grooms here in Turkey. As long as they show some interest in Turkish culture, many people like them a lot. At first many Turkish parents are also not so willing about these kind of marriages and many of them strictly reject it. But according to my observations, if the foreign girl or the guy manage to win over his/her family and marry their son or daughter, then everything is fine as long as she or he is respectful all the time. I know one American guy with a Turkish wife and a Romanian woman with a Turkish husband from my district. They enjoy Turkey and everybody is nice with them. :) And my family is also conservative but after they get to know more about Janusz, they will like him a lot, I am sure because he is a decent guy. My dad is a typical patriotic Turkish man but I guess he will like Janusz so much and he will see him as his son. And if we make a nice couple and make each others happy, the elders of my family will not say much about us besides some suggestions. Because so many couples are getting divorced. Sometimes out of nothing sometimes because of serious problems. So I don't think they would say anything bad if they see we are happy because in Turkish culture "the family" is so important and precious, we don't like it that much when couples get divorced.

And I hope his family will not mind where I am from or what my religion is. But if they mind, I'll do my best to show that I love their son and I can make him happy and he is making me happy.
Lyzko 45 | 9,430
26 Mar 2016 #23
Slight addendum, not really a "correction":-) In Poland, unlike in certain other European countries today, hand kissing in formal circles is still VERY MUCH in mode, and taken seriously as well! I'm modestly familiar with both Turkish and Turkish culture, but in Poland at any rate, older men will sometimes engage in the courtly practice of "Całuję Pani rączki!" = I kiss your hand (3rd person singular: "...the lady's hand."), albeit mostly once again in formal settings.

When a woman meets an older/middle-aged man in Poland, clearly the older person will set the tone, and a peck on the cheek for instance from the woman might be well looked on askance by their peers.
mafketis 37 | 10,908
26 Mar 2016 #24
hand kissing in formal circles is still VERY MUCH in mode

I've only seen it a few times, always an older man kissing a middle aged or older lady's hand (though of course the lips should not actually touch the hand)
Lyzko 45 | 9,430
26 Mar 2016 #25
AdrianK9 6 | 364
28 Mar 2016 #26
Let us know how it went - I'm sure a lot of us are curious
Lyzko 45 | 9,430
28 Mar 2016 #27

Cross-cultural relationships can be challenging:-) You'll need to diffuse any initial hostilities aka xenophobia with an extra dose of patience, remembering also that if the situation were reversed, a Turkish family may well be as guardedly curious about a Polish stranger in their midst before immediately giving their blessing to your marriage.
29 Mar 2016 #28
before immediately giving their blessing to your marriage.

She's only going to meet his family, that's a huge step away from marriage Lyzko........
Lyzko 45 | 9,430
29 Mar 2016 #29
For Turks, maybe, for Poles aka conservative Europeans, not usually:-) Hate to disagree, but I learned this from personal experience.
Atch 22 | 4,128
29 Mar 2016 #30
Lyzko, are you saying that bringing a girlfriend home is a bigger deal in a Polish Catholic family than it is in a Turkish Muslim family? I would have thought it would be the other way round. Plenty of practising Catholics have one or two girl/boyfriends before they settle down. But I would imagine that the average Muslim (not an Islamic fundamentalist!) wouldn't bring a boy or girl home to meet parents unless they were considering marriage.

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