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Russian cultural norms re: communication

Sorry to post another stupid question here. So, I noticed something growing up (we had several Russian kids in my middle school/high school growing up....no idea why so many Russian immigrants wanted to live in Maine of all places) and with Russian people I am talking to now.

Is it normal to not respond to messages on Facebook/texts? Or to just give one word answers or short answers? I've made several friends online and in person that live near me and have given my phone number out, email, Skype, etc. and it feels like pulling teeth to get the same info back, or I'll message them and they'll take weeks at times to respond, sometimes only a few minutes, sometimes not at all. Is this normal? Is there some texting etiquette I am missing? Am I being an overly aggressive American and I should cool it off? I was raised in a Franco-American household which is a whole other animal (very, very open and warm and OMG I AM YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND RIGHT NOW LET'S DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER oriented) and I don't want to be culturally insensitive or put anyone off because that is not my intent at all.

Also, I know the issue of being gay in Russia is...difficult. Do they know what the rainbow flag symbolizes? And if a Russian man knows you are gay but still talks to you, does that mean he may be gay even though he hasn't come out to you, or that he just doesn't care? I know there are many American men that won't be friends with a gay person and I figure it must be similar there. Thanks!

2 years ago



Hmm... I'm not Russian myself and while I know a fair number of people who have a Russian cultural background, few of them were actually raised in Russia.

But I can definitely tell you that it's not uncommon at all to respond slowly or one-worded or be reluctant to hand out contact information. Almost everyone I know will only answer if they actually have some information they want to get across... If you just tell them something but they don't know what to reply, a single word answer might acknowledge the fact that they read it. Sometimes, they read it and forget to reply but might reply later when they see it again... Sometimes they are too busy to talk and sometimes, they just don't want to talk.

For me, that's the norm. Keeping it short and relevant, no chit-chatting just for the sake of keeping the communication going, taking some time to get to know each other. Actually, this "OMG, I am your new best friend!" attitude would creep me out A LOT. Like... I would probably back away and avoid contact because it's just waaaay to much at such an early stage. You hardly even know me! Then again, I'm German. We're known for taking quite some time to warm up and making clean distinctions between acquaintances, good acquaintances, friends, good friends and best friends with the latter often being a lifetime commitment that takes years to develop ;)

I can't speak for your Russian friends but to be honest, I think there might be a cultural difference causing problems. It seems as if you're aware that your family's behaviour isn't so typical for all of the world but yeah... Just to be sure, take it slowly and try to adapt to your friends' pace of getting to know each other. Maybe they feel a bit overwhelmed too?

2 years ago

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There are plenty of gay-friendly Russians out there. (And where I live in the US, plenty of men who don't feel so fragile as to be afraid of gay people either) I wouldn't take friendship as a sign of someone's orientation. ^_^ I wish I could help you with the other stuff, but I just don't have the knowledge.

2 years ago

[deactivated user]

    [I live in Belarus, not in Russian, but I believe our culture is not too different. Also, I talk to Russians a lot.]

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'normal'. This might or might not be OK, depending on what terms you're with the person. However, if they don't respond or answer in a few words, it's probably a sign you should write to them less often. (It doesn't mean they don't want to talk to you at all.)

    If you're unsure, you could always ask your friends, there's nothing wrong with asking. As the proverb goes, "за спрос не бьют в нос", 'you don't get punched in your nose for asking'.

    @pseudocreobotra is right about acquaintances/friends/etc.

    Also, "друг" is a strong word than "friend". "New best friend" might sound OK in English, but "новый лучший друг" sounds somewhat hypocritical when translated in Russian. "Лучший друг" usually implies that you only have one best friend (because, well, it's a superlative degree after all), and if you have "новый лучший друг", it means you've ditched a previous one... Not a good thing to do!

    Here's a picture that says "That moment when your best friend got a new best friend": тот момент, когда у твоего лучшего друга появился новый лучший друг

    As for the homophobia, it's not so strong so that people just stopped talking to you. Although I'm mostly closeted IRL, I'm out on several sites online, and no one stopped talking to me. The fact that people don't stop talking doesn't mean they are gay (I wish it meant this, lol xD).

    EditDelete2 years ago


    Well, my russians friends wonder what takes me so lang to answer.^^

    The rainbow flag is pretty well known in Russia. And there is homophobia, but it does not make it impossible to get in touch with people. I just would not make it the first topic of the conversation and only speak with people about it, who i already know well. I mean it shows that you trust them and usually they at least appreciate that.

    2 years ago


    Oh, I didn't bring it up at all yet. My Facebook pic still has the rainbow flag filter from when gay marriage was legalized this summer, and he friended me with me having that icon so I'm assuming it's cool but I don't want to broach the subject and make him uncomfortable.

    2 years ago

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    Hi, Jeremy! I'm russian and I would venture to say for others russians. If they don't answer, it means nothing. Eg. I'm against gay marriage and homosexuals, but this does not affect the speed of my answers. And I know greeks, who answer me once a week. And what? All people are different.

    2 years ago