If you knew me, you\u2019d think I\u2019d never date anyone other than someone Chinese, let alone a refugee from a place as far away as Syria.\u00a0 Born and raised in a traditional Chinese family, I was mostly Chinese educated, with a very poor grasp of English and Malay.\u00a0 I always imagined my future would be to date and marry a Chinese guy. A banker, or lawyer or a doctor would do, as that would make my parents proud. But then I met Adam. How We Met We met at university.\u00a0 I was working on improving my English, and to my surprise, Adam\u2019s English was a lot better than mine, so he offered to help me out.\u00a0 Immediately, I agreed. Mostly because I thought he was extremely cute; tall, fair, with wavy brown hair and hazel eyes, his face was always with a smile and his aftershave was alluring. He told me he was from Damascus, Syria, a place I never heard of, except from the Bible.\u00a0 He confessed that he never really tells anyone about where he\u2019s from, because he would often face a lot of discrimination or ignorant comments from others.\u00a0 Despite that knowledge of how people treated him, I found that I really liked him and decided to go out with him. Adam\u2019s idea of a date was far more interesting than any other dates I\u2019ve been on.\u00a0 On our first date, he took me to the Philharmonics, on the second, the performing arts theaters. We went to many more cultural events.\u00a0 It was ironic that an outsider showed me more of our Malaysian talents than anything I knew.\u00a0 Also, the people he knew and introduced to me came from different nationalities and backgrounds. It really opened my eyes to the outside world. It awakened my innate curiosity about other people and their stories. Of course, as time passed, people from my circle of friends found out about our relationship. And in true Malaysian \u2018kepoh\u2019 style, started sharing their \u2018concerns\u2019 about him. Most of which were very ignorant and full of assumptions. Here\u2019s what I wish Malaysians would stop saying about him: 1. \u201cWhat If He\u2019s Just Dating You for the Visa?\u201d For the sake of argument, let\u2019s say he really is dating me for the visa. Is there any real benefit for him? Not really.\u00a0 Unlike the Green card in the US, foreigners who marry a Malaysian may get a spousal visa, but it's highly unlikely that they could get citizenship, even years after living here.\u00a0 If the marriage was indeed a sham, the Malaysian can cancel the spousal visa anytime and the kids would most likely live with the Malaysian spouse.\u00a0 Besides, aren\u2019t there plenty of Malaysians who are also marrying the Westerners for the possible visa overseas as well? Let\u2019s be honest here. 2. \u201cHe might be one of the ISIS fleeing the country.\u201d \u00a0 First of all, that is highly racist. Just because he is a Muslim in Syria, doesn\u2019t make him a terrorist.\u00a0 While the ISIS group was started by a minor group of Muslims, the real victims were also Muslims. And millions of them died during the war.\u00a0 Believe it or not, Syria is a highly diversified country where multiculturalism is a norm in the community, just like in Malaysia.\u00a0 As one of the oldest civilizations in history, Syria is the birthplace of some of the biggest religions in the world; Christianity, Islam and Jewish.\u00a0 The Umayyad Mosque, one of the oldest and largest Mosques in the world is located in Damascus. Believe it or not, it was originally a church, and it was dedicated to John the Baptist (Yahya), honoured as a prophet by both Christians and Muslims. You would also be surprised to know that it was also once a land of scholars and educators, and religions are fully embraced and celebrated there.\u00a0 Even though Adam is a devout Muslim, he has regularly taken me to church on Sundays and would even participate in the mass celebration.\u00a0 At first, I used to question if he\u2019s really ok with that, and his reply was simple, \u201cDoes that make me any less of a Muslim if I were to participate in your culture?\u201d\u00a0 The portrayal of Syria and most Middle Eastern countries are highly biased by the media, showing only the most negative parts, especially when it comes to Muslims.\u00a0 In fact, Muslims are one of the most discriminated groups in most parts of the world thanks to the media. Because of that, jobs are lost, opportunities are taken away and they are the ones who are mostly at a disadvantage.\u00a0 But will the media ever highlight that? Highly unlikely.\u00a0 3. \u201cYou will live in Poverty because he\u2019s Syrian.\u201d \u00a0 Oh, and I\u2019m living in poverty now? I think it's sexist for people to assume that women would be depending on men for financial support in this day and age. If this relationship would be the other way around, would you assume the same thing?\u00a0 More than that, I believe in choosing a partner who is both ambitious and hardworking rather than their financial background. Even the richest men have gone broke, but it is their character that cannot be taken away.\u00a0 In my observation, I believe refugees and migrant workers are the most hardworking group of people in the country, contributing to society and taking on jobs most Malaysians won\u2019t do.\u00a0 In Adam\u2019s case, I think it's admirable that he could put himself through university, teach himself English and even get a Masters through his own ability and connections. If given the opportunity, I believe people like that will excel. 4. \u201cHe\u2019s lying about studying, so he can live here illegally.\u201d Please. If he\u2019s out to cheat someone, he has a higher chance of targeting older women who are lonely and can afford the things he needs. And with such good looks, that wouldn\u2019t be a problem either. To target a young millennial like myself is laughable. After all, we are known as the most broke generation in society. Buy a house? Hahaha! Let\u2019s rent this crappy apartment instead.\u00a0 On top of that, such claims of living illegally can easily be checked out. If you\u2019re highly suspicious, one can easily find out through some quick checks. In my case, I could just check the university\u2019s registrar. Duh.\u00a0 When my parents first found out about him, they were highly suspicious of him. They wanted to interrogate him, question everything.\u00a0 And yet, Adam pulled through. He sat down with them, shared everything about himself, answered every question and was completely transparent.\u00a0 That alone told me that he was genuine because people with ill-intention would never put themselves through that trouble. 5. \u201cHe\u2019s gonna get you pregnant so you\u2019re forced to marry him.\u201d First off, no one can force you to marry anyone even if you\u2019re pregnant. In this day and age, it's hard to believe that Malaysians are still set in the ways of \u2018saving face\u2019 by getting married. However, nobody ever talks about what\u2019s best for the child and whether marriage really is the right choice. I feel fortunate to have many options as to how to handle the situation these days.\u00a0 You can choose to keep the baby, put it up for adoption, or for the brave, or get an abortion (which is only legal if the foetus is endangering the life of the mother). Adam has always been respectful of my choices and how I feel.\u00a0 While we never truly discussed this, he has never forced me to do anything that I\u2019m not comfortable with, and as a partner, I believe he would support me in what I choose to do should an accidental pregnancy happen.\u00a0 To Stay or Not to Stay I would be lying if I said I didn\u2019t panic when I first started receiving such comments. Not going to lie, I cried, because I was so worried. \u201cWhat if they\u2019re right?\u201d I told Adam everything. I couldn\u2019t stop.\u00a0 All the horrible things they said about him, half-fearing that perhaps he thinks I\u2019m too crazy to deal with and no longer worth the time. All while I was ugly crying with snot running down my face.\u00a0 He calmly listened, and instead of panicking and adding to the drama I created, he said: \u201cI understand how they feel. You shouldn\u2019t be so angry with them for they were thinking of the best for you.\u201d That took me by surprise.\u00a0 Before I could say anything, he continued, \u201cI love you and want to be with you. And if it means dealing with your family and friends, I will do my best to convince them and show them that I have genuine feelings for you.\u201d Acceptance Since then, I rationalized the comments and where these thoughts and feelings are coming from. And while I believe that some are genuinely out of concern for my well-being, I realize that we still have a long way to go when it comes to accepting people of different backgrounds. I believe every culture and religion should be acknowledged and embraced and one shouldn\u2019t feel so threatened about something different.\u00a0 It's very sad to see the prejudice going on in our country, despite being a multi-racial country.\u00a0 Until today, issues such as the School\u2019s CNY deco, the debate of the teachings of Jawi, and non-Malays being told to \u2018return to their country\u2019 are still a thing.\u00a0 I can\u2019t change the way other people feel, but I can make the first step towards a more understanding society. Perhaps you might think that I may view things with rose colored glasses and I could see no wrong with Adam.\u00a0 But when you\u2019re in doubt, I honestly believe in keeping the relationship open among your family and peers help put things into perspective.\u00a0 And that was it. We are currently dating 2 years onwards with serious plans to move in together. I\u2019ve never been happier in a relationship since. For more stories like this one, read: 5 Ways To Know If You Have A Future With Your Partner In Malaysia and The Racism I Experienced Dating In Malaysia.