Dating While Living Abroad, Is it Sustainable?

I think literally every person in the world has imagined dating abroad – going on a trip, sitting alone in a cute little corner cafe on the cobble streets of Barcelona, sipping on a coffee, and being approached by a beautiful Spanish man who takes you out to show you his town. You eat, you dance, you kiss, you fall madly in love and stay in Spain forever with your beautiful new dark haired, dark eyed, Spanish husband.

Is dating abroad really that romantic? Is it really that easy to be swept off your feet while abroad? I’ve been living abroad for a year now, and between my self, and my best friends, I’ve seen just how hard dating while abroad can be. Following are situations that I’ve seen repeated over and over again while dating in foreign countries.

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Bringing Your Boo Abroad With You

I’ve seen a lot of couples who actually met in their home countries. They dated, committed to each other, and shared a passion for traveling the world together. So they decided to move abroad as a unit.

I think this is a great idea. When you’re serious about someone, it’s good to see them in a different environment. Get out of your comfort zones together and see how you both handle dating abroad. It can really strengthen your relationship, or it can be the eye opening experience you need that this person isn’t right for you.

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The Good
My best friend and her boyfriend decided to move to teach English in China together. It was great having each other to share the experiences with. Living abroad allowed them to really get to know each other, and their bond increased significantly. It’s not often you meet people with the same background as you while you’re living abroad, so it’s very comforting having someone around that knows your past.

The Bad
The experience also made them more dependent on each other. They shared the same friends, shared the same jobs, shared the same life. When they had a little trouble in their relationship, they had no where to go to get space because their friends and house and coffee shops were all the same. One can feel trapped when there’s no where else to go.

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Meeting Someone Amazing in Your New Country

This dating abroad situation happened to my best friend that I traveled abroad with. He and I came together and spent the first four weeks in our new country getting our TESOL certificate to teach English abroad. The first day of our TESOL program, he met a girl from Thailand. From then on, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her.

The Good
Fast forward one year later, they’re still together. They’ve enjoyed each other and have been so good together, I haven’t seen him so happy with someone. They’ve been there for each other during everything, even I have really enjoyed her company. Meeting someone new is always exciting and thrilling, and going through the experience with someone romantically is never boring.

The Bad
However, they have gone most of the past year avoiding the inevitable: what happens when their time abroad is over. They both can’t be English teachers in a foreign country forever, and they both have had different plans on where their life will take them in the future. That conversation can be a extremely hard to navigate. Do you say goodbye? Do you try to commit together? What happens next? Eeek!

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Dating Casually as you Go

While dating abroad, casual dating is probably the most likely situation to happen. You’re in a new country meeting new types of people and it’s all so exciting. Dating a local is a great way to see the local culture of the country you’re in with great company. They can introduce you to their lifestyle and everything that comes with it; their friends, favorite restaurants and bars, favorite places in the city, and so much more.

The Good
Dating someone casually with no strings attached can be a great feeling. You both mutually understand there is nothing serious, and you can enjoy the time you have together. Getting to know someone so personally in a new country can really open your eyes wider to that culture. And you can learn so much. They can teach you so many little details of the area that you might not have seen on your own.

The Bad
It’s always temporary. As soon as you get to know someone, and spend time with them, it’s time to go. I’ve experienced a couple of situations that didn’t end very well. Even though we were both clear of the expectations from the beginning, feelings can develop over time. This makes the short time period given more difficult, and some choose not to deal with it. It’s fair, the choice is up to them. But maneuvering these conversations can be tough, no matter how clear you are in the beginning.

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Dating in a Foreign Country for LGBT

As a member of the LGBT community, I wanted to throw a snippet of my experience dating abroad. Of course it’s great to be proud of who you are, but as an LGBT person, there’s an extra set of things to think about while dating abroad. Is the country LGBT friendly? Can I hold my partner’s hand in public? Will people stare at me? Will they yell at me? Or worse?

You have to be conscious of how the country views your actions, as it could impact your safety or well being. I had a roommate in Vietnam ask me not to kiss my partner outside the front door because the neighbors could see and would gossip about their family. Part of me wanted to argue and not give a crap about what the neighbors thought. But, as someone who can’t speak Vietnamese, I’m not the one dealing with the gossip from neighbors, so I agreed in an effort to make life easier on my roommate and her family.

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Traveling as an LGBT member forces you to pick your battles. You can’t change an entire society’s outlook on you overnight. Keep in mind your safety first, but don’t forget to kiss the heck out of your partner if you wish. In the words of Sebastian from the Little Mermaid, “kiss the girl.”

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Common Denominator

At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy. Whether that’s finding someone to marry, casually hooking up with numerous people, or dating absolutely no one. Do what gives you a thrill while dating abroad. Everyone might not agree with you and your decisions, but as long as you’re honest and upfront from the beginning of every relationship, you shouldn’t feel bad for leaving or wanting more.

Relationships are hard to handle when both people live in the same city, so handling them while dating abroad is even harder. What kind of relationships have you had while traveling? Let us know in the comments below, and contact us if you have any questions about planning your next trip!

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