Entering into a romantic relationship with a man or woman who hails from a foreign country can make for an exciting, cross-cultural experience ― but there are some inherent challenges to this type of arrangement, as well. Here are a few ways to make the most of your multinational dating experience.
Anticipate Sporadic Contact
If your partner resides outside the Americas, then you’ll have to contend with the age-old issue of time zone differences. Depending on where they’re located, your daily window of contact could be limited to an hour or less. The good news is that we now live in an age of FaceTime, Skype, and other video-chat platforms ― so your conversations won’t be limited to two voices on opposite ends of the line.
Learn Your Partner’s Language
Think about it this way: if you’re serious about the relationship, then at some point you’ll have to visit your partner’s home country and converse with his or her friends, coworkers, and relatives. There are plenty of effective, online language-learning programs to choose from, including Mango, buusu, and Duolingo ― but don’t overlook the fact that you also have a free language coach at your disposal.
Make Face-to-Face Time Count
Let’s assume for a second that you’re not a millionaire and your employer only allots a few weeks of annual vacation time. This means the amount of time you get to spend with your partner may be limited to just a few weeks per year, and probably divided into non-consecutive installments. Make the most out of these visits. Plan a cool road trip, book a room at a swanky hotel, make reservations at a classy restaurant ― anything that allows you to board the plane back home on a high note. And don’t forget to save those airline miles.
Respect Cultural Differences
If your partner belongs to a society that frowns on public displays of affection, then he or she might be hesitant about holding your hand during a walk in the park. Being friends with your ex might seem harmless enough in the U.S., but in other countries it’s considered bad form to socialize with former boy/girlfriends. Every culture has different standards for appropriate behavior between men and women, and your partner won’t abandon their habits just to appease your insecurities. So if you take issue with your significant other sunbathing in the nude on a public beach, partying all night with the opposite sex, or otherwise following his or her own cultural norms, then a long-term relationship may not be feasible.
Dating a foreigner often requires you to go above and beyond, but there’s no reason why you should be doing all the heavy lifting. If you’re the only one who is initiating conversation or suggesting a meet-up, then odds are your partner is floundering on the arrangement, if not irrevocably disinterested. Remember: the only way this relationship will work is if both of you are equally invested. So when it’s been a few days since your partner called or responded to your email(s), it might be time to reevaluate the arrangement ― or at the very least, drop the other person a line and let them know how you feel about the one-sidedness.
Set Realistic Expectations
The deck is stacked against two people who begin a long-distance relationship, and international borders only complicate the arrangement even further. The bottom line: in order for your relationship to sustain, one of you will have to immigrate to a foreign country and leave behind everything that is familiar. Are you and/or your partner in the position to pack up and relocate indefinitely? Do you want to? Will debt, mortgage payments, or other extraneous factors get in the way? If you were the one who moved, would you be able to secure a job in that country? All of these considerations are critical as you decide whether to take the leap from casual relationship to long-term commitment.
Remember: It’s Just Dating
Most international flings are, well, just that ― brief, lovely interludes that otherwise have little bearing on your future. The same is true of nearly all romantic relationships, foreign and domestic. There will be highs, lows, and, most likely, a denouement of sorts. If he or she is indeed “the one”, then both of you will make concessions in order to achieve a successful, long-term arrangement. Otherwise, just enjoy your international dating experience; at the very least, you’ll get to enjoy another person’s company, and maybe even learn a new language in the process.
Have you ever dated a foreigner? Tell us about your experience!