I’d like to start off by saying, in general, I’m not a romantic. Despite my young age, I’m somewhat jaded because of my previous experiences with love and long-term relationships. This being stated, I find everything about travel and the experiences that go with it, absolutely romantic. When I’m outside my culture or country I find it exponentially easier to fall in love with people, places, and cultures. I think part of this is because none of it feels real; when I’m outside my normal day-to-day life, I find it easier to take risks. While I’ve had my fair share of heart breaks, I take more chances when traveling abroad and thus far, I have no regrets. There’s a lot of romance in travel, all the new places and people… there’s the potential for anything.
I’ve come to realize that I may actually be addicted to the romance of travel… it’s exciting and different. I’ve experienced a lot whilst abroad; this includes a lot about the world, cultures, and… men. I’ve dated, had flings, and even *dare I say* fallen in love, overseas. Although my experiences are all my own (and I don’t claim that my experiences necessarily reflect those of others), I’ve found some overlap amongst my own experiences. What follows is a list of five things I’ve learned about dating, sex, and love with foreign men in my home country as well as men I’ve met while living and traveling abroad.
1. The moment is fleeting — just go with it.
It is absolutely possible to be hopelessly, swept off your feet by a lad whilst abroad; however, I’ve found that unless you have relocated for a reasonable amount of time, sometimes it’s better if you leave some things unsaid and just live in the moment, preserve the memory. Often these lovely moments and memories of love and lust are tainted once you return to the real world (your home country or residence) and are still infatuated with or holding onto something or someone you met… particularly if you find that staying in touch is difficult and/or unrealistic.
2. The ways in which men flirt in different cultures varies greatly, but when it comes to wooing a foreign woman, there are a few staples they will all rely on to spend a little extra time with you.
This does not make any of these things any less memorable, amazing, sweet, or even romantic. These include, but are not limited to:
- showing you the sights of their area and relating childhood or teenage memories from these places;
- a traditional dinner and a movie followed by (if you don’t ask first) to pop up for a cuppa;
- taking you to the equivalent of their local “look out point” for a make-out session, historical or other cultural sites that they may have never been to, but sweetly stumble around giving you a tour (so cute), since they are, after all, local.
3. Flirting varies greatly by culture and region, this is exciting.
I’ve found men in the Mediterranean are more forthcoming when it comes to flirting, like the cat calling in Greece, “psst, psst, psst”. Let’s face it, flirting is cultural and in many of the countries known for its aggressive flirts (think Mediterranean and Balkan countries), the act of flirting, itself, is frequently just a way of interacting with anyone from the opposite sex and absolutely harmless. Men in the United Kingdom are less obvious and almost need a few drinks in them before approaching a woman. American men are often very forward (particularly when under the influence of drink) and, at times, a bit cocky. It’s only to mask any anxiety they may have in approaching a woman. 😉 Flirting in other cultures may be overt only when it’s… well, harassment. Trust your intuition; if you’re uncomfortable then something is wrong.
This is a good time to point out that although there are many cultural traditions regarding flirting, dating, sex, and love, there are just as many exceptions. As an American, I think in my culture that it is generally expected that men will approach women if interested; however, I’ve never been one to follow the rules and neither are many of my friends. If I’m interested in a man, I will approach him (without provocation, what a lucky guy 😉 )
4. In my own culture, it is quite common to “date around”; however, there are several cultures in which this is not as common.
There are many cultures where “dating” seems to be less of a process and more of a proposal; if you’ve accepted and gone out on a date with someone, you’re in a relationship. This is something I experienced in South Korea, and learned is quite common in the Balkan countries as well (I have a lovely, Croatian roommate who found dating in the ‘States a bit confusing, and rightly so).
5. Although there is something quite romantic about dating someone from another culture, you’ve got to be careful and you’ve got to communicate.
There are different standards and etiquette for dating in different cultures; this means there are even more potential misunderstandings in dating, sex and love (great, as if these things weren’t complicated enough ). While it is important to be understanding and mindful of your partner’s culture, your comfort is also important. Communication is key in any relationship, but particularly when your partner is from outside your own culture. The chances your partner can read your mind are slim to none, so in the words of my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Buckley “USE YOUR WORDS.”
Travel and romance go hand in hand, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind. Dating outside one’s own culture is exciting, but it requires more than just an open heart. Enjoy the romance while it lasts, and remember: while it is romantic to have a fling whilst in a foreign country, don’t wear rose colored glasses in order to have or prolong a foreign romance. Live in the moment because that’s what you’ve got.