The dating topic is probably one of the most interesting ones when you are an expat. We all know that the realities of dating abroad are more difficult than they might seem, and on top of that the COVID-19 situation does not help. So, if you are fully experiencing these right now, this article is for you!
Tadaaam THE day is finally here! You are moving abroad by yourself, discovering a new culture and about to start a new life. How amazing is that! If you have been an expat, you probably still remember this amazing mix- feeling of excitement and fear. No matter your age, your experiences you still get “butterflies” in your stomach. In my young expat experience, I moved to 3 different countries: New Zealand, Germany and Colombia.. and I can say I really had this feeling (at least for New Zealand and Colombia). I guess because the farthest you go, the more you feel it isn’t’ it?
You leave your friends & families behind and you jump into this new adventure of being an expat!! Let’s say that there are 3 different types of expatriation:
1- The expat who is moving abroad single and alone
2 – The expat moving abroad alone, but in a relationship
3 – The couple moving abroad together
In this First Article we will talk about the 1st type: An expat moving abroad single and alone. This one is probably one of the most common cases! I keep the 2 other ones for the following articles.
Your expat friends become your new family:
The friends you meet abroad become very easily your close friends as you share most of your new life together. You spend some crazy nights together, as if you were a student again (although your body definitely feels the difference), you discover a new culture together, you live together you cry together. You basically grow together! ;))
But very often, after the first excitement comes, so does the loneliness syndrome. Yes. Let’s say it outloud: it’s a common thing that we all know about and it’s important to address it.
If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to read our last article about it: How to handle those expat blues?”
You face the loneliness syndrome:
This is how some of us finally meet our new “sweetheart”. After hanging out a lot with their new group of friends, we realise that this beautiful, smart and funny friend might be the one!
Of course, sometimes it works and sometime it doesn’t but still, I love this approach. Simple, cute .. and honestly kind of easy! There is no dating struggle and as a French that’s really what we prefer because let’s say, the dating culture is really not French thing. There are an assortment of terms for dating (especially in US) like there are so many things to keep track of. While in France we use the term plan cul for someone you sleep with casually, there’s no rule that person can’t suddenly become your boyfriend / girlfriend. For us, the whole dating world is less codified, and we don’t have the famous “relationship talk” that Americans dread.
To date or not to date, that’s the question!
Here we go. You are having fun for a few months now, you love your new adopted city, your friends, but in the case you don’t fall in love with one of them you might – most probably – search for someone outside your circle: you are now facing this loneliness feeling I was talking about. You see your friends back home getting engaged, moving together, having kids, and you just picture yourself at the bar with a bunch of friends sipping your 3rd Margarita. (ok that was before COVID but it works as well with your friends at home, drinking your 4th ‘homemade basil smash cocktail’ 😉 )
So you start using some dating apps such as Bumble, Tinder, Hinge.. or by coming to our networking events Apéros Frenchies hoping to have a crush on someone! (Yes we know!) And finally, it happens! Sometimes it comes fast, sometimes it takes time.
You finally meet this person, you exchange your numbers and you plan to see each other (again)!
But the struggle goes on when this person is from another country especially.. your crush doesn’t have the same “dating language” as you… and C’est la catastrophe!
Perhaps, we learn at school how to speak another foreign language but we don’t’ learn how to speak another foreign heart language! And especially this lockdown situation pretty much everywhere, it doesn’t make things easier, since restaurants and bars are closed!
“How does it work? Do we have to meet for dinner or an ice cream? Do we have to play it fancy or cool? Should we invite them to our place?” Bref, so many questions that nobody really knows how to answer but that we all ask ourselves before even trying out the relationship! Well, in my opinion , the best advice would just be to go with the flow.. and be yourself. After a few texts you will more or less understand what your crush is feeling! Just be yourself and don’t force yourself. She/He wants to meet you at her/his place but you don’t feel confident enough, just say it and offer him/her to grab a take away coffee downtown.
Another situation, you feel like inviting him/ her to your place and this other person sounds up for it. Parfait! As a french person I would obviously advise to have some good wine in your fridge😉 But also.. to prepare a casual nice dinner sans pretention. In case the date goes well! For example try HelloFresh (You pick in advance which menu you want to receive depending on what you like .. and they deliver all the ingredients + recipe at your place! It’s perfect when you are in a rush or if there is a curfew! 😉
If you are freaking out to meet with this person alone, and you prefer to be in your comfort zone with friends, what about inviting this person for some drinks in a park with your friends, or do some hiking somewhere with them too? Honestly possibilities are limited right now but there are still some! If it goes well, you‘ll feel safer and better to meet in person the next time, plus you may get your friends’ approval (which is not THE most important, but still, it matters!) If it goes wrong, it would be just a funny memory you’ll talk about with your friends in the future! 😉
In conclusion, follow your instinct, go with the flow and don’t pretend to be someone you are not just because you’re afraid they don’t like you. One day they will figure it out anyway! Good luck!