I’m a people-person. I enjoy meeting people and one way I do that is by dating. Naturally, while abroad, I’ve wanted to continue my dating life (heck, I’m single and ready to mingle!). Here’s what I’ve learnt from the last few years of dating in Europe…
- Dating can be good, bad and everything in between.
Everyone has different experiences with dating and the same applies abroad. There are so many factors that go into whether or not dating is successful. In some situations, dating is stressful, awkward and disappointing. In others, it’s fun, exciting and romantic.
- Dating culture varies considerably.
There are different social norms and expectations in every country and dating is part of that because it’s a part of culture. I’ve made some interesting observations while dating abroad. Some dating cultures are more fast-paced, some more reserved. Sometimes, there are different gender roles to consider. I’ve been surprised when men haven’t opened the door for me or offered to pay the bill. I’ve had to remind myself not to take things too personally.
- Open-mindedness is a must.
The key to not taking things too personally is being open-minded. Chances are, if you find yourself abroad, you’re a relatively open-minded person who likes meeting new people. That’s what I love most about travelling and living abroad. I’m addicted to conversations with people of all walks of life. I often date for a fulfilling social and cultural life more than a romantic one (but the latter is usually welcome!). With that, I have to avoid cultural bias and stay receptive.
At times, it’s difficult. For example, in some countries, a peck on the cheek is an expected greeting on a date which has caught me off guard more than once. Thankfully, my dates have been very understanding and respectful and I’m direct in letting them know when I’m uncomfortable.
- Safety is even more important.
While it’s great to be open-minded, you shouldn’t throw caution to the wind. Safety is always a number one priority and especially in territory with which you’re unfamiliar.
No matter what, it’s okay to go slow and have boundaries. I often chat and videocall with a potential date before going out. It gives me an opportunity to get to know him or her and explain my boundaries before meeting in person. If I have any reservations about someone, I won’t go on a date with him or her. My safety is not worth the risk. When I do go on a date, I always tell someone my plan.
- Being practical is hard.
Romance films don’t usually explain the practicalities of dating abroad especially when a connection strengthens. Like in most relationships, happily-ever-after requires a lot of work. For any successful relationship, honesty and communication are necessary.
Moving forward with an international love interest brings its own set of complications so being clear about what your feelings and intentions is ten times more important.
- Dating isn’t perfect and that’s okay.
While abroad, I’ve had casual dates, whirlwind romances and long distance relationships. They’re usually not the kind of love stories you see in the movies (thanks, Eat Pray Love and The Holiday) and that’s okay. There’s been heartache and frustration, but I’m someone who thrives from experiencing as much as I can in life. I try to take the good with the bad and see the silver lining. Even if I don’t find love, every encounter leaves me with something. Sometimes, I learn life lessons. Other times, I make new friends. If I’m lucky, I get some unforgettable memories.
This week, I’m thanking Danae Mercer, a journalist, content creator and self-love activist. As an eating disorder survivor, her Instagram celebrates the human body with all of its perceived imperfections. By revealing hacks for posing in photos, she reminds us that social media is deceptive. She removes the stigma of cellulite, wrinkles, stretchmarks, rolls and bloating. Thank you for your courage and kindness, Danae!
The featured photo was taken at MOS Amsterdam during my first (and hopefully not last) Michelin experience!