Dating can really suck. It’s hard to meet people once you’re a grown up. In high school and college, you can meet people just by being in class with them or by attending the same groups or clubs. Once you’re grown up, you’re stuck with dating a coworker (NO), hitting up bars (UGH) or online dating (which sounds awful).

Now, do all that but in a different country.

Expat dating brings up a whole new set of challenges you don’t face at home, namely, does the relationship have an expiration date? A lot of people go abroad without knowing how long they’re going to be away. A year? Two? Stay forever? You never really know. You might end up dating someone from a different country or a local, and then that brings with it a whole host of new questions. Where will you settle down? Are you going to leave your forever home behind, or will they? How difficult will it be to get a visa for the other person? What will happen if one person wants to leave, but the other wants to stay?

When I lived in Ecuador I was a lil’ kid of 21, fresh out of college. I had two boyfriends while I was there (not at the same time). The first guy was basically dating me for the novelty of being with a foreigner (I knew this because he would introduce me to his friends as ‘my white girl’.) He also would go a week or two without contacting me, which is kinda messed up. It was also weird for me, as someone who lived on her own and was mostly self-sufficient, to hear my boyfriend say, “I might be able to go out, let me ask my mom.”

Dannie ama la vida
I dressed like this and still got a boyfriend? Go me. Thankfully I’ve got better style now.

The second dude was really great, a nice guy, very sweet. I moved back to the states and we decided to try the long-distance thing, but I knew it was doomed to fail. Even though he was a nice guy, he had no education and couldn’t speak English. I knew I couldn’t live in Ecuador and still make enough money to live on AND pay back my student loans, so the only other option would’ve been for him to move to the USA. But how? We would’ve had to get married to bring him there so we could date. He barely had a high school education and with no English, he would’ve ended up with a shitty job with long hours where they probably wouldn’t treat him well. There was no way for the relationship to continue, so I cut it off.

I was super lonely for a while in Korea. Being a chubby girl trying to date is tough enough in America, but it’s worse in Korea, where the pressure to be stick-thin and beautiful is everywhere. In America we have started to embrace body positivity in the last few years, but I haven’t seen much of it in Asia yet, aside from a plus-sized girl band in Japan that is in no way plus-sized.

I met a guy on New Year’s Eve, a Korean-American guy adopted as a baby and raised by one of those religious families with a bunch of kids from different countries. I fell for that dude so fast. The whole relationship moved very quickly in part, I think, because we were both lonely. I had a great group of friends in Korea, fellow expats, but I really wanted a boyfriend. Because of that, I was willing to change a lot about myself and ignore parts of my personality for someone who, in retrospect, was really fucking boring. I went through the whole relationship with my head in the clouds thinking about how lucky I was, how I didn’t deserve a guy like him.

I never want to feel like that again. I never want to feel like someone is better than me, and that I need to prove my worthiness to them by not being myself and acting the way they want.

So that imploded. Soon after, I started talking to an old friend of mine, a fellow American. We had been online pen pals for ages and he was the person who knew me better than anyone. He listened to me laugh, cry and bitch. He had recently moved to Hong Kong and said, “Hey! You hate living in Korea. Why not move to Hong Kong?”

Dannie and Jarrod lookin cute
We can’t help looking cute, we just are.

So I did, and we started dating about a week after I got here. A year and a half later, we moved in together. Now, I’m still with that dude. Some of you may know him as my boyfriend Jarrod.

It’s nice to have a partner in crime so far away from home. I feel like I’m still trying to get used to living with a boyfriend, but at the same time, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not live together. I like the fact that we’re both from America so that I have a piece of home quite literally living in my home. Also, y’know, love and shit is great too. I’m not very good at this feelings stuff.

So those are my experiences dating as an expat. I’ve had good ones, ones that are going well and still in progress, and one that ended really badly, but at least I got a good comedy routine out of it (and a song!) Anyone else have a story to share?

 

 

 

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