Have you had a hostel hookup that you just can’t get out of your head? Did that conversation that you started at the hotel bar turn into a whirlwind romance?
They say opposites attract, and there is nothing more exciting than making a connection with someone who has lived a completely different life in a totally different country or culture than your own. Everything is new and intriguing, but this type of relationship also comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Here are some things to keep in mind when shifting from your meet-cute to a relationship.
Be open about your expectations
Are you just wanting a flirty connection? An international booty call? Something serious?
You need to make sure that you are both on the same page fairly early in your relationship so that one party doesn’t start making life-changing plans before you are both ready for it.
A commitment to each other might involve a lot of expensive flights or a huge move, and you want to make sure you're not leading anyone on — or being led on yourself.
Be prepared to ask serious questions sooner than you might in a relationship with someone at home
You have decided that there is a potential future with this person, and are ready to move to the next step. But the next step is a lot more complicated than if you were dating someone who lived a few blocks away. You need to know as much as possible about each other’s dreams and future goals before you start investing a lot of time and money into moving things forward.
This is when you ask about if moving is a real possibility for either of you. How do they feel about marriage? Kids? If you had kids, where would you spend the holidays? What are some traditions or values that they are not willing to give up? What are the things that you both absolutely need to be happy?
Trust me, these are things you need to know before committing to upheaving your life, or someone else’s.
Recognize and acknowledge the ways that you are different
Remember that you come from different political, religious, and historical backgrounds. There may be a history of war in your recent past, or a history of persecution in theirs. Your backgrounds are what make you unique and fascinating individuals, and the way you both handle good times and bad are the result of experiences in your past.
Make sure to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, don’t pretend to. This will not only bring you closer but will help you to relate more to the background of their country and culture. Who knows, their country might be yours one day!
Avoid buying into a stereotype
Every person is an individual, and it is important to remember that.
Keep an open mind, and don’t try to understand the person you are with, or their culture, by using a cultural stereotype to fit them into your world view.
Remember that what it means to be “romantic” differs from culture to culture
Things that you might find cheesy could be incredibly romantic gestures in a different country. On the other hand, something that you find romantic could be an insult to the person you are dating.
Be sensitive to each other and make sure you let each other know if something is making either of you feel uncomfortable.
An international relationship will never work unless you are patient with each other.
Cultural blunders and misunderstandings are inevitable, but it’s how you deal with them that will define your relationship and determine whether your future lies together or apart!