6 Things to Consider Before Starting an International Relationship

February 8, 2016
6 Things to Consider Before Starting an International Relationship

Falling in love is something that writers from all over the world have attempted to describe, but no single definition has ever stuck. That’s not because love is indescribable, but because the whole ordeal of falling and being in love is ever-changing. Pair that with the chameleon-nature of travel, and entering into love and relationships while on the road can result in amazing coincidences, moments of serendipity, and, hopefully, good fortune.

But there’s more than one cautionary tale about keeping travel and matters of the heart separate. As a traveller (and an international lover), I feel that it’s necessary to highlight some things to consider before starting an international relationship.

  1. You get what you ask for

Are you heading out to a bar to get wasted? Then you might expect a one-night stand. Did you meet over books at the open air market in the town square? Friendship is definitely on the table, maybe more.

Do you see the difference?

While not all rendezvous in the nightclub end in short relationships (sometimes you go home empty-handed, ha!), you do attract a certain kind of person when you frequent a certain kind of place. For travellers, this is all the more relevant. It’s why I remind people if it feels too good to be true, it might be. Any local guy who frequents places full of tourists is no newbie to the international relationship scene. He’s been around the block a few times. He may or may not be there for the first time, but don’t be surprised when one night turns into a long week of no calls and utter silence. It’s not because of you, it’s because of the situation. Some people are just attracted to the situation.

I’m not saying to avoid anything; I’m saying be smart. Don’t go anywhere bright-eyed and bushy tailed hoping for a sparkling crown, a title, and a kingdom–the likelihood of this is pretty slim.

An international relationship absolutely has the ability to turn you into the person you were always meant to be

2. You’re going to lose some things in translation

When you’re in love with someone from the other side of the world, you may not understand everything they say. You could be studying abroad to learn a new language or you could be taking a break from your schooling with a three month trip to the remote jungles of Africa, but no matter the circumstance, you’re going to misunderstand each other more than once.

Take machismo culture for instance. In many parts of Central and South America, it’s not uncommon for men to whistle at women on the street, no matter their age (or yours), and comment openly (sometimes loudly) on their physical assets. While this would be considered harassment where I’m from, it’s typical male-female behavior in some places.

So if you’re looking for an international relationship, do some homework and keep in mind that they might do things a little differently there. If you don’t like it, you can leave. Or get your love interest to read up on your cultural customs.

3. You might miss out on experiences

This is a double-edged sword: while you’re pursuing an international relationship, you may be missing out on other experiences. This isn’t unique to romance and travel—it also happens at home—but it can feel more acute while you’re traveling.

If you’re spending quality time with the boo, you could be missing out on excursions to Pompeii for the day, or a hiking weekend in the Carpathian Mountains. It’s not that you can’t take the love interest along, it’s just a different experience. So when you make the choice, be sure it’s the right one. One day you may regret snuggling in bed instead of visiting the Aegean Sea.

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4. They can be expensive

It will be a surprise to no-one that travelling is expensive, but that’s not what I mean. I mean visas and rent and insurance and all that jazz.

When you live abroad, it’s always going to be a little tougher than living at home, and not just because you don’t have the same support system. Expats sometimes pay more for rent, cell-phone plans, internet, insurance, and other things instrumental to living abroad comfortably. You should also consider more unexpected things, like the fees you’ll be paying to have your currency exchanged, or whether the public transportation offers the same daily deals to expats than it does to locals. So, I would urge anyone wanting to turn a month abroad into a lifetime abroad to seriously consider financial circumstances.

5. They don’t last forever (just like normal relationships)

There’s a rumor going around that an international relationship is like a fairytale. However, they’re just like normal relationships—they have ups, downs, and sometimes they end.

The endings can be more explosive, more bittersweet, more fiery because of an international connection. There can be a nagging possibility that you’ll never see this person ever again. Such pressure can make people do rash things, act crazy, or make impossible decisions.

I don’t say any of this to be a Negative Nancy; I say it as a warning: treat your relationship like you would at home. Don’t let the things that bother you (or the things you love) slip away because you’re travelling. There are so many great things that you can bring to a relationship while you’re abroad. A sense of adventure is just the beginning.

6. They can change your life

An international relationship absolutely has the ability to turn you into the person you were always meant to be—and sometimes in unexpected ways.

As a lover of the world and its people, I’m always open to taking the chance. And with the right mindset, it’s easy to turn a relationship into another destination (instead of a roadblock) in your journey.


6 Things to Consider Before Starting an International Relationship

About Claire Lovesti

I’m Claire – a self-confessed travel nut. I’ve been traveling around the world since my mum fare welled me in a teary goodbye and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve had adventures through 48 cities in 26 countries on 4 continents!

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