Grand Rapids, Michigan (where I currently reside) isn’t known for its diversity. When I meet someone Jewish here, I instantly say, "You must be from out of town." I've never been wrong.
I grew up in the Detroit area surrounded by a multitude of cultures and religions, but somehow I ended up in a city that is filled with the kind of people that whisper sexualities, religions, and ethnicities that are not their own. "Did you know that brown man is gay?"
Anyway, traveling abroad allows me to meet a plethora of different people, which I absolutely love.
Every new person that I date abroad impacts the way I see the world. I gain insight into a region and its cultures and beliefs. I learn things that can't be read in a book or seen in a documentary. It's an education that money can't buy.
Years ago I dated a Romanian in London and he once said to me, "There are no gays in Romania." This concept blew my mind. Of course he is wrong, but this is what the people in his village believe; that big cities like London make people gay. I didn't yell and tell him he's an idiot; I sat down and listened to everything he had to say. He was not hateful or hostile, he simply saw it as fact. I had never met someone like him before and it truly changed the way I interacted with people around the world.
#3 Fresh Meat
In my town, I’m becoming a big fish in a little pond. The thing about having a group of girlfriends all single and 30-something, is that if I haven’t been with someone in this city, one of my friends definitely has.
I think that about sums it up.
#4 No Judgement
Dating abroad gives me the time and space I need to figure out what I'm actually looking for in a relationship. I'm definitely guilty of not pursuing someone because I was self-conscious about what my friends and family would think. And like a lot of woman I know, I find myself dating men that fit a "list" and not necessarily men I want to be with. However, when I'm abroad, my peers are not there to pass judgement and I feel more like myself.
I can also explore my sexuality without fear of judgement. I spent a great deal of my life reluctant to try new things because, as we all know, people gossip. But the nice thing about dating someone abroad is that we (typically) don't know the same people and I don't ever have to see them again (unless I want to). That means no shared conquests amongst our friends, no awkward run ins at the grocery store, and no strange encounters at a restaurant... where they're my server. (Yes, this has happened.)
#5 Stress Free
I never think I’m going to date, let alone marry, the hot guy that I met at a bar in Barcelona. There’s no stress of “what if.” I just have fun and move along. I don’t get upset if I never hear from them, and I don’t feel obligated to spend more time with them. I'm completely carefree.
#6 New Adventures + Unique experiences
Dating abroad means I get the unique opportunity to explore a city and learn their customs with a local. Plus I would never be able to scale a mountain, go surfing, or eat exotic food on a date at home, so I take full advantage of my surroundings. For instance, I once went on a date to see Real Madrid play in the Copa del Rey in Madrid. Talk about a cultural experience. That was nuts. Amazing, but nuts.
The Difficulties of Dating Abroad
Although I love dating abroad, it's not all rainbows and butterflies.
When I go out on a date with someone that speaks a different language, things can sometimes get lost in translation. My ex still constantly offends me because he doesn't realize what he's saying. I try to explain things, but sometimes it's difficult for him to understand. Plus things may be appropriate in their culture, but not mine. For example, the Spanish term of endearment, "negrita," was adoring to my ex, but I was not a fan.
If you actually establish a relationship with someone abroad, distance may become a problem. I was only able to visit one of my exes twice a year because it was just not feasible to fly to Europe every other month to see him. But I have to be honest, the distance didn't bother me. I actually thrive in long distance relationships. I'm a busy woman and I'm always on the go, so having a boyfriend abroad allowed me to stay focused on my education and career without the everyday distractions of relationship. But to each their own.
I've never had an issue with safety while traveling outside the U.S. (in the U.S. is a different story), but I still always make sure people know where I am and what I'm doing. I check in at places on social media, I let my friends know that I'm having dinner with a cute ass boy, and I always watch my drinks. I do the same things at home. I also try not to drink too much, but sometimes I fail miserably at that.
Unfortunately women aren't safe anywhere. It's bullsh*t. Just make sure you have a good right hook and a working cell phone.
[Share your best worst dates in the comments below. x]