HookUps & BreakUps – Taking Relationships Overseas

Living and teaching overseas can draw you closer as a couple as you share new experiences, make friends and explore cultures together. Yet, consider that while exciting and fulfilling, international living can also be ultra-challenging and may be the ultimate test of the strength of a couple’s relationship.

Here are some examples of comments ISR has received regarding the special circumstances that living internationally can impose on relationships:

My wife and I, with our two elementary age children, moved overseas and it’s been the best thing in the world for our relationship and kids. We’re each other’s support team and the experience of living and sharing the overseas teaching experience has made us ever more close as a couple and a family. After 12 years overseas we’re moving home this year to be with aging parents. I’m nervous how our relationship will do when exposed to the culture of divorce in the United States. I’d really like to hear from anyone who has been through this.”

My boyfriend and I just signed a contract for 2 years in South America. We have been under tremendous stress lately, and our relationship is suffering. He has only taught for 2 years and isn’t even positive he wants to teach. So, we’re currently “taking a break.” Do you think the school will still take me if he backs out? If we do decide (during the course of our contract) to break up, what happens? If you have any experience with this or know someone who does, please share. I’m upset, concerned, and anxious.”

I started overseas as a single man and married after I arrived at my school. My wife is not a US citizen. When it came time to move to my new school I paid all her expenses. She lives with me on campus. My school director and school staff were great in helping to get her visa. I am just really thankful for my director who has been great. I’m sure other international educators have married host country nationals. I’d love to know about their experience.”

In response to these and other queries, ISR created the HookUps & BreakUps – Taking Relationships Overseas Blog. If you have a question or advice to share about taking your relationships overseas, this is the place.

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82 thoughts on “HookUps & BreakUps – Taking Relationships Overseas

  1. There are obviously a lot of bigoted rascist teachers out there makes me sad. I have been asked “so you like asian girls” which tells you of the paranoid rascism of those that ask that. If she was a foreign white girl fine. So it’s only skin colour! In many Asian countries now the majority of women that marry expats are highly educated women who have found it difficilt to get a local male – as often still some stigma of having a higher paid/educated wife. Obviously younger males are now more modern, but statistically Asian men are a little more old fashioned that way (obviously many western men are the same but % less so and an expat female will likely earn more). When you are in a foreign country it is pure rascism to ignore locals! Statistically relationships will form, but with a male expat local female bias due to the older fashioned attitude of some asian males and economic/religious reasons (however I know a lot of very happy western women married to asian men). Discounting tattoed taxi drivers with Isaan hookers (pity the taxi drivers actually) among educated expats the norm I see is to marry someone of same soci-economic class..I lived in a few asian countries and long term expat teachers in Thailand are often married to a Thai-chinese woman who is from a rich family. Again discounting taxi drivers with fake khao san road degrees! That does happen, but they are often milked of their cash and thrown away. Asian women are not the “stupid obedient wives” rascist bigots here would think. And golddiggers in the west? Superior as white skin I suppose? Plenty of white girls in clubs in NY, london, Paris etc will sleep with you if you flash some cash. Loads of “dumb blonde trophy” wives who shop shop and shop in London! what’s the difference?


  2. My humble observation in 20-something years overseas is that men tend to have it much better relationship-wise in developing nations (not getting into religion–a whole other issue). Then he gets to be Ward Cleaver or Father Knows Best, bringing home the bulk of the salary, while she cleans house, cooks dinner, and does the laundry, much like the American housewife of the 1950’s. I think it would make an interesting cultural study–American women sort of made men obsolete once equal pay came about–women who can support themselves don’t need to be their partner’s domestic servant (or put up with Roberto) ; ) . I think the 1950’s model “housewife”, or at least the ability for men to still be the major family breadwinner is more easily obtained in developing nations (or in cultures where women embrace these roles). Not trying to knock these roles–my mom was a damned fine 1950’s housewife–she had her role, and my dad brought home the paycheck and supported her. If we are being honest, a doctor, lawyer, or banker is considered a great “catch” in the US, while a teacher is not, because the ability is greater for that financial support. But that lowly expat teacher salary is many, many times the local salary in a developing nation, and male teachers have the opportunity to be the “catch”, often scoring a young, beautiful girl who would otherwise be way out of their league. I have seen several “western” marriages break up in these countries–the ability to be “king of the castle” is a powerful draw! Sorry, don’t mean to provoke anyone–just many years of observation.


    1. Too true Julie. Or I have also noticed that many men have escaped failed marriages in the West and go to a developing nations to ‘start again’ – get that domestic little wifey they really desire.


    2. This is exactly what I just said. ¨Put up with Roberto¨? This is a forum to learn and perhaps vent and laugh too. I find many posters on ISR are politcally correct phoneys. I said nothing sexist. I just criticized US attitudes.. But Julie is absolutley correct. I would argue that pretty much any man…who could afford it…will drop his wife for a young exciting exotic freaky deak in a NY minute. Men are for the most part…pigs. On the same token, I challenge any woman married or not if she were to be wooed by some rich, young, exotic lad, she would drop her partner like a hot potato. The So- called liberated American Women will drop the partner for any reason whatsoever and end up with AN EXACT replica or worse of their previous relationship. Womens rights while absolutely a positive develpment that needs to be expanded, has caused many women in the US to lose some things. For example, loyalty, faithfulness, respect and demasculatation men into impotence. Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book, the Hearts of Men Analyzes this American phenomenon and blames it on ¨insensitivity of American wage labor capitalism toward the personal lives of employees, in the relentless pursuit of profit over people.¨I think this is right on but there is more to it than that. Crass individualism, consumerism and cultural decline also have somehting to do with this too. When I return to the USA and visit my frieneds my age who are coupled, many are prematurely gray and dumpy, even sporting the same haircuts. No thanks.


    3. I agree but at the same time fail to see the problem. In the end, a lonely man met someone, and a poor girl escaped poverty. Sounds win win to me


  3. Roberto,

    You are the one making us sick.

    Relationships: I am divorced and have only been overseas since last July. I would love to meet another teacher or a local. Sharing this life together seems like it would be a great thing.

    I’m interested in hearing about other experiences.


    1. Really now? It’s come to personal insults? Don’t speak for me when you say Roberto is making “us” sick. I think he’s hilarious. Roberto is addressing the topic from his perspective, and his perspective is hardly unique. You don’t have to agree with him, but you don’t need to be nasty. I’ve worked with many Robertos in the past, they just don’t typically share their opinions in a public forum. More likely to share them in a pub over a few beers. In any case, someone who’s curious about the impact that overseas teaching life can have on a relationship would benefit from a multitude of perspectives, not just the politically correct ones.


  4. Robert,

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. You seem bitter about something. Leave it out of this forum. The focus needs to stay on relationships abroad. If you have nothing POSITIVE to contribute, without attacking nationalitites (U.S or other) please refrain from posting.


    1. Attacking? This is a forum to dialogue. Re- read and learn. Americans often make me sick with their attitudes especially in reference to relationships and the attitude that their ¨coveted¨citizenship is something that sets them apart from locals. The racist exotification of people of color and sex tourism is so widespread within the international teaching community. Americans and other ¨western¨men and women use this to their advantage like some kind of social bargaining chip. Then out the other side of thier mouth claim that locals are after their citizenship or measly teachers salary. When in reality many cannot even find a decent job in the USA and if they did it would afford them a lower middle class lifestyle at best.


    2. Many are such basket cases that they are incapable of a successful relationship in their home country and use their status to ¨hook up¨with a local. Some are legit but I would say it is 50-50. I have seen success and I have also seen folks get taken to the cleaners. One colleague met a woman and months later he was married with half her family moved into his school apartment. I won´t go into details but it gets much worse and more ridiculous. Another funny one is the US woman who falls for the local guy and thinks she is the only one and everyone knows except her. Should you try to help them? Can you help them? Every school has its crazy stories every year. Perhaps that is why many of us get into this int. lifestyle to begin with…the drama!


    3. Isn’t it 50-50 in the U.S also? Many people marry or date for various reasons. Why is it important to us who others date? I’ve seen couples abroad where I’m like: “no way, not going to make it”, but I’ve seen others that seem genuinely committed. It’s a crap shoot, but heck, it would be a crap shoot back home too. I’m dated some crazy women in both locations, and let me tell you, the main elements always need to be there: respect, truth, mutual understanding, honesty, communication. If not, oh well, another one just like all the rest. 🙂


    4. Can I just say it;s not only local guys who tango with more than one woman! And also beware of men on ‘single’ status or who are ‘separate’…….. separated by an ocean or a plane flight, but nothing else…… really the answer is to be sensible and not to rush in!


  5. The comments in this blog are wild and many have generalizations that just are not true about finding love overseas. Anyone who has been in love knows that it sneaks up on you and you usually don’t find a successful longterm relationship when you go looking for it, although it can happen.
    I went overseas at age 47 and within a year, found the love of my life. I married him and we have now been happily married for 3 years. I was not looking for love but it came up to me in the form of my handsome husband in a chance meeting.
    We have lived in a couple places overseas now and life is good. We do have problems with getting him a visa to the U.S. since we don’t live here and the Greencard doesn’t apply and we are currently working on getting me residence in his home country. It is a LONG process and we have been at it for over a year with no end in sight. Having a foreign spouse is a difficult undertaking when you are a U.S. citizen who expatriates, make no mistake about it. Be prepared for periods on time when you have to be separated because of the immigration rules in your home countries. It is a tough road but can be done.
    I hope that those who are lucky enough to find love can weather the storms that inevitably will be confronted…we are managing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Regarding immigration difficulties, I’ve come to learn that the same is true for other countries. In my case, I’m a US citizen settling down with my Kiwi partner in NZ. We came here in a bit of a haste, so I only started the visa & residency process once my feet were on the ground. It’s taken months just to get my visa, and I’m still waiting for my teaching creds to clear.

      For those of you planning to move with your partner (in cases where the school doesn’t handle this for you), a few words of advice for getting a head start on your relocation to any country:

      1. To state the obvious, start the process well before you intend to leave.

      2. Be sure to research the requirements for work visas and if you plan to stay awhile, residency. Some countries might allow you, but not your partner. Many don’t recognize domestic partnerships, only marriage.

      3. Obtain original police reports from every country you’ve lived in if possible, or at the very least those in which you’ve spent a year or more. Expect that this will cost time, money, and energy as you deal with foreign bureaucrats hundreds or thousands of miles away. My FBI clearance took 8 weeks to be processed.

      4. Collect original documents such as your birth certificate, health records, diplomas (NZ required me to come up with my dip from HIGH SCHOOL!), transcripts, certifications, etc.

      5. Once in your new country, make copies of all docs from lists 2 and 3 and get them certified by a JP or that country’s equivalent.

      6. Start saving $$ now. It’s more expensive than your research will lead you to believe.

      7. Make sure you have enough $$ squirreled away given that it will be some months before you’re allowed to to work, and even then, that’s no guarantee of a job.

      8. Thank your partner for being so supportive as you lose hair trying to push your paperwork through the appropriate ministries.


  6. Don’t date a married local. I have seen that happen way too many times. It’s so ironic that it’s usually the high and mighty “Americans”, always downing their own country, praising the local culture, defending it at every opportunity.

    Yet, they’re screwing a local woman’s husband. Hello?

    Listen! They will not leave their spouses for you. And no matter if he says he’s unhappy or separated, dig a little deeper. Ask the local women about it. They know their men better than foreigners. The relationship cannot be healthy or last.

    How sad how often I’ve seen and heard about this.


    1. This rarely happens. Sounds like you are speaking more from personal experience. Axe to grind with a fellow teacher maybe?


    2. Really? Rarely happens? I’ve been overseas 10 years. It happens, more than you would think. No one talks about it. Trust me on this. Who would talk about this?


    3. It happens, and not just with married locals. and no – it has never happened to me! But I’ve seen an awful lot of people go through it, in several different countries. People get lonely, they get sucked in, they get flattered. Mostly they;re not bad girls just a bit gullible. And yes it does happen, I’ve personally counselled 3 people in the last year alone!


  7. Don’t date another co-worker in teaching because you think your job prospects as a teaching couple will be better (seen that happen).

    Also, don’t fall for a local just because you want something “exotic” (whatever that means). Aren’t we all “exotic”, technically?

    People are people are people.

    If you had issues before, you will still have issues during the relationship. Just enjoy life and if you genuinely fall for someone, “American” or not, so be it.

    Lord knows I NEVER intended to date a local. But I did, ended up marrying him three years later, and well, the rest is history. 🙂
    Who cares about his nationality. For me, he is just a man that I fell in love with. Beforehand, I had not ideas of exotic Latin men sweeping me off my feet. PLEASE. Keep living that fantasy; eventually you’ll wake up.

    People are people. Period.


  8. I have heard Middle Eastern countries are the best places for gay single men. Bisexuality is huge, especially in Gulf countries.


    1. Remember that homosexuality is punishable by death in some countries in the Middle East.


  9. There are many Latin American women who DO NOT want to live in the USA. This notion of America being the land of opportunity is FALSE. Not all Latinos are poor desperate people that will marry an old ugly American for the sake of a green card. America with its materialism, poor family structures, and horrible lifestyle is not a choice destination for anyone these days. As America disinigrates further, I can see a future where it will be Americans trying to get citizenship elsewhere.


    1. Please do not generalize “America”. We have our share of problems, but so do other countries. I don’t know you, but from your tone, it seems that you “may” fit the profile of one of those anti-American foreigners who has to put down his own country to lift up another country.

      What do you define as poor family structure? Divorce?

      Let me remind you, many people in Latin America are very conservative compared to the States (on the surface anyway), and people get or stay married more or less because of financial, religious, or social issues.

      In the States, we can pretty much do what we please, without so much social and religious stigma. If that means poor family structure, so be it. I would never give up my self-sufficient, independent, “horrible lifestyle” to live with my parents and/or extended family.

      As a woman who works and makes decent money, I don’t need to marry a man for financial gain. Also, I am not part of organized religion, so I’m not pressured by the church to be a certain way. All of this is possible because my upbringing in “America” has not pigeonholed my thinking about what’s socially and religiously acceptable. Many of these “good family structures” in Latin America are based on need and practicalitly. The States was that way about 60 some odd years ago. Happily, things have changed since then, meaning greater freedom to see what’s beyond the nest.

      By the way, I married a man form the local culture, so I relate to this discussion. I even had locals telling me to be careful, that some men want a way out. When I met my husband, I wasn’t looking for anyone, and I wasn’t desperate; it just happened. I’m not stupid; you can see when someone is using you.

      But I must say. From living in Latin America for 9 years, I have seen the reality for many foreigners. People so look at us sometimes with ulterior motives.

      Usually, life is easier for foreigners overseas: maybe you earn more, your passport is different, people treat you differently. You don’t have to deal with the poverty and injustices of the average local who is maybe making 400 or 500 a month. You can leave the country permanently anytime you want. Your passport gives you that freedom.

      So yes, of course, some want a better life elsewhere. If you think the States is so twisted, trade your foreigner life with any local, not the rich ones, the average local citizen, working long hours, working hard, to make a fraction of what you earn, and see if the States looks rosier.

      Better yet, renounce your citizenship, and become a sole citizen of your adopted host country. Don’t just talk the talk, WALK THE WALK.

      So of course not all Latinos want to live in the U.S, but significant numbers desire to do so. Just look at immigration statistics. It’s a fact whether you like it or not.

      And you are right, not all Latinos are poor and desperate, wanting to get out. There is a rich upper crust and some countries have a healthy middle class. But guess what? Like all people, they probably have their own prejudices and biases too.

      Anyway, Robert, just a few of my thoughts. And I mean this respectfully.


    2. On the same note, go ask one of the 2.4 million Americans behind bars and the millions more in abject poverty. Better yet take a stroll down any inner city neighborhood in the USA. I dont understand your point. Of course Latin American countries have huge problems HOWEVER the world is no longer star-struck by the notion of USA. Things are changing and yes the USA is a big, diverse place. If you have had the luxury of being born into a middle class family, yes the USA is a great place to live. But if you aren´t it can be just as nightmare-ish as any Latin American country and worse. I was refering to the denegrating way Latinos were being refered to in some posts and was providing an alternative viewpoint of how Latinos may view the USA.


    3. When was the world ever star-struck by the USA?

      Of course, I know things are bad for many in the States, always has been, but you should be telling that to the many Latinos who think the streets are paved with gold in the States. Do all believe this? No, but too many do.


    4. The United States may have many faults but it is still a country that if you work hard you will be successful, unlike in many of the countries we teach in.


    5. Is America the only place you can work hard and be successful? You can work hard and be successful in some other country and then become a victim of american foreign policy too.


    6. you can blame u.s. foreign policy for everything, individuals and countries can control their own destiny if they have the will


    7. After living in and traveling much of Latin American it is far more of a nightmare than the USA. Yes the streets are not paved with gold, but are of opportunity and good chances if you work hard unlike most of Latin America


    8. Whoa, Robert, “materialism, poor family structures, and horrible lifestyle.” You’ve just described Central America to a T.


    9. Just to remind you that America is a continent which includes North, South and Central America. The USA is the name of the country that you want to talk about, the word would be US citizen.


    10. yeah, depends on what model you are using. In the 7 continent model, used mainly in China and US, they are two separate continents. Central America is included in North America. But if you use the 5 or 6 continent model, used mainly in Latin America or most of Europe, it´s just one continent called America, with 3 regions: North America, Central America and South America. http://www.google.co.jp/search?rlz=1C1GGGE_jaJP452JP452&aq=0&oq=is+north+and+south+america+one+co&sugexp=chrome,mod=7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=is+north+and+south+america+one+continent


  10. What about international teachers meeting other international teachers on the Internet to marry? Is this common?


    1. Funny story, that. Early on in one of my host countries, I set up a profile on a dating website. Soon after, I was messaged by a teacher… but she was a teacher I had dated briefly some months prior. She had a good laugh finding me on there, but it was mutual.

      I’ve never specifically heard of teachers establishing lasting relationships on such sites, but I know plenty of expats who connected that way and are married now. For those apprehensive about dating websites, given the horror stories you’ve probably heard back home, I think it’s a little different when you’re overseas. You’re in an unfamiliar country, and it’s a great way to get to know the other expats in your circle.


  11. I hit the international scene after my divorce. One year after as a matter of fact. Was that a contributing factor? Absolutely! Was it the cause? No. I had always wanted to teach internationally. In fact it is the main reason I got into teaching in the very beginning. My ex refused and we stayed together many years, but it was always in the back of my mind. I was sorry I hadn’t done it. But love will win out and I happily stayed home with her. When we split I resurrected my old dream and went as a single.

    As a single man I met a lot of Americian women in the states that were either needy or greedy. I was unlucky, I guess. As a single man in latin america I met women that were charming, friendly and liked me. We have a stereotypical expression here called, “green card wives.” I think you can surmise what that is all about. I know why I was so attractive to the locals. I was a ticket to the “land of opportunity.” On the other hand I got something from these relationships too. I got to date some of the most beautiful, sweet women I have ever had the good fortune to meet. It also helps that I have had a thing for latinas as long as I can remember.

    Now when I say “date” I mean date, not sleep around. I am a devout Christian and that doesn’t really fit with my philosophy of life. I am not a man whore. Perhaps that’s why so many of my relationships didn’t last that long?

    After several years international I met my charming bride in church in Colombia. She is attractive and likes me but most of all she likes other people. I married her for her intangible qualities, those things that will last long after our looks are gone and wrinkles and gravity have taken over. Everyone who meets her says how wonderful she is. Even my mother!

    We married three years ago and have lived in 2 other countries, excluding the US, since then. This is forever, just as much as it is for any other married couple.

    Is it difficult? You bet! We have cultural issues, language issues, as well as all the other issues that a married couple has. We live in a country that is not ours. We have 3 countries represented in our home when there is no one else there. Miscommunication is a way of life. But I wouldn’t trade my bride for the world.

    She got some things from me, that’s sure. She wanted to marry outside her culture, for reasons any latina can tell you. She comes from deepest poverty and I was her ticket out. I understand this. It just means that these are reasons why she VALUES me. I of course got nothing but a beautiful, sweet woman that charms me right down to my socks when she smiles at me. And that’s why I VALUE her. I don’t care why she thinks I am good enough for her and I don’t believe she cares why I think she’s good enough for me. Every couple has their reasons, multicountry or not. Ours are just easier to identify. I still bristle when anyone calls her a “greeen card wife” though.

    So there are no hard and fast rules. Date if you want and don’t if you don’t. It’s up to you. And certainly don’t pay attention to what other people will say about it. But if you end up in a country where celebacy is your best option maybe you won’t want to extend.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I met a Thai teacher while I was traveling. Her and I spent time together whenever I got the chance to go to Thailand while on holiday from my International school. Now she lives in my part of China and is also working as a TA. It’s pretty darn nice! Ps….. we plan on getting married soon. My fiancé loves working here and is very supportive of me and the school. It has been an amazing experience for the both of us.


  13. In addition to what’s been said already regarding prejudice… I’m reminded of a line from George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air.” To paraphrase, one person’s stereotypes are another person’s shortcuts. This is a dangerous proposition to raise in a teacher’s lounge, or any other theater of political correctness, but let’s face it: stereotypes come from somewhere, right?

    We tend to think of prejudice as being wholly negative; images of Gandhi and MLK immediately come to mind, yes? I’ll be the first to say that prejudice is a bad thing when it’s used to harm others. That doesn’t mean it’s always bad, though.

    For example, take a few minutes to read the reviews on ISR. How many stereotypes do you generate as you read? For-profit schools are *always* miserable workplaces. Non-profit schools are *always* the best. Administrators in the Middle East *always* terrorize their teachers. Search and other agencies are profiteers and *never* care for their client teachers. And on and on.

    Now a discerning mind will read the reviews and think, “Surely there are exceptions,” and that discerning mind would be correct. However, a discerning mind will know to approach a for-profit school in the Middle East with special caution, given the evidence that has created the stereotypes about such a school. A teacher who completely dismisses the stereotype of such a school — a carte blanche attitude towards the world — would be a fool.

    But I digress.

    This thread is about relationships. When Annonymous posted about Western guys and their Asian gals, he’s repeating an oft-circulated stereotype about expats in East Asia. A well-earned one at that! I spent four years in Asia and knew scores of men inside and outside of the teaching profession who behaved contemptibly towards the local women and owned it as a point of pride. The other side of the stereotypical coin, there are many women in East Asia who see a foreign man as a passport out of their “developing world” standard of living.

    There are exceptions of course, but scandal makes better gossip.

    So when Annonymous says that he makes a snap judgement about a western man partnered with an Asian woman, he’s not being hateful. He’s just being honest. And if he’s anything like me, he starts with a snap judgement but as he gets to know the couple as people, then maybe his prejudices lessen… or get reinforced! In either case, it doesn’t mean we can’t all be friends. Dude married an Asian gal because he couldn’t find a woman in his home country? Gal married him because he commands a better income than any local man can? Good for the both of them! Everyone wins.

    I would never teach my students that stereotypes are wrong. They’re logical. They’re the safeguards our minds create so we don’t stick our fingers in electrical sockets, dive in head first, or walk through certain neighborhoods after a certain hour. What I do teach them is that if they don’t know someone’s story, get curious! Find out!


    1. Perhaps you may also want to teach your students about The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically Article 2

      “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

      Your justification to excuse people for making insulting statements about whole groups of men based on their sexist beliefs doesn’t wash.


    2. Dave, at what point did I suggest that we should take away anyone’s rights? Oh, I didn’t. What I did say was, “Prejudice is a bad thing when it’s used to harm others.” I don’t think you read my entire post. I think you read the first paragraph and flew into PC Warrior mode. There’s nothing in the UN Charter saying that we’re not allowed to have opinions of other people.

      When I was dating in China (like our Anonymous friend in Latin America, I mean ‘dating’ in the strictest sense of the word) there were local women who said they loved me on the first date. Would it be sensible for me at that point to omit from my critical thinking the anecdotes I had heard about women who see a foreigner as a means of escaping poverty? No, that would not be sensible at all. My stereotypes obviously did not stop me from dating locally however, and though I was cautious (exercising prejudice, one might say), I managed to have a great time getting to know local Chinese people and celebrating our diversity.

      In the international sphere, whether you’re talking about dating or haggling or just surviving day to day, if you don’t use a dash of prejudice in your thinking, anticipate discomfort. Yes, we are all human beings, but we are all different. We should treat each other and expect to be treated as such.


    3. Yes but folks need to do this for the sake of dialogue. Generalizing is a tool that can be helpful. Believe me, most directors absolutely generalize when interviewing and evaluating you! You know that many of these stereotypes are 100% valid and others 0 % and others…somewhere in between.


  14. Look, I mean to say that there are prejudices, ignorance whatever you wish to call it in every country. You have to deal with it – you aren’t going to change them overnight, and by thrusting your relationship into their faces is not going to solve anything. My advice is to be careful, play it down, and try not to attract attention. A hard thing to swallow, but if you want to travel and see other countries and cultures then this is what you have to do. I live in a place where ‘alternate lifestyles’ are punishable in the most severe fashion. Does this stop the locals or expatriates?? No, they just have to be careful.

    I hope this helps.


  15. anonymous – this is rubbish! Do not feel impeded by differing attitudes from seeing the world! True, only a fraction of countries have ‘western’ attitudes to gay relationships, however, my partner and I have traveled widely and have had few problems if any. Sure you don’t show affection in public but i rarely would in the UK or Australia. If you feel the need to be demonstrative in public to cement your relationship then you won’t travel far at all. You have to be respectful of local traditions and don’t shove your relationship down peoples’ throats.


    1. It´s me, the first person who raised the subject of same-sex couples. The Alternative life styles blog was very useful. As gay people we frequently get accused of “shoving it down people´s throats”, heterosexual couples do not get accused of this. I would only like to hold my partner´s hand in public or put my arm around her, this is something that straight people take for granted. The same thing happens in school where straight people are free to talk about their relationships without being accused of “shoving it down people´s throat”. Having said this, in these two countries the school´s have been very accepting of my previous relationships.


  16. I have worked in Mexico and Spain, I’ve seen people go abroad as couples or one stays in the UK while the other moves. As other ppl gave said, if the relationship is strong, you shouldn’t have problems. In Mexico I was very aware that I could be used for my money, but you just have to trust your instincts. I know at least 2 couples who married colleagues they met, and many more women who married Mexican men.

    The subject I want to bring up is how this works for gay people. I am in a stable relationship with my partner and we would both like to work and travel. However,many countries have homophobic laws and our relationship could even be considered illegal. When travelling in South America we did not show any affection in public and this put a strain on the relationship. We want to see the world but I feel we are prevented from doing this because of our sexuality. Does above have any experience of this?

    ADMIN NOTE: You’ll find this topic covered in our Alternative Life Styles Overseas Blog at the following URL


    1. Anonymous:

      I wish I had experience living in country about which I could tell you that you and your partner would be safe. Sadly, I don’t think there are as many options when considering this. And, you are correct, this is not only cultural, but can have severe consequences in some countries. I have lived in places where you could be jailed or even sentenced to death, which for me was/is just heartbreaking. Beyond, many European countries, Iceland, and North America, I’m not sure… Maybe others will respond to this with more options, which would make my day. I wish you and your partner all the best in your adventures and safe, happy, loving travels.


    2. Korea is fine; it has some good international schools, lots to do if you have a car. Seoul has clubs, pubs, shopping, cultural enclaves. Busan also. Good medical and dental care are available. Language is a real problem and Korean lessons before coming are strongly recommended. Non-married straight couples in some ME countries have had to live in separate apartments, so same sex couples may actually find it easier to share if they go there. Good luck on your travels, there are good places around the world!


  17. What a fascinating discussion!

    Married teaching couples. There are married teaching couples where I work now and in my previous school. For the most part they work professionally together and do not bring their marital issues into the work place. Having said this I have heard of terrible issues where couples bring their disputes into the playground. Not pretty and as one previous poster observed, makes life difficult for all around. One couple I know ensure they spend little time together at school and do not discuss school at home, to ensure their relationship stays sane.

    In my last employment in a rather surreptitious eastern European country, there were many young men out to meet the attractive local ladies. A couple of these guys met someone, and then ended up losing their jobs, funds, I-pods, cameras and passports, as some local ladies would ingratiate themselves into the guy’s life, flat etc, and then have the lady’s friends/relatives to help them take everything from these naive guys.

    I have a partner back in the UK, we spend all my holidays together, and they try to get to my current residence every 4-6 weeks. We text and talk daily, email each other etc. It’s not a brilliant situation, I know this. However it’s not forever, I am building up my skills and CV, and trying to save as much money as possible. They realize that I need to do this and encourages me. We hope to be in my next employment together once they have their affairs in order to be able to leave for a prolonged period.


  18. I’m single, 28, female and about to embark on my first overseas position (hopefully). I don’t want to stay single for the next 2 years and have turned down a few positions on the basis that there would be little or no social scene. Having been single most of my life, it’s time to get hooked up. So, where should I avoid and where should I focus my efforts on finding work?

    Thanks for your advice!


    1. DO NOT go overseas thinking your are going to find a mate, when you haven’t been able to at home. Issues are issues, and they are only intensified overseas. While it’s reasonable to consider the general social options of a position, accepting a position based on the odds of getting “hooked up” is counter-productive. Just find a position in which you can be happy.


  19. Great ideas! Just think of the effects whatever you do has on the real objective of why you were hired.


  20. If you have a very difficult time trusting any western man who has been in Asia, it is your specific issue. I don’t find it suspicious to see a man getting married to a “local” who is also a human being with feelings. If these men you are referring to can’t find “decent” relationship in their home and have the chance to do so in another country, I personally don’t see why it is a problem. Love can have multiple aspects – whatever works.
    I am not married to a “local”.


  21. Rocky relationships and moving overseas- my advice is don’t do it because the same problems go with you and may become worse in a different country

    Single women living in Asia- very hard. A few young ones get lucky and marry a colleague. I lived in Japan, Korea, India and Middle East. All expats who are single seem to want to marry local women in Japan and Korea. Culture is too different in Middle East and India for me to marry into it. Not too many single men in Middle East/India who shared my culture. Most expats were already married in those places which made socializing with them a bit awkward.

    Dating a colleague- seems to happen more overseas than at home. It depends upon the level of discretion of both people I think. I do recall a particularly public break up at one school which made the rest of us very uncomfortable. So perhaps best done when both agree to keep it private.

    Looking forward to hearing what others have to say…


  22. I’ve also seen the other side of the coin. I’ve lost count of he number of colleagues (men especially) who go overseas looking a quick and easy relationship and take advantage of local girls. This gives the rest of us foreigners who are there to do our jobs and take our work very seriously a very bad reputation. In fact I have a very difficult time trusting any western man who has been in Asia or for any length of time or has married a local. It usually means they can’t find decent relationship in their home countries. I’ve seen it too many times.


    1. Crazy post with a ridiculous generalization , “difficult time trusting any western man who has been in Asia for any length of time”. So a man on a holiday with his family? A man with a long layover from a connecting flight? A humanitarian helping refugees?
      And the other ridiculous zinger, “it usually means they can’t find decent relationships in their home countries”. Maybe it means they are looking for something different, fresh, exotic, or have grown tired of women from their home country.

      I have also seen it many times with women overseas(especially Latin America) and how to say with still being tasteful… well you get the idea. So does that mean I cannot trust any women who has ever been to Latin America for any amount of time? Of course not. Yea maybe a few men go overseas for fast relationships, or had a difficult time relationships back home, but definitely not the majority. Being a teacher you should really get rid of your generalizations and stereotypes, as we are trying to teach our children to not have those.


    2. What a disgusting post. “In fact I have a very difficult time trusting any western man who has been in Asia or for any length of time or has married a local. It usually means they can’t find decent relationship in their home countries.”

      I am sure my wife I met in Asia and my beautiful son would differ. May I suggest you open your mind and stop judging men who go to Asia.


    3. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so, often, is mistrust. If you feel that an entire demographic of humans can be so simply pigeonholed (either by gender, race, religion, etc.) then I would suggest you consider the possibility that the sketchiness occurs in your lens rather than the entire world around you. I currently work in a location where the opposite would seem to be true: foreign women break up with their same-home-country men here at unbelievable rates and enjoy lots of attention from local men, while local women are not accessible to foreign men. Would you mistrust all western women here? Would you believe that the western women are all here because they can’t find decent relationships in their home countries? Or would you use the “but that’s different!” defense?


  23. Skeptical is putting it lightly.

    I have lost count of the number of expats I know who have dallied, gotten into a relationship or hitched and have had things fall apart in disastrous fashion. For many of these “relationships” the writing was on the wall from the beginning: two people from radically different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds who often can’t even fully communicate in the same language fall for each other and try to maintain a bond based on mutual understanding and.

    Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture????


  24. My experience with international relationships in various countries has left me quite skeptical, and I have also witnessed this numerous times over the years with colleagues too. Beware of foreigners who are looking at you as an easy ticket out of their country, to come to your country and expecting financial stability. You need to be realistic about the value of these ‘dalliances.’ Beware because sometimes an overseas relationship could just leave your pocket book emptier, or maybe you even find yourself in divorce court getting rid of a leech. Beware! Beware! Beware!


  25. Abigail, you have an individual contract, so what your boyfriend decides shouldn’t matter.

    Now, an interesting take on this idea that I’d like to see a post on is couples where one stays home, and the other goes overseas. My “significant other” and I met online when I was in Egypt. I came home initially for a year, but always told him I was going back out. If he could find a way to accompany me, great, but if not, so be it. I ended up staying four years, but eventually missed being overseas too much and went back out. He stayed home. We meet up overseas once a year, and I go home for summers, but I doubt we can sustain this. We’ll see.


  26. Well, as a single who lived in the Middle East- especially Qatar or a more conservative country, the “hot” dates are virtually nonexistent for females. There are two crowds- the married groups and the English bar scene- no happy mediums. Some of my western friends threw caution to the wind and married Muslims. Dubai probably has more variety. Although interesting and fascinating, it was a lonely two years.


  27. As a female who has taught in three other countries, I find it fantastic and the ‘dalliances’ I had over the years where well worth it!


  28. Abigail, I’ve known a number of teaching couples who split up while abroad. In every case, the split happened before the end of the school year. Through to the end of the year, they practiced utmost discretion; only their closest friends had any idea they were on the rocks! Typically one of the two would stay on for the next year, and the other one would leave, even if it meant them breaking contract. No sense in dragging it out. Schools understand that. I wish I could tell you it’s easy, but you know already that breaking up is never easy, no matter the circumstances.

    As for the next step, most any school should still take you even if you’d signed on as a couple, because most schools have the good sense to see teachers as individuals, and have sympathy for unplanned misfortunes. If it causes ire with your new school, take that as a red flag!

    On an entirely different note, Edward, I gotta agree — being single and overseas ROCKS, at least for male teachers. (I’ve heard that especially in Asia, overseas life is not so hot for female teachers — anyone want to comment on this?) I had my dalliances over the years, but in the end, I was lucky enough to fall for a colleague. We are now back in her home country (NZ), engaged, and plan spend a few years off the road to put down some roots, call someplace home. But I’m sure our feet will get itchy again much sooner than we think…

    I’d like to hear from other people who met their partner on the road. Or about Do’s and Don’ts of dating locally or dating in the work place. That old saying about “the company ink” seems to go right out the window in the overseas teaching field.


    1. “At it for a while”, I’m an American female currently living in SE Asia starting my second year. Found this blog searching for insight to my own questions about relationships abroad, but figured I’d give light to some of your questions.

      I agree to an extent that single female teachers in Asia have it much harder than single male teachers. Much of SE Asia has a fascination with white people and being white themselves. They see ‘farang’ as a source of wealth or a chance for a green card out of their situation, usually the woman seeking men for a better life. I’ve had a few native men interested in me, but they were short lived relationships due to lack of the male’s confidence or perhaps feeling intimidated by me. Many women do not do well here because it really is a boy’s playland. It takes a strong, confident woman to do well.

      As for my relationship, I have an answer and a question. I met my boyfriend at a bar and we hit it off right away. We’re both teachers abroad, living in our host country for about the same amount of time and relatively the same age. I feel as though the expat lifestyle really encouraged our relationship to blossom as quickly as it did; we’ve been dating 5 1/2 months and already living together and very much in love, planning future travels together and even considering our next moves in our careers.

      Which brings me to my question: How long is it generally acceptable for a couple to be dating before they can be considered a steady “teaching couple” for job fairs? My boyfriend and I are currently talking about the possibilities of moving abroad together for new jobs, but I can’t say it doesn’t bother me a bit wondering whether or not our relationship will continue as it is a year from now. Should we stay and try to find new jobs in a same location to see if dating long-term works first or should we try to move and hope it works?


  29. My husband and I both taught in separate schools in New Zealand. I loved mine, he hated his. When I went off on maternity leave, he took over in my school. Then we job shared for 2 years, which was a great experience. Having been back in the UK for 6 years and now having 2 children, we’re off again to Central America. You both have to decide what it is you are looking for from the experience and appreciate that at different times, you will feel differently. If you can listen and support each other, then you feel more positive. Never moan about where you are living/working at school; it’s too negative and soon gets around the school community. Sam is right, if you’re a family you are your own support network. Often it’s not the school/place that’s not right for you, but that you’re not right for that school/country.


  30. I worked with a couple in South America. The woman was never happy and always complaining. She wanted to leave the school and the husband wanted to stay. They did eventually leave together, breaking contract. They soon after divorced in the States.

    Being around them was not pleasant due to the tension they created. I think if your relationship is not solid back in the States it’s going to come unglued when subjected to the pressures of dealing with living overseas. I would recommend coming alone or not at all if this is your situation.


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