Single Overseas…..and Looking

rose44174347If you’re single and teaching overseas, chances are you’ve had some experience with dating and/or meeting a life partner. I’d venture to say  the majority of us prefer having someone special in our life but it goes without saying that different countries have markedly different dating norms. Though you may be from the West, when you begin a relationship with someone from your new host country, the local cultural norms apply whether you’re familiar with them or not.

A trying aspect of living overseas can be the marked absence of the unspoken, yet understood part of conversation that exists between two people from the same country. When interacting with people from a different culture it’s easy to misread each others’ intentions since each is basing their interpretation of the interaction on different cultural norms. If  you’re  dealing with the storekeeper down the street who is selling you a steak, a cultural misunderstanding is a minor inconvenience. When feelings and emotions become involved, as in dating, that’s a different story. Not knowing the norms of a culture could lead to embarrassing situations, or worse.

For single educators, moving on to new schools after summer vacation or departing for overseas the first time, ISR has created a Blog specifically for asking and sharing information on forming relationships in different locations around the globe, both in and out of school. Here’s some quotes straight from the ISR Forum to help get the conversation rolling.

Speaking from a female perspective, the chances of finding a suitable partner becomes more difficult when dealing with non Western men. Quite often you find there are very different expectations on women and their roles when dealing with dating locals…

The dating marketplace is turned upside down outside of the U.S and the western world. In much of Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America, a single male expat has more options than he knows what to do with. “It’s overwhelming at times.”

We really have to make a distinction between A MATE and BOOTY. I know so many teachers, especially in their 20s and 30s, who had revolving girlfriends in central America but very few developed into actual long-term relationships.

I think there are so many cross-cultural differences that undermine many of these relationships. Some do work out and become beautiful partnerships, but so many don’t.

I went as a single women to South America. I was embarrassed to encounter a load of revolting, leering British Hash Club types who were married, fat and ALWAYS on the prowl.

You will tend to meet a pretty cool and adventurous sort of person. I think it is a good way of meeting a potential partner. Good luck!

I have gay and lesbian friends who also deal with this issue as international teachers. Some of the issues they have are the same, and some of the issues they have are different.

I ended up with an international partner. It took a while, I was alone for quite a few years, but it did happen and it’s wonderful. If you go and do what you want to do, life will make things right…

Join the conversation – Scroll down to post

40 Responses to Single Overseas…..and Looking

  1. Ms. Reyes says:

    I’m a Latin American girl teaching Spanish in SE Asia and although I do agree with that fact that ex-pat men have tons of choices in SE Asia/Latin A,erica, etc. I also see the point of view of men. I was that Latin girl Americans dated while living in Mexico. Now, I teach in Asia and absolutely loved it. Yes, it has been harder to date since the pot of ex-pat men is small and most people know each other, yet, I have dated a few and I have my prospects for the near future😉
    I don’t know if it’s because I put on some make up and check my outfits (I am a Latin girl after all, it’s part of us), but a change of attitude and a smile/friendly face always helps!

    Like

    • CeeCee says:

      Thanks for sharing this. All I’ve heard is negative about dating so it’s nice to know that there is a possibility.

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      • Ms. Reyes says:

        It’s not gonna be a walk in the park, but there are choices and you’ll meet very interesting people for sure! Just stay positive. western girl have A LOT to offer too🙂

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  2. Buttefly says:

    I am a Black woman born and raised in UK. I spent many years in SE Asia. I only date Black men and I still manage to date from the small pool of Black men in South Korea. I do think dating for expat women is difficult, more so for women of a darker hue. I will be moving to China next month, and not to any of the majors cities, and can olny assumed it’s pretty much like South Korea. One thing I am mindful of is that expat men do certainly play the field overseas.

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    • CeeCee says:

      I’m glad to here this, as all I’ve heard are negative comments about black women being able to date in Asia.

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      • Buttefly says:

        To be honest I had a lot of attention from black men overseas as black men out number black women, so i was kinda lucky in that sense. However, none of them were suitable for long term relationship/marriage. In Korea, there are two types of black men, the men who move there for work or business and usually Africans from the continent. The other were black men in the US military.

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        • CeeCee says:

          Ok. I’m actually going to Shanghai so I guess I’ll see how it is there. I’m not expecting men to flock to me. LOL!! But, it would be nice to know that I could date if I wanted to. Because I’ve heard is to prepare for a lot of lonely nights.

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          • Buttefly says:

            I will 2-3 hours drive from Shanghai and I’m pretty sure I will be travelling there. We should meet up sometime. Let me know if you’re interested. I will be flyng to China in 2 weeks.

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  3. Mike says:

    Entering the gay scene in India was easy, but finding the right guy a challenge, because most Indian gay men live closeted. But two years ago I met my soulmate: a man from a farming village, who had never traveled outside of India. We were the first, or among the first same-sex couples to get a US K-1 Fiancé Visa through the US Embassy in New Delhi. We married in New York last month and returned home to Delhi yesterday. India doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, and has become far more gay-unfriendly since recent court rulings against our community. My husband and I are out and proud, but we remain vigilant. We love India, but we’re not confident about long-term prospects here. We’ll be moving on from the country together within the next few years, and eventually settle in the US, near my family.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Mostly I enjoy my friends and don’t date much.
    I watched the single and younger girls date in Morocco and I worry about the message they send because you either marry or are considered a whore by most men, so I didn’t think it was a good idea to date when I did not want to marry and stay there. There are exceptions but not enough of them.

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  5. AVeteranTeacher says:

    I see some comments from bitter, expat females who complain of men who “take advantage of the situation” by (gasp!) dating and sometimes even marrying local females. I find this ironic and a somewhat humorous as many western women in their home country are free to “take advantage of the situation” by dating as many people as they want and it is completely acceptable in our feminized societies “back home.” Now, these same women, who are often put on a pedestal in Davenport, Iowa, go to different cultures because they think it will be just like Julie Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”, but they are STUNNED to realize that their attitudes, personalities, values, and/or appearance are not appreciated as much. And, God knows, this turns their world upside down because it’s not the way it’s “supposed” to be. Thus, they become disgruntled, negative, and tend to blame the local culture and/or the expat men who aren’t interested in them. I’ve seen it over and over whether in Asia, Latin America, or Europe. It’s almost as if they expect expat men to apologize for dating local women who are often more attractive, friendly, take better care of themselves, and who have more traditional values. Maybe if these disgruntled expat women would reflect more on themselves as people, and stop complaining, hating, and having tantrums whenever they see a “guy who couldn’t get a date back home” with an attractive girl, they would progress in life and find happiness abroad.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Good comment, as I was about to identify him as just the sort of man (not male, male is an adjective) who was likely to have problems getting a date in other circumstances.

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    • A.G. says:

      Amen to that. Could not have said it any better myself, and largely sums up the reasons why I avoid expat Western women completely.

      Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very hard to find a life partner overseas unless one is willing to marry a local or settle for someone who maybe you would never think twice about back home where there are more people to choose from.

    Some people do get lucky with marriage but that has not been the case for me.

    I married another American when we were both living and working in an Asian country but because the life overseas was so easy when we got back to the USA and things were harder financially and with more responsibility he turned out to not be able to handle it. I had no idea as he appeared to be quite normal in the expat environment.

    Best advice is to be careful. If you marry a foreigner be advised you are marrying their entire family and financial obligations that go along with it. You will be amazed at how many family members will come and live with you or at least my friends were who married locals.

    Second bit of advice is to meet the family and other friends even if the person is from your same culture. Then you will be able to see the person’s life more accurately. That would have saved me a lot of grief.

    Last advice, if you are in the middle east know that local men target western women for free sex. Most will not marry these women that they sleep with and instead will look for someone who is virginal and follows their religion. This is a pattern I observed with other female teachers during my extensive teaching time in various middle eastern countries. Also know of 2 teachers who caught STDs from local men in the middle east! The expat women thought because they had to show proof of no stds to get visas that stds were not prevalent in local population. WRONG!

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  7. Steven says:

    Hi, thank you to everyone who is sharing their stories, thoughts, and experiences.
    I went to Vietnam after traveling around SE Asia for 5 summer. I love the people, cultures, regional religions (Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity), climate, flora and fauna (yep, I’m a biologist), and foods!
    I found more respect for teachers in SE Asia than in the US. I found many strangers who wanted to talk with me (if not to meet me than to practice their English). I found a simpler and less expensive way to live. I found more opportunities to grow as a teacher. Specifically, to learn and grow as an ESL (or ELL) science teacher. And, I found a love! My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years. I’m able to explore the local, regional, and country-wide areas of Vietnam as well as other SE Asian countries. I’m able to continue my hobby of photography and videography. I’ve developed a new taste for Asian foods and began to cook some local dishes. I’ve learned much about the Vietnamese people. I’ve learned to embrace new, challenging, strange, and funny things about my and others cultures. Plus, I have many new friendships.
    Basically, I am having the time of my life!
    Thanks again for sharing. If anyone is interested in working and living in Vietnam, then please feel free to write to me.
    Steven

    Like

    • deleted says:

      Hi Steve,
      I’ve enjoyed reading your positive message. I am very interested in exploring work opportunities in Vietnam. Would it be possible to talk to you further about your experience and life in Vietnam? Love to hear from you soon.

      Like

  8. moudon1guy says:

    “Dating the locals…” Beware of going native.

    (Sounds like “Passage to India” stuff. The Raj and all that. “Dating the locals.” Hm.

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    Make sure your brain is as engaged as your heart.

    Too many girls become part of the local scene quickly and before they know it have a ring on their finger, a kid on the way and moved in with the in laws. Lust not love they didn’t get it right.

    Too many girls as above don’t listen to those who have/had been around before ended up becoming very local, changing religion etc, local man madly in love with them etc etc, 6 months down the track abused, divorced.

    Guys, I’ve seen are an easy target for a local girl, well groomed and seemingly connected, falls in lust, guy in love, marry, in laws and so the story goes.

    Best keep legs in a dancing position not doing the high 5.

    Like

  10. Anonymous says:

    The best advice, I can give is, not to long for it. Go out have fun, join teams, clubs, do what you wanna do, travel and enjoy life to the max and when the times right you never quite know what will happen!😉

    Like

  11. Andrea Marie says:

    Dating overseas for women is really difficult, period. And most times even impossible. Lots of effort outside school needs to be invested, and if lucky might bump into a guy who is not interested in local gals. If lucky….

    Good luck!

    Like

  12. ML says:

    I met my husband while working overseas. I am Canadian, he is American. It has been a wonderful experience for both of us especially as we are both older (I like to think more mature) and we were both not exactly looking for love and marriage at this point in our lives. We found in each other a person who likes to travel and to experience the world in a very exciting way – something neither of us found in our respective home towns. It changed my life in so many amazing ways. I think when you work overseas, especially in dangerous or challenging countries (we met in Kuwait) you meet people who are more like you in that they are willing to take risks and live outside their comfort zones. There were a number of teachers at my school who had also met an expat mate, usually working in other fields. I say get out there and join clubs and organizations and you never know who will show up. I also met a number of good girlfriends so for me my overseas experience was worth every minute! Oh yes and I loved my job – can’t beat that.

    Like

  13. Kelly Browning says:

    It’s really very difficult for non-whites.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      How so?

      Like

      • Kelly Browning says:

        Really? You are not aware that non-white women, even educated, well off ones, are not as desirable as white women? What world are you living in Anonymous? LOL

        Like

        • Snarky, but true. I’ve seen white women who couldn’t pay for a date in the states get grabbed up with amazing speed. The world is still the world, no matter what part of it you’re in. Now if you’re a white male, well that,a s they say, is a whole other story.

          Like

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m living in a world where non-white women are very desired…from personal experience. Thus, the reason the question was posed was for you to elaborate on your experiences and/or perception. Thanks for your response.

          Like

    • Ltm says:

      I’m an AA female and I believe your statement is very vague. Please share your experience.

      Like

      • As an AA woman, she’s right. I’ve taught in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The only place I could even get a date was Europe. Getting a job there is nigh unto impossible these days, though. In the Middle East, young white women can get snatched up quickly if that’s what they want. Asia may take longer, but it can happen there too. I say these things about natives of the Middle East and Asia. (China) Expats are everywhere, but a lot of expat men want Asian or Middle Eastern women. I could write a book about that.

        Like

        • Single says:

          Interesting comments. I’m an AA woman and on my way to China in August. I kind if figured that dating would be a challenge.

          Like

          • Anonymous says:

            It will be, but it also depends on where you’re going. If you’re going to Shanghai, Guangzhou, or, God forbid, Bejing, it will be easier. Those are very large cities, and there are more open minded Chinese and expats there. Just know that it will be challenging. If you’re going to a small area, well, I hope you enjoy reading or movies online, something of that nature. You won’t be nearly as busy. Just get out there and join some expats. See how things go. I could tell you loads, as I’ve been in China for two years now.

            Like

            • Anonymous says:

              In my 12+ years in China I observed quite a lot of open racism, worse than the US, as it was acceptable to be direct about it. The Chinese are very racist and intolerant in general. I worked with many teachers that were either off white to Asian to black and the Chinese students were very disappointed to hostile to them. Sorry.

              Like

            • Single says:

              Thanks for the information. I am going to Shanghai, so hopefully the dating scene won’t be too bad for me. But, I’m not going with the expectations that I will be able to date. And, I do enjoy reading, listening to music, working out, so I’m sure I’ll be able to keep myself busy- in addition to the fact that I’m taking my son with me.

              Like

        • Ltm says:

          Vivienne Kay your reply is very helpful and actually what I suspected. I am in my mid thirties, headed to S.E. Asia and don’t plan on dating at all. If a romance should happen to spark, then so be it. Although rare, there are some who desire AA women, but I feel this could be compared to finding a needle in a haystack. I have my preferences and I’ve learned to respect those of others. Instead of focusing on dating, my goal is to focus on making friends, exploring and keeping myself busy.

          Like

      • Kelly Browning says:

        See the above reply to Anonymous!

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          Kelly…Vivenne’s response was very helpful…the type of information about which I was inquiring when I asked “How so?” If your response to me and Ltm represents your responses/interactions with people overall, then perhaps the difficulty for you may be more than being non-white…assuming that you are non-white and not simply a person trying to stir the pot – so to speak; Kindness and finesse go a long way! Best wishes to you in all of your endeavors.

          Like

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m went overseas with my family but knew plenty of single people. I saw guys that couldn’t get a date back home now dating some very good looking and intelligent women. There’s nothing wrong with this but some really took advantage of the situation and, frankly, it bothered me. I’m sure some of these woman saw these guys as a meal ticket and ticket to the West. One guy married a stunningly beautiful woman and she convinced him to move back to the United States where he was from. They had been together about 6 months. Last I heard, she divorced him soon after arrival in the US. I guess they each got what they wanted.

    I’ve yet to see these cross cultural relationships work. In some cases the guy is marrying the entire family. For Western woman I think there are guys out there who see them as a ticket out. This isn’t true in all cases but I did see ti.

    I have a friend who married a woman from Japan. Thinks were great until she got an advanced degree and started acting like the Western woman he had been avoiding. I have a friend from Cuba who married a guy from the States. It’s worked out great, they have two kids and seem like a couple for me.

    I guess it just depends on the people involved and if they have any hidden agendas.

    Like

    • Griffo Yger says:

      A divorce after 6 months would annul her green card if this is what you imply she was after. Perhaps there were other reasons?

      Like

    • A.G. says:

      Oh dear…. yet another person who’s offended against Western guys “taking advantage” of dating/relationship situations abroad. People like you just can’t leave this subject alone without getting your judgemental shots in.

      You were absolutely right when you said, “there’s nothing wrong with this” and should have left it at that. Period. But clearly, your word choices imply that this reality somehow is contrary to what your perception of “right” is. How is a a Western guy “taking advantage” (in other words, exploiting the situation for his benefit) of this situation? Is there some quota that we are not supposed to exceed? One woman a year, is it? Or are we supposed to only date women if we intend to propose marriage to them?

      Here’s something to consider: if a Western man pursues a non-Western woman for a date, serious relationship or just casual sex, as long as they are both consenting adults and they do nothing that violates any law then that should be good enough for you. He’s happy, she’s happy, everyone’s happy-except for people like you, whose messed-up moral code clearly suggests that guys like me (yes, a Western guy living in Asia) are doing something wrong or untoward. It doesn’t matter what their respective motivation is-they are both getting something out of it.

      The only “hidden agenda” I have when I date women is if I am enjoying myself and their company. And I’ll continue to date as many as I desire for as long as I choose to do so, regardless of whatever sanctimonious, patronising posts or snarky comments in real-life I come across.

      Like

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