If 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…
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