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5 Things No One Tells You about Falling in Love Abroad

I just discovered Julia’s blog last week when she left me a novel of a comment on my Breaking Up to Travel post. A girl after my own heart, not only has she traveled and lived all around the world at a young age and writing about it on her blog, Nowhere to Go but Everywhere, she has also had to go through dealing with international affairs of the heart. Bonding via email, I begged her to write me a guest post while I am in Turkey. What pinged in my inbox the next day did not disappoint. In this post, Julia explores the little-discussed side of falling in love abroad.

How many travel and expat bloggers out there have wonderfully successful international relationships that they are more than happy to share with the world? As much as I love reading those stories, from my own years spent in Spain I have learned that dating abroad is not all sunshine and fairytales, and it has been idealized online far too often. From her own experiences, Julia breaks it down for all of those starry-eyed youngsters hoping to fall in love while abroad.

Have you ever dated, had a fling or fallen in love abroad? Tell us about it! How did it end?

falling in love abroad

It seems like a dream…you move to a mysterious new land, meet a handsome stranger and fall hopelessly, passionately in love. Soon enough, you’re riding on the back of his Vespa through winding roads to watch the sunset from a spot that only locals know about thinking, is this real life??

That’s exactly what happened to me when I studied abroad in Granada, Spain last spring and, BOY, do I wish I had someone warn me that such a romance isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I wouldn’t trade in my experience for the world, but I want to share some of the darker sides of falling in love abroad that no one talks about.

 First, some upsides to international love. I met a fantastic guy, I became fluent in Spanish from constantly conversing with my novio and his friends and family in their language. I learned colloquial terms and sayings I never would have  known and got an insiders look into lesser-known spots in the city.

Oh, and I got to fall deeply in love in one of the most romantic cities in the world…I guess that’s pretty cool too.

But, just like any relationship, there are some aspects that are extremely difficult and painful. The difficult parts are often exacerbated in a foreign land as you are introduced to new cultural practices, beliefs and values. A language barrier doesn’t help things. So, I’ve put together a list of things that either hindered my relationship directly or have happened to my friends.

This should serve as a caution to starry-eyed girls who go abroad looking for a fairy tale…like a certain 20 year old I once knew.

falling in love abroad

1.This isn’t his first time at the rodeo

If you met at a disco/bar where study abroad students tend to flock; Rico Suave came with one thing in mind. Use your head, chica. Each year, thousands of Americans and international students move to these hotspot cities looking for an adventure, and men absolutely take advantage of this.  Most women let loose, and rightly so, it’s a time for fun and few obligations. But, unfortunately for many women, this means doing things they normally wouldn’t back home. If a man picks you up in one of these situations, be wary. Oftentimes, the men that frequent these places are just looking for a fling, banking on the fact that a ton of girls are hoping to fall in love. We go in thinking it’s love, a story to tell our grandchildren, while we’re more than likely just going through a revolving door of American girls.

{If he pursues you outside of the nightlife atmosphere, doesn’t try to sleep with you immediately, and especially if he involves you in his life with his family and friends, however, he could very well be an exception}

falling in love abroad

2. You may not be in love with him

Moving away from home to a foreign land presents a multitude of new experiences that could influence your feelings during this time. When choosing where to move abroad, most women choose charming and  romanticized places whether it be Rome, Barcelona, Buenos Aires or New Zealand. With the history, natural beauty and exciting culture, it’s easy to fall in love with the place you’re in and the life you live there. Between the yummy food, flowing drinks and new adventures, your pleasure center is constantly stimulated. Mix in a relationship with all these feelings and emotions and it becomes hard to distinguish how you feel about the person versus how you feel towards life in general at this time. Would you be in love with this guy if you were back in your home town? Would you want him to meet your parents? These are things worth thinking about if you’re interested in more than a fling.

falling in love abroad

3. You’ll never 100% understand each other

This one pertains solely to relationships where there is a language barrier. You could be as fluent as a non-native can be, but it is nearly impossible to truly understand humor or complicated emotion in a language that is not your mother tongue. Things like dry humor, sarcasm, and goofy jokes are extremely difficult to accurately translate. Combine that with the difficulty of conveying exactly why you’re mad/hurt/upset in a new language, and a lot of important things get lost in translation. This makes for a lot of frustration and, more than likely, many unnecessary fights.

{Upside: with all the passion and excitement surrounding you, makin’ up ain’t haaaalf bad}

4. You’ll miss out on experiences

If you’re only living abroad for a limited amount of time, having a man in your home base can and will distract you in some way. This isn’t some feminist “sister, a man will only hold you back from becoming the woman you should be” speal. It’s a fact. If you’re in love with someone and know your time together is limited by your visa, you will want to spend as much time with him as possible. This means turning down weekend jaunts to Ibiza to stay with him and nixing girls’ nights out of shameless bar-top dancing with your friends for quiet nights with your man. Many people only get the chance to live abroad once, and though you don’t think so in the moment, turning down exciting opportunities could be something you may regret when you look back on your life.

falling in love abroad

5. There’s an expiration date on your relationship

This has been a theme in each of the previous points. You have a visa, and visas expire. This means one of two things. You have to either accept your romance as nothing more than a fling, or, you have to commit. Commit to making a bi-continental relationship work, commit to a permanent  move at some point, or commit to staying together with no plan at all. To know that you’re in love and these things have a way of working out. This is, of course, up to you.

My point is that in order to protect yourself from heartbreak and disappointment, there is a lot to consider before entering into a love affair abroad. My friends like to refer to what I had with my love as “the fairytale,” and, in many ways, it was. When I look back on my time with him in Granada, I remember the most intense feelings I’ve ever experienced in my life; passion, pain, confusion, excitement, desperation and intense disappointment. I think I could have avoided some of the darker bits had someone made me conscious of the facts I’ve listed above. So, I hope that I can help at least one person to make the most of their time abroad. To immerse yourself, to love, and to explore, but to be aware, conscious, and smart.

falling in love abroad

My two biggest pieces of advice:

Don’t go looking for love, go looking for yourself and if love finds you, then love. You may find the man of your dreams. And if it’s a fling, go for it, girl.

I don’t think anyone ever regretted a tryst with a mysterious stranger.

{Disclaimer:  I know people who have successful international relationships, so there are absolutely exceptions to this list}

Julia is a world traveler who has spent time living on the Cote d’Azure and Southern Spain. These days she calls New York City home..at least until September, when her wanderlust will relocate her to Madrid in search of new adventures. A sociologist and linguist at heart, she is passionate about seeking out new lands and cultures. She recently started blogging at Nowhere to go but Everywhere to chronicle past, present and future travels. Be sure to follow her out on Instagram and Twitter for real-time updates!

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82 Responses to 5 Things No One Tells You about Falling in Love Abroad

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas February 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    This post hits oh-so-very near to my little corazon. I initially had more qualms to my relationship with my Rico Suave, an English-wielding pilot named Enrique. I looked for ANYTHING to break us up, not willing to let my guard down or risk the big teary break up before hopping a plane back to America. But we eventually did break up when I realized Spain may not be it for me.

    Turns out, I’m still here, Enrique and I are still very much in love, and that talking about these fears has taken us this far. We’ve talked about kids, marriage and the like, but at the end of the day, it was just dumb luck that we met and formed the kind of relationship I always wanted to have…just in Spanish!

    • Julia February 19, 2013 at 3:39 am #

      I think talking about the fears, risks and realities of these relationships is so important, and that’s what I hoped to get at with this post. It is so easy to fall into a dreamy, jaded state when abroad, and overlook all the potential issues and risks that could lead to heart break.

      It makes me so happy to hear that you and your Rico Suave have gotten through all that and are happily together! I love when these stories work out :)

  2. Edna February 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    I met many a toad on the road and as an expat before finding my British prince charming, including one really life-changing breakup I’m still trying to figure out how to write about. But of course, two years after I swore to “spend all my 20s single” I ended up meeting my fiance (when I was 21) — so you never know what may come of that travel fling!

    • Julia February 19, 2013 at 3:43 am #

      So true! I think committing to the expat life absolutely makes things easier; with study abroad, you unfortunately HAVE to go back. In any case, difficult to start something with someone in a totally new situation and culture, and often we unknowingly risk so much. But that’s one of the best parts about the adventure we so desperately seek :)

      Congratulations on the engagement!

  3. Alana - Paper Planes February 19, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    #3 nailed it.

  4. Amanda February 19, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    I love #2 – it’s so true, and definitely worth thinking about.

    I haven’t really had much experience with love while traveling, though I DID have a fling with an Englishman last summer that I’m still trying to figure out (we’re still in touch and it’s just all sorts of confusing…).

    If only the world wasn’t full of dashing men with sexy accents! ;)

  5. Elli February 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    I completely agree with all of these, but especially #3. When I studied in Sevilla,Spain, it was hard to take any relationships (friendships and romantic) past a certain point because of the language barrier. Even though I spoke Spanish pretty close to fluently, there are some thoughts and feelings that you just can’t translate. I found that my relationships that were able to grow the most were with people who were also bilingual, who understood that is wasn’t especially easy for me to speak in my second language all the time. And when all else failed, we had another language to fall back on to help get the point across.

  6. Dan February 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Very Woody Allen-y.

    Falling for someone while traveling, and then proceeding to travel even more with said person is the dream. (accompanied by miscommunications of Shakespearean proportions)

    • Julia February 20, 2013 at 1:51 am #

      Best. Comment. Ever. This post is the culmination of my very own Vicky Christina Barcelona experience, with a little Midnight in Paris mixed in every so often.

      Though many don’t like to admit it, I think you hit the wanderer’s innermost dream on the head.

      • Dan February 20, 2013 at 10:32 am #

        Many travelers reconcile that intimate relationships are incompatible with this way of life. Everything in my life is enhanced when it is shared with a Diane Keaton archetype

  7. Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Thanks for being so frank, Julia. You are so right, an international romance isn’t a cakewalk. In fact, sometimes I feel like it is the hardest thing I’ve done. Incidentally, I met my Spanish boyfriend in France, where we were both studying, did a stint of long distance (which actually really strengthened our relationship) and now I’m an auxiliar near him.

    While it is a whirlwind of passion and romance and sexy accents, it is also super stressful. Now that we are nearing the second anniversary, we have had to really think about what we want. Neither of us love the idea of marriage, but sometimes it feels like the only way to work this out…and that is really sad.

    Right now we both live in the present, and enjoy our time together, love each other as much as we possibly can, and try not to think about visa expiration.

  8. Lauren February 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    This hits so close to home! I actually met my boyfriend, from Spain, while he was studying abroad here. We’ve been dating for two and a half years, the past year and a half being bi-continental, and this year I hope to be abroad with the Auxiliares or BEDA program (which hopefully with renewals would give us a few years before we’re ready for a permanent move/marriage). #5 is really the deal breaker, if no one is willing to make a permanent move then it just won’t work long term. We discussed it for months before we decided to give a long (long) distance relationship a try. It’s definitely been a struggle but with someone as special as him it’s also been completely worth it. :)

  9. ivy February 19, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    WOW, I just moved to Valencia as an au pair and I met a guy thru a conversation exchange website 1 month after I found out I was moving to Valencia. My first idea was to make friends to hang out when I was here. We always had such a great time skyping and bu the end of the year he told me he liked me and of course I liked him too. So, I finally get here ( 17 days ago) and the first time we met was so normal! It seriously felt like we have seen each other a billion times. We have been going out every weekend and still talk every day thru Skype. I like him as much and much more than I did online, and he feels the same way !

    Wish me luck !

  10. Stephanie February 19, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    How a propos! ;) I went to Florence, Italy, in 2002, for what was supposed to be one year. I ended up meeting an Italian, and in my quest to be with him (and figure myself out), I eventually enrolled at university for a degree. Alas, he & I mutually broke up after 5 years, while I was still in school. Amazingly though, he’s now one of my best friends. And even though a little over a year has passed since I moved back to the States, Italy is still very much a part of my life :) Plus I ended up meeting another Italian here in LA, so… I guess things worked out after all!

  11. Emma February 20, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    I can’t tell you how many people told me to meet a Spanish beau upon my departure abroad! Despite the anxious singletons awaiting a vicarious romance back home, I left looking for nothing more than a grand adventure and some space from my tired routine at home. Of course, as they say, love appears when you least expect it – it most certainly did for me! I managed to fall head first over a man I met during the second half of my stint in Spain and boy did it do me in. Lucky for me, he wasn’t the typical American-crazy, hookup-hopeful guy you so accurately warn against. Unlucky for me, my return ticket to the states was already staring me in the face and our time was limited. For me, the whole thing was worth it (particularly after the adorable broken Spanish version of asking me to be his valentine last week :) ), but if you’re going for it, ladies, be ready for a heck of a heartache! The theme of our relationship today? Algún día, es esta vida o en la otra, we will get our chance.

  12. amelie88 February 20, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    Oh international romance. :) I firmly believe if it’s meant to be, it’s mean to be, distance and bumps in the road not withstanding. I myself am a product of study abroad romance. My mother met my father her junior year abroad while she lived in France for a year.

    Are you ready for this? My father was her host brother! They lived in the same house for an entire year so my mother really got to know his family and her future in-laws by closely observing the family firsthand. There really isn’t a better way to figure out if the guy is right for you! Of course they didn’t get together right away–they got together around February and my mother left later that spring because she had to go back to college and graduate. Everybody told her it was a fling, but lo and behold my father came to visit her twice before they decided a translantic long distance relationship was kind of ridiculous. So they decided to get married–there was no grand proposal and getting down on one knee, which I think makes their story special (and less cheesy). :)

    So yes my father had to leave his family behind since my mother and he decided to live in the US. But they are still together 30 years and 2 daughters later.

    And if you think my parents are the exception and not the rule–my father’s younger brother did the EXACT same thing. He also married an American college student who ended up with my grandparents as host parents! International romances kind of run in the family.

    • Alex @ ifs ands & butts February 20, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      WHAT! Loving these stories, how crazy!

    • Julia February 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      This is such a great story. My romantic side is swooning!

  13. karablythe February 20, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Excellent post. Such truth to the words above. During university, I spent a year studying abroad in Florence and had my fair share of international romance. I learned the reality of 1-4 fairly quickly. However, it wasn’t until very recently returning a long trip in Brazil where I found myself a temporary Brazilian boyfriend that I really came to understand number 5. It seems romantic — the idea of carrying on a long-distance love affair with a foreign friend. Yet, it’s only when you become seriously invested in that person and THEN have to say goodbye that you realize how awful cross continental relationships are. When there’s no chance of one partner permanently moving to be with the other, it all just feels very pointless — which sucks.

    Thanks for putting some of my thoughts into words. I’ll keep these things in mind the next time I think cupid has hit me with an international arrow :)

  14. Alex @ ifs ands & butts February 20, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Love hearing about this because in the blogosphere, it does seem all rainbows and sunshine for the international relationships. After living in Germany a year and a half, I can say it’s just not like that (or maybe I haven’t found my rainbows and sunshine). But being in University towns, people have plans to move, more places to see, life plans. And me? It’s the same. What’s next? I can’t make decisions based on a guy. It makes relationships hard, the deadline. I’ve found it best to try and keep my distance and have a mega international life outside of him. Easier said than done, of course…

  15. Neil Gratton February 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    #3 Do you ever 100% understand someone, even if you share a native language? Really? After years of practice, I don’t even understand myself 100% yet.

  16. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] February 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Even after a few years with mine, we still have understanding mishaps. Sigh …

    I agree, dating abroad does get romanticized. I met Mario when I wasn’t looking, and I think that’s honestly much better. I don’t like it (at all!) when I hear people express the desire to meet someone just based on their nationality. What if there’s a perfect American guy out there for you? Why does the person NEED to be Spanish? Plus I know several American women in Madrid who are tired of being treated as walking dictionaries for Spanish men to practice their English (and I suppose dating skills) on!

    And to be quite honest, it is HARD enough to make it work with anyone, let alone someone who lives far away, whose family is very different, whose native language is not your own, etc. etc. Don’t go looking for it! I am quite happy with mine, but it isn’t easy!

  17. Coti February 21, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    These are such valid points that many people don’t realize when moving/traveling for long periods of time abroad. I met a really great guy while I was away and thought for sure I could end up living there forever…for him. I realize how naive I was is. I’m just so glad I didn’t let it keep me from any Thailand fun! :)

  18. Careese February 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    I thought I was successfully making it through a semester abroad in Barcelona without catching feelings for any guys until one unforgettable night when I went to a concert at my favoriteeee disco. Suddenly, as I was hopping around to the drum n bass beats, this gorgeous man began dancing with me…I thought to myself, a white man with rhythm? Okay! 4 hours of dancing later we found a food joint and began eating and conversing until sunrise. Day by day we found out we had EVERYTHING IN COMMON, besides him being an Italian male and me a West Indian female. After a month of being inseparable we agreed that we might of fallen into that “love shit” that we were both so against . After a year of nonstop communication and since I’ve been in the US, 1-7hour Skype sessions a day (don’t ask or judge I somehow have managed to still be successful) we’ve decided to move in together this summer. I still can’t figure it the fuck out.

  19. Sara Thomas February 22, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Hi Liz! My name is Sara Thomas and I spent two years as an Auxiliar in Malaga. ( I think you know my friend Amanda Roberts, we met and became good friends in Malaga) First of all I just want to say my thanks to you and Julia for writing this blog. After living in Malaga two years I recently returned to the US to my small southern hometown and it has resulted extremely difficult. I wish that I had people here that understood the ups and downs of living abroad and someone that I could share my experiences with. So with that being said, it is wonderful to find your blog!

    I started dating my Rico Suave only about a month after I arrived to Spain. So basically, I still hadn’t even adjusted to all the newness around me. I was an innocent little child who had no idea what was going on. Everything I did was done with an elevated amount of excitment from everything being so new, including the new relationship. We spent all of my two Auxiliar years together so I could go on forever but I am going to try to make it short and sweet. My issues with this person really became the dependency that developed. Because I was so far away from my safety net, my family and friends, and my support group, I clung to Rico Suave to act as all of these people for me. He showed throughout our time together that he was not equipped to take on all of those roles (what Spanish boy at age 28 is actually grown up yet anyway?). I leaned on him and relied on him to help me with all the decisions I made, to take care of my apartment problems, to fight all my battles for me in Spanish (because it is really hard to stand up and fight for yourself when it’s not your native language!) As you can see, I completely lost myself. This is not to say that I was a weak person, it is just when you are in a new culture far away from everything you know, it becomes easy to cling to someone to guide you along and show you the way of things. He saw how much I “needed” and depended on him and he used this to his advantage. I put up with SO MUCH crap that I never would have put up with if this would have been a normal relationship back home! #1 is so true, my Rico Suave got an ego boost when he started dating me and decided to go out and see how many other foreign girls he could reel in, while at the same time keeping me on the side! So I guess my word of advice would be, when you are living abroad make sure you make lots and lots of friends (both Spanish and foreigners like yourself) so that you can all support each other, but NEVER make just one person your only support! It could result in a terrible mess! I actually ended up having to leave Spain because it got so bad (I was going to do a third year and get my Master’s degree in Malaga) but I had to get out. I had to come back to the states and find myself again. I miss and think about Spain a gazillion times a day and I am aching to go back(hopefully to live!) but I had to come back first and get my feet back on the ground. I think the moral of this story is just to be cautious of getting involved with someone quickly when you are living abroad, if I was to do it all again I would take much more time to get to know the person and get involved with them because your emotions really do play tricks on you when you are in a new setting like that. And always go with my gut instinct, when something doesn’t feel right inside, that really is your gut trying to tell you! None of this is to say that people can’t find great relationships abroad, I truely do believe they can, mine just didn’t work out for all the reasons above. It was a great learning experience though! Liz thanks again for your blog and your stories!

  20. Jessica of HolaYessica February 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Interesting post! Dating abroad can definitely be challenging, sometimes even impossible. I have something to add to #1 – even if you’re not in one of those ‘typical guiri’ places, it’s so easy to find guys who are just looking for a tourist to hook up with when you look obviously foreign. I’m blonde-haired and blue-eyed, so it can be a challenge finding guys to date who take me seriously as a person, not just as a novelty tourist hookup.

    I’ve done all kinds of dating abroad, from flings to serious “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” stuff, and it’s definitely not like a fairytale!

  21. Britt March 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Loved this post! Can relate to most points, but I’m not sure if people will actually absorb these realities until they actually experience them. I for sure did! Been boyfriendless for over a year now haha! I’ve found that while living abroad my ideal relationship is between a meaningless fling and an intense relationship. Few and hard to come by, but so worth the wait when they do.

  22. Jt March 13, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    It’s an interesting post.
    I’m a Spanish guy and I fell in love with an American girl. I think it’s always difficult to have a relationship even with people from the same country, so imagine with someone from another.
    I agree with you don’t understand the other just for the language sometimes, even for the intonation and that’s frustrating and it creates senseless fights.
    On the other hand it’s very exciting and fun to know a foreign girl, maybe because of the differences too.
    As you said sometimes it works but in my case, she disappeared one day forever and I’ll never know anything about her again. It’s a shame because I really loved this girl.

  23. Danielle March 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Have you ever dated, had a fling or fallen in love abroad? Tell us about it! How did it end?

    Sometimes, it can work out!

    Chris and I met while he was spending a gap year in Canada. A 21 year old from the UK, he decided on his second night to grab a drink at a local dive bar and it was there that we met. After much internal debate, I decided that even though I knew it couldn’t last (at that time, I wasn’t a traveller and had no intention of moving abroad), I would date him anyway. We fell in love quickly, but came to terms with the fact that after a year, it would end.
    We were wrong.

    Before he left, we decided to give it a shot at working for good. We did long distance for a year, then I obtained a working visa so I could move to the UK to be with him. We spent 2 years living in England together, taking many trips throughout Europe during our time there, enjoying every moment. After 2 years, his company transferred him back to Canada, and before we moved, we took the summer off and trekked around Asia. Just over two years ago, we started our lives in Canada, but continued travelling and searching for ways to build on the adventure we’d experienced so far.

    This summer we are getting married.

    It CAN work, if you open your heart and your mind and take a giant leap of faith. And, if you have a partner who is willing to do the same.

  24. Liz March 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Interesting post, love the stories in the comments. These things can work but it takes committment and sacrifice, usually on both sides!

    The second day I moved to Belgium to study abroad, I met a Norwegian that I fell hopelessly in love with!

    Fast forward four months later, I decided to finish my degree in Belgium and have been living here for 2 1/2 years, no end in sight :)

    It of course does seem very fairytale like, but it involves a lot of hard work and like I said, sacrifice on either one of you or both of you in order to stay together. Language barriers, cultural differences, visa problems, are all very serious. Although I consider how lucky I am, having the legal ability to stay with my boyfriend – whereas many gay couples are unable to legally stay together depending on the countries they live in and are from. That’s a whole other subject!

    • Liz March 28, 2013 at 12:45 am #

      wowza sounds like you are one lucky girl!

      • Evans OSEI BONSU January 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

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  25. GoYvon March 29, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    While I ‘survived’ my time studiying abroad and didn’t fall in love, this did not happen when I went to work for half a year in China and travel in other parts of Asia afterwards.

    My cousin is together with an Irish man whom she met while traveling in Australia. Seeing how me and my cousin are very alike, my mom, who saw the same thing happening to me already that happened to my cousin, ‘warned’ me before I left for China ‘not to fall in love’.
    She should not have done that. After a month in China I met my boyfriend. We became friends, there were no lovey-feelings involved at all (we were both not looking for love, at all). Or, that is what I kept telling myself. I was leaving in a few months and since he is American and Im Dutch I didn’t really see a future for us. But after 2 months of just friendship we were both ready to admit there was more to it.

    And you know with love, if it’s meant to be, you can’t stop it. So, long story short, we decided to give it a go. We decided that almost 2,5 years ago and we’re still going strong.
    Yes, it’s not always easy but those moments don’t ‘beat’ the moments that we’re happy we made the decision to commit and see how things would evolve. Cause the last years have been really good.
    Right now we’re still living in China. That’s works for us now (especially visa-wise), in the future we’d like to move somewhere else, that could become difficult…

  26. Laura April 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    I still think this post makes it look pretty rosy. Ending it with a message indicating sleeping around with mysterious men is extremely unwise – you are only perpetuating the stereotype and worsening the very problem you’re addressing in this article.

    I too feel in love in Spain. We stayed in touch for a couple years, visiting each other and the like. Until I realized it was just unrealistic.

    One of my best friends married her “rico suave” because it was the only way for them to be together. It worked for the first year while they still lived abroad, but once they moved back to the US she realized there was a lot more to her life than what this guy represented. They’re now getting divorced, two years later.

    It’s not impossible to have a real romance abroad, but don’t be another silly gringa.

    • Julia April 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      Hi Laura,

      I’m sorry you were so disillusioned by your experiences with love abroad. I know first-hand how hard that can be. That said, I think you may have gotten the wrong message from my article, as my objective was to encourage young women to be conscious about the realities of relationships abroad, not to promote random sex. As I say above: “I think I could have avoided some of the darker bits had someone made me conscious of the facts I’ve listed above. So, I hope that I can help at least one person to make the most of their time abroad. To immerse yourself, to love, and to explore, but to be aware, conscious, and smart.”

      Yes, I do close out the post with a little bit of sass, but I am in no way promoting sleeping around. It seems that you have taken my statement in a very negative light, and interpreted it to mean “promiscuous, silly girls sleeping around with random men,” but that sentiment is absolutely not present in my words. This post is about romance, not sex. I’m a romantic at heart, and truly believe that if a woman is interested in a flirtation or whirlwind romance (or even sex) then that is her right, and her business. I would never consider myself or any other woman a “silly gringa” for being brave enough to open her heart to someone. After all, what we do with our own hearts and our own bodies as empowered women really isn’t for anyone but God to judge, now is it?

      Relationships like these often teach us something valuable about ourselves and life in general, especially when they take place in a foreign land. I hope this post can help other women be aware of the dangers that these romances pose to the heart, to help them make an informed decision and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. If this post helps even 1 person avoid the disappointment that I (and it seems you and your friend) have experienced, then I will be happy.

      Thanks for taking the time out to comment, and I hope you now see my story in a more positive light.

      – J.

  27. K-dawg April 20, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    I am in my early 30s. I live and work abroad. I fell in love over the last year. We both know my contract is temporary. And we have discussed several times the fact that I will go home, and we will not be together. Sometimes there are certain sacrifices some people are not willing to make. I am willing to discuss possible ways or next steps, but I know he is not ready to make any change so that we could be together. I am not willing to wait for him to see what I see.

    Even as we agreed that our relationship has a term, and that sounds sad, it has helped me understand many things, which is great. All relationships have terms. No two people will ever fully understand each other. Each relationship has a unique opportunity for each person to grow. And because we both understand that we will be apart, no moment is wasted. All time together is precious. We leave nothing on the table. We learn, teach, and grow. We can be more open and more vulnerable perhaps, because we are not afraid of any commitment issues. And I think all of this understanding, practiced well, leads to good habits applicable to all relationships.

    I don’t know if I would have gotten into the same relationship with the same person had I been in the US. There is something special about living abroad, something that makes us open our eyes, hearts, and minds, unlike any other life circumstances.

    It makes me sad to think I will live apart from this man and the best relationship of my life. I have hope though, that the best is yet to come. I know I won’t settle for anything less.

  28. Grace April 26, 2013 at 3:20 am #

    There’s surprisingly little written about study abroad romances – your blog post wraps it up well! Especially #5 about the expiration date.. as sad as it might be to have that, sometimes the best moments happen because of the time constraints. That’s what I keep telling myself to stay positive :)

  29. Julia J. May 3, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    I came across your blog because I just returned to the USA from a 3 month stay in India. I met an Indian man and he and I have strong feelings for each other. We dated a few times when I was there and would text every day. We do keep in touch almost daily since my return to the USA. I do feel a connection with him and there’s something about him that makes me want to continue communicating. Before I left India, he did tell me that if we were to be together in life, I would have to move to India because living in the US is much more expensive.. Still sorting through my feelings about that one.. lol
    I do agree with a lot of the comments here, especially the ones that say if it’s meant to be, it will work out. I let go and hand this over to the Divine/God. But there’s something in me that lights up whenever I think about, see and talk to him…

  30. Laura S May 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Thanks so much for this article! I’ve been there, done that. In every possible way… and seem not to have yet learnt from my mistakes.

    That said, I try to never think of them as mistakes, as they’ve made me who I am, and I wouldn’t know as much as I do without them.

    I think you nailed the un-glamourous parts of falling in (and out) of love when abroad. Thank you for your honesty :)

  31. Valeri June 20, 2013 at 3:25 am #

    I enjoyed the article but the first thing that came to mind was age and experience. I am currently living the fairytale travel romance. Due to the circumstances of travel our relationship moved fast and was a little unconventional but for us it’s working. If this situation occurred in my early twenties I don’t think it would be working because of some of the reasons listed above. To each their own I guess. My next blog post is actually going to cover how I unexpectedly found the man of my dreams across the world and why it’s the best thing thats ever happened to me :) my story can be followed http://www.valeridownunder.com

    Thanks for the share

  32. Joey June 27, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    So, I met this guy online and he’s from Spain. I feel this amazing connection, but I’m a little afraid. I been told your true love shares the same features as you do. Btw I’m a gay male. What do, I do? I’m so confuse right now. I was not looking for anything but a pin pale. He wants me to come to Spain.

    • Basque_Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      The gays couples exists in spain but they are not as much as you think. In spain 1 man of 100 is gay, they are tiny minority. You have to be sure that is gay because if its not you will have a lot of problems I assure you. Normally, the north of spain is true conservative in compare with mediterranean coast, specially in the coast of Barcelona.
      Im not homophobic but be very sure.

  33. Anna July 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    I’ve just gotten back from Barcelona–leaving my love behind. The expiration date thing really, really hits home. We speak twice a day but I really start to wonder, what’s the point, if all I’m thinking or saying is how much I miss him or wish I was there?

  34. Basque_Spaniard July 30, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Spain, the majority thinks that is sun, fiesta, beaches and cuisine but really its the little part of spain. If you want to feel the truly romantic spain you have lose through the spanish green nature. The women will feel like a princess with his prince in the most romantic gem of spain.
    Ride horses, sleep not in hotels in castles instead, walk in medieval towns, eat the best cuisine of spain, a romantic dinner in a courtyard of a castle on a starry night… Live like if you are part of royal family of medieval age.

  35. Peggy August 19, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Great pointers… I met my partner in a sunlit square in Rome, and our first date was in a snowy, moonlit Prague. To say I was bowled away by the romance of it all is an understatement. For a looong time I fought against the developing relationship, believing that it was simply a traveler’s fancy. 5 years, 5 countries and too much time spent on Skype and email later, we’re now engaged and live together in a beachside apartment by the beach. Together we’ve visited most of Europe and some of Asia. My point? Falling in love abroad, is easy, but staying in love is harder. But the good things are worth fighting for.

  36. Hannah Teej October 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    :) Perfect.

    Someone should have told my husband this when he was travelling through England. Alas, I am the Rico Sauve of this story. We were supposed to be ‘flinging it up’ on his time in the UK but then I went and fell in love and persuaded (i.e. made him realise that he was already) him to love me back.

    Cue 2 years of long distance, international arguing and goal setting, a cross-atlantic move, 2 deployments, and a cross-Canadian move and I find myself sat in a small Ontarian town commenting on your blog post.

    I honestly agree with everything you put in your post (and the comments you’ve responded to above).

    It is SO important that you accept it’s ‘never going to last’ or you make plans for it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a leap of faith and ignoring naysayers but the two people involved have to be on the same page.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Hannah
    http://www.thelemonhive.com

  37. Stav October 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I am 26 years old. I recently came back from my second vacation in India. Both times were magical experiences. India is such a different place. It has a uniqe vibe, colture and sets a peacefull calm felling on my mind. I met a special different guy from another country. I felt such a strong connection with him right away, and i think he felt the same strong connection with me. He is so different from the guys in my country. He is so gentle and caring. He is a giving kind of person, the complete opposite of the agressive men I know. He is a deep and open person, and very quickly I felt so comfortable to share my thoughts and and world view with him. We had intimate conversations where we shared privet intimate detales a d experienses from our life. That’s the reason I i felt he feels the same strong feelings towards me. I couldn’t stay with him, because I had to come back and finish my studies at home, thogh I would stay there if I could. I hoped he would ask me to stay with him, or come back when I could, or maybe even come with me to my home. He didn’t. He stayed at his home, without even thinking about those thoughts I had. We stay in touch and text each other, and I stay sad. All the time. I could never find soneone like him, and feel that deep connection with anyone. It was a once in a lifetime experience that would never happen again. I am so broken. I feel like I’m falling. The worst thing is that I know he doesn’t feel the same way. I feel useless and not deserve to be loved. I wish it would have ended differently.

  38. Darrion October 17, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    Hello there! I just thought I would add my story to the mix. It’s quite a bit different than the picture you’ve painted.

    I did fall in love abroad. We’ve been dating for more than a year. We’re both planning on moving to another country to live with each other in July.

    I actually met this man while i was on a layover in Thailand. We only spoke to each other for a few hours, but the sparks must have been really flying! We began talking and it was.. incredible how alike we were.

    He’s Moroccan, but he’d been living in France for ten years. (He’s 28, I’m 21). He’s also Muslim, and English is his 5th language.

    We understand each other perfectly (I speak a bit of Arabic, but mostly, we speak English). I lived with him for a month in France, and he lived with me for a month in the States. I’ll go spend a month and a half with him in Singapore this December.

    The worst thing though, is the way that all of my friends and family have judged me for having this relationship. They felt like it wasn’t serious, like i was being completely unrealistic, like maybe i had been duped by some “nefarious Muslim.” So, while i respect your stores and agree with most of your premises, I would like to also warn people not to look down on, or doubt relationships that do end up working out.

    If you want to read about what happened to me ( I studied in Taiwan, Egypt, and Tanzania over the course of a year), my blog is

    http://travelinglightwithlove.blogspot.com/

    I’d love to hear your feedback!

  39. paolo November 11, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Liz… with all respect.
    Maybe you have great experiences travelling and maybe your eyes are filled with amazing landscape and your soul with beautiful relationships, friends and interesting places.
    But what happened to your brain? Please read over the 5 titles you wrote down and tell me if they can’t be applied to local, fellows countrymen…..What you are saying is a list of love relation risks, not the “love abroad” risk. Love, fall in love, being in love comes with all these risks, and many others, no matter you are in your own country or abroad.

  40. Pablo November 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    I am 26 years from Argentina and I live in Buenos Aires, this february life gave me a very unexpected gift.

    First sorry for my rusty english.

    She is 21 years American and she was studing abroad in Buenos Aires. We met each other during a long weekend in a small town 150 miles from Buenos Aires.
    It was during carnaval festivities in februeary. That was her second week in Argentina.
    I was amazed of her eyes since the first time i saw her.
    I was doing a quick english course, cause i was going to go to a Europe Trip with some friends.
    I barely spoke english at that time, but we could understand each other with a few words, just dancing and with some kissing then.

    We had been going out for 5 months, and I really tried to not fall in love. I supposed she would not want to fall in love neither.
    But it happened to me and didnt tell that i love her until one month before she left.
    We had a great chemistry, but I didnt want show her my feelings, I didnt want to complicate my life and I thought she neither wanted it, in adition I didnt wanted to ruin all her fun being abroad.
    We used to go out once a week and the rest of the week I used to let her have her space.
    The thing is… one night we go out with her api friends, I was so drunk and accidentaly told her that I was in love, and she told me the same to me. We ended crying that night.

    We tried to enjoy our last month together against the clock. We did a lot of things, he met my family, I met her grandma and host family. We went to some places. We ate, we get drunk, we loved each other.
    But finally she had to leave, fortunately her plane was very very delayed so we had a very long last day together in the airport.

    We didnt talk or decided nothing serious util that moment. We had a great denial and we tried to live the day.

    Now we have been in a super weird long distance relationship for 7 months (more than the time we had been dating in Buenos Aires).
    And all I think every day is to have her in Argentina again to go to celebrate new year at the beach. She is coming just for two weeks and then she is going to leave and go back to finish her degree.

    I had my europe trip on August, it was great1 but you have to believe me I would have not spent all that money in that, if i would have known that I was about to meet her.
    Now im really broke, full of debts and working hard to try to go to Ohio to be in her graduation ceremony.

    She want to find an intership here after graduation for a 5 months.
    She says she loves here and she wants to live here. Thats great beacause I have a good job as a programer, but i dont have any degrees yet. So I cant move for at least 3 years.
    But up to now only confirmed thing is that we love each other and that she is coming in new year.

    I dont want to be pessimist but it is a really hard situation, im full of doubts about future, debts and I dont know what plans do.
    We decided to be patient and go step by step.
    Meanwhile we talk every day,we send each other “good morning” and “good night” messages and a lot of sweet stuff. We know each other more and we are very in love.

    I really hope it ends in a good way.
    Please wish me luck

  41. Lori November 15, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I really enjoyed reading this. There were a lot of good points that were made. I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give to people travelling internationally is that it’s typically a lot harder to travel with a significant other. Travelling with friends or solo is a lot easier (just take any necessary safety precautions). I travelled abroad wishing I could meet that special someone, but I didn’t.

    Ironically, I don’t regret not falling in love abroad. A lot of guys tried to romance me because they were lonely, wanted my citizenship, and/or found me attractive. One guy even told me that “we were meant to be together forever” (which was more of a pick-up line than anything else). Another told me I should meet him in a hotel on the outskirts of town (talk about creepy). I almost fell in love with another but caught him doing drugs. There was also the “guy back home” who didn’t enjoy the thrill of an international adventure and so we didn’t work out. Definitely girls, watch out. Be careful. Trust your instincts. If someone seems sketchy or like a player, they probably are. I spent too much time worrying about these men when I could have been planning my next destination.

    I regret not taking advantage of the opportunity to have a great adventure and travel more. Even if you fall in love with someone while travelling abroad, it doesn’t mean they will want to or are able to travel with you. (Different citizenships mean different visa requirements to a particular country.)

    I ended up marrying a foreigner after arriving back in my home country unexpectedly while taking a break from my travels. I know married people tell single people that you’ll fall in love when it’s meant to be and all that, but quite honestly if it wasn’t because I loved my husband for who he is, I’d probably be out exploring the world right now. I know what I traded to be with him, and I don’t regret it. However, if it was any other man I’d have left a long time ago.

  42. darina November 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    I found this post and brings a little bit or relief to my soul, here is my story: A dutch man found me in a dating site, we started to chat and continue for nearly 2 years. I never took it really serious because of the distance,(I’m mexican). But when he decided to come to meet me… everything changed. I know he had some other relationships and all with foreigners. He told me he broke one thanks to distance and I directly made the question: why If you know the consequences are you now again putting yourself in the same situation? His answer was: “I was chatting with you every day, wondering all this time how could it be to meet and betogether, that was the onky thing I needed to know cause I felt convinced about you a long time ago.” I still feel strange knowing how difficult this can be, I am now afraid of breaking and with a ton of questions in my mind, but I have to admitt how sweet and nice he was, he did the effort to come to my country, and he was crying when our time together was over… I’m not so young to ignore the pain this can bring to my life, I’m really afraid of having a hard time if we break… but in the other hand I feel absolutely happy with eevery single memory of our story.

  43. Jean November 29, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    After a similar experience myself, i too have come to the same conclusion. The tryst with this exotic stranger- is it true love or the love your life? I moved to Africa for a work assignment and met someone. Many of my friends have met their husbands on assignments aboard, so I too was actively looking for love in a foreign setting.
    There were all the red flags, that I would never ignore, if i was home. But somehow when you are abroad you just let these things go by unnoticed hoping that this time, because of your special circumstances, you have met your prince charming. So all the normal rules went flying out of the window, due to my starry eyes (even though I am not a young 22 year old chica). In time after the visa expiry the relationship too expired. A week after moving back home, he never contacted me and when i asked what has happened he just said point blank that he cannot do a long distance relationship as it never works. (My mom was in the hospital at this point and he knew). Clearly this was his pattern, he dated foreign women because each relationship had a clear expiry date. I see now very clearly the five points you mentioned. What I have learnt now, is something invaluable- i will not be another foreign woman going through their revolving doors and above all will respect myself (life lesson!).

    I agree that some people do find love abroad, but that should not be the goal of moving abroad- rather the aim should be to enjoy a new culture, experience new things- i did miss out on a lot because of not accepting invitations as i wanted to spend more time with him. Now I am much better equipped to handle this kind of situation abroad. I would like to tell all women who travel/live abroad not to throw out the normal dating rules that apply back home (basically taking care of yourself), just because you are abroad. They are many men out there who know how lonely you are and that you are looking for love- so please filter carefully- above all respecting yourself.

  44. Pascale December 10, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks. This post is exactly what my heart needed today.

  45. b December 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Much of the article didn’t direclty apply, since I am an expat here and not on a visa. But I can comment on being American dating Dutch girls.

    First, a bit of background. I came here as a single parent (I have two twin 9 year olds!). While it hasn’t been easy, probably the easiest thing has been learning the language and fitting it culture wise. Much of that has to do with my personality and my work. Having my own practice here and doing good work allows me lots of “inroads” into a culture. I’m not just subjected to the bar/club scene, for example. I also get a chance to really REALLY get to know people from all ages, young to old.

    As for dating… that has been harder. While I don’t have the problems other foreign men seem to here (not finding anyone willing to date them!), I’m having lots of the good ole #3. (God, I feel like I’m describing some weird bathroom ritual!!! haha)

    A buddy of mine said it best, “it’s like they are all robots!”. I know they aren’t, but sometimes the culture here down plays “passion”. “Do normaal” is a common saying, which really only means stop acting different. But, I AM!

    My last girlfriend was a 27 year old ex-model. Very nice and all, but we had little emotional connection… after a few months I was more lonely than ever. She was nice and all, and we are still friends, but there just wasn’t that “click” you need to have. I speak fluent Dutch, so it wasn’t really a problem. More it was that the words almost NEVER have the same meaning. Try going to a translated film and you see what I mean. We has lots of miscommuincations about things. She and I were reading into stuff that wasn’t there quite often. This is enough of a problem with someone from your own culture, adding another language and you can see how hard it is.

    I think it has something to do with missing out on similar childhood experiences. The little kids inside that we all are, were just not used to playing in the same way. Maybe, that’s it, in a nutshell. Maybe you get lucky and find someone who was raised in that way or not, maybe you don’t. I know one thing, I want that… connection. And as good (ors as bad) as she looks on the outside, it’s how you get along on the inside that really counts.

    All in all, I would suggest just look at it as dating. That is what dating is about, trying people on. Sure, you risk being hurt but when DON’T you? Only by not trying at all right? Just realize that it probably won’t work out so keep that door open, don’t go burning any bridges to get back home!

  46. Michelle December 27, 2013 at 5:31 am #

    This all hits very close to home. A year ago is studied abroad in Vienna, Austria and the moment I stepped off the plane the city captured my heart. What I didn’t know is that a few days later I would meet the man of my dreams. He was in my class and the first time I saw him something happened inside of my heart. At the time I didn’t speak German and he barely spoke English. Because of this, I learned my first German sentence; das ist eine Eidechse, which in English means; this is a lizard. Stupid I know but it meant a lot. He asked me on a date and it was perfect. We started dating and even though I was enjoying so many things and experiencing love abroad I couldn’t help but notice the little ticker in the back of my head counting down the days till I left. His name was Simon and he was more than I could have dreamed of. Three nights before I left we were skyping and I broke down crying because I was going to miss so many things and in that moment I knew he was the one for me. He calmed me down in such a caring way and we talked for the entire night, he was my rock and I knew we could make it through everything as long as we were both strong, even being an ocean apart. Months went by and everything was great! My parents flew him out here so they could meet him and they loved him as much as I did. A couple more months went by and then I flew back to Austria. I spent a month with him and his family which was more than I could have expected. A couple weeks after I left we ended breaking up, although it surprised me and broke my heart, I knew he and I both wouldn’t be happy with what was coming (cultural differences). See, in Austria when men graduate high school they are forced to work for the community and he chose the army which meant very little contact and when there was time he would be super tired. Half a year had passed and now he is done but I don’t think we will get back together as long as we are on different continents… It breaks my heart every time I think of it but I have been trying to get over him. I go do things and I have Ben on half a doze dates with other guys but none of the compare. Simon stole my heart and until I get it back, I don’t think I’ll ever move on.

    Although there was a huge roller coaster of emotions and still are I would never trade my experience for anything, not just for the lessons I learned but for the man I met who changed my life for the better. I wasn’t looking for love but love found me and I can’t wait to tell my grandchildren of the adventures I’ve had.

    Schöne grüße,
    Myszka

  47. Patrick January 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    After a year of not taking any vacations by older brother convinced me to go with him and his wife to London for 10 days during the last week of August 2013. I had been looking to travel and manage to get the time off so I was really happy to go and enjoy London.

    On the last weekend of our trip we attended a music festival where I met a lovely 26 year old Argentine girl (I’m 32). My Spanish was rusty but her English was good enough for us to fully understand each other. She was traveling alone and attending the festival by herself so I invited her to hang out with us. At the end of the night she ask if she we could keep in contact and if she could add me to her facebook. Not seeing anything harmful in doing so, I agreed.

    The next day my brother and his wife got really sick with gastro and had to stay in. So I decided to go and see if the Argentine girl had sent me a friends request on facebook and ask her if she wanted to go sightseeing with me for the day. Well that little message turn into 3 full days of sightseeing and much more with her. We just hit off. The worst is I tried to keep my composer as I knew being in London and on vacation only added fuel to this fire. When it was time to part ways and for me to go back to Canada and her to Argentina we couldn’t comprehend what this all meant. Surely we taught it was just a fling. As the days when by after that trip we kept in contact talking daily via text, email and Skype. I was really drawn to her and couldn’t stop wanting to know more about her life in Buenos Aires.

    Two months after the trip I could sense that we were defiantly drawn to each other and I couldn’t bare being away from her. So I went out on a whim and flew to Buenos Aires to visit her for a week to see where this could lead. We visited the city, I met her family and had a great time. Looking back at this now I don’t know if it was the best idea because that week ended up being such an incredible week for me it left me wanting more. Now we’re in January and she coming to visit me in Canada in less then a month. We’re deeply in love but we’re also full of doubts to what this all means. We try to take this step by step but I’m having a really difficult time dealing with this. I know I would be whiling to move to be with her but at the same time it’s been just a few months and I know we need more time to see this through. I’ve never felt like this for someone and knowing that she is on the other side of the world just makes things more intense. Without wanting a relationship before going on vacation I’m now faced with having this long distance relationship with no clear goal in mind. I tell myself that it will past and that things will come back to “normal” but I’ve never fallen so hard for someone else like this before it makes me think want if….

    To all the travelling heart out there good luck. We never know where our heart will lead us.

  48. B January 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I moved from the US to the Czech Republic back in August to teach English, and after a few months met an English girl. We really hit it off well… I’m not gonna bother writing out the story, but she and I decided to start a relationship last month. It’s been about a month now.

    I plan to be in the CZ until at least the summertime. She’s in a similar boat as myself — we both don’t exactly know where we’re going or what we want to do in life. We’re winging it. The good news is that we’re both on the same page, and I am interested in studying in the UK, so I might head her way. Or maybe we’ll travel a bit more in another country doing the same thing as here.

    Either way, I want to be with her.

    Hopefully I’ll come back to this blog, maybe a year from now, with some good news. Until then, wish us luck. I want this to work.

  49. Minnie January 23, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Thanks for this post! I am in the midst of figuring this kind of situation out right now. I met an amazing guy while studying in Seville, went up to Barcelona, worked for a while, went back to Seville to spend a week with him with the intent of moving back there in part to be with him, and now find myself back in Barcelona (long story) not sure where I stand or what to do. The worst thing is the truth that it distracts you from experiences you may not get to have again. I think about him and what’s happening all the time instead of being immersed in this experience I will only get once. I’ve been trying to be ‘sensible’ and not get involved for fear of getting hurt, but on the other hand am worried that he is a great opportunity and I should just dive into it or I might regret missing out on him. So dam confused!!!

  50. Amanda January 30, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    I met a great man in my country and he is working here for 6 months. He leaves in 2 months from now and it’s heartbreaking just thinking about it. I have fallen in love with him and I desperately want to be with him. I will never fall in love again with somebody I know I will never be able to see again unwillingly. I cry every night and my stomach is always turning with the thought. Never again!!

  51. SD February 18, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    I feel like this could have been me writing this blog! I too met my Rico Suave in Granada, Spain. We had many more ups than downs I think largely because we talked about my inevitable return to the U.S. early on and decided to “just be friends” when I left. Needless to say, that was still hard and our friendship eventually fizzled away as the left over emotions (and my commitment to stay in the U.S. after graduating from college) and a lot of what was discussed in #2 became too much.

    Now, a couple years later and at a very different point in my life (but again, just recently back from a semester abroad), I’ve found a wonderful Brazilian guy who I love very much. Knowing that I would return to the U.S. (once again) made us talk about the future early on. We are very happy in our intercontinental relationship and know when we will be visiting each other and when one of us will buy the one way ticket ending the long-distance!

    This post has great advice and I’m all for falling in love abroad if and when it happens. Whether it turns out to be a quick fairytale fling or what I’m hoping will be my happily ever after, it’s so worth it. :)

  52. Sarah February 19, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Well, stumbling onto this today might have been fate. I studied abroad in England this past summer and met the boy that I’m sure all others will be compared to for a very long time. We left England very confused and upset about our time being cut so short- agreeing that we’d continue to talk but not enter into a serious relationship. For the past six months we’ve talked nearly every single day and have both had a very hard time of not knowing what to really make of our situation. We talked about visiting and were planning on him coming to the states very shortly, but our plan didn’t work out the way we wished. And today, we had the conversation that it would be ok for him to start seeing someone else when the practicality of our situation is so low. Honestly, I’m heartbroken today and have cried more than over all my previous breakups combined- but I want him to be happy. Distance, especially when you’re on two separate continents, is ridiculously hard. But don’t be afraid to have that romance abroad. It was the best summer of my life and while I’m licking my wounds today and cursing the day we met, I know in the weeks to come I’ll just be glad that it happened.

  53. Wilfy @ Wilfys.com March 10, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Never give up hope as one of the people you meet while travelling may actually be “the one”
    I fund my soulmate while backpacking through Oz

    It does happen!

  54. William Stone March 20, 2014 at 3:41 am #

    Even long-term, successful relationships spawned from international travel have challenges associated with them that few people realize. I spent a semester abroad studying at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia back in 1997. While there I met Tammy, a beautiful Australian who stole my heart. We only dated for two months before I had to return home. After graduating, I moved back to Perth to live with her until she graduated. We then moved back to the U.S. We will be celebrating 17 years together this May. We are married, own a house and a cat, and have two beautiful children together. But the fairy tale hasn’t been all…well, a fairy tale. The truth is, for any international relationship to work, there can be one of only two scenarios: 1) one of the individuals gives up his or her home to move countries to the other person’s home, or 2) Both parties move to a new country together. The first scenario is by far the more common one. While the sacrifice to leave one’s country behind might be completely willing, it does put great pressure on the relationship. The other party can never really measure up to that significant a sacrifice. And after many, many years, home sickness breeds resentment. The question, “why was I the one to give up my country? Why didn’t you love me enough to insist that no, it would be YOU who would sacrifice your friends, family and home to give our relationship a chance?” In my situation, I would have been willing to move countries at the start, but that doesn’t negate the feelings of resentment. That’s because the resentment isn’t based on logic but on feeling, and my wife feels home sick. Our parents are getting older and both of us realize that only one of us will get to spend these final years with them. Talk about stress on a relationship. Even in a happy relationship, as mine has been, it creates challenges and hurdles I was ill-prepared to face. I just wanted to share my perspective on a side of international romance that, even when successful and long-term, is rarely explored.

    • wonderwoman March 23, 2014 at 4:47 am #

      I am going through the exact same thing. I met this wonderful man three years ago in my country. I was living as a singe mom in the florida keys. Me and my daughter were happy and rebuilding our life from a previous relationship, but were definitely enjoyng life, and then i met an amazing man from Italy and have spent the last three years chasing each other around the world, with the plan that one of us will make the move to be togther. I made the sacrafice with my daughter who is now 10. We spent a long time to decide this one and still have second thoughts everyday. we have been here for almost three months, we have two weeks to get married. But everyday has been a complete challenge to argueing and getting along. There is a resentment for making this sacrafice. the descion i made for my daughter was to give her an oppurtunity to learn another language and have a dad that loves her, and me to spend more time home with her. This may seem so beautiful to A romantic, As much as we love each other, it is not easy, and the impending marriage in two weeks, makes both of us extremely nervous and scared, because we dont know if we can overcome our challenges. And the worst thing is coming into marriage where both people arent happy. Even after all this time invested together, we continue to be terrified of the changes and descions we are making. I hope that we realize either we can make it or realize its to much energy and stop.

      • Louise April 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

        What happened I am fascinated… you are brave to make that move!!!! It could be me in the future!!!!
        Good luck!!!

  55. Margaux April 8, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    I had the same experience. I was on vacation in Belgium, and I met a boy 3 weeks before I left for the US. I really fell in love with him, but I didn’t know how because of the language barrier and everything. Sometimes it would be really hard to have a conversation together, and get each other’s jokes. It’s difficult to express the way you feel or even have intelligent conversations. I spoke some french and he spoke some english, so we managed, but maybe I really did feel in love because of your statement #2. I never thought of it that way.
    And it was really sad when I left, almost like a movie. And I think that’s why it’s so easy to fall in love abroad, because everything’s like a fairytale or some kind of romantic movie. Like everything that you’ve seen in these romantic movies is finally your reality, something that almost everyone longs for.
    It really hurts to leave someone like that, because you feel as though you have finally met someone that completes your heart, and you can’t even be with them. But I assure you that someday, if you don’t find anyone else and still want to find a way back to them, you will find each other… especially now with all the social networking we have today.
    But as for the language barrier, it’s true that even after this guy, I stayed in Belgium for a year and half and did plenty of dating… it’s pretty hard to understand everything even while being able to speak almost fluent french, especially with humor. There are just certain phrases and play on words that we will never understand, no matter how well we speak another language, just like there are in english.
    But at the same time, I wouldn’t get my hopes down too low. There are still plenty of happy couples that come from different countries and cultures. But I suppose you do have to watch out for these rules…

  56. Alice Redfield May 3, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Our move to Spain was very sudden, almost like an opportunity that landed on our lap.
    A few months later, I met this spanish man at a bank where he works and that makes me his client. From that situation alone, I don’t think we’ll ever get to the “getting to know each other” on a friendship level at least.
    I don’t know. There’s just something so captivating about him. I can sense passion and intensity in his eyes, his voice, the way he talks, walks and when I look into his eyes, I feel as if I’d melt. Things I have never seen in other men.

  57. AJ June 9, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    I just googled about falling in love abroad and read this article. I share a similar experience. I dated a guy on my exchange program in Australia, and while I thought it would just be a little fling abroad, it was in the end that I realized I might have actually fallen for him. While we had established that our relationship wouldn’t continue once I returned, I still wish I could have extended my stay. Although it was important for me to come back to finish my degree in college. We spoke once in a while but eventually it fizzled.
    The worst part of falling for someone like that is that there was no reason to end it except for visa expiration.
    Its been quite some time now, but I still wish to be with him. Somewhere deep down, I am not yet over him. But after reading the comments here, I feel like if it was meant to be, something would have happened.
    I am going again to Australia for a trip, should I meet him or would that be heartbreaking again?

  58. Richelle July 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    I experienced the same issue, but from the other perspective. I dated an Australian who was studying abroad at my university. We met the weekend before classes started, and what I thought would be a fun Australian fling turned into a very serious relationship that lasted over a year. I think us dating had a positive experience on his time abroad because he was really shy in new situations, and I introduced him to all my friends, brought him to sorority functions and quite literally forced him out of his shell. I also brought Americans to the exchange student parties and encouraged all the exchange students to come to campus events I was involved in. It was a great experience for everyone involved… while we were all in DC. After a semester, he moved back to Australia and we were long distance. I visited him for a month in Australia over the summer, but it was definitely hard to be living together after not seeing each other for 6 months. That next fall I had a choice: follow my dreams and study abroad in China, or go to Australia and be with my boyfriend. I chose my dreams over my relationship and we broke up. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I thank myself every day for being strong enough to make that choice.

    Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been trying to get the courage together to write a long post about choosing China over love, but I’ve never written anything that personal before and it’s intimidating. I think it’s definitely necessary to write though, because so many young girls struggle with that decision and opt out of adventure.

  59. Sarah July 26, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    This is happening to me right now…. I’m in turkey, and spent about 6 weeks working at a hostel, and fell for one of the owners. Like all Turkish men, he is handsome, charming, and very smooth, and before I knew it, we’re cruising through the mountains on his Vespa, looking at all the best views, and going to the local swimming spots, etc. Then we both left the hostel together, and spent about a week camping along the coast, but then we had to go our separate ways. I’m staying with his family right now, with plans to meet him up north sometime later, but the inevitability of my leaving is constantly on my mind.

  60. Jessica August 1, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    I have a similar story but my story has been going on for about 19 years now. I met my first love in Italy at the very young age of 14 and every summer when I would return I would always spend every waking minute with him. My sister had moved to Italy in 1995 for her love so I always had an excuse to visit without parental supervision. Years and years go by, visiting about every 2 years and eventually we both move on and we both marry and have children, however, every time I return its like we go back to that place where we left off. I have been married for about 7 years now and when i returned in 2008 for a short visit I couldn’t bare to betray my husband by sleeping with my Italian love as I had been married for less than a year at that point, however, I think the emotional betrayal was far worse because we were able to connect on a completely different level which in my opinion was even more profound. I just returned from a 10 day vacation and again I feel at loss. At times I feel angry that I never decided to take the leap and move there but really don’t even know what to do anymore. Leaving my husband doesn’t feel like an option to me, but my love for this man kills me inside.

  61. Julia August 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Before arriving in France I was given much advice. A week before my departure my French tutor told me that I should meet a French boy, since I was single. Her teacher had told her this is one of the, although funny, nice ways to improve your accent and vocabulary. As much as I wanted to meet a French boy, I didn’t think I would. But as it always goes, two weeks before I left I met my French boy. Living in a smaller city in France, I able to spend much of my time with him. Besides my classes and his work we did a lot together and became incorporated in each others lives. It was tough with me not being fluent in his language, and him not in mine but that’s where part of the magic came in. The expiration date was real, I thought nothing of our relationship being more than a fling until the final few days until I departed. We’re in difference places, different stages of our life, speaking difference languages. Thanks to the others I have hope maybe someday it can work, since I do have a strong desire to work in France (long before he came around). But you never know, if not I had the best two weeks of my study abroad being taken care of by the most beautiful French boy, and even having such an experience isn’t so bad!

    Thank you for writing such a lovely article with such truth. I read this right before I left and felt all the truth in it, between the language struggles (at times) and the truth in expiration date (me heading home and him to take his month break to see his family). I hope I can read this someday and conquered the ocean between us.

  62. Elliott September 7, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    “I’m not getting in a relationship while travelling.” – My famous last words.. LOL it happens. It just happens. Here’s my story http://wp.me/p4g3Gz-3T

  63. Gem November 1, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    I left Australia in 2012 for a two year working holiday in London. The week before I arrived, I met a handsome Spaniard in Barcelona and had myself a delightful holiday fling which i assumed would end as soon as I arrived in London. Cue two years of a London-Barcelona long-distance relationship, falling in love, and the slow formulation of future plans.

    I returned to Australia two months ago with the plan that I would move over and spend 2015 in Spain, then we would spend 2016 in Australia, then from there we would decide whose country provided us with the best life. I think we both thought that we would “win”.

    He had always told me that he would follow me to the ends of the earth, and I blithely assumed that he would stay in Australia with me once we settled there in 2016. Unfortunately, yesterday he revealed that he had been doing a bit of thinking and he didn’t actually think he could ever move to Australia. I had told him multiple times that I would never be able to live in Spain (I would need to begin an entirely new career and that scared me) – so right now I’m faced with the above mentioned point #5, while he is thinking about what he really wants.

    No real point to my story other than I’m trawling the internet looking for a magic piece of advice to make this all better. May day.

  64. Valerie November 23, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Thank you for writing this post, it makes me feel like I’m not alone.

    I met a really nice South African in Penang, Malaysia. He’s completed his English teaching contract in Korea and was travelling around Asia, and I was just having a long weekend so I decided to “backpack” Penang (really silly and random, I know). We happened to live in the same hostel and things escalated quickly.

    As I live in Kuala Lumpur, he has since then made three trips to see me. Our times together rarely involves alcohol. I think he was the first guy who ever made me feel very comfortable, inspired me to the extent I quit my job as a lawyer in Kuala Lumpur because it was in fact making me unhappy, and when we’re together I find this inner peace which tells me “I belong here”. I would also add that this is by far the one and only guy who has made me the happiest version of myself (I’ve had dates with lawyers, engineers and pilots locally, and eventually I know they’re just superficial).

    But he was bound to go home to South Africa. His third trip to Kuala Lumpur was also his last stop in Asia – he left some 2.5 months ago. But we kept in contact ever since. I genuinely (or maybe naively too) thought he would be interested in something more – because I don’t see why he needs to buy me a teddy bear if it was going to end anyway – only to be flatly rejected of a proper relationship, mainly because we are not going to be able to meet in the next two years due to his next job contract.

    I understand, it’s only fair and logical he made this decision. But that did not change how much disappointment and pain arising thereon. We’ve had an unstable month – tried no contact, talking as just friends, minimal contact – everything seems to bite us no matter what. We stopped talking about a week now. I still miss a lot. It’s just really tough on me now.

  65. imran December 1, 2014 at 1:29 am #

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  66. Alyssa December 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    6 months ago I found this post while researching the positives and negatives of falling for a foreigner. At that point a lovely German man had stumbled into my life. After a few dates I realized just how badly it could end if I fell for him, as he was inevitably going back to Germany. Sure I knew how it would end, I knew it probably wasn’t smart, but I did it anyway. I did it because I wanted to be carefree and young, and figured I shouldn’t miss this opportunity to get to know an amazing guy, just because I was scared of heartbreak. “Why not have a great time enjoying this amazing man’s company while he is here?”, I thought.

    Fast forward 6 months and here I am, returning to this post to warn anyone as naive as I was that it is not worth it. I am here heartbroken while my almost lover is back in Germany. The worst part is that I did it to myself, I let myself fall for him. And it was so easy while he was there standing in front of me. I should’ve known better. I should have known he would break my heart and leave me here, sad and lonely. Please don’t be as ignorant as I was 6 months ago when I made my choice. Sometimes there are reasons are hearts are guarded, sometimes they are not meant to be opened.

    • Valerie December 16, 2014 at 2:02 am #

      Hi Alyssa,

      If you had read through the comments you would’ve known you weren’t the only person going through it! I’m actually going through the same process, currently mourning the loss of an almost lover.

      My mood swing is huge – sometimes I’m perfectly calm, other times I cry as I think of him. But hey, don’t blame yourself for letting him in. Whatever reasons you gave yourself for letting him in, you did have a good time with him, although it didn’t last. I’m not saying you should do it again, just saying, you shouldn’t beat yourself up too much from the inside :)

      Out of curiosity have you ever considered visiting him in Germany? My almost lover is South African, and it’d be exorbitant for me to visit him, and it doesn’t help the fact that he’ll be super busy with work until end of 2016. I’ve said to myself if I really, really did not move on by then, I’d buy a flight to South Africa (because I want to see him, AND because it’s one of the countries I really wanna visit before I die).

  67. Confused in Oz December 19, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    I can’t start to tell you how accurate this post is. I just returned from Sydney a couple of days ago, and with the end of my exchange there came the end of the most intense relationship I have ever been in. We did not have the language barrier because we are both from the same country, but from different cities. I wish I had read this post earlier… it could have saved me all the confusion and disappointment I’m experiencing right now.

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  1. » A Guide to Finding Romance Abroad - October 13, 2013

    […] I’ve heard many travellers’ tales of accidentally becoming involved with somebody that, in retrospect, was awful in a handful of ways from the start. Be cautious in picking your suitor – home rules should still apply when dating abroad. […]

  2. A Guide to Finding Romance Abroad | Travel Vacation Dream! Plan your next Vacation - October 13, 2013

    […] I’ve heard many travellers’ tales of accidentally becoming involved with somebody that, in retrospect, was awful in a handful of ways from the start. Be cautious in picking your suitor – home rules should still apply when dating abroad. […]

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