Romance is part of the travel game. I mean, if you are about that life. Once you’ve tasted the elixir of your first international relationship, you’ll never turn back. Dating is just way more exciting when you get to delve into another culture, another language, and a whole new way of courting. But also dating abroad requires more things than the average relationship, like communication, vulnerability, money, and scheduling.
So in order to steer through the complications and danger of a long-distance relationship, here are 8 tips I’ve learned exclusively dating abroad for the past seven years.
1. Give Ultimatums
Alright, so you meet, you hit it off, then you leave. Now what? With the advancements of technology, 10 times out of 10, you’ll probably Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, or Facebook Messenger. Or if you’re extra needy like me, ALL OF THE ABOVE AT ALL TIMES.
Long-distance relationships are so fabulous because you get to know the person. Since you’re unable to rely on physical touch to connect, it forces you to connect on an intellectual and spiritual level. You have to be able to find common ground, a sense of humor, and learn how to communicate with each other right away, which is far more than a domestic Tinder date can do for you. However, you can only talk so much before you need some physical interaction.
This is where ultimatums come in. I know, I know, every dating columnist out there will tell you NOT to give ultimatums. But listen, I get flown out for free and get all my shit paid for while these columnists still at home single, so you listen to who you want to, OK.
When you get to that point in your relationship where enough is enough and you need to know if your partner is serious about you or not, you MUST be direct. Direct, but respectful. Saying something like, “I love talking with you everyday, you’re my favorite part of the day, but I don’t want to do this anymore unless you’re willing to plan a trip to see me.”
I emphasize “see me” because a person should be interested in you enough to see your life, see how you live, meet relevant people in your life, and so on. Meeting in other locations is cool, but it’s just not realistic. Introducing your partner to your life and vice versa is important in order to see if this could possibly fit long term for you. Therefore, it’s important to meet in each other’s respective homes.
If you met in one of your hometowns, then he/she needs to come to you next or vice versa. I would not recommend a vacation destination on a first encounter. You need to know if they are serious ABOUT YOU. And if they’re not, the relationship ends there and you won’t have to waste anymore of your time.
Be aware that with ultimatums, you might get rejected. But understand they were gonna reject you anyway. Don’t take it personally, take it as a blessing. Let’s move on.
2. Don’t Let Them Know Where You Live
Ok, but before you go on and invite them to your hometown, maybe you’re hooking up on location. Yo, you better get freaky in some outdoor locations before you ever let someone know where you live. At this point, this is a stranger. A hot stranger. Who smells good, but could also murder you in your sleep. Don’t let them know where you live.
3. Use Condoms
STI’s are an annoying souvenir to bring back home after an abroad romance.
First, let’s dispel some rumors. Most bacterial STI’s such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are curable with antibiotics as long as they’re caught early on. So don’t feel any shame if you find you have one. Just get treated!
Secondly, you should understand that viral STI’s are very common. No one talks about it, but damn near everyone has had an experience with one. Many are not fatal. Let’s talk about some:
Herpes is really just a skin rash with no risk to life. The negative stigma was created in the 1970s by pharmaceutical companies to sell more medication. What many people don’t know is that it is impossible to test for without symptoms, therefore 90% of people who have it, don’t even know it. Leaving 95% of the global population dealing with this virus. It is really not a big deal and I say this because the mental damage that comes with finding out you have this virus is more fatal than the actual virus itself.
Viruses such as HPV where 80% of people have it is so common because of its skin-to-skin transmission. But luckily there is a vaccine that protects against the most dangerous types. I highly recommend getting the Gardasil vaccine as soon as possible. BOTH MEN AND WOMEN NEED IT. Remember that lots of the diseases are more likely to pop up in women than in men, but that doesn’t mean men aren’t carriers or transmitters.
Thirdly, those that are fatal such as HIV, with proper medication, the viral load can be reduced so far as to not even be detected in the blood. So we should definitely be thankful to modern medicine for that.
But nonetheless, strap up in order to avoid doctors appointments and trips to the pharmacy, dealing with insurance, and all the emotional and mental stress that goes into finding out you have an STI. But also be aware that condoms can only protect you so much, whether abroad or at home. It is important to NOT blame yourself. Disease is a part of the human existence.
4. Don’t Date Humans With Social Media Or Keep Social Media Neutral
Long-distance relationships can be riddled with insecurity and social media just contributes to that. Find you one that isn’t online too much and focuses all their attention on you, not the Internet. Plus you never really know what a person is sending to other people online. (You never really know what anyone is doing, ever, really, but just to eliminate one factor.) But yea, my mans is not allowed to have social media.
If you’re dating multiple people and your long-distance bae IS on social media, have ONE social media account that it is completely neutral and devoid of any previous or current dating material. For example, I add all my baes on Facebook because my family is on there and I don’t post dating pictures, anyway. So you won’t catch me slippin’. But let him not find my Instagram because I might have just played myself.
5. Talk About Money
Travel costs money. It’s important to set a budget. It’s important to know how much your partner can afford and how much you can afford and meet in the middle. If he/she makes way more money than you, don’t meet in the middle. Make them pay for your shit. And be very direct, open, and honest about what you are and are not willing to contribute.
For example, I dated a man overseas who was 30+ years old with an engineering job while I was 23 years old and a poor student. So he paid for my flights. And put money in my account to buy lunch and gas, okur. I was not about to pitch in. Daddy took care of me. But I’ve also been in instances where I’ve had to pay for my own flights…and food. For example, I dated a Cuban guy who made $25/month and ya girl was out here sponsoring her damn self ‘cause he was fine… and the sex. Lordt. But, I’ve also been in instances where we equally contribute a percentage of our income into a joint account. So it really just depends on your individual set up. But do not wait to talk about it because travel costs money.
6. Plan Your Next Trip
The number one stressor in dating abroad is WHEN WILL YOU SEE EACH OTHER NEXT. I highly recommend planning your next trip during your current trip. It’s always good to have something to look forward to and know you’re both in this at least until the next time. Otherwise you’re guaranteed to get into a big blow up fight before you leave each other because emotions are high and neither of you knows what to do with your vulnerability.
It is also wise not to let too much time pass between seeing each other. My cut off has always been 3 months. At 4 months, I miss my bae too much and I get delirious and start arguing. PLAN AHEAD.
7. Know How To Argue And Understand Cultural Differences
Arguing comes with any relationship. But arguing in a healthy manner is important, especially in long-distance relationships where you can’t always read someone’s body language, tone, or touch. So the silent treatment is pretty ineffective considering you NEED to talk about it. But also yelling and insults are also ineffective considering that’s the only interaction you’ll have with them and that’s not what you want. So take a step back, figure out how you feel, try to see your partner’s point of view, express yourself, and find a common solution.
In addition, figure out what things are part of a person’s culture and what things are part of a person’s personality. For example, I found my Cuban man dancing with other girls. This is a normal part of Cuban culture that is not sexual in any way. It was important for me to recognize that for him to continue to live his life apart from me and to keep my jealousy at bay. Or I found my Austrian guy never extended official invites, he always just assumed I would know I was invited somewhere. I needed to understand this was just an understanding that Austrians have with their partners. I had to not feel offended that I wasn’t being invited to momentous events in his life. Things that are normal to them, but not normal to you are important to figure out. Otherwise you’ll be mistaking cultural differences as shade, and that leads to an unnecessary argument.
8. Let Them Cater 2 U
I get it, you are I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, probably, which is why you’re out there traveling the world in the first place. But with all these sacrifices you each have to make to carry on this relationship, let them do stuff for you. But also show love and appreciation in all the possible ways you can. The more time you’re having sex and complimenting each other, the less time you have to fight and argue. So do more of that. And if your partner ain’t doing enough, let them know your needs and be really specific. I highly recommend reading The 5 Love Languages and taking the test to see what you really need to feel fulfilled.
And let’s say after all of this, it still doesn’t work? Then try dating back home. You’ll realize it’s just way too vanilla for your extra fancy ass. So you hit the road, to do it all over again. Go forth and flourish in your international pimping game! Thot on!