There’s exploring the deep unknown together amongst the sunsets and a beauty beyond comprehension in that journey. But there are some hidden truths which don’t always make it to the final cut of the fantasy. Perhaps that’s what makes finding love abroad taste so damn sweet?
Living at home, would you move in with someone after 3 months? Probably not. You have your own mojo going and your support network might think you’re crazy. Abroad, this sh** actually happens. I’ve come across so many cases where couples meet abroad and go from stranger to sharing everything in the wink of an eye. Netflix, landlords and laundry detergent. But why?
The situations we find ourselves in abroad can often force relationships to move a lot faster than they would at home. Laws which don’t protect tenants, last minute changes of location, being at the mercy of a land unknown. No one tells us this until we go abroad and experience it! It’s like some one presses the fast forward button and suddenly we have to align our plans and decide big things like moving in together or to another city or even another country.
This is the pace of turning foreign flirtations and flings into long lasting relationships. These might be the kind of decisions you would take with someone you marry, or have been with for years. But abroad, it might be with someone who wasn’t even at your last birthday party. At home, there might be a naturally guiding timeline. You graduate, you work and date for a few years, you get engaged, move in, get married. Abroad, there is no timeline. Life throws you a lemon and you have to decide, is this the love I want to move half way across the world with? And with deciding, you can either keep the relation or keep the hell out.
You go out with the plan of a year or a few months abroad. Testing the waters, right? Then, you’ll get back to your sweet dog, your loving family and the life you’ve always know. No. When you meet love abroad, you might never return to that. A few months turns into a few years and that might mean staying, never returning or indeed moving somewhere new entirely. That’s not something we plan for. Love never is. But this is a real possibility. Love is a strong enough emotion to shake up our 5 year plan and sometimes you have to surrender to that possibility as part of the package of living abroad.
Being away from a network of people who have known you your entire life is quite a raw place to live. Parents, siblings, old friends. That number you know you can call at 3am. Moving abroad can mean leaving this and finding home in new people and new places. It’s exciting but its also terrifying and I’ve done it enough times to be swiped with this double edged sword!
In this vulnerability, finding love is even more exposing. As we try our best to find our balance between who we trust amongst the passing ships we come across on our travels. Our internal compass is truly tested. To whom do we turn? At home, there might be more reference. Some mutual friends or you might come from the same place, with the same dating and cultural norms. And that in itself might have an element of safety.
But when abroad, you might be dating someone who has grown up totally differently to everything you know! Your little ship has to look out for itself and that takes an element of risk. The payoff is that putting trust in this vulnerability, we can also find love like the richest treasure! Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it hurts. But when you love, you live. You learn and sometimes you just move on.
It has been one of the most difficult realities trying to comprehend that sometimes we meet the right person at the wrong time. This can happen anywhere, even at home, but the likelihood’s of it happening whilst living abroad feel 10x fold. Maybe their visa is up, or their job moves them to a new country, or maybe you just arrived to your new adventure and had to leave someone with other plans behind.
The variables of life when travelling and living abroad are so much less stable and require a high level of resiliency and flexibility. (Can I put that on my CV?) They can really shake up what is being built or they can make it even stronger! The test of time is real in relationships abroad. And it’s one that only comes with practiced flirtation of changing plans and the forever forging of new paths.
What are your experiences of finding love abroad? Do you have any questions? I’d love to hear from you – comment below!