Expat dating has its own set of challenges and perks. Luckily, anyone looking for a partner in an international setting has a plenty of options, including expat online dating.
Expat singles: dating challenges and advantages
About two-thirds of those living in a foreign country are in a relationship, according to a 2017 survey – leaving a sizeable potential pool of singles remaining to date as an expat.
The singles might be out there – in fact, Cartus’ Trends in Global Relocation survey showed that nearly a third of relocated expats are single – but the question remains: how do you find a great date while living abroad? Even people in their home country can find it hard to meet Mr. or Ms. Right – expat singles have to navigate some additional hurdles.
The dating scene itself can be drastically different in various foreign countries. The most obvious obstacle may be culture clashes (for example, differing expectations about gender roles) or lacking a common language. The latter issue can be remedied by taking language classes, but even expats who master a new language might find that locals and longer-term expats keep their distance from someone foreign they expect to move back home.
In addition, singles living abroad may work long hours and sometimes travel for business. That’s hardly conducive to traditional meet-and-greets.
On the other hand, dating as an expat can have advantages. Expat singles may be especially open-minded. They’re often keen to meet new people, too, since they’re all in the same boat – away from their old circle of family and friends. The opportunities for amazing experiences for a date in a foreign country is a huge bonus.
Of course, hobbies and sports are always a great way to mingle. Consider joining a volleyball team or ski club, or take lessons – e.g. painting, cooking the cuisine of your international location or anything that piques your interest. Some people recommend Meet Up as a fun way to find people nearby who are interested in the same activities, whether that’s skating or going to museums or concerts.
Though you might get in shape and have some fun by participating in these activities, it is not magic formula for finding romance, as statistics show.
How to meet your match: expat online dating
Expat online dating sites present the perfect solution to some of the challenges singles face while living abroad. Online dating is now the most popular way to meet a future spouse, according to a recent US study, and there’s evidence that marriages resulting from online dating sites are happier.
Online dating allows the freedom to log on and make contact with other expat singles when it suits you, rather than putting in hours at random social events hoping to meet someone – and being disappointed if it doesn’t work out.
Expat online dating sites also let you get to know someone in advance before you invest a lot of time dating someone who might turn out to be Mr. or Ms. Wrong. By exchanging messages with other expat singles, you can both have fun and learn a lot about them – and avoid possible culture clashes before they happen.
Where and how to try online dating while living abroad
Expat singles can find various online dating sites catering to the international community in their adopted country.
One established, trusted online dating site for singles living abroad is Expatica Dating. It links you to the local expat online dating scene and helps you find your dream date, no matter where you live.
When you get started on an expat dating site, keep these online dating dos and don’ts in mind:
- Take your time: Resist dismissing profiles too quickly: give each one a chance.
- Don’t judge a book (too much) by its cover: Try not to judge too much by the photo – some people just don’t take a good photo, and most people are more attractive when they’re animated, in person.
- Be open minded: Don’t rule someone out immediately just because they’re not your ‘type’; stay open-minded. One of the benefits of dating as an expat is the opportunity to meet new types of people and expand your horizons.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: Don’t get hung up on small details like not having the same favorite movie. In a foreign country, the chances of finding someone with an identical cultural background are small. Take a wider view: Does the person seem like-minded, intriguing, or have interesting experiences?
- Read between the lines: Be circumspect about what people say. When you read ‘I’ve got a great sense of humor’, you might want to ask: Is it Monty Python, Mr. Bean or Seinfeld that makes them laugh? Consider whether the way they express themselves makes you laugh (in a good way!).
- Be patient: Don’t feel despondent if you don’t find a great match right away. Like meeting someone in person, it can take time to meet someone really special.
- Be open to language and cultural differences when dating as an expat: Allow that someone whose native language is different than yours might not express things the way you would. Sometimes a strange turn of phrase isn’t meant to be offensive and isn’t a sign of lack of intelligence, but is just a case of getting lost in translation.
- Take the risk for expat romance: You may start to feel close to someone through messaging, but you won’t know if you’re really compatible until you meet up. Don’t be scared to take your online relationship to the next level!
- But use common sense: When you do meet in person, arrange to meet any new connection in public (that’s just common sense, for safety’s sake).
For more tips on online dating, see Expatica’s expat dating series: