I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: romance is tough. By this age we’ve all been around the block enough to know that dating is rarely a stroll in the park. Add expat status into that mix, and everything gets even more complicated. People come and go within a matter of months, there are language barriers the size of Mt. Everest, and your dating pool tends be rather limited: instead of 6 degrees of separation, you’re looking at two, or maybe even one if you live in a small town. This being said, there are some definite trends to be found in the world of expat dating.
1. YOLO Yolanda: You know this girl. We all do. She’s the one who always has a drink in her hand, and probably one in her purse too. She’ll buy shots for everyone at the table, just to be sure that everyone gets on her level. YOLO Yolanda is here to have a good time. She is friends with everyone, always looking for next adventure, and is a big fan of the kiss-on-the-mouth goodbye. In terms of dating, you always know that whatever you do, you’ll have a good time; however, if you’re looking for something long-term, you might want to search elsewhere.
2. Lifer Luke: This guy is in a love affair with his new home —- he’s totally fluent, he’s got the big(er) apartment, and probably a dog too. Lifer Luke is a rare sighting, because he’s usually kicking back at the lesser-known, but significantly more authentic (and classy) bars and eateries. You see him and say, “I haven’t seen you before. Did you get here recently?” And in response you’re treated to the vaguely condescending, but ultimately well meant smile with a, “Nope. Going on my sixth year now…” Oh.
3. Locals Only Larry: This guy just isn’t interested in romantic mingles with the other expats. His interests lie with meeting the local ladies — much more challenging if you don’t know the language, but can ultimately be rewarding if you manage to bridge the gap. While many of the other expat daters can and often do swap between genders, Locals Only Larry is pretty much always a guy. Not saying the Locals Only Lucy doesn’t exist, but she tends to be a much rarer breed.
4. Let’s Get Serious Sally: This lovely lady is probably the most, shall we say, stable one in the bunch. LGS Sally knows who she is, knows what she wants, and is tired of the nonsense. She is looking for someone who understands the expat lifestyle, and is willing to come along for the ride. If this girl was a drink she would be a gin & tonic with lime (or lemon since limes don’t really exist in Korea) — classy, elegant, and a refreshing change from all those tequila shots you’ve been downing with YOLO Yolanda.
5. Nomadic Natalie: This girl is a free spirit. She’s lived all over the world, has something nice to say about everyone, and is always willing to regale you with scintillating tale or two. She might have a long-term boyfriend who travels with her (Nomadic Nathan), or she might be committed to only herself (in the best of ways). She’s in a love affair with the world itself, so while you might spend a night, or even a month in her warming presence, be careful because one day the world at large will call, and she will be right there to answer. Cherish the moments with her because they surely will be beautiful, but be ready to release her with grace when the time comes.
6. Backpacker Bill: If you’ve done any traveling in southeast Asia — and especially if you’ve stayed in hostels — you’ve definitely met this guy. He’s got a backpack (obviously), a beard (or at the very least some scruff), and a T-shirt or tank from every major city in southeast Asia. Backpacker Bill is a cool dude — as laid back as they come, always ready to share a tip about one of his past destinations, and always ready to hit the road again. Great fun and your date is sure to be interesting, but keep in mind his name is Backpacker Bill so he might not be around for long. Maybe Nomadic Natalie and Backpacker Bill should hook it up….
7. Incommunicado Ingrid: This person is your international affair. You’re from opposite sides of the world, you only have a few words in a common language, and you rely predominantly on hand gestures and smiles to get your point across. But you don’t let that slow your roll — you’re an intrepid world explorer! Language barriers be damned! Though you barely speak the same language, somehow you still managed communicate “I like you. We should probably, no, definitely make-out. A lot.” And then you totally did. You go, Glen Coco!
8. Long-Distance Lucy (or Luke): This expat is a freaking gangster. Or just really patient. Or in love. Or all three! I don’t really know. This person has a long-term lover, to whom they are committed across international borders and even across oceans. You may gaze upon them longingly until the sun sets in the East, but to no avail — their heart belongs to another. Though they might feel the acute sting of loneliness just a little more than everyone else, they can hack it, because they know a happy and loving reunion is in their future.