Oct. 25, 2014

International dating: Rules and tips for far-flung romance

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April 17, 2014

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The end of the year is approaching, and soon many of us will be jetting off to study abroad and spend the summer months in far-flung destinations across the globe. Spending time abroad is an opportunity to expand your horizons and gain new experiences. While you’re busy becoming worldly, though, keep in mind that this may be your chance to have that no-strings-attached, once-in-a-lifetime international fling. Here are a few tips before you go:

1. If you think you’ll find someone, you will. I promise there is some cute German backpacker out there for you. Remember that you are a cool, interesting student from America, and you are more attractive than you realize. Put yourself out there.

2. “Game” is different everywhere. Sometimes flirting is subtle. In some places, it is considered rude to be too forward. In others, the trend is to be disarmingly direct. Give yourself a little time to figure out the norm so you can read people better. Furthermore, the language barrier can make it tough to know what someone is really trying to get across. Take it easy and remember that you will laugh later about any awkwardness. Pickup lines in broken English such as, “I think you very attractive lady,” and “I am daring to kiss you” will be hilarious in hindsight.

3. You are probably going to be in a hostel at some point. These establishments are full of young, intrepid travelers, meaning that you will not have to look far for some quick romance. That being said, there are rules. The top bunk is off limits. Do not be that couple.

4. The roof deck, however, is fair game.

5. Not that I need to tell you, but be responsible and protect yourself. There are some souvenirs you do not want from your summer romance.

6. In the same vein as No. 5, stock up before you go. Not only can navigating a foreign drug store be a mood killer, but finding things like condoms and emergency contraception may not be as easy as at home.

7. Know your limits and really think about what you are okay with doing. Being abroad (particularly in combination with your newfound ability to consume alcohol legally) can be liberating, but it can also cause you to make decisions that might otherwise seem too risky. Keep your wits about you and always make sure that someone knows where you are. It is much better to be a little embarrassed because someone knows a bit too much about your business than to end up in a dangerous situation with no way to get in touch with your friends.

8. Branch out a little. Did you really come all this way to hang around with other Americans? This also extends to your study abroad classmates. Think carefully about whether you could handle the fallout if things do not go well.

9. Use this time to experiment a little. Dying to try something new?  Go for it.  If it falls flat, that person will be a continent away in a few short weeks.

10. The world is small, but not too small. If a quick summer fling is all you want, you can have that. That special person can quickly become a good story for your friends back home, and nothing more.  Sometimes, though, it is worth keeping up with someone, and that makes an even better story for your friends back home.

Go out there and make the most of your time overseas. Try new things, meet new people and come home to bombard your friends and family with endless tales of your travels. Have a great time showing off all those newly filled pages in your passport, but maybe don’t flip to the one with the lipstick stamps while mom and dad are around.

Cate M is a Behind Closed Doors Columnist who thinks that flirting skills are positively associated with success in the “game.”

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