Should you date a foreigner?
Personally, I think you should… And I’m somewhat of an expert in foreign romance at this point.
I’m writing this in Madrid, Spain, my adopted hometown.
It’s late March.
Spring has sprung, and love is in the air!
While we can expect plenty more cold, rainy, windy weather before things get really hot, there’s already been a noticeable change in people’s outlooks.
The leaves are back on all the trees.
Winter is over, and life – as the saying goes – is beautiful.
The warmer weather means that more people are out in the streets, having a drink on the terrazas, wearing less clothing, and feeling good. It’s an ideal situation for a rollito de primavera – a spring fling.
According to some surveys, people have two to three times more romantic encounters in the warmer months, and those in stable relationships are also more likely to have an affair at this time of year. So whatever your preferences, there are definitely a lot of seasonal options.
“La primavera, la sangre la altera” pretty much sums it up for me.
And today’s topic is vitally important in the mind of any expat at this time of year, when all you want to do is quit your job, throw off your clothes, and hop (or spring) into the sack with just about any local.
Yes, today we’re going to talk about five reasons why you should date a foreigner.
In fact, there are all sorts of advantages to going out with someone of another nationality.
So let’s begin…
1. Learning languages in bed – one of the benefits of dating a foreigner
It’s a well-known fact that learning languages is easier (and significantly more enjoyable) between the sheets.
Because your long-term memory, basically, has two ways of assimilating information: repetition and strong emotion.
Repetition is, of course, what you’ll do if you go to a language school and sit down to memorize verb conjugations. Eventually you’ll move on to the different cases in which you want to use the subjunctive, or the twenty-three differences between por and para.
But strong emotion is what you will not get — until you pull your Spanish teacher (or perhaps a classmate) back to your flat for some “extracurricular activity”.
Your brain is wired to learn from strong emotions and the things associated with them, so a lot of conversations you’ll have in the context of a romantic relationship will be much more memorable than the time you spend drilling the pluscuamperfecto in class.
And also, “drilling” your Spanish teacher is just much more fun than doing grammar exercises!
Ask me how I know…
2. Dating a foreigner is the closest to cultural integration you’ll ever get.
If you spent the first twenty-something years of your life in Chicago, Dublin, or Manchester, you’re never going to truly “be Spanish” — whatever that means.
But if you’re in a relationship with a Spaniard, you’ll have quite a few cultural experiences that they just don’t talk about on TripAdvisor.
It’s not all fun and games, of course. Some friends of mine lament that marrying a Spaniard means eating cocido madrileño with the in-laws, every Sunday until the end of time.
I’m not suggesting you marry anyone.
Just have a fling.
Dating a local will also introduce you to social circles you probably wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. A lot of us expats here don’t hang out with many Spaniards.
But if you’re dating a Spanish person, your social circle is pretty much guaranteed… and it’ll probably be 100% Spanish.
You might feel a little strange at first being the only guiri de la pandilla, but hey, it’s an experience like any other.
That’s what you moved abroad for, isn’t it?
Here’s another thing you should know about the foreign dating experience…
3. Spanish people can teach us Americans and Brits a lot about passion.
I’m an American living here in Spain, but this is applicable to a lot of countries.
f you’re anything like me, any time someone slightly raises their voice, you feel like you’re in an argument. You probably don’t show a lot of strong emotion in your daily life.
Well, welcome to the south of Europe, where passion reigns supreme.
You can learn a lot about yourself and your culture in a relationship with someone whose expectations are totally different than yours.
You might find (as I’ve said in other articles) that your own cultural expectations are rather arbitrary and not serving you as well as they could.
Or you might find that you prefer your own culture.
At least give it a try to see…
The downside to passion, of course, is irrational jealousy, which isn’t any fun.
In any case, these relationships will have you feeling things you never thought possible, whether positive or negative.
4. It’ll be an exotic, exciting experience for both of you.
When you’re dating someone from another country, don’t forget — your new partner is also having a cultural experience, and chances are you’re just as exotic for them as they are for you.
In one of my first relationships on this side of the pond, the lovely girl I was dating would say things like, “Well, I never would have done this with my previous (Spanish) boyfriends, but with you it’s different.”
I guess she was willing to bend the “relationship rules” a little bit because of the novelty of the dating-an-American-guy situation.
Eventually, of course, she dumped me because I wasn’t following those very same relationship rules.
But hey… it was fun while it lasted.
The fun of dating someone from another country is balanced by the fact that sometimes, it’s difficult to communicate between cultures.
Oh well. I suppose relationships can be hard anywhere in the world.
5. When (if) you go back home, you don’t have to worry about running into your exes.
If you’re dating people in your small town back home, you’ll surely have awkward encounters with exes from time to time.
But if you want to date around in another country, and you go back home your exes will be conveniently on the other side of the ocean.
The chances of running into them and having to make small talk in the Walmart parking lot is close to zero, once you’re back in the US.
Anyway, in a big city like Madrid, you’re not very likely to run into people you know, either, so you can enjoy a certain anonymity you might not have back home.
Just make sure you understand the most ambiguous sentence in the Spanish language – in case you do run into them while you’re out and about.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this so far.
Why you should date a foreigner – the wrap-up
Of course, there are also disadvantages to international romance. The main one is that sometimes the language barrier can cause unnecessary conflict when well-intentioned statements are misunderstood.
Culture can also get in the way: if there are things you’re used to doing that the other person finds completely unacceptable, you might not have much to negotiate about.
If you’re on their territory, you’ll probably end up having to follow their rules.
And some Spanish people would never think of dating a foreigner.
Don’t waste your time on people who just aren’t interested, because, believe me, right around the corner there is someone who has been waiting for the opportunity to date someone “exotic” like you for years.
In any case, the pros far outweigh the cons here, so from now until the summer solstice, when it gets really hot.
So I say… now’s the time to get busy.
P.S. I hope you’ve seen the light. These reasons why you should date a foreigner are just a fraction of the fun you can have with international romance. What do you think? Hit me up, right here in the comments…
P.P.S. This dating a foreigner topic is pretty popular here on the blog… so much so that I’ve written another one about dating Spanish girls, and also one about sex in Spain. Check those out if you’re so inclined. Thanks!
P.P.P.S. Update: here’s another article about dating British men – it’s a guest post, ’cause I don’t do much of that myself. And if you want even more, take a look at these pros and cons of living in Madrid, or my new-new article about making friends abroad. Enjoy!