Expat Love - how to date in a new country

Moving to a new country doesn’t need to be the frightening adventure it may have been a few generations ago. The world is now so truly connected that we’re never too far from each other and if we are, there’s always Skype to fall back on.

The truth is, not everyone wants to do everything online these days and nothing can quite beat getting out there and meeting people. So, if you find yourself in a new country, footloose and fancy free, here are some options to consider when getting your dating mojo on.

Join a matchmaking agency
We weren’t going to leave this one out! One of the best ways to date in a new country is to join a matchmaking agency. It’s a place where you’ll find real people to talk to, be able to explain your circumstances and get bespoke help to meet someone new. The person you meet will also, if it’s a good agency, be someone who’s been specifically chosen to match your criteria for love. There are few better ways to get your romance off to a flying start.

Of course, there’s always online dating, but for multiple reasons such as work, having small children, or simply not enough time to invest, this option may not suit you. Being an expat is all about trying new things and immersing yourself in a new culture. If you’ve never tried matchmaking before, make this part of your experience. You’ll find there’s very little to lose.

Socialise at work
If you’re invited, go. Go out whenever you’re asked to and mix as much as you possibly can, including with colleagues and business acquaintances. A lot of love still happens the old fashioned way, such as being introduced to a love interest by someone you already know. The initial step for you is simply showing up, so the opportunity is there in the first place.

Be honest and open with your work colleagues as much as is appropriate. People knowing that you’re single isn’t a bad thing, and if you’re looking for a partner you’ll find that most will encourage you and wish you well.

Join groups
Whatever country you relocate to, there’s almost certainly a group of some sort that you can join and meet new people. It may be a group specifically for expats, or a local group that meets for a hobby you’re interested in. Groups give people confidence by showing that even in new surroundings, there are others out there like them. When you get to know what groups are available to you, life doesn’t need to be quite so isolating as it may have felt.

Groups are also a great opportunity for you to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Vulnerability opens doors that you can’t believe even exist until you witness them, so don’t be put off by a lack of experience or training in any particular field. If you’ve always wanted to horse ride but have previously been anxious about it, give it a go now. If you’ve always fancied being one of those people who spends their Sundays cycling but worry you wouldn’t be able to keep up, find a friendly supportive group and just go for it. You truly never know who you may meet and you’ll enjoy yourself in the process.

Hang out
Although much of the advice out there is to be with people and to make an effort to connect with others, there’s also something to be said for going out alone and being prepared to meet someone by chance. Visit exhibitions that you’re interested in, have lunch in a new restaurant or try grocery shopping in a new store. Be yourself and continue to do the things you liked doing in the country you’re from. Simply experiment a bit more in this new land, always remaining open to what could come from it. Don’t be afraid to start conversations, to comment, to be approached.

Maintain your standards
An odd thing that can happen in new countries is that we start to dismiss or adjust some of our standards, especially if we believe things just work differently in the new place. In some cases it’s needed, so for example, if there are different customs around food or the etiquette of speaking to the opposite sex. Remain vigilant however, if a date does something you don’t like or which makes you feel uncomfortable, stick to your feelings and respond in a way that is in keeping with who you are.

Don’t over-compromise for your expat dating life, or sacrifice too many of your standards in order to fit in. Respect other people without disrespecting yourself.

Written by Tori Ufondu for Macbeth Matchmaking