So You’re Dating an Expat

Or a “foreigner,” as your parents might think it’s hilarious to put it. Well, first off, congratulations! You’re dating someone, which is a critical first step. The second, equally important step is to continue dating them, and this is where problems arise.

Particularly with expats. For one thing, their stay in the U.S. is usually limited to the length of their student or work visa – six months, a year, whatever. This will make the whole thing more romantic, but also, yeah, kind of doomed. I would advise avoiding these relationships altogether, but let’s keep it real. Half the time resistance is futile. All a not-even-terribly-handsome New Zealander has to do is come up to me and be like, “I sound like Bret, from Flight of the Conchords! You find that prettttty attractive, don’t you?” And I’m like, psssh, it’s not that attractive. Ok, yes. Here’s my number.

So, since it’s bound to happen, here are some tips to make the whole fiasco less painful:

1) Prepare for fancy-ass dates

Don’t get me wrong, most of my favorite boyfriends have been super broke guys who, on a second date, considered it fine to take me to an abandoned warehouse by the river and then out for pizza. These dates, despite, um, involving trespassing, can be a ton of fun. That said, dating an expat is a MUCH CLASSIER affair. Instead of his roommate’s Lucky Charms, brunch will be Duck Liver Mousse and Poached Eggs Provencal. At first, you might be a little annoyed at having to sit up straight at breakfast and not rest your head on the table occasionally to ease your hangover. But after you taste the food you’ll probably realize ehh, it’s pretty awesome.

2) Preemptively ban the c-word

If he’s British, back home he and his buddies might casually throw around the c-word as a term of endearment, WEIRD as that is. They’ll be all, “Oy mate, be a c-word and get us a pint!” And no one will be shocked or offended. You have to nip this in the bud. Tell him that while you understand in the motherland it is apparently ok, in the U.S., no. Especially not as a nickname for you.

3) Have him teach you all the French/German/whatever swear words he knows

These are the first words you should learn in any language and certainly the most useful. Initially, they might sound comically not like swear words at all. “Merde!” Ha ha! But in time they’ll start to assume their proper offensiveness, especially if you frequently beat him in video games.

4) Figure out who the President or Prime Minister of his country is, and what party they belong to

As informed citizens, it’s probably good to know this stuff. Plus, no matter how tiny and politically irrelevant his country, you WILL feel like a moron when he gives you that look, like, “Vladimir Voronin’s term ended in 2009. Where have you BEEN?” Um, in a country that doesn’t care? All we learn in school is our own state capitals! And even then it’s like, only sort of.

5) Don’t be surprised if some of the stereotypes are true

OMG they really do love cheese!! Yeah. They do. Also, Irish guys love whiskey, and will drink it at times that most people wouldn’t necessarily equate with whiskey, like on the Chinatown bus to Boston at 11am.

6) Do not start affecting a retarded British accent

I shouldn’t have to say this at all because it should be PAINFULLY obvious, but this includes calling your friends “mates” or “blokes,” pronouncing Paris like “pair-ee,” etc.

7) If he gets deported, and doesn’t know when or if he’s coming back, don’t wait for him

You could waste months of your life on Skype, or turn into one of those weird hermit people!

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About the author

Katy B. - Economic Inexpert

Katy B. grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of Gerald R. Ford, Andy Richter, and, at one point, the guy who wrote Mr. Holland’s Opus. She moved to NYC for her degree in library science, and is now in the Media Studies program at The New School. She hopes to one day be a film studies librarian. Ask her anything about Dewey Decimal – anything! – and she will roll her eyes because academic libraries use Library of Congress. Durrr.
  • http://www.heatherpoole.com Heather Poole

    Now that was funny!

  • http://brokeassstuart.com Broke-Ass Stuart – Editor In Cheap

    Glad you dig :)