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Love and romance on an international stage

Third culture kids (TCKs) can often have problems adjusting to norms of dating and gender roles within relationships

How have you found dating in the new country?

It’s hard to say anything new or useful about love and romance. From songs to studies, every aspect has been probed, measured and described. Our group acknowledge the point but agree that almost every other factor is as — if not more — important to the magic of chemistry. It might be that our third culture kids don’t see it as an issue because they’re TCKs; a control group might see nationality/religion/origin/culture as more of an issue.

Lucy: “It took me ages to find the right person and settle down, but I don't think that’s because I lived in a different country. Perhaps it made me fussier and less willing to settle.”

Methee: “It’s been fine for the most part. I don't think romantic compatibility relies on culture.”

Alexander: “Dating in a new country is very confusing. It's a steep learning curve when you don't know how it's done. If it's difficult to infiltrate social circles, then it's doubly hard to know how to approach potential partners because habits vary so widely from one country to the next.

“Many kids who move around find that making attachments later in life is a challenge because you become accustomed to your relationships being obliterated by relocation.

“Though I didn't move around lots, I went to school among military and diplomatic dependants of many different nationalities, and they, like me, would ask, 'how long you here for?'. You're calculating how much attachment you can afford before someone moves away. Few people stay in touch and you come to accept that that's what life is like. I'm far from unsentimental about places, people, and things, but I accept the transience of life.”

Jimmy: “This has been interesting. Dubai was very sheltered when it came to relationships. Returning to UK, it all seemed pretty full on.”

Kim: “Germans and English people are quite similar in terms of gender roles and dating habits so this was not an issue for me. My relationships have been healthy and rewarding if painful at times — but this is no different to any of my non-TCK friends.”

Alma: “This is an interesting question for me. I thought my ex-husband was right for me because he was also a TCK — born and raised in Dubai from expat parents. I thought it would ensure a life-long relationship of love with someone who ‘gets’ me — we get each other. I couldn't have been more wrong and the marriage dissolved.

“When I moved to Australia, I was sure that I would never date an Aussie. I didn't have a great experience with Aussies when I lived in Dubai — they seemed so alien and uncultured.

“I couldn't have been more wrong about either! I ended up meeting the love of my life here. He’s not as well travelled or educated as I am, but I have never met anyone as open-minded, smart and worldly as him. We just get each other in the most magical way.

“He thinks it's amusing how I feel the need to mention the nationalities of people in conversation: ‘This is my friend Vitoria, she's Portuguese’. He says he’d just say: ‘This is my friend Jason’. It’s funny.”

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