Four Realizations of Expat Dating

Well here it goes, I decided that I wanted to try and write something, even though the last paper I wrote was probably three years ago for college.

Funny how life changes from staying up all night to finish a paper that you hate, to voluntary writing a piece just because you want to. Life is a strange or maybe I am writing on something I want to and not having to do a 25-page paper on the conflict in Yemen.

I wanted to talk about expat dating and more specifically: Expats dating other expats. I know what you’re thinking, so let’s get this out of the way–some expats catch a “fever” of sorts while in China. However, this piece is not to discuss that.

Dating other expats

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If you become an expat you will hang out with other expats and guess what? You will see that most of them have the same mindset and probably have the same interest. Most cases both of you will have a very close history or walked close to the same path. Perhaps both had a less-than-ideal job or just got out of college and wanted to explore.

After a bit of hanging out, you will see that you might want to date this person. Some things will make this relationship unique.

Realization #1
Deadlines and instability

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Expat dating is strange because most people have only signed on for a year. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but because of this simple fact, most expat dating starts off not being too serious because you don’t know where you will end up after six months.

Realization #2
Kicking it into high gear

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Since most expats are only here for a year, certain talks that would have happened slower back home will speed up here, just because of the time issue. You start talking almost like Mormons.

This is one conversation I remember having with a Mormon couple in college.

Me: “How long did you date for?”

Them: “Oh like eight months. Our wedding is coming up.”

Me: “Wait, when did you propose?”

Them: “Ummm like seven months ago.”

Me: “So you only dated like a month before asking her to marry you?”

Them: “Actually it was more like 20 days.”

Me: “… cool.”

I know that was a needless story, but I think it gets the point across.

Anyway, that is what expats almost become because of the 1-year contracts. Instead of waiting a year or longer before asking someone to move in, most of those conversations happen after a semester, so about 3-4 months.

Realization #3
There’s still some distance to cover

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Now I know most of you are saying “distance? Really Reese?” “ Most of you are also saying why am I reading this and why do I have a sudden urge to punch Reese hard in the face.” Well hold that clenched fist a little longer, and I will show you what I mean.

Well, the things about expats dating other expats are that some to most times you won’t live just down the road from each other and in fact, you will live across districts. These districts are big ole’ boys, and since most of us can’t get a car here in China it takes a little while on the metro; and for a little, while I mean time has no meaning on the subway only pain, crowded standing pain!

Sometimes living in the same city almost means a long-distance relationship because it takes 1 hour or 2 to get to where they live or meeting in a mutual spot for both of you.

Realization #4
It’s a small (expat) world

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Friends groups become entangled. Now I know this is probably true for healthy relationships and life but its a little bit stranger than back home. If something does happen and you do break up, it can be awkward at times because of how tight your expat groups of friends are here.

So you will have to decide that if you do break up, then are you ok with seeing your ex at parties, hangouts, work meetings, etc. Basically everywhere since most groups of expats are such a close-knit group and you don’t want you expat friends to choose between the two of you.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to worry about much of these, if you meet someone, you should just come and see how strange and fun expat dating can be!

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