How to (safely) have a romance abroad
Traveling abroad is a romantic undertaking. In every sense of the word. Why would people do it if not to see if the place they dreamed about can live up to all their romantic fantasies and there are certain places that lend themselves to the inter-personal kind of romance as well.
And as great as traveling alone is, the warm, streetlight-illuminated nights on the Pont Neuf and strolls through the crowded markets of Bangkok are always better with someone there that you care about.
Not only that but all those new friends you make as you travel are bound to result in the occasional romantic attraction. So, let’s say you get lucky and meet the person of your dreams there under the towering spires of Barcelona Cathedral, or along the winding, busy roads of Tokyo, or indeed, even the gross unisex bathroom of a hostel—you fumbling with the lock on your travel bag that your mom insisted you use, and they wrapped up and shivering in an old towel.
Ahhh, that’s real love for you. Vulnerable and soaking wet.
But what now? How do you proceed?
Well, your old friend Outward On, as a renowned expert on awkward international woo-pitching, is here to give you some practical tips that will have you holding hands with your new summer fling as you walk along the Champs Elysee, instead of sullenly sitting on a bench and cursing the other happy couples as they walk by.
For your reading convenience, we have broken this up by gender. Feel free to read both sections, as the insight into the other gender’s situation will give you a valuable tactical advantage in the war of love.
How to Have A Safe Romance Abroad (for Girls)
That’s really the name of the game here. Safety. It will permeate every interaction you have with a stranger in another country, or it should.
As a woman, there will be specific safety concerns that should be obvious. And having grown up as a woman in a world where sadly, you likely had to learn about these safety concerns, even in your own country, there is little reason to get into them specifically, other than to say that extra care should be exercised abroad. While, depending on where you are, the average man is no more likely to victimize you than in America, the fact that you are a foreigner will make you an easier target. People looking to take advantage of you will be aware that as someone who does not speak the language or know the area, you are less likely to go to the police, and that if you did, little would likely be done about it.
Thus, the burden of safety will rest more heavily on you than otherwise. That doesn’t mean the idea of romance is off the table, though. It just means some extra precautions are needed.
So let’s say you run into a guy on the street. He’s charming, tall, cultured. He asks you to let him show you around the city. Obviously, you should take the basic precautions you would at home. Don’t go anywhere where no one can see you. Don’t go out at night. Don’t get into a car. All the basic stuff you no doubt already know about. Now add to that concerns that are specific to this situation. Be concerned if he frequently meets up with other men in your presence and seems to be talking about you in another language. Be concerned if he hangs out with less than reputable looking people.
Ask to see his Facebook page, or search the internet to see if he has an online presence. Give it a few weeks before you agree to go anywhere alone at night with him.
Above all, just don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Trust your gut and know how to say no. If he is the kind of guy worth getting to know, he will respect it.
How to have a safe romance abroad (for guys)
If you’re a gentleman, you might be thinking to yourself that you don’t really have to worry that much about safety. I mean, it’s unlikely that the nice girl from Ohio you met on the street in Rome will drug and rob you.
But that doesn’t mean that safety is something you should discount entirely if you are a man. It means your safety will still be important, both for your sake, because that nice girl from Cinncinatti might still be after your kidney, you never know, and because now her sense of safety needs to be important to you.
That’s not just because you should be the kind of guy who wants the person you’re with to feel safe, though you should, but because if you want her to keep seeing you, you need to make sure she feels like she can trust you. Otherwise, she won’t go out with you. You can refer to the previous section for the reasons why.
That means that empathizing with the object of your incipient affection’s sense of security is both an issue of romantic decency and mundane pragmatism.
When you first meet someone, particularly if you’re into girls, their guard will be up higher than it would normally be than at home and it will likely stay that way for some time. You need to learn to be both ok with this and aware of it.
Don’t extend invitations that could make her feel uncomfortable. Don’t ask her to go somewhere alone with you. Be okay with her inviting friends along. Give her the kind of support she needs to feel safe and accept that it might be awhile before she is comfortable trusting you. Don’t invite her to go out at night or to somewhere she is unfamiliar with. Take it slow, essentially. Consider how you would feel in her situation and how she would want you to proceed.
And we’re back together now for the finish
Otherwise, everyone should act how you normally would. As a regular Outward On reader, we can assume that you are intelligent, charming, and likely an above average lover. Just follow your instincts, don’t be afraid to open up, and take the necessary precautions, and your next trip might include a romantic experience you remember long after your memories of the surroundings fades.
And if you enjoyed that, tune in next week for the follow-up piece: “So the wonderful person I met abroad is now unemployed and living on my couch.”