We're all friends here, right? Then let's have a real, and open convo about what it means to fall in love internationally. I think it's safe to say that most of us have dreamt about traveling to some exotic and foreign land and locking eyes with a stranger, seeing sparks, time fly, and then falling in love with our very own Fabio... or Giselle...or Idris Elba, but no need for specifics. It's enough to make you rest your chin on your hand and sigh melodramatically, isn't it? What a dream! Movies like How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Like Crazy, Before Sunrise, When in Rome, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, and countless other films have us over here believing that all it takes is one serendipitous moment in time, then we're sailing off into the sunset with out new lover, almost always with a chiseled jaw line, and a charming accent.
I'd never want to bust any literal or figurative bubbles, but I would like to debunk a few myths about international love. I've done it! It's possible! It's rewarding, and once you surpass all of these things as a team, you'll feel unstoppable. It's a feeling like no other thinking on the fact that my husband and I are from literal opposite ends of the world, and have found a way to make it work despite the paperwork, visas, family visits, cultural "quirks" and the like. All in all, this piece is not to discourage, but to hopefully both inform, and ultimately, encourage love in all its diverse forms.
International Law is NOT Sexy
For some reason, many people have this idea that a passport is also a visa that then doubles as a "get out of jail free card". Wrong. Just because you have a passport doesn't mean that you can legally stay, work, live, let alone enter a foreign country! International law isn't the sexiest of topics; however, when dating abroad it's a subject that will eventually come up. If you want to continue seeing each other, it would be ideal to be on the same continent.
Yeah, seems pretty obvious, but falling in love in someone else's mother tongue presents its own set of challenges. Also, something that most people take for granted: how do you argue... with someone you care about... in a foreign language and feel heard, and understood? See? It's not all gelato, and Aperol spritz! It's a journey that's both thrilling and emotional. When you do create and learn your personal language for just the two of you... it's magical.
Choose a Side
Where will you all eventually live, if it comes to that? Perhaps you feel drawn to your home country or want to be close to your family? Well, imagine your partner feels the same? Are you willing to compromise and meet in the middle? Do you and your love share the same faith, or cultural beliefs and if not, how do you plan to bridge those gaps? Long distance relationships are more and more common, but still come at a cost. Between flights and phone bills, it all adds up. These are difficulties you may not face when dating in your hometown.
Fight... For The Right...
I think the most difficult part of living and loving abroad is securing legal working rights! If staying in a foreign country long term with your beau, or bae is on your agenda, it's important to make sure that you can legally and safely earn a living without relying completely on your partner financially. More often than not, working rights are given to spouses, not girlfriends or boyfriends. Aha! So that's why you keep seeing all your friends getting married so quickly abroad! Mind blown!
Far, Far, Away
One downside to falling in love abroad is that your family and friends are so far away! They may not meet your sig. other right away because, well, it's a huge step no matter where you are, but it's even bigger when there's a 2k euro flight attached too! It's harder to establish those fundamental connections with your loved ones, and your new love when they may not be around the corner. My husband and I dated for two years before he was able to fly to Chicago and meet my family, and even then 2 weeks is not a long time when opening your home and family to someone! On the other hand, it's a wonderful way to see the dedication and lengths that your partner is willing to go.
International relationships move much faster than normal because conversations like these come up quite early on. Unfortunately, paperwork, visas, and governments couldn't care less about spontaneous, and passionate love. Documents must be translated, applications processed, and approvals given no matter what. To quote one of the coolest people ever Lin Manuel Miranda: love is love is love is love is love. It's a gift that's not easily come by, and although it may look "better" or "cooler" because it happens on the French Riviera or Rio de Janeiro it doesn't mean that it's any more or less special than the love you can find just around the corner! Cheers to love, no matter where it manifests!
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful husband. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.