You are planning that once in a lifetime trip abroad and can not contain your excitement about all things you'll see and different people you'll meet. Someone even suggests that you might meet that special someone who just captures your heart. You smile and laugh it off. What are the chances you'll have the time to get to know anyone well enough to decide that you want to start anything with them? But stranger things have happened. So while you are busy packing that travel guide, medicine guide, language guide, and cultural differences guide, don't forget to pack this simple guide about international relationships.
The first rule you need to remember is, don't forget your time frame. When you know you are only going to be somewhere for a few days, you have a tendency to act a little different than if you are going to stay awhile. Lasting impressions are not always as important as making the most of the time you have. Not that this is an excuse to be rude and forget your manners, but when your time is short, formalities have the tenancy to be reduced to common courtesies. Remember that the people you meet are going to pretty much have the same idea. Have fun, make friends, but remember knowing someone for a week is far different from knowing someone for a year.
A second rule to remember is to keep in mind that the people you meet are probably going to be just as curious about you as you are about them. Some have even used the term "enamored." Every relationship begins with someone being enamored by someone else. International relationships are the same but on steroids, since you are constantly enamored by everything. So when that dashingly handsome young man with impeccable manors shows up at your side, don't let it go to your head too quickly. But you might be thinking, "wouldn't it be nice to say that you had a boyfriend in this or that place!" Well, quite frankly, yes it would. But he's probably thinking the same thing! Just because you travel abroad, don't forget grandma's aged advice: "Always be friends with a guy before you date them." In other words, he may be nice, but until you've known him more than a few weeks, that's all he is - nice.
Another rule to remember is to simply know your expectations. If you are out to learn about different cultures and history, you will probably attract the more international crowd. If you are out to have fun and meet people, you are probably going to hang around people with the same goal. They are probably not looking for anything serious any more than you are. Remembering that will keep you out of a lot of trouble when that guy starts the serious flirting and begging you to stay with him forever.
If you really are open to starting a relationship with someone on the opposite end of the world, you might find these extra rules helpful. First of all, one of you has to speak the other ones language almost fluently. A lot gets lost in translation. I like you comes out as I love you more times than you can imagine. Many heart aches have been the result of a simple language misinterpretation.
Secondly, set a time limit. We have to be together for this amount of time before we agree to be serious. (Remember Grandma's advice?) Writing is a great way to keep in contact and get to know each other. It's also a great way to tell if you can really communicate. If he writes the same things all the time, chances are that's all he knows how to say. And if this is true, the relationship will fizzle naturally, without as many hurt feelings.
Third, talk to his friends and people who know him. If they tell you he is a big flirt and to just have fun, listen to them. No matter how much you like him, that doesn't mean you know him. More than one stubborn head has led to a broken heart. Learning to take advice from others is a great attribute to have and will save you in many situations in your travels.
When it's all said and done international relationships can be fun, life changing and memorable. Let them be all that they can be. Just remember to take your common sense along with you, set the rules, know the boundaries and have the time of your life. If you do, you have a good chance of your trip being all you imagined it to be and more. Traveling is a great way to make new friends and special memories. And who knows, you can never tell what kind of relationship you might build with a new special someone just waiting out there for you!