Anyone who’s ever gone on an awkward Tinder date only to conveniently bump into them that week in the library knows that dating on campus can be rough. And if you’ve had it up-to-freaking-here with the dating pool at your tiny college, it’s a no wonder why the prospect of falling in love while abroad seems so attractive—in a new country with so many gorgeous faces you’ve never had the pleasure of swiping right on yet. Whether you’re looking for the Romeo to your Juliet, or you’re just in the market for an exciting way to shake up your life, here are some do’s and don’ts to be aware of when dating abroad.
1. Do visit local shops and cafes.
Not only can you learn more about the country’s culture and see what it’s like to be a local, but you might meet a handsome guy who frequents the tiny, hidden coffee shop to read—or the charming girl who shops at the local bakery every Saturday. Finding great local hot spots might require some research but, seriously, when was the last time you watched a movie where the foreign guy and American girl met at the expensive hotel bar? Never. If you want to meet locals, you have to go where the locals go.
2. Don’t travel with the expectation of falling in love.
As enviable as the possibility of meeting your future significant other abroad sounds, don’t travel to another country just to find that person. Yeah, I personally know people who fell in love while abroad but, for crying out loud, there are so many other cool things to do! Finding your next relationship shouldn’t be your only goal. If it happens, it happens.
3. Do go out to dinner with the people in your study abroad group.
Your study abroad group may be full of a lot of things like life-long friends, and a new love. Get to know the people you’re traveling with. Those friendships could possibly blossom into something more. Plan to get dinner together and explore the city as a group, and don’t forget to be yourself and have fun!
4. Don’t hook up with anyone in your group during the trip.
As hot as it may sound to get it in under the covers in your room under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, college study abroad programs usually have rules about students doing…umm…sexual acts during the duration of the trip. You could end up facing the consequences if you get caught, or if your roommates complain about the…disturbances. Besides, it would be SUPER awks if your hook up with someone from your group doesn’t go as planned and you still have to face them for the rest of the trip.
5. Do use dating apps in the area.
Sometimes, dating apps are the best way to get connected with locals. When I was in Ireland, I was interested in learning more about how locals in Ireland viewed certain things and what their recommendations for things were (I know, I’m such a nerd). So I turned to everyone’s *favorite* dating app Tinder and I got to know so many cool guys who gave me real insight into what I wanted to know. Sure, I didn’t date them but if you wanted to, you could.
6. Don’t meet in an area you don’t know at all.
And if you do end up using a dating app to meet locals, be safe and don’t plan to meet up in any sketchy, weird areas. Play it safe and suggest you meet up at the cafe you pass by every day on your way to class, or the museum your professor said was always crowded on Saturdays. Also, make sure you tell your friends where you’ll be, just in case!
7. Do go on group dates with your other single friends.
This is a more fun way to meet new people safely. If your friends are also looking for a little fun in a new city, see if they’d be on board to maybe go on a group date with the cute guys you met the other night at the pub, or with the cuties in your study abroad group. There’s safety (and comfort) in number if you feel weird about going on a solo date in a new country.
8. Don’t think of your date as ‘exotic.’
Yes, your date’s Spanish accent is incredibly hot, but avoid over-exoticizing him or her just because you’re an American dating a foreigner. No one wants to be thought of as ‘exotic’ just because of their “adorable accent” or “wildly curly hair” and “tan skin.” You might seriously rub someone the wrong way.
9. Do try to form a genuine connection with someone.
Don’t just like someone because of their accent or because of the fact that they’re foreign and you could possibly be known back in the states as the girl who’s dating the hot Italian dude. If the sparks aren’t there, do yourself (and everyone else involved) a favor and don’t try to pretend that they are.
10. Don’t continue the relationship after you leave if you aren’t genuine about it.
Honestly, not many people who go abroad come back home in a relationship with their life-long partner. Sometimes people just like the idea of having someone fun to hang with while they’re away from their friends and family. So if you really aren’t interested in getting serious with this person, spare their feelings and spare yourself the possibility of getting hurt.