Valentine’s Day is almost here. As February 14th closes in, advertisements, parents, and friends all seem to ask the same question: “Do you have a special someone?”
Being single isn’t always easy, especially if you’re an expat living in a new country.
Thankfully, there’s good news on the horizon: over one-third of the world’s expats are single.
And if you have recently moved to the United States, you’re in luck. According to The Washington Post, over half of those under the age of 35 don’t have a romantic partner.
So how do you get started, and what should you expect?
Before you begin your dating journey in the United States, here are four things to keep in mind:
Online Dating Is Very Popular in the U.S.
While dating apps are a global phenomenon, they are very popular in the U.S.
While dating apps like Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder are great options in the U.S., “The Inner Circle” is ideal for expats. Because you can filter by language and share where you’re from, you’ll be able to more easily connect with people who share a similar cultural background.
Click here to check out The Inner Circle.
Here are a few extra pointers to help enhance your online dating experience:
- Don’t Use Selfies: People want to see real, organic photos of you with your friends and family. They don’t want to see your mirror or gym selfies.
- Use Travel Pictures: You have the advantage here! Because you’re an expat, you’ve already seen more of the world than many Americans. One dating app reported that travel photos got 30 percent more “likes” than domestic images, so put your international photos to work!
- Verify Your Date: While most online dates are safe, be careful when meeting a potential partner for the first time. Always choose a public place. While it may sound overly cautious, run a quick online search to ensure they are who they say they are. Their social media accounts will be a good resource for this. Or better yet, ask to have a brief pre-date video call on Skype or Zoom!
Urban Americans Date Regularly (Even During COVID-19)
In dense metropolitan areas, online dating has become a bit of an American hobby.
Despite the global pandemic, dating apps have seen a dramatic increase in 2020. According to CNBC, Bumble reported a 21% increase in activity in Seattle, a 23% increase in New York City, and a 26% increase in San Francisco.
Dating coach Logan Ury calls the frequency of dating, “relationshopping, where they shop for a partner the way they would shop for a camera or Bluetooth headphones.”
While this is an admittedly pessimistic outlook for online dating, it speaks to the larger experience of dating apps. Eva Illouz, Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, describes the modern dating world as a sort of marketplace “that enables you to see, for the first time ever in history, the market of possible partners.”
Researchers at Ohio State University found that there’s a connection—across gender—between loneliness and time spent on dating apps.
Perhaps this is why many singles and expats forego online dating for something more communal. Sites like Meetup create opportunities for people to make friends and explore new activities in a lessb deliberately romantic environment.
Click here to check out Meetup!
Most Men Expect to Pay On Dates
While many consider this trend to be outdated, it nevertheless continues to exist.
According to Forbes Magazine, 72% of American women think men should pay for the first date. 85% of American men hold the same expectation.
While long-term relationships show a more equal division of labor over time, studies show that 76% of men actually feel guilty accepting women’s money.
According to Ryan, a portfolio manager in New York City, “The check dance makes me feel macho, so I appreciate when my date lets me wave them off. My wallet would prefer we split the bill, but I genuinely enjoy treating someone I’m interested in a few drinks.”
It’s important to remember there are no hard and fast rules for dating—and splitting the cost of a date is increasingly common. But it’s good to know what the cultural expectations of a first date may entail in America.
Your Visa Status May Influence the Conversation
For expats, it doesn’t take long for questions about where you’re from to turn into, “how long are you staying in America?”
Kalle Oskari Mattila, a Finnish writer for The Washington Post, detailed a similar experience.
In writing about his dating life, he admitted, “a steady immigration status seems to be a prerequisite for a stable relationship. Generally I’ve dated liberal, big-city, educated people who believe in open immigration. Yet, when it comes to their dating lives, they often resemble vigilant border-control agents.”
Mattila refers to the fact that when immigrants marry U.S. citizens, they can become residents of the United States. Unfortunately, certain stigmas have made it so that expats come under intense scrutiny by Americans who may hold “suspicion that a foreigner could have impure intentions.”
It’s unlikely your immigration status will factor into a first date conversation. But if anyone calls your motives into question, be prepared to laugh it off (and let them pick up the check).
As an expat, you have enough to worry about. Sending money home should be the least of your concerns.
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