International Dating 101

I returned home from my travels over a month ago and have been settling into life. There has been lots of change. I am thrilled that my boutique (www.rissajarratt.com) is online and appreciate all your support and positive feedback! I have a new apartment in a new neighborhood and a new job. I am finding a balance with a full-time career, my blog and website, trying to stay in shape (the constant struggle!), enjoying the summer days and I am dating, continuing to earnestly look for a relationship with substance.


On the dating front, I’ve actually found myself falling back into some old habits, which can be a bit self-sabotaging. In all honesty, somehow still a hopeless romantic, I tend to want the fairy tale of love and have a bad habit of giving too much and overly investing with an open-heart. It can make meaningless dating relationships stressful and anxiety producing. So I’ve been thinking about my approach and in particular, reflecting on my recent travels. Being in New Zealand, Bali, Portugal and Spain sharpened my five senses and the memories are still vivid.

~Sipping cherry liquor as guitar filled the air in Lisbon…the smell of burning incense in Bali teak rooms…staring upwards at the Sagrada Familia temple in Barcelona~

I quickly realized a sixth sense that I used to experience the world…dating! You may laugh, but Tinder is among my favorite travel apps; it was a great way to connect with locals. In addition to providing some A+ stories, dating internationally has changed my perspective on dating stateside. To start at the beginning….

My first international date was in Auckland, where I connected with a world traveler from London. Initially, I was pretty hesitant. The only thing we had in common was 24-hours in the same place and usually I require the potential for “something more”. But he suggested Thai food, which sounded much more appealing than the heaping pile of laundry I desperately needed to do, so off I went! We shared dinner, walked and talked late into the evening, finally saying our goodbyes without expectations for more. It had been a perfect evening of conversation. I quickly learned the benefit of taking pressure off; when you have no expectations or agenda, wonderful things seem to happen. It was so refreshing.

Encouraged by Auckland, I moved onto Bali ready to swipe! Looking back, I can see how love comes easily here; hearts are open and there is just a sense of connection. I soon found myself having drinks with an Aussie banker at the Potato Head Beach Club. There was immediate chemistry and one fruity cocktail turned into dinner which turned into a three-day long date…it was one of those! We discussed with excitement the idea of re-routing our travels for a “second date” in Sydney and I thought “it had happened”…love in Bali! But as my departure drew closer, something changed and the twinkle in his eyes dulled. I knew this was a romance, but nothing more. I was disappointed and found myself crying at the airport. But in the midst of my mini-pity party, I saw the most striking thing — tons of other Bali romances coming to an end. I watched hippies crying as they embraced one last time, gap year kids awkwardly kissing goodbye and even two seniors breaking up. I can’t explain this one or draw too many lessons, but somehow I felt comforted by the fact that love is just what happens in Bali.

Onto Lisbon, colorful Lisbon; how I love your culture, food and men! The Portuguese are gracious hosts and gentlemen with such a fun-loving spirit. While I am no demographic expert, my research shows the ratio of men to women in Lisbon is tilted in our favor. So ladies, if you are lacking great dates, go on a solo trip to Lisbon. ‘Nuf said.

spain

My final stop was Barcelona, a place all about self-expression and freedom. You’ve got to let your hair down in Barcelona, so I ran around the streets with a 25-year old ginger from Glasgow who was in search of art, great food and life experiences! He savored each moment, was clear in communication and easy going; the perfect travel companion. Just like in Auckland, I so enjoyed the laughs and experiences we had in the moment. Also, I noticed this 25-year old was drama-free, meaning we did not talk about heartbreak, failed relationships or expectations at all. I finally understand why people say “young is more fun”! Personally, I don’t mind a little baggage; it makes me more careful with other people’s hearts and understanding of the courage it takes be openhearted. Baggage is also relatable; it is something most men and women in their 30’s have in common. Regardless of whether you are packing heavy or light, I think relationships are about a very natural search for companionship, partnership and intimacy. That intent is authentic and comfortable.

My international dating extravaganza was so different than my recent dating experience in the US, mainly because it was so much fun! I was open and let my walls down. Most importantly, I had left my agenda (eh hem, husband and kids stat) back in the US along with all the anxiety that goes along with timetables and dockets. So I am trying hard to remember what I learned:

The Auckland 24: Approach each date like it is 24-hours together in Auckland. Experience the moment. If the conversation and company is worth re-booking for another 24-hours, that is a great starting point!

The Bali Balance: Love (the noun) does in fact just happen; it emerges and won’t be forced. Love (the verb) is demonstrated through consistent actions.

Aha Moment: In life and love, when I decide to act out of fear or anxiety, it is rarely the right move.

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