So I know the title of this article makes me sound like the love child of Donald Trump and Kim Davis, but give me a chance to explain before my inbox fills up with hate mail or before being called the world’s biggest hypocrite (as I’m notorious for only dating foreign men. What can I say? I like my men like I like my coffee. Strong, tan and imported from somewhere exotic). However, for purposes of this article, when I say “immigrant” I am not talking about race, color, social/economic status, or country of origin nor do I mean the term in a negative or condescending way. Here immigrant simply refers to a state of mind. In other words, I do not believe we should build a wall.
There are immigrants and then there are expats. Even though both of these words refer to “a person who is residing in a country other than that of their citizenship” there typically seems to be a double standard behind their usage; Expat is a term that seems to be reserved exclusively for western white people living abroad while immigrant is set aside for “inferior races”. And while the intention behind these terms is constantly being debated, there is an undeniable difference between the two dominating personality types of people who move abroad, which I have divided into the immigrant mentality and the expat mentality. Trust me, there is a difference. And if you’re a girl who loves to travel you should never get serious with someone who has the immigrant mentality.
I’m no dating expert and I don’t pretend to be, however, when it comes to foreign men I have definitely done the field work. Dating foreign men is great, it can give you an inside look into a different culture, provide you with awesome connections in another country and can even help you learn a new language (thanks to all of my Brazilian boyfriends I can carry a basic conversation in Portuguese despite having never taken an official language course).However, like any good investor who always does their research, you’re going to want to do your homework before jumping into a relationship and investing too much time with an “immigrant”. It took me years to recognize the difference between the immigrant and expat mentalities so take my advice and save yourself the head ache and heart ache that is sure to come with dating an immigrant.
The Immigrant Mentality
An immigrant is someone who moves to another country out of economic necessity or for a personal benefit of some kind and NOT for the pure joy of travel or the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture. An immigrant can be anyone from the poor Guatemalan dish washer who moved to be able to provide his family with a better life to the wealthy English business man who moved to take a job promotion. Despite their differences, immigrants usually have one characteristic in common; they are very proud of their own culture. While this something that would typically be considered a noble trait, haven’t you ever heard that too much of a good thing is a bad thing? Immigrants tend to be so proud that they simply are not interested in other cultures. Immigrants only engage with local people on a need-to basis and only speak the local language when absolutely necessary. They often reject the local music and never develop a taste for the local cuisine. Immigrants also have a tendency to be either intolerant or very critical of local customs that are different from their own.
In other words, if you find yourself dating someone with the immigrant mentality and your goal in life is to go see the world, get out now. Don’t waste another minute of your time or his. And don’t fool yourself thinking, “Oh, he’ll come around. Once we go on a few trips together he’ll see how wonderful travel is and then he’ll develop an appreciation for other cultures.” Not gonna happen. Believe me, I’ve tried. If you date an immigrant all of your future trips will be centered around going back to his home country to visit the family and friends he never really wanted to leave in the first place. Immigrants view trips as vacations rather than travel. They don’t see the point in the frivolous spending of time and money to go to a random country. To them, it’s a missed opportunity to go home. And if you’re a true traveler, you’ll never be satisfied by going to the same place time and time again. You need more and he’s not going to change.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should avoid immigrants like the plague. Casually dating someone with the immigrant mentality is a great tool for cultural immersion. Since immigrants tend to stick to their tight knit communities, you’ll get an insider’s pass into that particular culture right there in your own city. You’ll also pick up the language faster as immigrants prefer to speak their native tongue rather than try to improve their skills in the local language. While dating an immigrant does have its benefits, don’t get serious with one. Over the long term, an immigrant will become an anchor to your free-spirited gypsy soul.
The Expat Mentality
The expat mentality refers to anyone who is willing to move abroad and serve as a cultural sponge, soaking up as many local customs and traditions as possible. Just like immigrants, expats can be anyone from the Haitian housekeeper who develops a love for American football to the American living abroad in Thailand teaching English who makes a great effort to learn Thai. Even those who do move abroad for personal benefits can develop an expat mentality as long as they make the most of their situation and dive into the local culture. Expats typically try to make as many local friends as possible, are eager to learn the local language, are fearless when it comes to trying the local cuisine and adopt the local customs as their own. Expats appreciate other cultures, respect differences and embrace change. Date these ones.
So how do you know if someone is an expat or an immigrant?
Once you’re aware of the immigrant and expat mentalities, it will be pretty obvious as to which category your foreign man falls into as early as the first date. Observe his attitude about the country he’s currently living in (a positive view = expat, negative view = immigrant). You could also ask probing questions such as his view on current events and foreign affairs, or you could just cut to the chase and ask him to rate the importance of travel on a scale of 1 to 10.
Another technique you could use to avoid dating an immigrant is to hone in on your chances of dating an expat. You can do this by seeking out a significant other from either Australia, Germany or Israel. These countries have a culture that places a high value on travel, so chances are their men will too.
- Date an Australian
Australians love travel. Don’t believe me? Just drop into a hostel anywhere in the world and it’s bound to have its fair share of Aussie backpackers. This is thanks to the widely accepted mentality that you should travel far and wide while you’re young and able as opposed to the misguided American concept of work hard while you’re young and save travel for retirement. Australians also have a natural curiosity, which is evident in the Aussie word, walkabout. Although the word traces back to aboriginal roots, a walkabout now commonly refers to a journey with no defined destination. Date an Australian and who knows? Maybe your romantic walk on the beach could end 3 countries away.
2. Date a German
Germans are notorious explorers. After all, their language contains the word fernweh, which cannot be directly translated into any other language. This word means the opposite of homesickness; when you feel like you have to leave your familiar surroundings to discover new places. Enough said.
- Date an Israeli
In Israeli culture, it is expected that once you turn 18, that you join the military and serve a term of roughly 3 years (regardless if you’re male or female). However, once your service is finally complete, it is also expected that you take some time off (typically 6 months – a year) to go travel and see the world before settling down and starting a career. I met a lot of Israelis during my travels who were on their gap year. And it’s not just Israeli citizens who are expected to travel, the government actually gives foreigners a free ride to go and visit Israel through the Israel birthright. This is a not-for profit educational organization that sponsors free ten-day heritage trips to Israel for Jewish young adults, aged 18-26. The only requirements are that you have at least one parent of Jewish decent, you do not actively practice another religion, between ages 18 to 26, post-high-school, who has never traveled to Israel before on a peer educational trip or study program past the age of 18 nor have lived in Israel past the age of 12. If you’re from a country that promotes travel to citizens and foreigners alike, you’re most likely going to fall into the expat category.
And of course, these are just general guidelines, as there are exceptions to every rule. For example, in my experience most latin men tend to have the immigrant mentality… and then there’s my husband. He’s a Brazilian who seemed to have morphed into a BBQ-eating, country music listening, camouflage wearing American redneck overnight. He came here for a change and has embraced American culture with open arms.
So to conclude, date whoever you want but if you end up with an immigrant, don’t say I didn’t warn you.