I've been living abroad since 2021. After dating in places like Spain, France, Scotland, I never want to date in the US again.

  • I've been living abroad since the summer of 2021.

  • Dating in places like Spain, Argentina, France, and Scotland differs from dating in the US.

  • I've learned a lot about romance, and why reckoning with my privilege is important.

Before the pandemic, I was living in the United States, drifting through an endless stream of first dates. Either I'd ghost them, or they'd ghost me, and even if neither of us ended up ghosting, I still never felt excited enough to go on a second date.

Even though there were plenty of queer men to date in New York, they'd often share the same pathologies (internalized homophobia, internalized misogyny, overuse of the word "internalized"), resulting in dull conversations. You can include me in that group, by the way; I'm not off the hook here.

In any case, lockdowns eventually ended, vaccines were finally released, and I became a digital nomad in the summer of 2021 — and then, I began to date men abroad. It was the best decision of my life. Here's what I learned after dating guys in Scotland, France, Spain, and Argentina.

Even one-night stands can be romantic

One of my favorite countries to visit was Scotland. Scottish men waxed poetic on everything from the gray skies of Edinburgh to their favorite football teams. ("My heart can't take it," said one particular Scotsman about a nearby baby squirrel eating a hazelnut.) And I loved hearing their slang. The day wasn't just nice; it was "bonnie."

The men were just as effusive when it came to dating. It was not rare for a Scottish man to call me "bonnie" five times before admitting he wanted to rip open my shirt — even if he only had me for a night. It felt like I was being swept off my feet; often, my hookups in America went from a handshake to full sex in 60 seconds without even an exchange of names.

While there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, before traveling, I'd always associated one-night stands with a complete lack of intimacy. In Scotland — and elsewhere abroad— I realized that casual sex, as long as everyone knows that's the deal, can also include a little bit of romance.

Evan Lambert at Normandy's Mont Saint-Michel
Evan Lambert has gone on dates everywhere from Scotland to Argentina. Here he is at Mont Saint-Michel in France.Courtesy of Evan Lambert

Temporary relationships still have a purpose

My main squeeze in Normandy conjured memorable, heart-piercing moments each day that we were together — even though our fate was sealed. We only had two weeks before I left France. Still, the guy was more present during our relationship than any of the men I'd dated back in the US. His countless compliments spun our dalliance into an epic romance.

After I left, I noticed that other Europeans, not just Frenchmen, were more attentive during sex and dating than Americans, no matter the length of our courtship. It helped me realize the importance of building connections, however long the lifespan.

I learned to go with the flow in Spain

In the US, I planned dates with the efficiency of an office assistant. Everyone needed to know exactly when and where they were expected. One time, I made a Google Calendar appointment just to walk with a guy through Central Park. Of course, I know now that this tendency is a very American (and, to some extent, English) trait. But imagine my shock when I arrived in Spain and discovered that the Spanish approach to planning a date was, "Ya veremos," or, "We'll see."

In other words, scheduling dates ahead of time wasn't part of the culture; instead, everyone preferred to play things by ear. If my potential date and I were texting that day and we were both free that night, then great — it was a date! But if not, I had to accept that I might never see that person again, like, ever.

I had to check my privilege after dating in Argentina

While dating in Argentina, I faced a bit of a reality check. One night, after a lively, flirtatious dinner date with a soft-spoken gym rat, I pulled out cash to pay my bill. The action inspired curiosity from my date: Why cash? I had to admit that the Argentinian economy had a better exchange rate for Americans who funneled their money through Western Unions, converting it to paper pesos. I didn't make much as a writer, but my currency went a long way in Argentina. Still, the man was shocked at how much I saved in this manner. He then began reciting economic injustices that he faced daily.

Of course, I'd been tangentially aware of the country's ravaged economy, but hadn't yet reckoned with this "travel privilege" that Americans and Europeans wielded in developing countries. To acknowledge this privilege — and balance it out — I began addressing Americans' "travel privilege" in my writing and engaging more with local communities abroad. I invested my money in local businesses instead of glossy coworking spaces built for digital nomads.

Amid the bespoke adventures and titillating connections Americans are able to embrace abroad, there are also plenty of ways we could stand to grow and brilliant lessons to be learned.

Read the original article on Business Insider