A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Challenges of Love and Dating as an International

With Valentine’s Day upon us I thought to share some of my thoughts regarding the challenges internationals might face when it comes to love and dating.

Primary challenges

For many people, moving to a different country is primarily motivated by their studies or their job. You worked so hard to get where you are, you finally found your dream study program or job, or you are just hungry for new experiences. Once you arrived, you’re facing the typical challenges: getting a place, finding your way through the new environment, adapting to your studies or your job, building a social circle. Among all those primary challenges, the thought of a significant other might be the last thing you think of – understandably so!

Secondary challenges

But what if those challenges turn out to be a consistent hindrance for you to even start dating or let’s say rather being open to love in the first place?

Now what do I mean that? Here’s a scenario: you go somewhere, let’s say a seminar, lecture, party or dinner, you see someone you like, through one way or another you get in touch, eventually one of you asks the other person out, you start dating, you realize you’re starting to develop feelings – and then you get scared. Getting scared? Why would that be, right? It could be that the thought of developing deeper feelings is making you uneasy – in other words: it gives you anxiety. While there are a million reasons why people get anxiety in general, what I often times observe in my friends, in this context, is the rationale of “I’ll only be staying here for a limited time anyways, so why bother dating?” or “I don’t want someone to become the reason to influence where I wanna go jobwise/studywise”.

Overcome challenges

Now my advice to my friends until the end of times is always:

You don’t know what you’re possibly missing out on! You can’t let the thought of what might come in the future ruin your chance for happiness in the now.  You can’t let the challenges of the now, be a reason to close up in order not to risk facing challenges in the future.

I do have to use my psychologist lingo to make my point clear: This is very maladaptive behavior and is the least effective coping strategy. Approach, don’t avoid.

Also, in our globalized world, it is quite likely that couples will be geographically separated for a short time at some point in their careers anyway. The good news is: Most couples do overcome these challenges easily because they’re worth it for each other. So as an advocate for taking risks, I will finish this post by saying: Dare, go out, be open and don’t be afraid that potential love will be a hindrance. The feeling of regret for having ‘lost’ that chance might be even more painful than being potentially hurt if it doesn’t work out with you guys. It takes courage but the healthy type of love will set free energies and strengths you didn’t even thought you had, together you are even stronger and will figure out solutions to stay together and grow together wherever you are on this beautiful planet 🙂

What are your thoughts on this issue?

About sepi@theleidener

Psychologist (B.Sc.) with current training in Brain & Cognitive Sciences (M.Sc.) at the University of Amsterdam.

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This entry was posted on February 14, 2016 by in Living in Holland, Student Life, Uncategorized.

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