Book Writing Adventures

From Brooklyn to Barcelona to Belgrade, This Expat Shows Us How International Love is Done

Twitter is a trip. I mean, you meet ALL kinds of CRAZY, and all kinds of SMART, TALENTED, and CLEVER tweeps. Take Ieishah, a Brooklyn expat living where the wind blows her: and I must admit I like her so much I hate her. (But just a little.) *slurps her hot Haterade from a tea cup with her pinky sticking out like a TRUE lady*

Ieishah was so kind to share her globetrotting and international love experiences and advice with us here, but you can read more on her funky, chic blog. She’s a kick-arse writer, and this BETTER not be the last time I see her up in here!

— Christelyn


Dating Abroad: A Primer

By Ieishah Clelland

“Do you just stand in front of the UN headquarters to find boyfriends?” My interrogator was a Malaysian-born, British-bred filmmaker with whom I’d shared a handful of dates, spanning 2 continents over the last 10 years, before landing smoothly in the friend zone. I’m like, “Um, have we met?” I’ve been dating rainbow from age 13 and living abroad on and off since ’98. Before I even left New York there was the Turk who drove a mean vintage ride, and the Genovese, who survived a brain tumor. Since moving back to Europe in ‘07, there’s been an assortment of other Italianos, including The Tuscan, Dracula (whose duplex looked like the set of Interview with a Vampire), and The Stalker (I left him in Madrid. How’d he end up in Barça?). Then there was Peter-the-Catalan, a Dutch Olympic gold medalist, Argentinian McDreamy, Zeus (if God were Dominican, he’d look like him), the Belgian Billionaire, who shat money, and was the last man I loved before the Serb, who’s as brilliant and loving as he is tall (6’7). We won’t even talk about the impromptu dinner I had with a certain French football-soccer star that now lives in NY.

I’ve always loved the dating game, and dating abroad has been, like, the World Cup of it. Teams from all corners, crazy stiff competition, and fun, fun, fun! Whether your travel style is the country-to-country hop, or the expat thing (that’s me! I’m a nester!), it’s a stone’s throw from falling in love with the world to just falling in love. In all my experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that for black women, dating beyond your borders ROCKS. Here’re 5 reasons why:

You play the Lead! From Homer’s Odyssey to Liz Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love human beings have been using the world as the backdrop for the epic search for self, for love (for self love!) and why? Because that. Mess. Works!! As black women, we’re socialized to not think of ourselves as the protagonist, the Cinderella, the Snow White, the girl who gets the guy and shoots light out of her fingers (True Blood fans??). When trying to not only find a life partner but also create the life you want, playing the lead, being that girl, is paramount. Traveling naturally puts you in the spotlight AND the driver’s seat.

Go Native! Mixing travel with your search for a mate also allows you to get your Margaret Mead on and experience a new destination from an insider’s POV. When I first moved to Barcelona, ‘Yes!’ was my favorite word. I almost never turned down invitations, especially with local men AND women. Thus I dated constantly and I routinely found myself in the hottest spots.

Sidestep Stereotypes! In the world beyond America, your blackness is seldom a barrier to being approached by men. In melting pots massive steaming cauldrons of foreign tongues and ethnic fealties like my beloved Barcelona, men are more likely to be wracking their brains trying to figure out what language to mack you in than to be worrying about if you’re a neck-rolling, gum-cracking ball buster who only wants black men. The first step, then– simply meeting men– tends to be easier because as per the cultural mores of MOST OF THE WORLD, men approach women. All women.

Options, options, options. Practice, practice, practice. The more ground you cover, the more people you meet and the more men you have available to you. The more men available to you, the more you get to flex your flirting muscles. Flirting is fun. Fun gives you a glow. Glow is sexy. Rinse and repeat.

You get prime time for a lifestyle redesign… Longtime reader (of fat juicy oyster) “Shay” wrote me last summer wanting to brainstorm ideas on how to move abroad. I answered in the form of a blog post on the pros and cons of her options, also soliciting advice from other readers. In the end, I counseled, it’s my firm belief that if you take that first step towards the attainment of a goal, the universe steps in and does the rest. Save some money, I said, and go. Fast-forward 6 months, and Shay writes again. “I’m moving to Ireland with my boyfriend…” Pump your breaks, lady!! Ireland? Boyfriend?

Apparently, she met an erstwhile Turk while traveling. Two years of platonic meet ups around the globe, and homeboy put it on her, Ottoman Empire-style. She decided to jump. What about a job? In anticipation of her eventual move, she’d saved up some cash, sold her gas-guzzler, and kicked rocks. Last I heard, she started playing violin again, picked up photography, and is lurving the land of the Leprechaun.

Mixing dating and travel is as much about finding your light as it is about finding a man. In both, one truism holds: Everywhere you go, there you are. You really can’t run from your problems. Simply changing scenery won’t automatically flip the script on a life in shambles or relationships that consistently come up fail whale. Ideally, the outward journey should mirror the inward journey, not replace it. Serious stuff aside, the food, the accents, the adventure… I mean, you could just stand outside the United Nations headquarters, but traveling is way better.

Follow Christelyn on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you want to be a little more about this online dating thing, InterracialDatingCentral is the official dating site for this blog.