6 Reasons Why Dating A Foreigner Is Not Like The Movies

I never thought I’d find myself dating a foreigner, but I met Tom on one of my first weekends here in New Zealand at a rather popular nightclub down in Britomart area in Auckland. I walked up and started a conversation with him and his mates like the true unfiltered, overly aggressive American gal that I am.

Let me first state that I have a type, and Tom was definitely not “my type.”

Regardless, we wound up talking for a while, exchanged numbers, and made plans to meet up at another place down the street. Tom was tall, handsome, and had the thickest Kiwi accent that forced me to annoyingly ask, “come again?” after everything he said. I spent the night trying to avoid him as my friends continuously pushed me into him. “Adele!” they told me over and over again, “He is beautiful! AND HE’S NICE SO GO TALK TO HIM.”

Still, I had stubbornly decided that he wasn’t my type and I spent the rest of the month avoiding his texts. I simply made up my mind that I would not be the girl that dated a boy she met abroad.



Fast forward to 6 months later.

I’m now Tom’s girlfriend.

We’re even Facebook official.



You’re probably thinking: “Ummm, Adele? I thought you didn’t like this boy?” I know, but turns out, he’s secretly not that bad! Actually, he’s kind of the best. BUT, I’m here to tell you dating a boy you meet abroad isn’t all lemon drops and butterflies and rainbows as the movies portray it to be.


Here are six ways dating a foreigner is NOT like how they depict it in the movies:


  1. The Accent.

    Yeah, okay so, I can’t lie—the accent is really attractive. But what’s not attractive? Tom having to translate what he was saying the entire first month of us knowing each other. Sometimes it felt like I had to learn a new language.


  1. The Jealousy of Being in Their Comfort Zone

    I am constantly jealous that I get to see Tom’s whole life—see all his accomplishments, meet his family, go on double dates with his mates—but I don’t get to show him mine. He’s never been out of his comfort zone, 8,131 miles from home. Trying to function as an adult is more effortless for him with his entire support system here. This leads to me develop feelings of jealousy, which then spirals into me crying, “you just don’t understand!!” before bursting into tears.


  1. The Cultural Differences

    Tom and I were essentially raised the same. We both lost our mothers to cancer around the same age. We both call our dads our best friend and both our fathers raised us in a very loose and relaxed manner. We were both punks and troublemakers in our younger days.

    But are we alike? No. He grew up in the quaint country of New Zealand, a culture that’s very laid back and at times even unexpressive. Me? I’m an American girl from the Midwest with a cheeky personality who says the first thing that comes to her mind. Where I’m from, everyone expresses themselves as freely as they wish. Here, it is more typical to be more laid back and elusive. It’s also normal to not hear from a kiwi boy for a few days because they’re simply terrible at communication. Oh, and then sometimes, Tom just wants to have talks about “us” and I assume he’s breaking up with me, but he really does just want to talk.

    No matter how many cultural differences you think there are, chances are there end up being more than you thought there would be.


  1. The Future

    Where are we going as a couple? This is the golden question for a relationship like the one Tom and I share. We’ve spent 21 years of our lives without knowing each other and living on opposite hemispheres in different countries with different passports. My student visa has an expiration date. If I go home, we will be 8,181 miles away from each other once again. Who is to make the sacrifice to minimize the distance? How can we work out visits to and from our home countries? These are the types of questions we’re faced with that are hard to anticipate in the very beginning of getting to know one another.


  1. Having to Explain Your Life Rather Than Show Them

    Luckily, I’m taking my international boy back to the states with me for Thanksgiving when I return home at the end of this semester, but it still won’t be enough time to show him my life the way I’ve gotten to see his. It’s hard telling stories about things that happened at home because Tom doesn’t know what my home is like. Right now my home is just a bunch of names I’ve matched to faces for him and places I’ve tried to paint for him in words. Explaining everything in great detail can get painful, especially when you’re constantly immersed by your partner’s culture as an international student.


  1. Realizing You’re Actually Dating This Person

    Rare. So rare. I always think of the statistics of me meeting this one specific human on the other side of the world in the exact place that we met. How will I ever make this work? I never want to un-know this person. I specifically remember telling my friends before leaving back in February that I wouldn’t/didn’t want to meet a boy. And yet here I am, dating a boy who pronounces basil as “bah-sill”, and about to go on a camping trip on the beach with this New Zealand boyfriend of mine.


Sure, our romance may not be like the movies, but whose is?

In the end, our relationship may be difficult to manage—with all of the cultural barriers, homesickness, and inevitable distance. And yeah, sometimes I still wish that he was a wee bit better at texting, or that he really understood America instead of basing it off of what he sees on the news headlines. But these things take time, and I, Adele, am willing to give Tom my time – one of the most valuable things you can give someone. We are constantly learning, every day. If you are learning nothing from the person you love, you cannot grow the relationship. And for my hopes with Tom, I hope that we can grow past being in an international relationship into it just simply being a relationship.

So no, I would not trade us laughing over how we both pronounce “water” differently, trying to prove to him I can indeed cook and then setting off his smoke alarm, or his eyes wide and knuckles white whenever I beg him to let me drive his car and struggle to remember that they drive on the other side of the road here. And even though I’ve never wanted to scream at someone more than ever – I’ve also never smiled so much.

However, it’s this last reason—the chance to look at this person, this real person and suddenly all the years without knowing each other and distance of miles between your two homes seem to dissipate, and all you can do is understand this person in front of you and how sometimes, your reality can feel just as good as a really good dream.

Profile photo of Adele


Adele Hunter-Shields

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