Is it the novelty, the excitement, the rush of adrenaline, or the renewal – the part of us that wants to let go, to reinvent, to have a second chance – that makes the idea of falling in love abroad so tempting?
Most young travellers I talk to, have a story about falling in love at some point throughout their trips. Perhaps it’s a young love during a school exchange, a hostel encounter turned into butterflies, or a travel buddy who became a life partner. Isn’t one of the best dating advices to travel with your partner? If you can get along under stressful situations, and survive a trip as a couple, then you will probably fare quite well together.
But foreign love is much more than just that. There’s little rationality involved when developing feelings for someone who lives thousands of miles away from you. Yet, we still do.
I’ve listened to many stories about falling in love abroad. I’ve found out that foreign love is a complex phenomenon, yet it has a few characteristics that are undeniably as familiar to our human experience, as they are foreign. Here’s why we crave a travel romance.
Foreign love is a novelty
We fall in love abroad because it exposes us to something different. Human beings crave a life of adventure and excitement – we like to constantly challenge ourselves, to try new things. Even those who consider themselves risk-adverse, still enjoy small doses of new experiences ever so often. Falling in love with someone from somewhere else, gives us the opportunity to stray from our regular routine in an intimate and personal way. There’s no better pleasure than discovering a new place through the eyes of someone we find charming and are romantically attracted to.
Foreign love is a fantasy
Whenever I hear travellers talk about Paris, or Venice, they often mention how romantic these places are. Making eye contact with someone sitting across from you in a cafe on a tiny Parisian alleyway, seeing couples steal a kiss in a Venetian gondola, while shading away from the sun under a bridge; these are all images that feed into our romantic travel fantasies. Maybe we travel to places because we hope they will provide us with a romantic ideal that we’ve been subconsciously craving. Falling in love abroad allows us to live through our own movie script, influenced by our desire to escape and experience idealized versions of life and love.
Foreign love is renewal
I have a friend who told me his best coping strategy after breakups is to leave the city, or even country. He’d look for a new job abroad, or just take time off to travel. Being outside of our familiar context, helps remove any attachment memories and provides a blank canvas for new experiences. In a new environment, we can work towards becoming a better version of ourselves and move past any heartbreak faster. The idea is very appealing; go somewhere new, to find something new, who can bring out new, and hopefully, better elements of ourselves to the surface. Foreign love can give us a second chance.
Whatever the reason may be, foreign love is an experience that can be exhilarating, just as much as it can be crushing when it’s time to leave. Or it can simply be a reason to take a chance, and end up making a life in places you may have never imagined, with someone who was really good at convincing you that staying, was more than just a craving of the heart, but a finality to the quest of finding home.
Do you have a story about a trip that turned into romance? I’d love to hear about it.