Fancy yourself a foreign love affair? Looking for a fling before heading home? If you find your heart beats a little harder when you’re on the road and you find yourself interested in someone while abroad, it can be challenging to set things in motion. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re flirting while you’re abroad.

1. Be aware of physical contact:

Because it means hugely different things in different countries. Hugs and cheek kisses for someone you hardly know are common salutations in Italy and very genuinely only mean ciao, but trying that in the UAE might get the attention of the law, let alone make the receiver believe you’re very blatantly coming on to them.

2. Try not to be immediately offended or assume the worst:

Know that I hold a firm stance in the belief that cat calling and like behavior is never fine and should never be accepted, and you should never go along with something that makes you feel uncomfortable, but some cultures are more outspoken than others. Remember that while someone might have to be a creeper to have the boldness in your country, in some places it is the absolute norm to go up to a stranger on the street and basically say “you’re attractive please date me.”

3. Don’t try to play games:

Some things just don’t translate. Humor, sarcasm and coyness among them. Say how you feel and what your intentions are. That can seem frightening to some shy dating cultures, but if you are unsure, it’s better to be a little too blunt, but also honest than to confuse people or send mixed messages.

4. You can flip or twirl your hair in pretty much any country:

In all of the countries I have been to, playing with my hair has been the most reliably cross culture way to say how YOU doin’? 

5. Some accents are just better than others:

Sometimes when foreign people speak our native language their exotic pronunciation makes us weak in the knees. Sometimes we try to use this same tactic by letting our own accents run wild (*cough* American accents) on their possibly more romantic language. Sometimes it backfires. Sometimes it does hurt to try.

6. Observe and mimic others:

Unless you’ve mistakenly hit some sort of swingers joint, chances are people are not all flirting with everyone. In a group setting, professional, social or even just people watching, try to notice how each person treats and responds to the majority of the people around them. If they’re treating everyone the same, that’s probably your safe zone, if they’re treating someone a little different, pay more attention and see if it seems like something that could be useful to you and your future bae.

7. Never assume:

You know what they say, when you assume, yeah you know you can spell. Don’t assume someone is or isn’t into you. Don’t assume someone is or isn’t receiving your flirtations or reading you accurately. Don’t assume something that feels not okay is just a culture difference that you need to accept, and don’t assume that you aren’t capable of accidentally making someone else uncomfortable. Just. Don’t. Assume.

Do you have any tips for flirting abroad?

American by chance, but Roman by choice, Sarah is currently feeding her adventurous soul with expatriatism and pizza. Her finest moments are always on the wrong bus with a backpack and an upside down map, waiting to see what the world’s got for her next, so long as she can blog about it. She likes writing more than talking, dolphins more than humans, old movies more than new, and Rome more than anything else.


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