Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On Ex-Pat Relationships

Warning: If you think this blog post might possibly have references to you: don't read it. NO NAMES have been used.

For those who don’t know, I was hired by a government entity and came over to the UAE with a group of about 1000 teachers in August 2011. Beginning even before arrival, at least one couple had met at one of the many meet and greets held in large cities around the US. Their very short lived relationship became very public and the subsequent, also very public, break-up may or may not have been what sent her on a “midnight run” before she had even completed her first term teaching here. Before the calendar year was over, he was married. To someone else. 

I have watched couples get involved, get engaged, get married, move to other countries, and in some cases move back. My opinion, even while involved in a relationship myself for three years, is that ex-pat relationships do not hold water in the real world. I am not a pessimist, I am a realist. This is NOT the real world. We don’t have mortgages or rent, and even those of us who live in Sharjah with the exorbitant utility rates have to admit that utilities are much cheaper here than in the US. It is a disposable world as many people live in furnished flats and some rent cars for YEARS rather than buying and making a commitment. One can take a taxi and get drunk anywhere, for free, any night of the week. Women do not even have to make eye contact with a man for him to decide to camp out at the table next to her and refuse to go away until he gets a phone number. Which, yes he will call on the spot  so “you have MY number”. 

What do ex-pats have in common? We all live somewhere other than home. We moved overseas looking for something we couldn’t get at home or looking to get away from something we didn’t want at home. In some cases, both apply. While an ex-pat, you have a common location and fairly common interests. What happens in the real world? Your pasts come into play. The differences that were exciting? Not so much. We come from different places, different religions, different socio-economic backgrounds, different family situations, and some have hidden agendas. What doesn’t matter here does matter in the REAL world. 

Look at it as a learning experience. Hope that it lasts but have a contingency plan. Statistics do not always apply. The divorce rate in the US is estimated at 40-50% but I know many couples who have been married to their high-school sweethearts for thirty years. Then again, I also have an ex-mother-in-law who has been married five times. As the world becomes smaller and more people move overseas, someone really needs to track the statistics on expat marriages. 

Whatever happens, look at it this way: 

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