Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Today, I wanted to share something I wrote a few months ago. Initially it was meant for one of my Match column (you can read what was published eventually here: Why You Should date Outside Of Your Comfort Zone).

Suffice to say, it didn’t make the cut. Today, I give you the uncensored version. What do you think? It is (loosely) based on my own experiences (What isn’t anyway?). Let me know if you like it…


That’s me. So naive I used to believe in fairytales…

Once upon a time there, in a land not too far away, was a woman who thought that her country was the centre of the universe. Her parents had brought her up that way, and she didn’t question them. Of course her country was the best one to live in. Her sunny region was paradise on earth, and her hometown had seen many celebrities settle in. Simply put, it was the best place on earth.

She was bright and went to university in the capital city, where she met other students. She started dating, and eventually found her white knight in shining amour. He swept her off her feet. It was such a romantic story: he was from the very same city, but she had met him in the capital. Everything was simply perfect. She was convinced that it was destiny. She introduced him to her parents, and went to visit his family. Life seemed simple and easy. She was so in love that she didn’t see his true colours, despite a couple of warnings from close friends that she ignored.

When she caught him in a compromising position with her best friend, she couldn’t ignore his darker side any longer, even if at first she couldn’t believe it. She almost forgave him, because he managed to justify himself at first. As she was an intelligent woman, she eventually came back to her senses. She couldn’t help thinking that the fairytale had gone bad. She needed to send him out of her head, out of her bed, out of her life. And so she did.

She focused on her studies. She had a couple of boyfriends. Her parents seemed disappointed with her, because her new boyfriends were not from her hometown. That said, they all seem to be coming from the same mould: intelligent and sensitive, complicated and oh so very convinced that nothing existed outside of their home country.

It was time for her to stop the vicious circle of constantly going out with the same type of guys. There had to be a different way. After all, being complementary must mean that, in some way, we are different. She decided to take advantage of one of the exchange opportunities her university offered and spend a couple of years abroad. Her parents were very worried. Why would you escape from such a beautiful country?

Granted, the weather was less sunny and yes, things were slightly different, but at the same time she felt like she had escaped from her cage. She eventually met a new man. He was first a friend, but something changed between them over time. He was also pragmatic, open-minded…and a citizen of the new country. Without even realizing it, she was falling hard for him. The most difficult part was to shut up her inner critical voice. What about their cultural differences? What about her home country? And, most of all wasn’t he less intelligent than her previous boyfriends?

While she was dreaming, her fairy Godmother came to talk to her. She said that the same causes would produce the same effects and that, to have a different experience, she needed to date outside of her comfort zone. Why not try someone, well, different? Why not date a friend for once? Why not date someone from a different country? And yes, she used to love intellectuals, but did she see where it had led her? Maybe, just maybe, it was time for a change.

She woke up reassured and decided to accept her new friend’s advances.

Her parents were worried. Who was this man? Would he take their little girl away? Were they ever going to see her again? They summoned her back home and tried to convince her to break up with him. It didn’t work. Her mind was already made up. Of course in the end they understood. Frankly they weren’t given much choice in the matter. They were a bit sad, but their daughter and her new boyfriend liked spending holidays in her hometown. Life was still good.

I would like to tell you that they lived happily ever after. It would be mostly true, but as life isn’t a fairytale, of course there were a few bumps in the road. But twenty years later, they were still happily married, with three children.

One day, during school holidays, while she was walking around her hometown, she bumped into her first love. He had been married twice already, and still seemed interested in her, after all this time and everything that had happened.

She made her excuses and left politely. She was grateful not to have stayed with him. She was grateful to have managed to go away and build up a new, happier life. She was happy to have dated outside of her comfort zone. It clearly had paid off.

And to top everything up, her children were bilingual, and she had learned that saying ‘I love you’ was as romantic as saying ‘Je t’aime’. So much for thinking that nothing could top up her home country!