We all know the story… Traveling woman meets local boy and, despite the language barrier, sparks fly. Typical travel romance ensues. I have been debating whether or not to write this entry for the last week or two. I am not one to air my dirty laundry to the entire world. Some things are best kept among those you are closest to. But seeing as I have started writing it now, I may as well finish it and see where it goes.

As much as I like to consider myself to not be the typical traveler, I guess in some ways I am. Abroad romance is not a foreign territory for me. And this trip is, although completely unexpected, no exception. Although I will say that this has not been my typical experience as far as abroad romances go.

It started typically enough. Girl sees boy, eyes meet, smiles are exchanged. Boy cleverly fashions a flower from an unsmoked cigarette and presents it to girl (not so typical I guess), girl thinks boy is adorable. Boy palms girl his number as she is leaving. And the story unfolds from there.

Despite our obvious communication barrier, I speak next to no Turkish and he speaks very little English, we seem to manage to communicate well enough and we definitely enjoy spending time together and have a good time when we do.  But recently I can’t help but wonder about abroad romances in general. Does what happens in Turkey stay in Turkey? And what if you don’t want it to?

Now let’s be realistic here. There are the obvious language and cultural barriers, not to mention half a planet between us. Besides, how well can you really know someone when you can’t really delve below the surface in conversation? Is someone’s behavior and body language enough? I have found myself pondering these questions more and more as I spend more time with my Turkish beau.

If you think about it, abroad romances are kind of silly. Eventually they have to come to an end right? One person in the couple is destined to leave. And what if you manage to find someone you could really see yourself with (not saying that that is the case here) and then you have to leave? Is that it? Or does someone uproot his/her life to be with the the other?

I met a girl here who is also from California, and she has been living here for the past 5 months. For the past month she has had a Turkish boyfriend. And now, as her time in Istanbul is coming to an end, he is trying to figure out how he can move to the states to be with her.   That then leaves me wondering… What happens if it doesn’t work out? or if he hates living in the states? or what if they’re relationship doesn’t fit as well in the states as it does in Turkey? (Can relationships be confined or attached to a geographical location?) Is it really worth it?

I am thinking that I am not going to find the answers to these questions in my own blog post. Perhaps it would make an interesting feature piece to work on when I get home?

In the meantime. I have 8 days left in this city and I plan to enjoy them and to try not to think of the goodbyes that lie in my immediate future. It is going to hurt to say goodbye to this city, the culture, the home I have found here, the people, and the boy. I am not ready to do so, but in 8 days I am going to have to; ready or not.

Peace and Love.

  1. Mia Moore says:

    I’ve found several of the remarks from women here to be spot on, but there is something missing: the way they gain your trust and can get you feeling like you’re the only female tourist they are in a real relationship with. Sultanahmet is crawling with cute, charming, fun, young, helpful guys who seem to care about you so much, act like they’re your guardian angels. They’ll protect you from all the (other) scumbags out there, right? Meanwhile they are getting to know what you like to hear and see, and they are playing the part. Pay attention to all the little red flags you might like to ignore for the sake of your holiday fantasy: they tell you things to fit what you’ve said about yourself. Notice the little bits of money you end up paying for them while you’re together – they will become bigger! It starts small, but eventually they’ll want more stuff. They’ll spend every available moment with you in an attempt to tie you in to them, because you’re their meal ticket and always a mark. (And you’ll be missing things you really wanted to do, so they’re robbing you of precious time in a great place.) They’ll have their friends watch your movements, and they’ll know where you are most or all of the time – not just to protect you. They don’t want any of the other guys like them to get hold of you. When you go home they’ll act like they miss you so much, want you to come back, they might even say they love you if that’s what you want to hear… What you won’t know without digging is how many other women they’ve done the same thing with and are doing it at the same time. They’re continuing to work locally at this while writing multiple women internationally to get them to visit. This is how they make extra money because they are poor and their salaries are too low. Feel sorry for that, but don’t believe all the lies. And don’t believe you can change their lives – they like doing this to women and will continue as long as it pays in sex, money and ego trips.

    Don’t let anyone tell you this is harmless! It’s only harmless to those who walk away after one conversation! Women who think it’s harmless don’t know where it can lead. For many others it has led to a lot of wasted money and time and energy. Sometimes it’s also dangerous to your health: these men are promiscuous and don’t believe in using condoms.
    Curious to see how it ends up-

    • Wow. Great input Mia! Thank you! I have definitely had encounters abroad similar the ones you have described and I think you are right that it is very important to be aware of what is said and what is asked for. Luckily for me, this has not been my experience this time, but as always, I remain alert and careful so as not to end up in a sticky situation. But this is great advice to traveling women!

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