“I want to be the reason you look down at your phone and smile. Then walk into a pole.”
This next interviewee brings a comical and unique perspective about dating while abroad. I was able to laugh and gain a new view from a males point on the intricacies and the wonderful notion of falling in love while living abroad.
Tell Us About Yourself
Name Justin Levy
Born Aug 16th 1984
Born in New Orleans La
Ed UT.KNOX 2007
Job Teacher (Math) –Roughly Ten years
Extra Member of Phi Beta Sigma, Volunteer service can be fun, Slightly huge nerd, Comic Book guy (that’s a thing).
I traveled abroad after several years teaching in New Orleans. Though, away during the storm, the experience of watching a “new” New Orleans come about was dizzying. In our ever dynamic relationship, I would eventually follow the wind and no small bit of my heart to AD to bring fire to one Shanera Pinkston’s life. I believe the conflict in a controlled way brings progress, and love to watch people succeed. Impassioned with education, fatigued with teaching but, spurred on by faith, and a desire to eat (along with putting back tremendous input to the community of education, but seriously you have to eat 😉).
I try to stay active, and she pushes me. So it gives me an excuse to do wild things like go on stage and do unrehearsed poetry. Or Dj on a boat. And I push her to work on her words. Because she has to learn more effective curse words when scolding me.HMMMM…….Good love
So um yea. Sarcasm is fun….and stay strong!
How long have you been living abroad?
This will be my second full year abroad.
Have you lived abroad before? If so where?
I have traveled abroad before but never stayed longer than a couple weeks.
Did you travel abroad by yourself?
I’ve had legs of trips where I was alone, but otherwise, my foreign travels have been with my “bestie.” I’d call her the love of my life, but we try to keep egos in check in our relationship.lol
How is dating while living abroad? (What are the pros and cons?)
Our relationship actually predates our coming abroad. We’d met during her first year teaching in New Orleans. She’d already wanted to travel abroad and teach, so after 4 years she did. I followed two years later. I’m a pragmatist and a bit of a realist. Our ups and downs always equaled ‘up’ to me, so I had to come see the world with her. I can say it’s not easy, the stress of not being home, this often time collegiate atmosphere of partying and excess can take its toll on you. You have to find out what you and your other are about or it’s easy to get lost. But it’s worth it to have someone who has your back, and in the end, loves you like you love them for who they are. Ups downs and all.
How did you and your girlfriend meet?
She flirted with me at her job interview my third year teaching. It was random that I was asked to sit in on an interview, but look how things work out. She will probably disavow my version of events, but it matters not, they are mine. Still, it was a chance encounter in some ways. Over the course of working together, she succumbs to this “black boy magic” and the rest is a grab bag of history.
What does your girlfriend do abroad (job wise)?
She’s a shy nerd who teaches Math
Did either of you consider dating sites to meet new people in the beginning? If so, how did that work? If not, why not?
I had before. We agreed to separate when she first left the country. It was in many ways the ultimate test. I toyed with the idea of being a free man in New Orleans employed and living on my own. But the outcomes were tedious and nothing broke her from my mind. The sites weren’t about anything substantive. I still have one app oddly enough. We joke about me using it when she finally pushes me too far. It’s a kicks relationship.
Were there any reservations, hesitations or excitements about getting into a relationship while living abroad?
I’d assume for any single guy it’s the fear of sacrifice. I’m no Steve Harvey type, but I am a realist. One of the luxuries of the work abroad is an almost dramatic reset. Upon arrival on average your income has increased from your previous life, housing is a non-issue, and you live in places where leisure is a pursuit versus a pleasure. Tie that to the notion of single people wanting to start fresh, and you get what I jokingly call the Freshman year cycle. New faces come in ready to party and play, mixed in with those now settled and you get all the things that come with consenting adults and free time. For many men, especially those free of a relationship the opportunities blind them. This, of course, does not make women any less guilty. Many of us come from situations where love may have soured and the careers abroad provide a sense of fresh air. But how one chooses to walk in that situation is up to them.
What were some adjustments you had to compromise on when you decided to start dating?
Being present. I have a bad knack for treating family like they are sturdy and need little tending. I’ll shirk small tasks with her to go and offer a hand to someone else. Noble that might be, but it can be neglecting to your other. And as far as her, she learned me. It was such a turn on when she first started telling me what I was thinking as I simply looked around. It had a total stalker vibe, but it was still sexy. So her learning me was her compromise to me.
Do you find (not just in your relationship but in general) that dating while abroad is a decision of convenience? (Explain why or why not)
I’ve made all the implications of the excess of sexual actions amongst some expats. But I also notice some people seek comfort in structure. Whether it’s to assuage some internal or external factors of decorum, some people want a significant other like it’s an accessory. To me, it taints the process. Too many friends put on airs trying to showcase their “worthiness” and wind up crashing in the pursuit, instead of enjoying life as it comes. I don’t believe in true love. I’m more a fan of chemistry. Water and baking soda will give you salty water, but baking soda and vinegar will give you an explosion. Go experience the chemical reactions of life and see what you can make is what I say.
How has living abroad impacted your relationship? (Decisions, finances, future planning etc)
Started off saving well, then Christmas hit. But, we do fine, we opened different accounts just so we can move money away from sight. Still, want to save much more. But we make due. Definitely, think a lot more long term and even more medium term. The minutia of it all becomes more important.
How does existing as a couple differ living abroad than living in the states? (Are there restrictions or advantages you had in the states?)
The UAE is pretty easy to navigate. We are cuddle buddies, but we don’t much have to be excessive with PDA. So it hasn’t been much of a change. There have been some nights dancing together in a club where our liveliness on the dance floor earns us a look from security, but all in all its fine.
What have been some challenges you have faced as a couple? How have you dealt with them? (as it pertains to living abroad)
Just staying true to ourselves. We are built on a high degree of honesty. It makes for some spectacular arguments, but more importantly, it makes for full awareness. Questioning issues in a relationship, or challenging a partners’ behavior has come up. But we always have the fact of trust and honesty to know we can work it out. And usually, I give up fights 3 minutes in. So her record is actually astonishing in terms of victories.
How will you handle moving home as a couple?
Slowly. We think we want to do at least another stop before we head back to the states. Ideally, we’d like to find something that moves us closer to home. But since we have been together so long we work together fairly well.
Do you and your girlfriend have plans to marry and/or raise a family abroad?
Still waiting for her to propose. But we hope to at some point. And we wouldn’t mind having a child abroad in the right situation. Coming from New Orleans you learn the value of sharing culture and offering a child a chance to grow up in lands foreign to his family would be dope.
What are your goals as a couple living abroad? How do they or do they not align with your goals of living abroad?
Don’t know. Beyond money and career goals, I don’t know what our goals are. It eats at me sometimes not knowing.
Are there a lot of things for you to do as a couple living abroad?
You can always enjoy the fact that every inch of your new country is literally new to you. We go and eat out sometimes, just sometimes go walk. But beyond that playing club sports together and being affiliated with fraternity life offers up a lot of adventure. Combined with the local club scene and expat promoters, it’s easy to find something to do, even if you’re tired of doing it.
Do you feel limitations by being in a relationship and living abroad?
The briefest moments of lust. But that’s in all of us. You weigh out what you have versus what you see before you. But once you find satisfaction, you realize you have a lot of things you can do together. So I wouldn’t say a happy couple feels many limitations (save maybe financial issues or those issues that might pertain to a child).
How long do you plan to live abroad?
No rush to get home, but not one to stay gone. I think 7 years total is enough. But we agree to play by ear.
Do you plan to live anywhere else besides your current location? If so will you and your girlfriend travel together?
We’re looking to apply for new posts in Europe and South America as a couple in the near future.
Do you think dating abroad is for everyone?
I think people need to be honest about what they are doing together.
What’s next for the both of you and your life abroad?
My immediate plans are to let her grill me for my responses to these questions.
Lol to all of these answers! Thank you so much, Justin, for your unique perspective. I think that you give a totally new light and meaning to date in general but you definitely bring in a new spin when speaking on the topic of dating abroad.
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