International love has MAJOR downsides.
"Wouldn't it be amazing if you fall in love in London?"
I heard that question from everyone before I left for my semester abroad. From my friends to my grandmother to random store clerks, every woman who heard about my trip took a minute to imagine the romantic possibilities. After all, falling in love abroad is the stuff that fantasies are made of: hot men with sexy accents sweeping you off your feet in far-flung cities.
I'll admit, when my future husband took me on a tour of the London monuments at night in the back of a black cab, and we shared our first kiss in the middle of London Bridge, I was swept up.
But then the reality hit and things got complicated. Because really, falling in love with a foreigner is horribly inconvenient. In fact, sometimes it downright sucks. Here's why:
1. It ruins your plans.
That first night was magical. In fact, the whole first weekend was, filled with sightseeing, flirtation and teasing. So naturally, I assumed my love was joking when he let drop that he had a flight home to Australia booked in just two days.
Cue the tears, frustrations and internal rants about how I could be so stupid. He got on the plane and I gave up on us, filing the weekend away as a fun story to tell my friends. Imagine my surprise when that boy I just met got home to Oz, sold his car, put the rest of his life on hold, and promptly flew back to London.
2. There's way too much pressure.
When someone you just met flies for 30 hours to see you, it propels your relationship to a certain level. Although we had just met, we already had to make plans with each other in mind. There was no room for our relationship to grow organically. We had to decide, and decide fast. Would he stay in London? And when that short semester ended and I returned home to the States, would he come with me?
One night I was crying into my drink in the pub, desperately wishing we could have a relationship on a normal timeline as we decided whether we would continue dating (which meant him moving to America), or call it quits and return to our respective continents. That's a pretty deep decision for a three-month old relationship.
3. It's the worst type of long-distance relationship.
There's a reason why long-distance relationships often fail: because they suck. But at least in most long-distance relationships, if you're having a particularly rough week you can hop in the car and drive for a long time just to see your love. No amount of driving can get you across oceans for an impromptu visit.
We fell in love in the long-ago world before FaceTime, so our international calling was limited to Skype or Google calls. If you've never had to endure the unique hell that is trying to connect with your loved one over a delayed video connection when one of you has just woken up and one is ready for bed, take my word for it: you're not missing anything.
4. One word: immigration.
Ahhhhh, immigration. If you fall in love with a foreigner, immigration will rule your life. Among the many, many crazy hoops we've jumped through in order to legally remain in each other's countries, my husband once flew from Boston to London, slept in the airport, and got on a plane back the next day so he could reenter the U.S. for another three months. We opened joint bank accounts purely to please the immigration officers.
If you gripe about your immigration woes, you'll be barraged by well-meaning people saying, "But doesn't he become a citizen since you're married?" And you will want to scream. Hear me loud and clear, world: NO. No, no, no! Marrying an American citizen merely allows someone the right to apply for citizenship, but it's still a drawn-out process that will take at least 3.5 years after your wedding, if all the stars align perfectly.
5. The expenses are ridiculous.
There's a reason that the girl usually falls in love with a foreign prince, because royalty can afford it. Not only is immigration an endless process, but it's also endlessly expensive. I have no doubt that if my husband and I added up the money that we've spent on visas, immigration documents and flights, it would easily be more than the down payment for our first home.
But overall, it's completely worth it. If your relationship can survive global travel, immigration hoops and cultural differences, you've built a strong foundation. Now you get to enjoy the fun part: raising babies with a plethora of passports and freely jet-setting as citizens of the world. A girl can dream, right?