Learning How to Date in My Passport Country

I live in a city full of people that have moved here from all over. It’s very rare to meet someone who is actually from Nashville, so first dates usually start by asking where I’m originally from. Even though this is the norm, sometimes I still feel like a foreigner when trying to date in my passport country. I take a minute to mentally debate whether I want to give the short or long answer. Will the guy understand? Will it be too confusing? Will I be over-sharing by taking 15 minutes just to answer that question as briefly as possible?

After moving on from the “Where are you from?” question, which takes much longer than either of us ever intends, we’ll start asking generic get-to-know you questions that should have simple, generic answers. However, this is not how dates with me go. He’ll ask me what my favorite food is, and without thinking I’ll respond by saying anticuchos. This is usually pretty shocking to him; “weird” in his terms, while I am thinking that my answer of cow heart isn’t any less normal than his response of pizza.

Other times on these dates, I feel like I’m trying to fit into a mould. A mould set up by the cultural norms of America for the twenty-something woman going on a date. I know what to say and how to act. I want to impress the guy, and find common ground. I’m good at trying to fit into societal norms. I know the things he expects me to say or what to agree with him on.

Most of the time, I realise this is not me. I don’t want to choose just one culture to fit into, I want to be all my cultures put together. It tends to look confusing and I might disagree where other girls he takes on dates agree, but that’s me.

It’s easy to get caught up trying to fit in. TCKs are good at that, but when it comes to a relationship with someone, I think it’s important to be our most authentic self. Even if that can offend people or put them off, it will only come out later. I am not just an American on a date. I am an American whose favorite food is Peruvian, whose favorite mountains are in Costa Rica, who needs to be near the ocean or in a city, who speaks Spanish and English and loves experiencing new cultures. I identify with all these cultures and take pride in the fact that I am a TCK and am unable to fit into just one cultural mould.