Third Culture Kid Dating; adults who have spent their developmental years outside their parent's culture

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Dare to dream. The only one stopping you is YOU.

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting on TCK Dating! And as a proper TCK, I didn’t actually take the time to send out a goodbye letter to you all. I apologise in advance. Some things I still need to work on obviously – goodbyes have never been my forte. Detachment is easier. I wrote a post about that ages ago.  So this is my goodbye letter to you all.

I’ve loved sharing my past, my stories, my feelings, my beliefs, and my history on this blog. I hope you’ve been able to use these blog posts as a way to explore your own past and feelings about being a Third Culture Kid and a global nomad. Relationships for us will always be an interesting dimension. And a lifelong lesson.

As some of you already know, for the last year, I have been working on something else. I have been running my very own coaching business. Unsurprisingly, the majority of my clients have been expats, nomads, TCKs, internationals. After completing my Master’s in Organisational Psychology and my coaching qualification with The Coaching Academy, I decided to venture out into the coaching world. It’s incredible coaching these bright, prosperous, driven, powerful women and men to encourage them to reach new heights. I dare them to dream big – bigger than they ever thought was possible.  Because really, we’re the only ones holding us back. And I’m not ok with that. Why shouldn’t we live out our biggest dreams? Life’s more fun when we do.

I would love to meet you one-on-one and invite you to reach out for a complimentary coaching conversation over Skype. Let’s explore your thoughts. Let’s explore your strengths. Let’s explore your dreams. Comment below or message me on my Coaching website.  I wish you all the best. Please stay in touch! And who knows, maybe one day, I’ll re-open this for new stories and reflections.

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What makes you really happy?

What do you think makes you happier? Is it going on a date? Spending time relaxing on your couch watching Netflix alone? Or meeting friends for brunch on a Saturday?

Well, Dr. Matthew Killingsworth aimed to find out just that. He focused his research on what increases happiness levels. To find this out, he developed an app called Track Your Happiness. This app would ask questions like “How are you feeling?” and “Who are you with” to track the your mood and situation at the time. Dr Matthew Killingsworth used data from around 50,000 people to conclude that people are happiest when interacting with other people as opposed to alone.

A second surprising finding he presented in his research was that we are happier with…

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Tell me about your insecurities…

Now, I don’t know about you – but if a stranger said that to me, I’d cringe. 

I think it’s safe to say the majority of us have some insecurities. They can be large or small, many or few. It doesn’t make us a desperate or insecure person. It just means that we can sometimes have negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves.  

Even if you’re a well-rounded, confident and competent individual, it doesn’t mean that you don’t get the odd negative belief about yourself once in a while. Take a moment to think about what makes you feel insecure. When do you have negative beliefs about yourself? How do those make you feel?  How do these affect your romantic relationship?


It seems insecurities can have a negative impact on the relationship we have with our partner. Relationship researchers Rose and Bellavia found that individuals who struggle with self-doubt will have less satisfying relationships due to their cautiousness and inability to find comfort and security within the relationship.[1] They explain how being in a relationship ultimately leads to the potential threat of losing said person and in turn losing that sense of belonging. 

With this threat to the self, it is unsurprising that we can have doubts creep up at times. However, what Rose and Bellavia stress is that those people who have especially negative models of themselves are more likely to act …

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Breakups and your self-concept

There’s no doubt about it.  A bad break up can feel incredibly painful and can make you question everything about yourself.  It seems that a number of research studies have focused on how the dissolution of a relationship changes the way you view your identity.[1] It was interesting for example to find a study that showed that women only a year or so after their divorce described themselves as “not a part of life”.[2] Reading that study made me realise how much of a detrimental impact a breakup can have on the way we view ourselves. Before the person you were with, you were living. You had friends. You had hobbies. You had a career. Why is it that we can feel that we are ‘not a part of life’ after a breakup?  How can a bond with another person have such intense consequences on self-concept?


What is it about a break up that makes us question who we are as people? And how can we avoid not relying on someone else to make up our identity? My belief is that when you fall in love or choose to let yourself fall in love, you succumb to vulnerability. You allow yourself to trust the other person and take a leap of faith that they will be there for you in the hard moments of your life and there to listen to you when you tell them about the amazing things you’ve achieved that day.  You share time, insecurities, success stories, new experiences, and space with that person.  It seems inevitable that they would start…

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The questions I was dying to ask

Daphna Levy is a relationship expert who has spent years guiding others through coaching, workshops and seminars since the eighties. This experience and her studies helped her write the book “Picking Right, The Single’s Guide to Finding the Right Match”.  After reading and reviewing her guide, my curiosity was peaked, and she agreed to satisfy it by answering my questions. And boy, was I satisfied!

  1.  If you could give only one piece of relationship advice, what would it be?

Treat your relationship like you would a garden: never stop cultivating it. You wouldn’t dream of leaving a garden at the mercy of the elements, would you? Yet so many couples leave their relationship at the mercy of life’s storms, hardships and routine. They take their “garden” for granted and expect it to bloom. Your Garden of Love must be nurtured or it will wither and die.

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  1. After five, ten, twenty years of marriage, what are the ways that you have found to prevent the other person from taking you for granted?

There must be a basic agreement between the couple that both will work to preserve the relationship and that they will not take each other for granted. There is always a contest between couples; instead of competing on who gets more, they should compete on who gives more. And each should seek to help the other and give more than they receive.

  1. When couples have children, they say it changes the dynamics of their romantic relationship. What tips would you give to those couples who are expecting or planning on having children?
  • Remember that your union is the foundation of your family. Not only did your love for each other bring your kids into the world, but when they leave the nest one day, the two of you will remain. So grant your bond that importance and don’t permit it to be diminished by your concern for the children.
  • Realize that you have two separate hats: as a mate as well as a parent. Do not dump one hat for the other. Work out how to continue wearing your hat as a mate while being a good parent. It can be done!
  • Do not permit your sexual life to deteriorate. Physical contact is a way of expressing your affection for each other and, as a means of communication, it increases affection. If hormonal changes interfere with your sexuality, seek nutritional help and try to get more rest. It is hard to feel sexual when the body is ill, tired or nutritionally deficient.
  • Realize that both of you will go through changes and try to adapt: roll with the punches. The watchword is “HELP!” Always help one another. Don’t take it to heart if your stressed-out mate seems less than appreciative: continue to help! Sooner or later he or she will get out of their doldrums and be grateful for your kindness.

Find the rest of the interview here on Culturs Magazine!

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What moving in your teens does to your dating life – Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about what it felt like to date in my teens after having moved from Johannesburg to Vienna and finally to Hamburg for my two last years of High School. I left for Boston for university feeling exhilarated, but also really nervous.  The education part of it, I felt completely at ease about. I had always been a nerd at heart and loved learning. So that wasn’t what I was nervous about. Moving to a new city like Boston didn’t scare me either as we’d moved so often growing up.  What did make me nervous was realising that people might be at a different dating stage as me at uni.

I had questions buzzing through my head. Would everyone at uni already have boyfriends? Would they have all already had sex?  Would I finally meet someone who I really liked and who I could date?  When I arrived in Boston, I met some great friends who were (unsurprisingly) international. It was great having them as people I could count on, hang out with, go to parties with and so on.  But it didn’t mean I’d solved the problem of dating. Would I finally get rid of my nerves and just start dating? I was getting interest here and there. At parties. In class. Through friends. But I was still so nervous and embarrassed that I hadn’t properly dated anyone before in High School. What if I didn’t know what to do? What if they asked me to do something I was uncomfortable with?  Would they straight away be able to tell my lack of experience at 18?

26243_1386170179332_7264219_nThat’s me at Boston University!

I started going on a couple of dates with a guy at the end of my first year. I liked him. He was confident, friendly, social, sporty. He was a catch. After a couple of dates,we still hadn’t kissed, not through his lack of trying I might add. I started feeling the pressure. Shouldn’t I be moving this forward? What was he possibly thinking?  After one great dinner date, he walked me home. And, it was the perfect moment. I could feel it. It was a dark starry night, and everything was calm. We were alone on the street besides a couple people walking along the other sidewalk. He leaned in… And… I completely backed out of it.  What can I say? I was nervous. And I didn’t mean to do it. But in the moment, it’s what I did. After that, he thought I didn’t really like him so he kind of stopped calling. Who could blame him? After 4 or 5 dates with no real kiss, he thought I just wanted to be friends. But really, I was nervous. Nervous that I hadn’t had that ‘normal’ dating experience in my teens as a result of moving around so much.

I remember meeting someone else who was from another country. It’s not as if I was purposefully choosing people from different nationalities, but it just sort of happened. He was a good friend of my girlfriend’s boyfriend. Anyway, I thought he was cute. He was part of the rowing team. He was athletic, outdoorsy, and had a very cheeky side to him – something that had always made me weak in the knees.

He asked me out, and we went on a lovely date. I remember walking back to the university campus with the river on one side. He was talking about rowing and trying to combine the early mornings and draining practices with coursework. But all I could think about was: oh my gosh, we’re nearing the end of the date. What if he leans in? What will I do? I need to stay calm. This will be ok. I have to just do it. Stop worrying about it, I told myself. And, what happened next? Well, he did just that. He leaned in. And what did I do? That’s right; I backed away. And yet again, he thought I was just not that into him.  That slowly fizzled out too.

After two years in Boston, I decided to go study abroad in Auckland. I was looking forward to a fresh start, and I was getting slightly bored of Boston. I needed a change (proper TCK-style). That decision ended up changing everything for me. TO BE CONTINUED…

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What moving in your teens does to your dating life – Part 1

I think moving around so much growing up had a large influence on my dating life. I had finally met someone at the American International School in Vienna in 10th grade that I found exciting, attractive, and fun. A few months before leaving for Hamburg, we kissed. It was the most amazing, unforgettable moment of my teenage years. The fact that I was nervous and excited added to the fireworks that seemed to be going off that night.  For those couple seconds, nothing seemed to exist, except the two of us.  I finally knew that he was into me too! As a 15 or 16 year old, it feels like nothing else matters at that point. Pure bliss is what it was.

And then, just like that, I was gone. We flew to Hamburg. I would never find out if it would have developed. Would we have gone to the movies? Would we have held hands in the hallways at school? Would he have come watch me play football on the school pitch on the weekends? I would never know.

I arrived in Hamburg for the start of my 11th grade year. I was 16 at the time. I had two years left of High School. Would I meet someone there? Would I finally be able to see something develop? After three or four months, I met someone who made me laugh. Who made me nervous. Who made me smile.  But, at the time, I was still trying to figure people out. Whereas everyone else at school knew everyone since middle school, I was trying to make sure this guy was a ‘good’ guy.  I was brand new. So not only was I trying to make friends, get accustomed to the new teachers, and get around a new city, I was also trying to figure out this guy.

I felt those nerves again. I knew I liked him. And I was pretty darn sure he liked me too. But I was also scared and embarrassed that as someone in 11th grade, I hadn’t had a proper boyfriend yet. Would he understand that it was because I’d moved around? Would I know what to do as a girlfriend?  Would I know how to act on a date? What were we meant to do at lunch in the cafeteria? Would we be sitting together or would we sit with our friends? There were so many questions running through my head.  And so many butterflies that when he came up to me one day to show he was ‘sort of’ interested (as we all do at that age), I showed a lack of interest. I acted cool and stand-offish. I was scared.  I was 16. His friends told me he liked me. And yet again, I acted as if I wasn’t interested. It was just the fear and nerves of not knowing what to do. And not feeling like I’d had enough time to figure him out as a person.

I missed my chance. He started dating someone else.  I thought I’d regret that moment forever. But now, looking back, I realise it was from moving around so much and not having time to settle in and figure people out. It was hard to get attached too when I knew I’d be off again by the end of high-school. I had kind of learned to be quite detached, subconsciously really.  But that is what it was.  Even though I appeared relaxed and outgoing at the time, I would never have fully let go to allow someone in. It was probably a defence mechanism as a teenager. By staying calm, detached, and prepared to leave after High School, I wouldn’t get hurt.

Moving to Boston for university at 18 was exhilarating but also nerve-wrecking.  Would I finally meet someone there who I’d feel comfortable enough with to date? To be continued…


The Single’s Guide To Finding The Right Match

As the dating expert at Culturs Magazine, I was asked to write a book review for Picking Right. I was surprised about how much of what the author said resonated with me.  It’s funny because I would never have thought much about a dating book a couple of years ago. But now, the more I think about it, the more I realise that we focus and work on improving our career, our fitness levels, our hobbies.  Why don’t we read books and strive to improve our love lives?

Why not spend time on developing our relationships?  What is it about our society that makes it seem almost embarrassing to read these sorts of books?  It almost feels as if you’re straight away categorised as desperate or lost when you read romantic relationship guides or self-help books. That’s ridiculous. If we strive to improve the state of our career, health and finances and give those areas 110%, why not do the same for the romantic part of our lives? This area should not come last.


Do we really believe there’s nothing left to learn or improve on? Could you improve your dating life? What about the relationship you’re in?  An area that’s often left on the bottom of the priority list should be moved up. Who’s to say this area isn’t just as important as our career status in terms of our overall happiness levels?

Can you tell I’m passionate about this area? Well, I am. And I was thrilled to read and write about a thought-provoking book on choosing the right partner and working on your relationship here on Culturs Magazine.

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Sangria and Closeness Among TCKs

What is it about meeting other TCKs that creates that instant bond?  Last Thursday, we shared sangria at a TCK Dating Event at Salvador & Amanda here in London, and it was interesting to see how quickly everyone was able to find commonalities and get along.  The conversations I had with others at the event jumped from one place to another so quickly – we went on what felt like a million tangents.  By the end of the night, you could tell that everyone felt welcomed and comfortable around each other.

It made me think about why that is. If we haven’t lived in the same countries, speak different languages and possibly don’t even have the same interests (besides perhaps the obvious: travel!), why is it that we get on so well? Of course, there will be the odd person with whom you don’t seem to be able to bond with, TCK or not. But, the vast majority, have plenty to chat about, seem to relax more, and don’t seem preoccupied with how they act around other TCKs.

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