We just got our latest edition (March, 2015) of Among World Magazine and
This issue is on MKs and dating relationships.
Of course Third-culture kids (TCKs) and Missionary kids (MKs) see dating from lots of different lens/perspectives and while some of those are similar to kids in America, many are unique to kids growing up overseas.
Similar to the USA: Either “normal” ideas of dating within the culture; “dating” in groups; only after a certain age or in high school/college; “courting” and serious relationships where approval is sought of the parents first;…
Not at all similar to the USA: (Items faced by young adults and singles overseas that are not at all similar to young adults growing up in America) Fewer numbers of other young adults to select from; Usually a more “adult” or “serious” attitude towards life or much larger life experience to draw from; frequent relocations that hurt chances for longer term relationships; lack of dances or other opportunities for social interaction; more opportunity for intercultural dating; their ideas of “love” will probably be more realistic and mature. They may also have very different ideas about holding hands, touching, or other aspects of physical relationships. Either they come from the Global South and may be much more warm and physical and grow discouraged by others’ distance or “coldness,” OR they might have grown up in a country where people are much more reserved (esp. around the opposite sex) and feel embarrassed or unsure how to navigate talking or spending time with them.
The “pairing up” of America at earlier and earlier ages and constant talk about dating and relationships, may be a “put-off” to MKs who may wish for more friends and ability to spend time without the entanglements this usually means in the USA or at church.
These issues of frequent relocation especially, and sometimes an MKs emotional “distance” from others and often lack of social interaction with other their age can hurt their ability to connect later on in life when at home or away at college. Of course the opposite is also true: A TCK or MK can be attractive simply because they are often smarter, more traveled and “worldly-wise,” and have more they can discuss. They can be more “hidden” and “private,” or more socially adaptable even becoming Class President their first year back. It all depends.
TCKs and MKs should look into their hearts and see if they are longing for relationships, physical connection/touch and or a feeling of stability and connection. These are good signs, but can lead a MK into trouble or making bad choices if unidentified or all-consuming.
Think of a MK re-entering the USA or college as having to bridge a generational gap with other students, because usually they won’t share music or local cultural similarities. They won’t “connect” on many of the same movies, TV shows, or fads.
Have an opinion or like to write something on this issue? We’d be happy to take a look at it and possibly publish it to encourage others and further the discussion!
Read more about this topic in the latest edition of Among Worlds Magazine.
We recommend Among Worlds Magazine for families of TCKs and MKs as well as adult TCKs/MKs that are seeking to understand their role in the world, and connect with others that understand what makes them different. It is available by subscription and also offers opportunities for writers if it fits with upcoming issues/themes (More info available upon request).