As someone who’s been traveling almost non-stop for the last eight years, I must admit that it’s much easier to meet women abroad than at home. When I lived in America—in New York or San Francisco—meeting women was always confusing and complicated for one reason or another. People played all kinds of games. There were all kinds of confusing dating rules. Things were anything but straightforward.
But that always changed once I got on the plane and flew somewhere else. Meeting women was always much easier and hassle-free in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Romania or Russia—pretty much anywhere where I wasn’t able to commute to my work blind folded.
In fact, I would even go as far as to say that my approach anxiety and all kinds of nervousness attributed to meeting new people completely dissipated right after I pass through passport control in a new country. I become uninhibited. And this isn’t just due to the complicated dynamics of American dating, many of my friends and partners in crime, regardless if they were originally from Spain, Switzerland, Brazil or China, have mentioned experiencing the exact same thing once they landed in a new country.
For a long time I wondered why that was, and, after some pondering, I came up with a few rational explanations.
First of all, if you travel to a place where meeting people and hooking up is the norm, you’ll naturally be less inhibited and meeting women will be easier. I’m referring to party places like Las Vegas, Cancun, Ibiza, etc. People specifically go there to party and exchange fluids. Women are expecting to be approached. It’s completely normal to approach someone anytime and anywhere, day or night, on the street, at the cafe, at the bar or the club.
So, while it’s easier to meet women in Cancun than in San Francisco, it’s to be expected and this special case doesn’t require further discussion. I’m more interested in why it’s easier to meet people when you’re heading to a regular non-party city where people have normal lives and women aren’t specifically looking to be approached.
The first reason is the unmistakable exotic factor. If you’re someone who looks physically different from the locals, you’ll automatically be noticed and people will react to you in some way or another.
Thus, if you’re a blonde 6’4” Swedish guy who’s hanging out in some small city in Northeast Brazil, you definitely won’t go unnoticed. People will be curious. They’ll want to know where you’re from, what you’re doing here and what do you think of their country. Women might even smile and approach you.
And even if you don’t get outright approached, coming up to women is easy when she has already demonstrated some kind of reaction to you.
The core identity
The second reason is more complex and deals with your internal identity. When you’re trying to meet people in a city or region where you’re from and/or have resided for a good chunk of your life, you’ve undoubtedly collected a lot of baggage; while you have your share of successes, you also have your share of painful rejections, like that time you followed home your high school crush, asked her out and then were brutally rejected.
All these experiences forge an important part of your identity. While you were racking up your share of rejections (perhaps before you became good with women), you learned to be cautious in order to avoid experiencing that rejection again. Humans have a way of going through great lengths in order to avoid past pain and rejection. Bruising the ego hurts and people would do just about anything in order to avoid it.
Since rejections leave imprints on your identity, they stereotype and alter your behavior going forward. If you’ve been rejected by a beautiful blonde woman when you were younger, you might be cautious when approaching any beautiful blonde woman in the future.
It doesn’t matter that the first blonde woman (who rejected you fifteen years ago) has absolutely nothing to do with the future ones, it’s just easier for humans view people in terms of groups (blonde women will reject me) instead of thinking in individual terms (a particular blonde woman has rejected me, but future blonde women are different). This applies to all kinds of characteristics having to do with a person, like nationalities (Russian women don’t like me), races (black women don’t like me), social classes (yuppy women don’t like me), etc.
The man without the past and future
Things are completely different when you find yourself in a brand new environment and have no history there whatsoever. Since you’ve never been rejected (i.e., you’ve just arrived to the country for the first time), humiliated or slapped by a girl for doing something “inappropriate,” you’re pretty much free to act how you please. You become completely uninhibited.
That’s especially applicable when you’re someone who comes from a sexual country like Brazil or Colombia, or someone who comes from a no-nonsense country like Russia where things are done in a direct way without all the small talk and BS.
For example, if you’re an American guy who’s going out in New York, then you probably already know that you can’t be too aggressive or else people might consider you “creepy.” American women expect American guys to act a certain way and if you deviate from these norms, a woman might get confused and label your behavior as inappropriate.
But if you’re a Brazilian guy who’s going out in New York, then those rules no longer apply. You’re allowed to be a bit more aggressive than the locals because that’s how Brazilians are “known” to act. Brazilian (or other foreigners) get a special pass.
If a woman is dealing with foreigners and they act differently than what she’s used to, she will rationalize their behavior according to the guy’s stereotypes: “He’s a pretty aggressive guy, but he’s a Brazilian guy so that makes sense.” Or “This guy doesn’t say much. He also touches me all over my body. But, hey, maybe it’s normal because he’s Russian and Russian guys are different.”
The way your behavior is regulated by your identity is extremely powerful and can serve as a temporary “confidence boost” when you’re new to a country. When I first arrived to Rio de Janeiro, my confidence was sky-high mainly because I was new to the place and didn’t have past rejections or hangups to slow me down. I didn’t know what the local mating rituals were. I didn’t know what was “culturally acceptable.” I didn’t care if what I did was “right” or “wrong.” I just wanted to go out and have fun. The result is that I acted like a kid in the candy store, unapologetically going for the things I wanted without worrying what others were thinking. I had a great time.
Over time, however, this “confidence boost” gradually wore off, and my behavior became more or less that of a foreigner who had been living in Brazil for a while. Although people could tell I wasn’t just some kid off the boat, I still couldn’t pull off behaving as aggressively as my Brazilian friends while trying to pickup women in the dark bars and clubs. Since I wasn’t Brazilian no matter how well I spoke Portuguese, Brazilian women expected me to behave differently.
I became more tame. I was no longer acting spontaneously according to my own whims and desires. I was no longer some kid in the candy store.
I also experienced this in reverse when I landed in New York after living two years in Brazil. When I initially arrived, I was much more talkative and friendlier and behaved as though I was still hanging out in the party neighborhood of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro. Over time, however, I became more like a New Yorker, aloof and distant, and relying more on cocky/funny behavior instead of communicating in a more honest way when it came to what I wanted and desired.
This temporary confidence boost and the drastic change of behavior suggests that our identities can instantly morph into something new. All your history and experiences are indeed linked to a particular environment. When you’re abroad, you’re given a clean slate and are able to behave as you want.
Every new person you’re interacting with—whether that person is blonde, brunette, black or white, tall or short—becomes a brand new unstereotyped experience. You no longer have any expectations how things will eventually turn out. You’re not talking yourself out of approaching because a similar girl rejected you fifteen years ago. There’re no longer “similar girls.” There’s no emotional baggage weighing you down. It’s a fantastic feeling.
Above all, nobody knows who you are. Nobody knows that you were a social recluse who played video games and jerked off every day in your mom’s basement throughout your high school years. Nobody knows that you walked your high school crush home and, just before leaving, asked her out and then got ruthlessly rejected. You’re no longer Dan, Randy or Steve—you’re now John Doe, a guy who’s new to the country and is looking to have some fun.
One of the overarching goals is to live your life how you see fit and not shape your identity to match others’ perception of yourself. That’s difficult when you’ve collected a history of rejections that undoubtedly molded your identity and ego to behave a certain way. The more rejections you’ve experienced, the stronger your ego will strive to protect you from further harm. This results in a deadlock; you can’t grow as a man unless you unshackle your ego that’s holding you back.
Traveling and living abroad shortcuts this toxic behavior. It allows you to instantly leave your past experiences behind and become someone new as soon as the plane touches ground. And although, over time, this feeling can wear off as you acclimate to your new environment and adopt the cultural norms, usually this shock is all you need to learn what’s truly possible when you abandon all your previous emotional baggage of the past, let go of your false identity, demolish your overprotective and restraining ego, and start living your life to the absolute fullest.
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