Finding love abroad: Our story (and Paris engagement photos!)

In the summer of 2010, I was as single as could be.

In fact, not only was I not dating, but I was actively avoiding anything resembling such. Over a year before, I’d sworn off relationships and promised myself I’d spend my 20s single so that I could focus solely on myself, my career, and my plans to travel the world.

And then that November, my promise went out the (44th floor) window.

I met my fiancé.

By moving in with him.

Four months after I moved to Singapore, my then-roommate decided to leave and head back to America. Since his company owned his flat, they probably didn’t want me sticking around. I had to find a new place to live.

As luck would have it, I fell in love with the very first apartment I saw.

It was a brand spankin’ new place, on the 44th floor of a 50-story building, with gorgeous views over the city. What wasn’t there to love? And the company — well you couldn’t find a better trio in Singapore.

(The story of how I got ended up joining the flat is a funny one in itself — it involves the apartment bomb shelter — but terribly long. That one’s better told in person.)

My other roommates were a Scottish architect, a British IT manager, and an American Fulbrighter. Neither the Brit nor I needed to move in until the next month, but the four of us got on so well that we would often hang out at the flat every night after work anyway.

And that’s how I got to know the Brit. His name was Mike, and he had just moved to Singapore ten days earlier.

Over the next few weeks, I tried to hang out with him as much as possible. Not because I was interested in him romantically — remember, I’d shut that part of my brain off — but as a serial expat, I knew how hard it could be to make friends in a new city.

So every time I was going out with friends for dinner or drinks, I’d invite him along. After a couple weeks of hanging out in groups, we started hanging out just the two of us. We’d spend entire afternoons just walking through the city together, talking about nothing and everything.

Of course, it didn’t take long for us to realize we had feelings for each other — but we didn’t want to do anything about them because come the first of December, we’d be flatmates. We didn’t want to create an unnecessarily complicated situation (seriously, this flat was amazing. neither of us wanted to jeopardize our place there.) nor did we want to creep out the other two flatmates.

But living together only helped us realize how amazingly compatible we were (both of us are into tech, and lord did we geek out when we first moved in) and our other two flatmates didn’t mind. In fact, despite our adamant denials, they were convinced we were already dating long before we really were.

So less than three weeks after moving in together, we decided to give this thing a chance. Just to see where it would go.

(Our announcement to the flatmates went something like this:

Us: “Hey guys, just to let you know…we’re dating now.”

Them: “Yeah…this isn’t news. You guys have been dating for weeks.”)

Two months later, over the Chinese New Year break, we took our first holiday together — to Bali of all places, possibly the most romanticized island in southeast Asia.

I was slightly terrified — it had only been two months and here we were: sink or swim. If the trip tanked, one of us would likely have to find a new place to live as soon as we got back to Singapore.

But Bali went amazingly well. So did our many trips to Thailand, Vietnam, China, and even a miserable rainforest in Malaysia where I did little else but battle mosquitoes all weekend.

By the end of that first year, we’d been living together longer than we’d been dating, and traveling together for just as long. We couldn’t remember what life was like before we’d met. I couldn’t believe we’d found each other in a country thousands of miles away from our own.

But I knew I had to move on. I didn’t want to stay in Singapore for more than a year — I may have broken my promise to myself to stay single, but I wasn’t going to break the part about traveling all through my 20s.

So I went to Australia for five weeks, and then I moved to Paris in January of this year. We never even had to talk about what would happen to us — we knew we’d stay together, there wasn’t a question about it.

This past May, Mike came to Paris and proposed on my birthday.

We’ll set the wedding date when we’re living together again.

There are so many people out there who say dating while traveling doesn’t work out. Dating another expat doesn’t work out. Dating long-distance doesn’t work out.

I’m sharing our story to tell you that sometimes…it does. 

(Update: we called off the engagement and split up very amicably in the summer of 2013.

However — as I’m once again in a serious relationship with someone I met and dated while traveling, who is a fellow expat, and also endured long-distance for a while — my last statement still holds true and I still stand by it!)

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Comments

  1. You engagement pictures are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your story. It put a smile on my face. My husband and I met when we were both living in Prague forever ago and neither of us are Czech. You’re exactly right, sometimes these things do just work out.

  2. What a great love story! And such great pictures as well, you guys look really happy together.
    My/our story is somewhat similar. I went to China to travel, not to fall in love. But you can’t stop love… So, now I’ve been together with an American for two years, living in China and moving to Beijing in 2 weeks!

  3. What sweet, wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing them and your romantic love story! This was just the thing to put a smile on my face this morning :)

  4. This story makes me grin. :) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Your story is so so sweet :) Thank you so much for sharing! This really made my easy all watery.

    xx Carin

  6. Congratulations, Edna! What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing how you met, as well as your beautiful photos!

  7. That is the sweetest story ever!! And you’re right: sometimes it DOES work out. :) Thanks for sharing this story!

    x Milsters

    (http://www.littlepiecesoflight.com/)

  8. You’ve set yourself up for a million soppy comments here! But, I shall have to be one of them… such a lovely post xx

  9. Happy happy! I already knew this story but it was so nice to read it again. hope you two have a fab christmas and new years!

  10. So lovely. Congrats again to you both :)

  11. This is just the sweetest.

  12. Aww, so sweet! Happy anniversary to both of you!

  13. I love your story, and the pictures are beautiful! In my case at least one of us was in his home country, but we still dealt with long distance and an international move. I hope you two are reunited more permanently soon.

  14. Adored reading this story, too special!

  15. Happy Anniversary, Edna! I love this love story and the last line brought me to tears. I’m so happy for all the success you’ve had since anchoring the ECTV news (haha!) and I love living vicariously though your travels. You’re such an inspiration to anyone who questions following their dreams, and anyone who has a long distance relationship. Any idea *where* that same location will be in the future?

  16. A Yank and a Brit who met and fell in love in Singapore, I love it! It reminds me of a couple I know here – an Irishman and a Mexican who met in Japan. What a romantic story. Congratulations on your engagement!

  17. Au contraire, long distance CAN work! Beautiful photos, even if you’re not enamored with Paris, the city certainly provided a memorable backdrop!

  18. Happy Anniversary, Edna and Mike!! It’s been wonderful to get to know you and your beautiful love story. Have a great Christmas together, xoxo.

  19. It’s so difficult to keep our promises to ourselves, especially when love is involved! So big props to you for sticking to your guns and making travel a priority.

  20. Congratulations! This is the way to stand up to bigots that you discussed in an earlier blog and you will find out that there are plenty in the UK.

  21. What a sweet story! I love that you found your future husband while doing what you love–traveling and living abroad. I hope the same will happen for myself!

  22. Such a sweet story! And beautiful pictures. Hopefully you two will be on the same continent sometime soon :)

  23. Congrats on your anniversary! And your engagement photos are the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Ever.

  24. Housemate makes good dating strategy? ;)

    Like you, I didn’t have dating in mind when one of my closest friends asked if I’m interested in house sharing with her cousin. We got Pacsed recently and we have also lived together longer than we have been together! My friend and I never see it coming – she didn’t think he’s my type and I was just in my little world of… whatever ;)

    Congrats on your engagement!

  25. What an absolutely amazing story, one in a million! Often times when you aren’t looking for love is when it smacks you in the face! Best wishes to you and your Brit :)

  26. This is so sweet and romantic. Thanks for sharing your story and your gorgeous photos! I met my husband abroad too, and it’s nice to have that shared background together. Congrats on the engagement!

  27. Aww, this is such a sweet story! And I love the picture of you twirling in the blue dress. :)

  28. You guys are too cute! I love your story. It completely appeals to the romantic person inside me that I sometimes pretend doesn’t exist. I had similar thoughts. I was going to be single, travel, enjoy my career, maybe date but definitely not be tied down. I came back from a big trip to Europe when I was 19 and immediately found myself in a relationship. Nearly six years later, I’m still in the same one! Almost a year ago we made a big move to a new city together and are still going strong. Definitely not what I had planned, but sometimes life does that to you!

  29. What beautiful photographs! Amazing story Edna, I can really relate to them right now :)
    Wishing you both more amazing memories in the future.
    x, Grace

  30. Congratulations again!! A beautiful, beautiful story – and gorgeous pics to go with it.

  31. That is just the sweetest thing.. hopefully you guys will marry in the same country. Lol

  32. Cute story! Similar thing happened to me… My fellow teacher (and now boyfriend) and I started hanging out in Korea and it quickly turned into dating. Been together for over two and half years now!

  33. What a terrifically romantic tale! So nice to read that for you, love really did conquer all, but no one had to sacrifice any dreams along the way!

  34. What a wonderful story! I’m also juggling a long-distance relationship and the constant urge to move around, so your love story is such an amazing inspiration how to make it work!
    And your engagement pictures are simply stunning!

  35. What a sweet post! I love your engagement pictures, too. Cheers to you guys for making it work against the long-distance/early cohabitation odds. I hope you get to spend some quality time together this holiday season!

  36. Congrats! Love your photos!!

  37. finally! I’d gotten some of the bits from Kristen, but finally, the store in full.
    Yay! You two are so adorable and I really admire how to make it work without jeopardizing your career goals, which, I have heard rumors of and really want to chat with you about because they sound exciting! Happy Late Anni and Happy HOlidays :)

  38. What a beautiful story. They always say when you least expect it, love finds you. So happy for both of you!

  39. Yay! Congrats Edna-such a great story. My dude and I are a Brit and an American who met while in South Korea (and are now married and living in the UK!), and I just love a good long-distance love story:) Beautiful pictures, too!

  40. Thanks for sharing this story! I have been in a long distance relationship now for 8 years. Engaged since 2006. Great to hear about others it works for. :-) I am in Europe, he is in Australia.

  41. Aw, I echo everyone else when I wish you two a hearty congrats!

    What a romantic tale–I’m a sucker for stories where two expats meet outside of their own country :) The same thing happened to me, too, and every day I am thankful for something this special and seemingly impossible. Looking forward to what 2013 has in store for you two!

  42. Awesome story! Loved reading it. I’m a firm believer that sometimes love finds you when you least expect it. All the best to you both in 2013 and beyond!

  43. Who doesn’t love this… a little like Lily and I. Only the geriatric version…

  44. I enjoyed reading your story so much!!! As for me being single right now I feel the same about the need to travel, to work on my career and just enjoy life…

    From Paris with love, Vicky

    The Golden Bun

  45. What a lovely, romantic story. I met my husband by becoming his brother’s flatmate. :)

  46. Congratulations… such a lovely story.
    Love the pics. I wasn’t anywhere near as organised for engagement photos and still lament the fact I didn’t get proper wedding photos! Looks as if you won’t make the same mistake :)

  47. Lovely story, Congratulations! The photos are absolutely gorgeous! :)

  48. This is a fantastic story! Great photos too :)

  49. Beautiful!! Congratulations again, and wishing you both the very best!

  50. Awww, good for both of you! What a great story! Congratulations! :)

    Eartha

  51. Congrats! What a cute story. They always say is happens when you least expect it, don’t they? Your engagement photos are really nice.

  52. I am proof long-distance relationships can work out. Nice piece!

  53. What a lovely, charming and endearing story. I came to your Blog re the post about racism. I’ve been to China and been one of the white guys they poke at because they think you might be a robot or something so I have some idea what you mean.

  54. Such a sweet love story! :) I love your pictures, the love is obvious in your smiles.
    Thank you for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. […] he proposed, so we’re now rocking a long-distance engagement. Read our story here. […]

  2. […] Expat Edna shares how she met her fiance. […]

  3. […] But what about living together before you’re dating? That’s what happened to this travel blogger […]