I’m surprised the subject of romance hasn’t come up on this blog before now. I may have touched on it once or twice but I haven’t really had anything positive to write. From my own position there’s been the occasional date and coffee and stuff like that. There was the brief thing with Felicia and the not so brief thing with Hylda which at the time seemed good but never amounted to anything more than short romances.
The difficulty for an English guy living in Indonesia is firstly around the whole “what does she see in me?” thing. We’re suspicious. In our own countries we get by on our charm and our luck as much as on our looks and different people want different things. By building relationships or by seeing what happens from a one night stand in a nightclub the deepest connections can grow. Here in Indonesia it’s different in that as ‘Bule’ we stand out, even in Jalan Jaxa and Blok M.
A few of my friends talk about having felt like accessories such as Prada shoes or a Gucci handbag (notice i didn’t say Tescos own) when out with their girlfriend, cause no matter how you try to get away from it, we’re a must have for some girls. The type of girl who believes all her financial worries will be over the minute she aquires a ‘Bule’ or ATM card as we’re sometimes known.
At this point i should make it clear that I don’t mean Sugar Daddy. Some guys are still looking out for a trophy wife but I guess they in turn are used for their earning potential and the status they may bring. In fact some Indonesians think we smell bad, don’t shower enough and have big noses so we’re not on their wish list. But it’s true, others will put up with all of those faults (and more) in the pure hope of a better life.
Then there are those with a plan. The ones for whom love is incidental. A friend of mine got married to an Indonesian in the UK. She then proceeded to get homesick so they and their baby relocated to Jakarta. Next thing you know he’s in the middle of divorce proceedings without a leg to stand on and the house and stuff is all in the name of his missus.
A cautionary tale I agree, but not isloated by any means.
It would be asy to only consider the negatives. Instead lets look at the possibilities for love 8,500 miles from home..
Indeonesian men have a bad rep, some deserved, some not. But in a predominantly Muslim country where a great deal of women are thought less of than the men (look at dress codes and the acceptability of polygamous marriages) it’s no wonder that the recently metrosexualised westerner is attracive. Hell, even the mysoginistioc dinosaur 70 year old is still preferable because in public they have manners and pick up the tab.
It may be a naive opinion but I believe the opportunity to find love exists if you follow the basic rules.
1. Get to know the culture and social mores of your girlfriend. An understanding of why she won’t hold hands in public or give you a kiss goodbye in front of other people may not be a sign that she’s just with you for the money. Rather her upbringing has taught her that these things are somewhat taboo.
2. Communication is the key to the Universe, not just the UK. If you talk about what makes you happy and what makes you sad then less is left to chance, assumptions and misunderstanding. This becomes admittedly more difficult in a second language so sometimes a secondary explanation or a question to check understanding may be necessary. One things for certain, learning the langauge is a headstart although you may still struggle with the vagaries of slang.
3. Relationships fail everywhere, not just Indonesia. If yours does, accept it and move on.
4. If you choose to make your partner the one night stand you met in a club and gave Rp250,000 for the cab fare home, i’m tempted to say you’ll get what you pay for. And if that’s what you want then good luck and well done.
So where do you meet the girl of your dreams? Well, as i mentioned before you propbably won’t need to make many introductions as you’ll find that the more forward girls will come to you. If you’re respectful and considerate you’ll be attractive. If you speak the language reasonably well you’ll have a greater number of people to choose from. If you are god’s gift to women, I guess you stopped reading after the first sentence.
There’s always the people you work with, but spare a thought for what happens if it doesn’t work. And again there’s the internet. It depends on your opportunities to meet women, your self confidence and a little bit of luck.
The path of true love is often difficult to see, sometimes has hidden traps and amongst the roses there’s the occasional Raffelesia.
Without naming names i have friends that are in great relationships. I have others who aren’t. It’s so easy to fall in love here because 90% of the girls are beautiful but as with girls from your own country, they are just as likely to have baggage from previous relationships .