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  • Tez Clark

Love in Turkey: The pros and cons of a holiday romance

We all love a bit of romance. Amid all the fun in the sun, it’s easy to fall in love on holiday. But, what are the chances it will work out? What are the pros and cons of a holiday romance in Turkey?

It amazes me that romance in Turkey gets such bad press. Yes, of course, there are the horror stories that appeal to the gossip press. Why is it we love reading the negatives over the positives? Does it make us feel better? There will always be the older women that fall for a struggling young waiter. There will always be the girls that are charmed by the dark-haired and handsome foreigner, trust them with all their worldly goods and, a year later, their ‘love’, and all their money, has disappeared. But, this isn’t Turkey specific. It’s life. Con-men skirt the gutters of towns and cities the world over – you just have to roll with the good and the bad, hope you don’t encounter one, trust you have the sense to make reasoned decisions or, to put it bluntly, have the brains to be more cautious with your heart and hard-earned cash.


Back to the good romantics.

Few places top Turkey in the romantic stakes. The country is so large, so diverse and so alluring that it makes the ideal setting for romance – be it a holiday fling, a wedding, a honeymoon or simply a breakaway to rekindle love. Despite popular belief, a holiday romance can work out and my relationship with my hubby is one such example. And, I’m not the only one. I know a few other foreign women in Fethiye that have met their partners in a local resort and many years later are happily settled and living with their Turk. It is possible but, believe me, falling for a foreigner does have its challenges and you have to be prepared to sacrifice a great deal to make it work out.


THE PROS OF A HOLIDAY ROMANCE


1. A boost in self-esteem.

Most of us enjoy a bit of attention. As a single woman on holiday, with or without the girlfriends in tow, you are likely to receive plenty of attention in Turkey. All the sun and fun makes us relax. We are away from our mundane routine and on holiday to have fun and adventures. No matter how fat, thin, old or young you are, you are bound to attract the attention of local men. It’s a confidence boost. It does us good and makes us feel better as long as it’s not taken too seriously. A little attention and feeling attractive can make us happy and surely that’s a good thing – you don’t necessarily have to wake up with the man the next day.


2. No strings attached. A romance can spice up your holiday and make it memorable.

Let’s face it, you are highly unlikely to be with the Turkish man you meet on holiday in six months time. Take your holiday fling for exactly what it is – a no-strings-attached bit of fun for a week or so and enjoy the adventure. Locals know where to go and can suggest the best places to visit. They know where to eat, where to party and, if you’re lucky, they may even sneak a few hours off work to take you to their favourite haunts. Avoid heartbreak and think of it initially as an adventure that will make your holiday memorable. Just remember to be safe and trust your instincts – if something feels amiss, you’ve had a few too many cocktails or you feel pressured, get a taxi and go home. If your wannabe man is any kind of decent bloke he won’t want to make you feel uncomfortable, he will wait for you and be happy to see you again.


3. Enjoy the romance – there’s something very romantic about falling in love on holiday.

“I met a great guy on holiday and I’m already looking at flights to go back to Turkey!”  I’m sure many a girl has said that to mates on returning home after a good holiday (I know I did!). There’s something very attractive about foreign guys – maybe it’s the tanned skin, the accent, their Mediterranean looks – all just so alluring and mysterious. It’s easy to fall for a local and many Turks go out of their way to charm you and be the perfect man. It’s unlikely you will sit and share a sunset as spectacular as you can in Calis back home with a man you meet in Chelmsford. It’s also highly unlikely you will bob about on a romantic boat trip or take a dip in waters as warm and clear in Great Yarmouth. Romantic dates in Turkey are hard to beat. It’s easy to get swept away in romance on holiday, it gives us great memories and certainly makes holidays brag-worthy with friends at home.


4. Occasionally a holiday romance can work out.

Yes, a holiday fling can turn into the real thing if it’s really meant to be. In my case, I was already living in Oludeniz before I met Unal. I didn’t move across to be with him, we simply met at the right point in our lives to want to settle down and find someone serious (yawn – dull I know!). But, for most foreign girls that live away from Turkey, managing a relationship over so many miles is far harder. You need to visit frequently and at some point, when you are both on the same page, may need to give up your life and career at home and move over to give the relationship a good shot (it’s far harder for Turks to live or visit the UK). If you are prepared to do this, to risk everything and live in a new country and culture, a relationship with a Turk can indeed work out. My only advice would be to fully understand and accept the implications of moving abroad to be with a man before making any big or spur of the moment decisions.

Watch out for quick “I love you’s”!


THE CONS OF A HOLIDAY ROMANCE:


1. Know from the start chances are your relationship won’t pan out.

Each summer I meet many young girls propping up the end of bars patiently waiting for their boyfriends to finish work. The majority are here on holiday for a maximum of 2 weeks, although some do return occasionally to try and keep the love spark alive. But, think about it. Don’t take this ‘love’ too seriously and become a jealous and snivelling wreck. It’s the barman or waiters job to socialise, to be friendly with customers, beckon them in, keep them spending money, and look pretty. He has to do this for 6 months straight through the summer including the times you are back at college or slaving away in a dull 9 to 5. You may be ‘special’, and I’m sure ‘love’ was mentioned, but in reality, you are likely to be one of many ‘special’ people during the season. Accept that it’s probably all a bit of fun. Don’t get your heartbroken. If you’re single and playing safe (you don’t want an unplanned pregnancy or STD’s), there’s probably nothing wrong with it. Just don’t read too much into what is most likely a holiday fling.


2. Long-distance relationships rarely work out, even more so in Turkey.

Wherever you are in the world, keeping love alive long-distance is tough. Managing a relationship from Birmingham to Manchester is hard enough but at least you are in the same country. Falling for someone abroad is even harder. There’s time off work to consider as it’s not easy to pop to Turkey every weekend. It’s expensive. Chances are they will be working and you are the one that has to make the effort. You need accommodation, flights and spending money. Then there are visas. As a Brit you are fine, you can come and go as you wish. But, most Turks need to apply for a visa to visit the UK or Europe and unless they are financially secure and extremely lucky, visas to the UK are hard to get – and they take a lot of paperwork, money and time to arrange. Managing a relationship with a Turk, unless you are prepared to up sticks and chance living in Turkey, can be difficult.


3. Language barriers.

How’s your Turkish? I’m guessing not so good. How’s his English? Chances are a lot better than your Turkish, but still not brilliant. Many men in the resort speak good English but a lot also run on basic high school phrases or speak none at all. Things get lost in translation. Getting understood can be a problem especially when trying to discuss feelings. Be prepared for a lot of confusing and frustrating conversations and Google translate is simply comical when trying to get your point across.


4. Cultural differences.

At first cultural differences don’t really come into the equation as it’s all down to physical attraction. But, further down the line, cultural differences can cause problems. Generally, Europeans are fairly laid back in relationships. In the UK we start dating early and our parents meet our boyfriends and girlfriends from a young age.  For parents, helping kids deal with their first heartaches and crushes is simply par for the course, all part of growing up. Here in Turkey, it’s different. Many Turks have traditional families and running about with lots of women is frowned upon, barboy or not, they prefer to think their son is a well-behaved angel. Arranged marriages in Turkey are common. Many traditional Turkish families want their sons to marry a nice Turkish girl from a known family, failing that, a good Muslim girl of their own choosing, one that cooks and cleans and is a virgin – certainly not a foreigner that props up bars drinking tequila slammers, eating bacon butties and wearing mini-skirts. A lot of Turkish men may have fun and play around, but it’s unlikely they will settle down with you long term as their family may not approve.  Many won’t introduce you to their parents for months, even years ( it can be some years before the meeting parents!). On a good note, if you are introduced to Anne (mum), it stands a chance that your boy is a good guy and taking the relationship seriously.


5. Beware of con-men and gigolo's.

The urban dictionary describes a gigolo as “a man hoe – he sleeps for money and makes a lot of dough”. A real gigolo is blatant, a male prostitute who’s upfront and asks for money. But, the romance con-man is far more sneaky and it’s these excuses for men that fill the pages of gossip mags. They give good men a bad name and unfortunately, there are plenty around. There are two main types of romance con-men. First up you have your simple cheat – the one with a wife tucked away at home looking to get his kicks. Look for suntan marks where a wedding band should be and don’t get dragged into believing any sob stories over a bad relationship or getting divorced. Remember, if he can cheat with you, he can cheat on you 😉 Then there are the money-grabbers – far harder to spot. Wages here are a fraction of what most earn in the UK, the minimum wage in Turkey is around £300 a month. Foreigners are understandably seen as rich and the scumbags of the world will go to extraordinary lengths to part you from your hard-earned cash. Don’t flash your money, wear expensive jewellery or brag about how much you earn. Be wary of anyone that starts asking to borrow money, that makes you pay for everything, or starts giving you a sob story about a sick relative. At the first signs of a money grabber or a low-life cheat, run for the hills and don’t look back…no matter how much they cry and say “I love you!”.






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