By Simone Roberts, an Expat woman living in Bali, author of the blog http://dontforgettherice.com.
Moving to Indonesia alone and/or especially as a woman can be a daunting experience, but if you are prepared and educated about what to expect then you will be able to surround yourself with good, decent people. You will be able to find long, lasting relationships and spare yourself a lot of heartache and disappointment. Here are my 5 tips on finding love in Indonesia.
1. Be Understanding
Relationships are hard, mixed race relationships are harder. In mixed relationships you will find your fair share of cultural differences, and there will be times when compromise just seems near impossible.
The secret to a lasting happy connection is a willingness from both parties to want to understand each other. Take the time to talk to one another, listen closely and don’t assert dominance (as either a man or woman) as it just won’t work.
When starting a new relationship with an Indonesian man is best to be aware of where they came from and what customs are important to them too. For example the Balinese are very family orientated and if you expect to marry a Balinese man you might just end up playing house with the mother in law.
2. Be Honest
You must make it a point to be aware of what is expected in the relationship. Indonesian men can be very sensitive people when it comes to matters of the heart. So if it’s a holiday fling or a ‘just for fun relationship’ you’re after make sure that the other person is aware of this. You might not think it is necessary, but it’s the best way to prevent it from getting messy down the track.
Also everyone knows that the male race is famous for not showing public displays of emotion. This too is the case in Indonesia, with the exception being the freedom of expression on facebook. Expect it to be an all or nothing approach. Try to create a trusting and honest relationship so that the airing of your dirty laundry will be kept to a minimum. I cannot stress it enough, from the very beginning be honest.
3. Be aware
It is most essential that you as a non-Indonesian keep your wits about you as well, when you start playing the dating game. There are many playboys and playgirls out there that are ruining it for the good ones. Horror stories are aplenty of local men and women getting into relationships with foreigners just for the money and status.
4. Be 'prepared'
For most everyday Indonesians, sex is a taboo topic and sex education is not taught enough in schools. This is because generally men and women are not allowed to live with one another until they are married. Indonesian modern society just tends to turn a blind eye in favour of us foreigners, mainly in places like Bali and Jakarta. It also goes without saying remember to be prepared, especially if you are holidaying/working in Bali. STIs are common here as the waves of tourists come and go.
5. Be the housewife…sometimes
From my experience as an expat but more so as a woman in Indonesia, money is also taboo topic. Let me re-phrase that, never talk with your partner about how much you make. Society dictates that men are the breadwinners in Indonesia and if your male partner cannot at least provide some financial security for you, he will lose face completely. Try suggesting to eat at warungs and local cafés to your partner so that you can try the local cuisine. That way he can pay for you and keep his pride intact.
Ultimately starting a relationship with an Indonesian man is a lot of fun; you will see the country in a new light and will be able to gain many more experiences. In order to make your relationship work with that special someone from Indonesia just remember to be prepared, be educated and be willing to understand one another.
Find more insights into the daily lives of Indonesians and more over at Simone’s blog http://dontforgettherice.com or stay tuned as she will be writing more for us here at Jakarta100bars.