Foreign Affairs

A Puerto Rican hottie is a juicy temptation, but what happens when Mom and Dad don’t approve?

Q: I met an amazing man from Puerto Rico through an online travel network called Couchsurfers. My roommate and I are both on it, and periodically host people traveling through Atlanta. A little over a month ago, we hosted a Puerto Rican guy named Carlos for a few nights, showed him around the city, etc. We ended up hitting it off and have conversed since on a daily basis.

He invited me to come see him in Puerto Rico, and I eagerly accepted. I was overdue for a nice vacation, so why not go spend a few days on an island with a hot Latin man?

Well, my ultra-conservative parents completely flipped out, expressing fears that this strange foreigner would pull a Natalee Holloway or kidnap me and sell me into a brothel. As an almost 30-year-old woman, I trust my own good judgment and decided to go anyway. But now my parents aren’t speaking to me. I had an amazing time and am genuinely falling for this guy. Carlos is already talking about coming back to Atlanta to see me. Where I’m stuck is … with all the obstacles in this relationship—the distance, cultural differences, my parents’ disapproval, etc.—is it really worth pursuing? Or am I just setting myself up for heartbreak?—Fretting a Foreign Affair

A: Up-front disclaimer: I’m a sucker for exotic boys, especially those spicy Latinos. But bias or not, my answer would be the same: to politely tell your parents to piss off and see where this thing goes.
Even without the parental disapproval, you’re right that the odds are stacked against you. Long-distance love takes extra effort, and many don’t survive. Then again, many non-LDRs eventually end, too—so why squelch this thing before it’s even had a chance? There’s strong chemistry, and he lives in Puerto Rico, for God’s sake, not someplace like Hell, Mich. (yes, it’s a real town).

Along with your parents’ ultra-conservatism, it seems you’re also dealing with ignorance and perhaps racism. There’s a world of difference between Natalee Holloway (an unsupervised 18-year-old on her first trip out of the country) and you (nearly 30, meeting someone through an established nonprofit exchange, vetting him before visiting him). Are your folks even aware that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory? And I wonder if they’d have the same fears if this guy was a wonky-toothed bloke from London?

If your parents still aren’t speaking to you (real mature, by the way), write a letter. Include info about your guy: the Web site you met him through (I checked it out, too, and it’s legit), what he does for a living, background about his family and that you’d love to introduce him on his next visit. Remember, this is not about approval—it’s about respect. You respect that they’re concerned for your safety; they respect that you’re a grown woman who makes smart choices. Close with this: “I’d just like to ask that you trust you raised me well enough to make wise decisions.” If they still won’t budge, well, I’d bet if it wasn’t a Puerto Rican boyfriend, it would be something else.

So go have fun, but take it slow with Caliente Carlos. At the very least, you’ll have memories of a delicious little cross-cultural affair.

Q: I have dated a girl for an incredible and bumpy year. The cool part? We shared a real spiritual connection, my family loved her and we share a profession. The uncool part? We are mirror images, and I am not sure what I am passionate about with my life. I can keep on hangin’ with my friends, playing sports, my job is OK but not great, and this chick knows what she digs, or is at least on fire about figuring that out. Yet we’ve had monumental fights and recently I called her and told her we needed to talk. 
It is now over after a year and many months. My question is … Did I make a mistake? It is easier for me to keep on truckin’ but I wonder deep down, is she the one, even though it was mildly hard? Is hard a bad thing in a relationship? And maybe, given our quick culture I am expecting all bliss without any reality or even a modicum of difficulty? I am an engineer, so I tend to be a bit too analytical. She is, too. We are both 40. Never married, and I could use some advice here. Thanks. —Dan in the City

A: Let me give you a head-start on finding your passion: It’s not her. Your letter is full of crap about your boredom with your life, watching her find herself, your parents loving her, a spiritual connection, blah blah blah. But it seems you’re not nearly as into her as you are about making this one part of your life work. Yes, relationships take some work, but “incredible and bumpy” is a description better suited for a run down a mogul-filled, triple-black-diamond ski slope.

Since you’re analytical, here’s a formula to keep in mind for next time: When you’re talking about a relationship more than you’re actually living it, it’s time to pull the plug. At least you did that.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment