The latest edition (March, 2015) of Among World Magazine is devoted to:
TCKs: Third-culture kids and dating relationships.
A Third Culture Kid is someone who has grown up overseas or in a series of locations around the world not necessarily defined by their nationality or place of birth but a child of the world. Of course, due to their upbringing, Third-culture kids (TCKs) see relationships and dating from lots of different lens/perspectives and while some of those are similar to kids in America, many are unique to those who grow up overseas/in another culture. They may be reckless or withdrawn; overly seek affirmation and physical contact or be very uncomfortable in settings alone with those of the opposite sex. They may feel like they “missed” their entire adolescent years or view regular kids as shallow or narcissistic.
Some TCK traits similar to the USA: They may have similar or “normal” views of dating within the culture; “dating” in groups; only after a certain age or while in high school/college; more serious attitudes toward dating and”courting” or exclude serious relationships if there isn’t tacit approval of the parents first;
Some TCK issues not at all similar to the USA: (Items faced by young adults and singles overseas that are not at all similar to young adults growing up in America) Fewer numbers of other young adults to select from; Usually TCKs have more “adult” or “serious” attitudes towards life or a much larger life experience to draw from; frequent relocations may have hurt their chances for longer term relationships; lack of dances or other opportunities for social interaction; more opportunity for intercultural dating; their ideas of “love” will probably be more realistic and mature. They may display more ‘risky” or “edgy” behavior. They may also have very different ideas about holding hands, touching, or other aspects of physical relationships. Either they come from the Global South and may be much more warm and physical and grow discouraged by others’ distance or “coldness,” OR they might have grown up in a country where people are much more reserved (esp. around the opposite sex) and feel embarrassed or unsure how to navigate talking or spending time with them.
The “pairing up” of America at earlier and earlier ages and constant talk about dating and relationships, may be a “put-off” to TCKS who may wish for more friends and ability to spend time without the entanglements this usually means in the USA.
These issues of frequent relocation especially, and sometimes TCKs emotional “distance” from others and often lack of social interaction with other their age can hurt their ability to connect later on in life when at home or away at college. Of course the opposite is also true: A TCK can be attractive simply because they are often smarter, more traveled and “worldly-wise,” and have more they can discuss. They can be more “hidden” and “private,” or more socially adaptable even becoming Class President their first year back. It all depends.
TCKs should look into their hearts and see if they are longing for relationships, physical connection/touch and or a feeling of stability and connection. These are good signs, but can lead a TCK into trouble or making bad choices if unidentified or all-consuming.
Think of TCKs re-entering the USA or college as having a generational gap from other students, because usually they won’t share music or local cultural similarities. They won’t “connect” on many of the same movies, TV shows, or fads.
These are just a few “issues” that arise when discussing Third culture kids and dating, but there is a huge desire to be understood, to talk about, to wrestle with their background and this issue of relationships among most third culture kids.
Read more about this topic in the latest edition of Among Worlds Magazine.
We recommend Among Worlds Magazine for families of TCKs and MKs as well as adult TCKs/MKs that are seeking to understand their role in the world, and connect with others that understand what makes them different. It is available by subscription and .