One of the first things that readers of my blog ask me when they meet me in real life is: Why don’t you ever post about a boyfriend / dating, etc.?
Other than the fact that this part of my life is usually not very entertaining, it’s something I’ve always been hesitant to put out there for the world to see. But apparently, people want to know. And when I meet them, they can’t seem to help but ask me things like:
What’s the dating scene like?
Small. Verrryyyy small.
Do the dive instructors date each other?
Oh, yes. We’re a rather incestuous bunch.
Do you date islanders?
Some people do, some people don’t.
Where do you go on dates?
Usually the bar or a restaurant – options are limited!
Do you have flings with the tourists?
Me – no; others – yes.
Do couples end up married here?
Yep, and some end up divorced too.
A lot of people come to my rock, Roatan, running away from “real life” and wherever they came from. They treat the island like it’s their fantasyland and do things they would never consider doing at home. Roatan and the lifestyle here has a way of making you forget about regular things like, oh, you know, the consequences of your actions. It’s a weird place to date because I think people get a really one-sided version of one another. The life we have here as expats is usually not the same or as multi-faceted as it is back at home.
Before living here, most of us didn’t drink at a bar with our friends six nights a week. Most of us participated in hobbies and activities that we can’t or don’t pursue here. There are so many things about me that people on-island don’t know – nobody here knows that I can play the drums, that I love camping, that my favorite beer is Juniper Ale, that I snowboard, or that I can speak Japanese. I can’t do these things here, so they’ve just sort of faded into the background for now, though they’re still a part of what makes me, me. And everyone else here has things like this too about them. It’s strange to sit and think about, especially when you meet someone here and miss out on all of that background info. I think this is one of the reasons that many people who get into relationships here end up breaking up once they leave. If you ever decide to go back home or elsewhere with someone you met on the rock in tow, you often find out that that person is not exactly who you thought they were on Roatan. And that can be really disconcerting.
There are three common types of dating (conveniently, they all begin with D!) that I have seen over and over here during the last few years. If you really want to know what a lot of dating on the island is like, well, it’s like this:
Dutty is the Caribbean way of saying “dirty,” though it’s meant to refer to a rough and hot kind of dirty, not the physically soiled sense of the word. This type of dating mostly refers to expats who come here and date islanders. I feel like a lot of people look down on expats who date locals, but I think that’s bullshit. Just like anywhere in the world, you should be careful not to label a culture in such a polarizing way. Some of the locals you can date are wonderful people and some of them are shitheads.
What I will say is that if you’re a tourist dating an islander and you don’t live here full time, there is a 90% chance your dutty love boo is cheating on you when you aren’t here. I see guys with girlfriends/wives all the time in the bar doing things they really shouldn’t be doing. There is kind of a different attitude here towards cheating… I know people in Canada and America cheat too, of course, but for the most part, they at least try to keep it under wraps. People here do their cheating out in the open, loud and proud, in front of everyone. You’re expected to keep your mouth shut about it and stay out of other people’s business.
I do have several friends that live here in committed relationships with islanders and no one is cheating and they are very happy (yay!). I have other oblivious friends who have been physically chased down by irate island women who found out her husband had a gringa girlfriend on the side. All I can say is, you really should do a thorough background check before proceeding in this department.
DRUNK IN LOVE
It’s no secret that a lot of our activities on Roatan (and most islands, for that matter) revolve around drinking. With limited entertainment options (it’s not like we can go out and see movie or go to a concert) and alcohol being pretty much the only cheap thing on island, we end up doing a lot of drinking here. They don’t call it a small drinking island with a big diving problem for nothing!
However, we’ve all been drunk and we all know that this can lead to situations that we wouldn’t have gotten ourselves into while sober. The worst part about that here? It is a small island. If you’ve never experienced small town living where everyone knows everything about you and everyone else, well, this place will hit you like a ton of bricks. Yes, everyone saw what you did last night at El Boske, and yes, they all saw your walk of shame this morning from behind the gas station. And guess what? You’re gonna have to see that drunken mistake again every time you go out, because there are only a few places to go here. Welcome to Awkward City.
I have also seen island couples who seem to do nothing but drink together. Do you guys not have anything to talk about when you’re sober? Do you even KNOW each other sober? So weird to me.
I think anyone who has been to a third world country has seen this one. Here’s my public service announcement about it:
Dear Gross Old Gringo Men with Honduran Girlfriends 50 Years Younger than You,
Newsflash: they aren’t with you for your stellar personality or your hot body. You’re not helping anyone here by teaching them to sell themselves for food, money, or a place to stay. Also, eeww.
Sorry, but someone had to say it.
Roatan is a fun, strange, insular little place, and being in a relationship here can be either a minefield or an amazing playground to explore with someone. It’s all about how you approach it and cultivate it. Don’t be scared to make a connection – but remember to use your brain.
As for me? A lady never tells.
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Is the dating scene similar on your rock?
Have you beat the odds to find love or are you enjoying the island go-round?