Can Love Survive Borders?

By W. John Yahya Vandenberg & Guest Writer Wei “Keira” Peng

Mixed Race Wedding

As immigration lawyer, I often meet with Americans who are dating or who have already married a person from another country. These consultations have recurring themes, such as “does my loved one have to leave the country?” and “Can they obtain status to stay in the United States legally?” These are questions that depend on each couple’s specific facts.  And the answers are sometimes simple, sometimes complex, and sometimes I just have to advise them to be a good spouse/parent, and come see me when immigration law changes!

While we can assist you if you already have a spouse or potential spouse, we can’t help clients find spouses.  But Wei “Keira” Peng does help clients find spouses, good ones. Wei is the founder of WeLove LLC, and is a certified Health and Wellness Coach. We had the chance to ask her about dating a person from a foreign country. We hope this is helpful!

JV: So, Keira, any tips for meeting the right person, in the right way, for the right reasons?

KP: Absolutely! The internet! With cultural/political advances, lovers across borders are coming closer every day.  Empowered by new technologies, people from around the world are able to find each other, fall in love, and stay in love in unprecedented ways. I started WeLove as one answer to assist professional Asian females to succeed in on-line dating. My colleague, Jason Sherman, CEO started the global video dating app Instamour, which is working to break down the traditional barriers that separate people from each other.

JV: Best advice to succeeding on a dating website?

KP: Get a coach! A coach helps you save time, condensing years of other peoples’ successes (and failures!), and ensures that you represent yourself best to avoid heartbreaks – and horror stories!

JV: Got any horror stories to share?

KP: That’s where Instamour comes in. Kristin LaSalle, the co-founder of Instamour, was stalked and attacked by a “blind date.”  This motivated her to start Instamour with Jason, to create a better, safer dating environment for men and women.  The internet allows dating with a greater degree of safety, compared to a blind date, or a date where you hardly know the person.

JV: Tips to look your best?

KP: Have great pictures, preferably taken by a professional. They should highlight the best of your physique. Beware of selfies! Post a selection of photos highlighting your face, your physique, and activities that you do with friends so potential suitors can see you’re not a sociophobe. Have a fun, engaging profile that highlights the best of your personality (be creative!). And tell the best version of your truth, meaning never lie, but shine that spotlight on the best moments of your life. Be positive! You may not go to a tango competition every day, but highlight these activities to help a potential suitor understand what they’re getting when they date you.

JV: Negatives – disclose them, or spin them?

KP: Save’em for the date! Haha! But seriously, a dating site is not the place to disclose that you are a recovering… whatever. It’s the place for you to make yourself interesting enough that a potential suitor would want to get to know you better, and give you the opportunity to present your true self.

JV: True self – what if that means telling a potential suitor you are a foreigner? Or perhaps that you don’t have status?

KP: For as long as I’ve been here in America, the guys I dated seldom failed to ask me about my ‘status,’ and I’m not talking about just whether I’m single or married! While I can understand the U.S. Citizen’s concern over getting taken advantage of, it doesn’t take away the sting, and it almost always start the relationship with a bad taste. So, to save myself the embarrassment and to start the relationship on the right foot, I’ve learned to address the concern myself before the relationship gets serious. I “come clean” about my intentions, that I’m not just dating a guy for a Green Card. Even though I’ve learned to treat it matter-of-factly over the years, it’s still not the most comfortable conversation to have. And the guys usually don’t really know what to say other than “Sure,” “Ok,” or, “Alright…can we go to your apartment now?”…Sigh.

Mixed Race Couple Suspicion 2

JV: What would be the right response?

KP: I totally melted at my last boyfriend’s response. He chuckled, and then held my hand, “Oh boy, I was more thinking like ‘ok, even if she doesn’t like me, maybe I can still offer a Green Card to keep her…’ – of course that was just kidding!…In all seriousness, sweetie, I’m not too worried about it and you shouldn’t worry about it either – if it comes to the point where we need to make a decision, then we’ll see how much we are really attached; and if I can’t let go, that means I really like you…so I won’t (let go)…anyways, it will be a happy problem to have.”

How I loved that guy for it! Alas, we both did let go – for other reasons and for the best, but he’ll always keep his Best Answer Ever Award! I would encourage Americans to learn from him if you don’t want to alienate your foreign-born sweetheart on this very tricky, very special topic.

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JV: Do borders, distance, and nationality kill love?

KP: No, borders, distance, and nationality do not necessarily kill love. However, the insecurity and suspicion that comes with it, DOES. You can’t blame a foreign national for yearning for stability or feeling insecure about his/her status in America. It affects their dating lives, just like you can’t blame them for seeking love in the first place. You can’t blame U.S. Citizens for looking out for their own interests, and worrying about commitment for reasons other than pure love. But it takes trust to melt away insecurity, and it takes confidence to address suspicion. It is a two way street.

Big Colombian Family

Thanks, Keira! We hope this has been helpful to our readers. If you are in a relationship with someone from another country, and are looking for immigration answers, we are here to assist you. If you’re looking for someone, that’s a question for Wei!