Every volunteer has been there: After a few hot months in Africa or South America as a single volunteer they get tired of being alone. They would love to go out to a club and meet fun people to hang out with – or even an intimate partner. The problem is that it’s not so easy to find such clubs in the middle of nowhere. And are you that likely to meet that soulmate in a club in Managua of Lagos, Cape Verde, or Nigeria?
Social Media. Using Tinder
Depending on where you volunteer, social media can help. Hey, this is 2015 so we’ve solved the dating problem once and for all, right? This might be true if you are volunteering in such places as South Africa or Thailand or Colombia, but less so if you pick a rougher adventure in Niger, New Guinea or Honduras. Still, you never know. So one of the first things I’d recommend a volunteer who feels the lack of intimacy (and who is single, of course), is to switch on Tinder and see if she’s the only one. Who knows there is a great guy or girl working in a nearby town who feels just as lonely as you!
Impact on the volunteering
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t date anyone you’re in charge of. Not ever. So if you work at an orphanage and there is this lovely local person who smiles at you all the time and flirts with you at every occassion, it’s your responsibility to say no. Work integrity in volunteering is even more important than with a paid job. You need to make sure that there are absolutely no conflicts of interests. And in the case of child care, amourous relations between the adults can undermine their natural authority and poison the atmosphere.
If you do meet the love of your life in a local non-profit and want to give in to Cupid’s seduction, make sure you absolve your volunteering stint first, and then surrender to love.
Some volunteers avoid this by going as a couple in the first place. They often see themselves more as “voluntourists“. This seems to be a perfect solution, but beware. A period of six months or longer abroad can become a serious challenge for your relationship. Can you stand each other if you have to be around for 24 hours? Can you handle the fact that there is no best friend to talk over your relationship troubles? The only other person close enough to you to share your inner feelings with is likely going to be your partner.
That said, going on a volunteer trip together can be great fun. And of course, once you’re back normal life seems a lot easier – until you get kids, but that’s another story.