Wherever you are, and whoever you are, you can be subjected to stereotyping. It might be your gender, your religion, or nationality – or being an expat partner. The stereotypical profile of an expat partner, for example, is often a wealthy female. She has a big house, maids and a nanny. While her husband works, she is free to play tennis, lounge by the pool, or gossip with friends over a glass of white wine.

An outdated image

However, the vast majority of expat partners nowadays do not fit this description. For starters, not all expat partners are women, and not all are wealthy. While abroad most expats now look for fulfilling occupations that contribute to their personal and/or career development.

Judged as a group

A stereotype is a judgement that might well be true for some, but which is then applied to everyone in that group. Expat partners may experience stereotyping at a cultural and/or ethnic level. A fairly innocent example of stereotyping might be an English person living in France where locals assume he or she won’t know anything about food.

More damaging stereotypes

But less innocent stereotyping can be harmful. For example, an expat partner in an interracial relationship can be subjected to gossip or even insults. A Muslim expat partner may experience a harsh reception in a non-Muslim country. So what can be done? Remember you will also find open-minded people. Furthermore, in some cases it might be worth seeking the confrontation to show people who you really are.

Henk Dam
Global Connection
Expat Partner Support

Adapted and edited from an original article, in Global Connection’s media for spouses (B2B subscription), on the subject of expat life.

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