Dating During My Au Pair Year

My experience and advice about dating during an au pair stay

In light of Valentine’s day this week, I’m going to share the story of how I met my partner, Carlos, during my au pair stay in Germany almost 10 years ago. I’ll share some advice about how to balance a new relationship and continue to be the best au pair possible.
When I started my au pair year, finding a boyfriend was the last thing on my mind, but, as I have learned, sometimes life doesn’t go exactly as planned. 

I started my au pair year in Germany at the beginning of September 2011 and Carlos and I met in May of 2012. I had already been in Germany for 8 months and had only 4 left in the country.

My au pair year was MY year. I was focusing on me, my personal growth and the experiences I could have on my own. I was certainly not actively looking for a boyfriend.

In May of 2012 I decided to start taking formal German lessons. In my class there just happened to be a very well-dressed Spanish guy who sat beside me. On the other side of me was a lovely Portuguese girl and the three of us hit it off right from the beginning. I noticed that the two of them were talking quite a lot and, to be honest, I thought they had a thing for each other. Turns out, I was wrong. He was interested in ME! I didn’t clue in right away, but eventually I noticed that he started arriving early for class. (I always arrived 3/4 of an hour early because of my train connection into the city.)

He would show up while I was studying and ask me to help with the homework or just ask what music I was listening to, but he always initiated a conversation. It was really nice for me to have some company while waiting for class to start and eventually it became a regular thing that he would come early and we would go for a walk around the neighbourhood.

One day our class was cancelled but Carlos and I decided to meet up in the Frankfurt city centre for some traditional German beer and sausages. I insisted on paying for my own to be absolutely sure he wouldn’t think it was a date. We had a nice hour and a half of getting to know each other and then I got back on the train to head home to the little village where I lived. After that we started sending text messages more often and we grew to like each other more and more.
After a few weeks more of our walks before German lessons and daily text messaging, he asked me out on a date.
white, sausage, bun

I had already told my host mom about him and she knew that I had met him the night our class was cancelled, but she hadn’t met him yet. I talked to her about what she thought about me going to Frankfurt one weekend for a date. She was comfortable with the idea so Carlos and I stated to plan.

The day finally came and it couldn’t have been more perfect! The sun was shining and we spent the afternoon drinking beer at a popular riverside bar. Eventually we decided to walk along the river toward Sachsenhausen, a neighbourhood with restaurants and bars where he had planned to take me for dinner. The sun was starting to set and he took me to an old bridge where we could see the whole Frankfurt skyline. It was beautiful! We went to an outdoor terrace and ate dinner, then after dinner we went to another neighbourhood in the centre of the city to end the night with a gin and tonic.

From then on, we started meeting regularly on weekends as well as seeing each other at our language class and that’s how our relationship grew. He would come and visit me and spend time with me and my host family and other times we would meet in Frankfurt. The relationship developed and we quickly realized that we didn’t want to have a long distance relationship when I finished my au pair stay and therefore we started making arrangements for me to stay in Frankfurt.

-three things to consider when dating during an au pair stay-

Firstly, you are not living in your own house so it’s important to check what the host family’s rules are. Can you have your partner over to their house, do they want you spending time with the kids together, can he or she stay overnight, etc. Even if you don’t like the rules, it’s important to respect their wishes in order to keep a harmonious relationship with them.

Secondly, remember your commitment to the host family. You have the obligation to fulfil all of your au pair duties no matter what. Some host families might be ok with your new significant other being around while you care for the children and others might prefer you to keep the two separate. Either way, make sure you are not forgetting about your responsibilities just because you have something new and exciting in your life. 

Finally, enjoy it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so be sure to soak up every minute of it. Whether it develops into something serious and long-lasting or whether it ends with your au pair stay, make sure to relish the experience.

Part of the struggle I had when I was an au pair starting a new relationship was maintaining the great relationship I had developed with my host family while building a new relationship with Carlos. I wanted to spend time with the family, but I also wanted time with him. I am so thankful that I had already built such a strong bond with my host family before I met Carlos and then he just became like one more member.

As a host mom now, I would be happy to learn that my au pair had found someone special to share their time with during the au pair stay. It does mean that the au pair would likely spend less time with the family which is unfortunate, but it would be a wonderful addition to the already exciting au pair experience. It’s one thing that we usually talk about during the interview process with our future au pairs. We always try to give some basic house rules regarding dating during the au pair stay, but it is also true that each situation is different and some things would have to be discussed at the time they developed. 

What do you think?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this topic. Leave a comment or send me a private message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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