The Expat Partner Identity Struggle

The “role” of the Expat Partner comes with many stigmas, wrong communication and disillusion. On SharetheLove, I want to invite you to dig deeper and learn more about this topic. Learn about the research in that field and read about other inspiring Expat Partners. It is a process to get from “what is my part in this new life now?” to embracing this expatriation as a unique possibility to foster your skills and grow!

Expat partners do not only face a cultural challenge

There are countless studies of expat partners and their personal development abroad. Probably the most drastic aspect for many is that the changes take place on so many levels at the same time. From time to time, this can pull the rug out from under your feet and cause disorientation. Coaching and the exchange with others who have mastered a similar situation has proven to be very helpful. Here is an overview of how the assignment can affect the identity of an expat partner:

Personal identity


Personal identity comprises the intrapersonal aspects of a person such as values, goals and basic beliefs. They are usually already formed in adolescence.

effect of assignment

Questioning existing values & goals

interpersonal identity


Interpersonal identity defines the role we perform within the family, a company or society as a whole. Examples are mother, supervisor, etc. ​

effect of assignment

Re-traditionalization of roles

social identity


Social identity describes the sense of belonging to a group based on characteristics such as gender, occupation, religion, interests, etc.

effect of assignment

Loss of a sense of belonging ​

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The Expat Partner Dilemma

expat, paper, career, career planning, expat partner, expat spouse


Recently I stumbled upon one of the best, recent academic papers about Dual-Career Planning in expatriation. The paper “Expatriated dual-career partners: hope and disillusionment” by Agnieszka Kierner perfectly illustrates how hope vanishes when career goals are not met during an international assignment.

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Over the last week, I read a couple of academic papers about expatriation. Many papers are dealing with the effect of expatriation on the relationship and the influence of the Expat Partner on the success of the assignment.
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