Could an Au Pair Bring Her Boyfriend With Her?

by cv harquail on November 17, 2017

Dear AuPairMom —

I’m interested in being an Au Pair. I love children, I love traveling, I don’t mind going on journeys by myself and discovering new places, Au Pair seems like the perfect position for me to apply for.


But (there is always a but), I am currently in a very serious relationship. We both share the same values, we love traveling, exploring together, and would like to travel abroad together. He is supportive and encouraging of me wanting to be an Au Pair and wants to come with me while I am doing it.

Not with me as in living with the family with me, of course, but to be in the same town and country as me so we can explore a new place together.

My question is, is this even possible?

If my boyfriend lived by himself in the same town I am being an Au Pair, would I have enough time to explore and experience the country with him or will I be too busy with my responsibilities of this role?

Call me unromantic, but I’m not a big fan of this idea.

A critical element of an Au Pair adventure is figuring out how to manage being dropped into a new culture, a new family, and new relationships without much from your previous world to lean on. 

Au Pairs should arrive relatively unencumbered and maximally flexible. They should be free to experiment with who they are and how they want to be in a new culture. They should feel free to adapt their personalities, their activities, and their attentions without someone else needing them to stay the same.

One of the reasons Au Pairing works well for families is that Au Pair caregivers (unlike nannies) don’t have their own families right there.  While the Au Pair’s family back home needs attention, and Au Pairs need to stay in touch with them, these responsibilities can be met on the Au Pair’s schedule, when s/he is off duty, and not every day, morning, or evening.  An Au Pair never has to decide between staying home to care for a romantic partner or showing up to be on duty with their family. An Au Pair seldom has to decide between going away for a weekend with a romantic partner and attending a host kid’s birthday party.

This is made somewhat easier for Au Pairs (and families) because Au Pairs have few other competing commitments. They have to take classes, make friends, and travel around, but they have no emotional or facetime-related obligations to anyone else during their “off duty” time. Having a partner around means also having another relationship– and a significant one  — that you have to attend to while you are meshing with your family and having your own adventure.

While it’s conceivable that an Au Pair could do a great job with a family and not experience her boyfriend as a distraction, I can’t imagine that many young adults would be able to manage this situation well. Especially for an entire year.

What do you parents and Au Pairs think?
Image:Bethan Phillips on Flickr


See also:

The Boyfriend-Back-Home: Always bad news?
When Troubles Back Home Cause Distress


Chicago Host Mom November 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Well said, CV. I couldn’t agree more. We have had au pairs joining our family for 10+ years. I feel strongly that an au pair gets much more from the experience (including making close friends from all around the world) by taking on this experience independently and relatively unencumbered, developing her own self as a result of the challenges and life-changing experiences she independently confronts. One of my fave things is seeing how much our au pairs have grown as people at the end of their year(s) with us, sadly seeing them go, but excited for them to rejoin family and loved ones with a new perspective on the world, developed of her own independence. For this reason, the prospect of an au pair arriving with a boyfriend in tow would be an immediate deal killer for our family in the matching process.

exaupair November 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Neither you nor your partner should ask permission nor even disclose you will be coming together. I take that he has means to stay in the US and support himself during that year? If that’s the case then he can travel and stay in the place of his choice.
You will be doing a demanding job, but if you are mature enough to divide your time between the job and your partner then you will be fine.
This isn’t something that affects your HF finances in any way, so I personally don’t think you even need to bring it up. Just don’t forget your commitment to the HF comes first.

WCO HD November 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm

I am sorry, but I really don’t think this is good advice at all. If your host family finds out later that you hid that important detail, it could cause serious trust issues. You are better off being open and honest with potential host families – even about boyfriends. Some families might not mind that arrangement at all and for others it could be a deal breaker. Better to be upfront about it and match with a family who has no problem with your boyfriend tagging along.

HRHM November 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

THIS! There is no way you’ll be able to hide his existence all year! Once the HF realizes that you lied to them during matching, that will be it. I’d fire you immediately if that was the case because all trust would be shot. Don’t do it.

The other issue is, how would he get a year long visa, in the same town/state and how would he support himself (students and tourists can’t legally work). If he is independently wealthy, skip being an Au Pair and let him support you instead LOL

exaupair November 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Guys, I can see how certain things are being considered a trust issue, and I totally understand that being opened and honest is key. I do value honesty, but I guess everyone is missing the point here. This isn’t about him coming to US in secret and staying under the radar for a year (hopefully!!!) The AP wouldn’t keep him a secret, just like she wouldn’t have to hide a new relationship that started while she was already with the HF, I hope.

Unless she is specifically asked whether or not she will be coming on her own, this is her partners business where will he stay for the year, and anywhere within his means is a fair game.

So I guess my answer to OP should be ammended to: no, you shouldn’t bring your partner with you, however if he chooses and can afford to, he is allowed to follow should he want to.

2 kids and a cat November 25, 2017 at 8:14 pm

We have lived internationally several times, and look for APs who are interested in an intercultural year – truly exploring and taking advantage of American experiences and family life. This sort of situation would put a candidate on our No list, because it’s someone who’s bringing more “baggage” from home than the type of person we want. Finding out upon arrival would in fact be a breach of trust for us.
If a couple wants to spend a year in the States, there are (complicated) legal ways to do it, and it shouldn’t be at the expense of a host family that needs dedicated childcare and is investing in the APs cultural experiences

Chicago Host Mom November 23, 2017 at 10:59 am

I agree – this arrangement should not be a secret. There are many types of Host families, so you might find one that does not mind this, but it might also be a host family who is less committed to the spirit of the au pair program and does not care if you are not engaged with their family during “off” hours (i.e., cares less about cultural exchange and your experience and more about you being an employee). It depends on what you value, but it is better to be honest and find a good match than to find yourself (and him) in rematch or sent home.

Should be working November 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm

I would never have accepted this kind of candidate, but I know families who would have liked the idea of an AP who would not be needy in off hours, who would be more like a “boarding nanny”, someone who did her work (and well, of course) and then was independent.

Families who have felt that including and settling in the AP, who feel overburdened by the “part of the family” thing, they might be totally fine with this.

Jade November 20, 2017 at 10:25 pm

I’m curious what visa the boyfriend is planning to enter the country on? Unlikely he would be able to stay the full 12 months legally unless he can qualify for one of the working visas?

Schmetterfink November 24, 2017 at 7:48 am

Unless the boyfriend also applies to the AP program or manages to score a student visa or work visa there really isn’t a visa that would allow him to stay in the US for a full year. Even the B2 is only good for 180 days.

Where would the boyfriend live? He won’t be able to work (unless he had a work visa – so an employer and a job), how would he finance his stay? Accommodation (hotel/motel), food, traveling… they are talking thousands and thousands of dollars. Money he would need to prove he has when applying for any type of visa.

What if the AP matches with a family and the boyfriend hates the area? What if the AP matches with a family and the boyfriend can’t get the necessary visa to join her?

The most sensible solution to traveling and exploring together would be boyfriend coming to the US for vacation when AP takes her two-weeks off and joins her for her travel month.

Even disregarding the whole “Would it have an affect on AP’s work / AP-HF relationship” aspect (and I am certain it would, I completely agree that the idea sounds… odd), this idea just sounds really impractical. Unless of course AP’s boyfriend has US citizenship and can freely move to the US at any time. Maybe work and travel in OZ, where they can both legally work and explore, is a better idea.

LongIslandHostMom November 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I would be very cautious with an AP planning a move with a boyfriend in mind. The whole point of the cultural experience is that they are going into unfamiliar territory and learn something new. Thought I am not oppose to my Au Pair meeting a boyfriend here. I think there is a difference when you have the chance to really experience the culture without having a fall back. I see her point of view though I think it will set her back from having a full experience.

With that said, my current AP came to us in her extension year. She was with a family from the opposite coast and wanted to have a different American experience. I didn’t event think to ask if she was in a relationship because I didn’t think it would matter. So when she came, her boyfriend temporarily relocated himself here from the west coast as well. We, including her, found out the plan a month after she arrived. While they don’t see each other during the week, she goes to stay with him during the weekend. It’s not a bad arrangement because she gets to experience different things while we get some family time alone. Though having the arrangement losing some flexibility if you need care on the weekends but that’s not a problem for us. This is more aligned with a typically nanny situation and it works for us.

I can easily see how that would not work for some families who needs flexibility. I don’t think this arrangement works for anyone. If I had two candidates all things being equal, I would choose the one without attachment. Just one less thing you have to worry about that can potentially go wrong.

txmom November 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I too am curious about the visa situation. Visas are hard to come by these days…even for highly educated people from Western Europe with jobs and companies sponsoring them. Our friend has been waiting 6 months for a renewal and he’s an engineer from France who has already worked here. Before the OP gets too caught up in the idea, it would be a good idea to see if it’s even possible.

AuPairParis November 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm

I think if you are committed enough, you can be a good au pair regardless of personal circumstances. But I still agree with CV.

I expect you could do an excellent job as an au pair with a boyfriend in tow, but it would only be half an experience. When I was an au pair I learned so much – a language, responsibility, resilience… But learning to love my own company and to be brave enough to explore a new place all alone was a huge part of that. Au pairs who couldn’t do this (including one who stopped speaking to me because I said I wasn’t interested in accompanying her to one specific tourist spot and she was too scared to go alone) left after a matter of weeks. Your boyfriend could be a crutch for you (and you for him), but you wouldn’t grow…

ALSO, my sister moved to China to teach English and her boyfriend decided to come with her. They both got their tickets, interviewed with, and were hired by the same company, and they broke up a month before they went. It was a very bitter and uncomfortable situation for several months before he gave in and went home… So there’s that…

Exaupair November 26, 2017 at 7:21 am

I don’t see a problem. Au pairs are human beings, and human beings should be able to balance having a job and also be allowed to have a personal relationship. Of course, you must act professionally and meet all of your commitments to your job, and can’t phone in sick so you can be with your boyfriend, but that’s equally true of other workers. No boss should be able to stipulate that a worker should be single. Of course, you have to obey family rules about things like not letting him stay over etc, but that should go without saying.

AlwaysHopeful HM November 26, 2017 at 8:34 am

As others have said, I think the answer varies depending on what you want from the au pair relationship. For our family, it wouldn’t work because we don’t want a pure employer/ employee relationship. I would feel the same way if the au pair said that her mom, sister, cousin or best friend were coming along, because of the shift in the primary relationship. It’s not the existence of a relationship (I’m happy for our au pairs who find love here), it’s the intense, preexisting nature of it, coming at the very beginning of our relationship that is troubling. It’s probably selfish, but we want to be the ones with whom our au pair shares her excitement in the beginning. Part of the joy of the au pair experience for us is seeing this new life unfold for our au pairs. Also, the adjustment is a little easier when both sides feel committed. If the au pair had her boyfriend here, I would always feel (fairly or not) that she was not putting in the effort to be a real part of our family. That’s different from the job effort, but it’s just as important to us.

exaupair December 4, 2017 at 4:31 am

I agree, if during any job interview a question about your personal life occured you have the right not to answer and/ or terminate the interview.
I appreciate both AP and HF sometimes expect the ‘part of the family’ bit, but they’re never fully part of one another’s family, are they? To give you the simplest of examples, when your underage daughter gets caught behind a wheel tipsy she isn’t dismissed from being your daughter, whereas the AP is sent home.

I still think the AP doesn’t need to bring the issue up, because at the time of the interview it isn’t an issue. If the partner chooses to travel to her destination it really is up to him.

I hear everyone who said this would leads to commitment and priority issues in the future, I really do. But guys, how many of you have significant others and hold steady jobs?
And now, how many of you bunked off work without prior notice because your partner insisted you spend a day together?

I feel the key is how mature the OP is and whether she ever had a full time job. If an AP ever worked an actual job, where she had to report in on time and perform to certain standards, then it is very unlikely she would flake because there is a partner in the picture.

TFP November 26, 2017 at 6:16 pm

We have something similar with our current au pair (we’re from the UK but I don’t see why that’d make a difference).

It quickly became apparent that the au pair was uninterested in making new friends, meeting people etc. What she seems to want to do is spend the week alone but ideally see this chap many or even most weekends.

Unfortunately their ‘relationship’ seems very one sided. He doesn’t seem to plan with her very far ahead [she freely admits that he only gets in touch when he’s exhausted other options] & often cancels on her [e.g. this Friday just gone she spent mealtime in floods of tears, forcing us to step in & do her duties for her]. But I think that this is a characteristic of an au pair in a really bad relationship rather than an au pair with a boyfriend generally.

It can make weekend planning a bit contentious because we sometimes want to use her as a weekend babysitter but she rarely seems able to plan weekends in advance.

Overall though I don’t see why it would necessarily be an awful thing to have an au pair who was in a good, steady relationship.

DCmom November 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Nope. We specifically ask AP if there is a significant other and what their plans might be to manage the long distance relationship. There is a huge negative drama potential for a long distance breakup that we don’t want to deal with on a personal level and could affect job performance. Getting an AP is NOT like getting married “for better or worse.” Having an AP must have MORE value than the hassle of managing without, otherwise there’s no reason for us to be in the program.

I realize that I likely sound insensitive and coldhearted. However, my priorities are my young kids and husband’s happiness (plus my own sanity), not an AP’s heartbreak or boyfriend drama. Because I guarantee there will be at least SOME drama spillover from this scenario and I’d rather save the precious remaining bits of my patience for the next inevitable toddler tantrum.

Alternatively, I’ve heard of APs that have boyfriends back home, but still play around on Tinder or whatever. That would be a personality issue for us too. The pros for this candidate would have to seriously outweigh this con for us to even consider them when there seem to be plenty of unencumbered potential APs.

Exaupair December 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm

An aupair in a committed relationship may cause LESS drama. She is less likely to be homesick, and if the relationship is stable then she may be less likely to be out partying. Au pairs aren’t owned by their host parents, and should be entitled to personal lives and privacy, providing this doesn’t impinge on their job.

Chicago Host Mom December 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Ex au pair, I think you are looking at the au pair relationship more as an employee/employer one, and if the host family also shares that view of the au pair program, then I agree there might be no problem. I think most of the host families posting on this page view this program more as an experience where a family is the caregiver for an au our coming into the new culture and experiencing life in the US as member of the family. That perspective is just different from what you are articulating and requires different time commitments and attitudes. I think all must just agree to disagree with what is best for every au pair and just understand the other perspective instead of trying to convince the other that she is wrong. For our family, we would respect an au pair wanting to come with a significant other to share her experience, but respectfully, that is not the relationship we want with our au pair or feel is best for an au pair’s experience in the program. Hopefully the variety of replies on this page will help the OP candidate gauge whether this program is right for her and whether she is likely find a host family who will be amenable to her arrangement.

American Host Mom in Europe December 5, 2017 at 5:31 am

Not only the issue of what the host family/au pair relationship is, but the whole idea of “committed relationship” is up for grabs when the situation changes significantly, such as moving to another country, or changing other life situation. It isn’t like we’re talking about adults in their 30s who will have had many years in a stable relationship, and perhaps other big life changes they’ve been through together. I had an au pair once in a “stable, long term relationship”…but he eventually couldn’t deal with her lack of being able to pop over and hang out on a weekday afternoon, among other things…and they broke up…and she was bedridden with sadness for 2-3 days, while I had to find other help to care for my toddlers at the time. I ALWAYS interview for relationships, and unless someone seemed absolutely perfect in every other way, AND I had no other options, would never hire an au pair in a relationship. (The one I mention above was a friend of a friend who was here only for the summer…and I learned my lesson)

exaupair December 4, 2017 at 4:36 am

Bit of OT here, but did you notice there are tow of us ‘exaupairs’ on this board? :)

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