The Female Expat and Cinderella

So I had this idea to talk about “Why the Expat Experience Needs Attention and Why the Expat Partner is Crucial for Well-being” at a recent event. But during the day, I noticed that it would be very hard to deliver an engaging and memorable presentation when the room was packed and the presenters were on camera. Most of the presenters were in the room, and by the time it should have been my turn, most of the topics had already been touched. I felt a bit tired from listening and semi-engaged for a long time. So basically, I made my points very directly and distinctly, and the facilitator gave me a platform through the introductions he made. In hindsight, I was doing live coaching, but I have to watch the recording as I’m unsure what happened. I felt very much there with the person concerned and forgot I was on “TV.” I also had a good laugh with the chat and all the hybrid participants. I almost felt like I was hosting a sideshow. My initial reaction was frustration, feeling excluded and second-class, but I knew all events with this facilitator were like an improv show.

You need to be on your toes, take a keyword and run with it. To stay interesting, however, you need to be punctuated, deliver, and have a punch line. Mansplaining and meandering immediately lead to the disengagement of the audience. They will rustle plates, order new drinks, or use verbal tomatoes.  It’s almost like a comedy show with sad topics, such as the war in Ukraine. For a while, I also thought that I should have prepared a keynote with better storytelling elements (which I hadn’t). I immediately thought of two avatars Heidi (the unhappy trailing spouse and Finance Director, Gen Y) and Ayesha, the independent Indian IT Professional moving to Europe to live a global nomadic lifestyle (Gen Z) while her father is waiting for her to get married and return to Cochin, Kerala.

Both women have a lot in common, but their challenges are different. Heidi might be confronted with the “Expat Partner Syndrome” that we have summarized with the three I’s (Isolation, Identity, Influence). Ayeesha could face a Cinderella Complex* in Europe, leading her to work until she is burned out. Both women should get support from a coach or therapist, and both women will need time to recover and understand what got them there.

Who is to blame for their misery? Is it only the individual and their inner system, or is it also a systemic issue that we have not been able to tackle yet? Have we, as a community, done enough to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? Have we as a community understood that parts of the Expat Experience could be traumatic to the spouse, primarily when they identify as a career person? Are we proactively offering support to female expats that go beyond helping with the tax return and immigration process? Do we even understand the needs of our minority groups well enough to adapt our guidelines, processes, and procedures? And finally, do we as a community role model a behavior of collaboration, trust, and psychological safety?

What can you do as a next step?

1 – Review your global mobility guidelines for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Sustainable Options.

2 – Do more to promote support for Expat Partners, female expats, and minority groups in Global Mobility. 

3 – As providers, let’s start working together collaboratively. Become a member of #RelocateTheProfit Relocate the Profit

4 – Mental Health Awareness Month: I’m offering free first calls to anyone who wishes to talk to me. Book your slot here.



Further Reading and Videos 

Interview: The Expat Partner Syndrome with the three I’s (Isolation, Identity, Influence)

Interview: The Female Expat and the Cinderella Complex 

Interview: The Ten Commandments for the Global Mobility Manager

ANGIE W in Zurich, SEP 15’22, informs about her view of the Mobility “10” commandments

Ten Commandments for the Global Mobility Manager

The Nutcracker Relief and Aschenbroedel Syndrome

Can I get Nutcracker Relief

The Expat Experience



Dowling, C. (1981): The Cinderella Complex – Womens Hidden Fear of Independence –


The Cinderella Complex – When a Secret Need to be Saved Ruins Everything


One thought on “The Female Expat and Cinderella

  1. Pingback: Rainbow Talent | Angie Weinberger Expat Coach Zurich |

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