Is the language of love truly universal? Or are some things lost in translation? While dating apps have taken root all over the world, or anywhere there is a strong enough WIFI signal, the search method still varies geographically. So do you flirt like a Parisian or play hard to get like a New Yorker? This is what it’s like to date in six different countries.
French is considered the language of love, so it stands to reason that romance would flourish under such auspicious circumstances. The idea that passion and excitement await all travelers to the City of Light has long dominated the popular imagination: Emily in Paris it’s just the latest interpretation of this cultural narrative, romantic wish fulfillment for (outrageously attired) American wit. And I’ve certainly been blown away on whirlwind trips to Paris, so the stereotype is certainly based on some truth. You are speaking a Romance language, after all.
And, while the art of courtship is far from dead in France, the rules of engagement are, shall we say, more laissez-faire. “The French say ‘I love you’ with the same naturalness as saying ‘I love chocolate ice cream.’ Don’t assume it means they only want chocolate ice cream for the rest of their lives,” reports a friend going out (and sliding) in Paris. That said, the French avoid the limbo period of indefinite relationships and years-long situations, America’s dating curse: “If you kiss someone, you’re exclusive, no conversation necessary. Be careful who you kiss at your next party: he may become your boyfriend. Choose wisely.”
Allora. We head south, to another nation famous for its tempestuous passions and love affairs: Italy, of course. And it turns out that the bravado and confidence of Italian men, as portrayed in countless movies and television, is true, certainly in Rome and further south. (Perhaps there is something to be said about Romance language speakers being more romantic.) But, as you head further north to Milan, the courtship becomes more reserved, certainly less overt. The flirtatious cries of “Piccoline!” What I got from strangers on the street certainly lessened as I got closer to the Swiss border.
Like the French, the Italians aren’t afraid to label a connection with a similar caveat. “Italians will do DTR [define the relationship] while having another R,” reported a friend who lives in Milan. But perhaps such logistical considerations pale in comparison to the dizzying intensity of a new love story. Said friend reported a recent night in Rome when his date took him for a moonlit stroll among the ruins and old palazzos, leaning in to kiss him and order ice cream in Piazza Navona before disappearing into the night. That’s love.
Although the idea of the shy British man falling head over heels for the headstrong American woman is a well-worn premise in the rom-com pantheon: four Weddings and a Funeral, notting Hill, really any Hugh Grant performance from the 1990s – it’s rarer for Brits to date outside of their social circle. While in New York it’s perfectly routine to go out for drinks with an absolute stranger several times a week (or more, depending on the activity on your dating app), Londoners tend to hang out with people they already know. And, in my own personal experience, when I did get a British boyfriend, it was through mutual friends at the London School of Economics. What felt completely haphazard was perhaps less so: I was pre-vetted, after all. And in Britain, exclusivity is often assumed once you date.
Plus, drinking culture is very much alive in the UK, and while many dates around the world are celebrated over cocktails or a bottle of wine, in London it’s especially rare to come home from a date night without a few drinks. how many pints Being teetotal or ‘Sober California’ is less socially acceptable to potential mates across the pond, it’s just not as common. Also, daytime dates are almost unknown, which matches the aforementioned pints. Finally, online dating is also popular across the pond, with one notable improvement: Brits are more likely to schedule in-person plans early in the conversation, saving the dates for the endless back and forth of idle chat (which It’s certainly cause for celebration in any language.)
The dating scene in Singapore is a curious mix of traditional roles and old-school expectations combined with the same frenetic Internet-dependent courtship found in many Western countries. Although public affection is not illegal, hugging without consent is a misdemeanor in Singapore. Needless to say, you won’t find much evidence of PDA from couples on the street. Additionally, the pressure to get married and succeed financially is immense, and relationships and finances are often seen as inextricably intertwined, adding even more pressure to the situation. As a result, dating is less casual and more future-oriented, a departure from the live-in-the-moment ethos of Italians or the numbers game approach preferred in the US.
Singapore itself is a melting pot of cultures, and as a former British colony, there are its fair share of UK expats living and working in the city (often in banking). For these Brits abroad, a trip to Bali is the equivalent of a New Yorker heading to the Hamptons, but even more accessible: the island is just an hour’s flight away. And, similar to the mating habits of East Coast Americans who head east for the weekend, the Balinese resort town of Kuta is considered the epicenter of singles life, teeming with smart and eager Singaporeans. for socializing. So if you’re looking for love and can’t find it, hop on a plane and head to Legian Street, where the bars are packed with singles. The odds may always be in your favor.
From a country where non-consensual hugging is illegal to one where public displays of affection are an embodiment of its expansive cultural ethos, we head south of the Mexican border. It’s common to find romantic partners kissing on the street, holding hands in public, and visibly announcing their relationship status (which is “taken,” in case that’s not clear). The public and performative aspect of courtship, a ritualized announcement of love and intention, is celebrated. And when it comes to PDAs, more is more: Mexico is a high-touch, tactile culture, to say the least.
Furthermore, heterosexual dating etiquette in Mexico tends to fall along the lines of more traditional gender roles: men often initiate the first interaction, ask women out on the first date, pay for their dinner date, and follow up on future relationships. The patriarchal element of Mexican culture means that behaving like a gentleman is of the utmost importance. In some ways, the dating scene in Mexico can feel like a throwback to a more conservative era in American culture; Think maybe of the 1950s, with an old-fashioned emphasis on family values. But on the bright side, chivalry isn’t dead: you might just need to brush up on your Spanish and fly south to experience it for yourself. Come on!”
While dating in America varies greatly by region (singles in rural areas are more likely to settle down right after college, while those in cities tend to wait decades longer), the general culture around courtship and engagement is much more informal. While dating apps didn’t magically create more single people in your area into existence, they did find a way to teleport each one (or at least her online avatars of hers) to your phone. As such, dating is more playful, with many believing that if they keep swiping, the right person will eventually show up. (That is, of course, if they manage to meet in person.) Meeting online is now the most common way to find a partner. But, at the end of the day, it’s a numbers game and IMHO the house always wins.
When you’re on a date, it’s no longer about dinner for two or evening cocktails. Coffee and lunch dates are considered a smaller investment (both fiscal and temporary) than a date night, and hiking dates (especially in Denver and Los Angeles) have become increasingly popular. Also, when you see someone repeatedly, it’s not always a clear progression from dating to marriage: now there’s the ‘talk phase’ and ‘being exclusive without labels’ and a myriad of other watered-down paths on the road to love. Perhaps this commitment-phobic attitude is not surprising in a country that places so much importance on personal liberties and the right of everyone to pursue their own desires: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is the founding spirit. America, after all. (That, and the right not to pay taxes.)
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