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Cultural barriers in dating


DSC_2794-2Date. I guess it is because I am not American that I can’t fully understand this word. First of all, I never found a perfect translation for “date” in italian. The word “appuntamento” doesn’t really cover the entire cultural meaning behind it. I initially thought that I was too naive to even use a proper word for an acceptable flirting behavior, but later on, I realized that I can’t really translate it because it’s not in my culture.
From this point forward I started to analyze how dating differs in every country.
Let me explain, please.
We all fall in love, we all need to meet new people, we all flirt, court, laugh, share, hope to find our soulmate. We all know when another person likes us and how to express our preferences too. What nobody should do though, is writing down the rules of love, or at least that’s what I felt.
It is probably a personal issue but every time I have been asked out by a man – that in my mind was not a potential lover at all, but his presence was pleasant and fun – I said yes. Why? Well, why not? I am always interested to meet new people, it is always kind to say yes and how else could I meet wonderful friends traveling around the world?
Then, after some disappointing and embarrassing situations I had to endure some harsh criticism: “You are crazy, if you say yes to a man then you also want to date him!” – I have been screamed at by my American girlfriends.
That was not true and due to my confusion, I set down and tried to put order in my mind.
“Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse.”
Particularly in NY or LA, if you accept to go out with a man even just for once that’s automatically a date. Fair enough, but how the hell should I know if I really like someone without having the pressure that he will pay the dinner for me, that he’s already thinking about later on during the night, and moreover, how could I relax if I am too busy acting like the “perfect girl”?

Honestly in Italy, Spain, I never felt such a heavy pressure. People go out without being obsessed to sleep with each other (actually, maybe they do but they are more relaxed about it); you go to bars, you drink, you talk, laugh, play and if somehow you discover that the other person is cool enough, not just as a friend but also as a lover, then you go ahead.
Does it make sense?
I tried to explain my controversial feelings about dating to my international friends and they all seem to understand me. I made it simple just saying that I believe in love but I am not sure I believe in dating.
I furthermore understood that if on one hand I feel overwhelmed by the dating acceptable behavior to follow, on the other hand I know that it is linear to what I like most of American culture: the straightforwardness.
If you want to start a business for example you just do it, one day and it’s done. In Italy you can wait for years. Then the language: there are not many ways to say the same sentence in English while you have loads in Italian and you easily lose the meaning of your words somewhere in space and time. Society: the Italian one is “just” a bit more messy, not very well organized, but on the other hand this makes possible our envied Dolce Vita. Our literature, cinema, art, (alas!) politics are the proof of this way to be. We lose most of our time talking, eating, making philosophy about problems, ethics, morals and we always postpone any kind of solution.
I have the feeling it is kind of similar when it comes to love.
We actually believe in the game of love. We like courting someone without dating him/her, we like to work hard to convince the other to go out and if he/she accepts then the game continues. Basically, from the American point of view, we probably waste a lot of time doing “nothing”…
We adore drama, we like to fight for love because after all we can still make peace.
I personally prefer to believe that it’s easier to find true love in a massive crowd more than in a perfect date.
Before living in NY I learned through books and cinema that every culture has its own rules. For instance I used to dream about the prom, the corsage, I was in love with the gallantry of men bringing women outside with such a gentle and elegant atmosphere and already knowing that was a date… but when I finally had my American date I felt as a fish out of sea. Please, don’t misunderstand me, I still think it’s tremendously beautiful, but somehow, without all the mess/noise we normally make my truthfulness didn’t really shine. How could I ever have fun playing a game that I don’t know? How to explain that in such a game there is no need to follow so many rules?

I am not sure what I am trying to say, maybe all these words are pointless or maybe this is just a personal attempt to anthropologically study the courtship differences among countries…
However, I find the coincidences in life fascinating.
The other day, just when I was pondering about the concept of dating, I found a little paper between the old letters, which probably represents one of the best memories from primary school. I was “in love” with a kid but I was never brave enough to tell him. The last day of school (because we were never gonna meet again) he left a message on my desk: “You are beautiful, I will miss your face everyday of my life and I will love you forever”. I still felt really emotional reading it and after a while I smiled for my thought: if my first love was American he would have asked me to date him. No lost chances.
And what about me? Now I would be surely much less naive about the concept of love.