One of my buddies thought he went on a date with a Russian girl, but in her mind, it wasn’t a date. According to her, in Russia it’s not a real date unless the guy picks a girl up, pays for dinner, and gets her home at a time that is comfortable for her. Her expectations may be because she is successful and attractive, but it got me thinking, “What can guys learn about dating customs from other cultures?”
Despite the U.S.’s influence on other cultures, dating customs in other cultures tends to be more traditional. Why do women find foreign men so attractive? Perhaps it’s because there are refined dating customs we could learn from.
Here are 8 dating customs in other cultures we should follow:
1. Family Matters
In the US, our dating custom is to bring a girl home to meet the parents and friends only when the relationship becomes serious. However, in other cultures, family approval is important from the get-go. In China, first impressions count and “it’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to set their children up on blind dates with suitable matches they’ve found.” In Mexico, “you are not only dating the man/woman, but you are dating the family…” In Armenian culture, it’s important both sets of parents get along before the relationship gets serious.
Even in cultures where family opinion may not take precedent, friend compatibility is important. In Australia and Europe, relationships often come out of groups of friends, which I’d assume equals #instantapproval.
It got me thinking. One of my buddies took a girl he was dating for only two weeks on a family vacation, and we’ve laughed about it ever since. That’s a lot of pressure on a girl, right? But why do we generally wait so long to bring her home? Let’s be honest. The underlying reason we bring her home to meet the parents is to get their approval for possible marriage. So why wait 5-6 months? Maybe my buddy was on to something.
2. Yes, you do ask the father
And not just for his blessing in marriage. In Mexico, “one common expectation is getting the father’s approval [for dating] since he is the head of the household.” Some naysayers will say this is because societies are patriarchal, but in reality, most cultures are simply family oriented. Not only do immediate family members stay close, but distant relatives do as well. Asking her father is respectful and practical because you will be spending ample time with him. Why risk an offense? Even if the father doesn’t approve, your hands are clean, and you’ve at least done your part.
In the US, fathers have become physically and emotionally absent, so I understand why many American women become upset at the notion a guy should ask her father to date her. What would happen if fathers became more active in family life? If a girl greatly respected her father would she require her boyfriend and future husband to do the same?
3. The guy initiates
In Korea, dating customs dictate the man initiates holding hands or kissing. The “man is responsible for escalating the date,” and if he doesn’t, she assumes he’s not interested. In the US, men worry about mixed signals. “Am I coming on too strong, or too weak? Is this the right time to hold hands?” Sometimes it can take a while for a guy to figure things out, and left in the confusion, girls often have to take the lead.
4. There are no games
In the US, a phenomenon called “ghosting” has become common where a guy suddenly stops returning calls or texts. There’s no ghosting in France. Spineless guys are less common. If a date doesn’t go well, a French guy is unafraid to say he’s not interested. In many cultures men aren’t afraid to make their intentions clear. It’s pretty simple. There’s no DTR (Defining The Relationship-which is often initiated more by women in the US). In Brazil, if two people enjoy each other’s company, they soon namorar, or “date exclusively.”
5. Time is of essence
In the US, depending on the girl, it’s ok to be a few minutes late. Not so in Germany; being late is inexcusable. The date may not happen if the guy is late. It’s also important the guy has the girl home at the agreed time.
6. Dress to impress
In Italy, it’s important to strike a balance between dressing too casual and too formal. Women pay particular attention to the shoes. In the US, most men are afraid to experiment, and end up dressing like clones for a first date.
7. Pays for dinner without expectation
Somehow it’s a big deal for a guy to pay for dinner in the US. Some men pay for dinner and expect sex, but in both Italy and Russia men pay for meals with zero expectation.
American men struggle to compliment a girl. There’s a concern he might come across as too desperate, and because of stereotypes, believes being cold and unexpressive is sexy. Men in France are more relaxed and not afraid of girls. In fact, they lay the compliments on thick. Maybe this is why women find the French to be enticing. How can a guy ever go wrong telling a girl she’s beautiful?
Keep in mind, these dating customs are in general. Every country and culture will have its fair share of progressive or old-fashioned gentleman, but it doesn’t hurt to learn from and pay attention to why women find foreign men to be so attractive. Maybe it’s more than accents and looks. Maybe they are unafraid of doing some of the things lacking in American men?