Men: Some Tips and a Look at Cultural Differences between Italy and the United States
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While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to affairs of the heart–dating is dating anywhere in the world, a sometimes messy and complicated business that is full of possibilities–there are some general tips that will help men looking to date in Italy. Of course, it’s always best to keep in mind that every relationship, and person, is different, and that each must be approached on a case by case basis.
For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that the couple in question is on a first date and searching for a real romance that will lead to a serious relationship. While this article has been written in the spirit of good fun, it is also meant to underline some common differences between men and women, and the cultures of Italy and the United States.
Dress to Impress
The majority of Italians put a lot of care into what they wear and most Italian women will notice your outfit right off the bat. Leave the grubby shorts, sandals or sneakers at home unless you want to give off the wrong kind of first impression. Don’t be too fancy either, although any outfit clearly depends on where you’re headed on your date. Something clean, put together, and up-to-date will do nicely. Just remember that most Italian women will pay attention to the color combo you put together, not to mention your shoes, which most women will look at when trying to analyze the type of man their date is.
Open the Door and Enter First
This is a very tricky one, even for Italians. Good manners in Italy actually dictate that the man opens the door and walks through it first with the woman following. To many North Americans used to gallant gestures of opened restaurant doors this may seem rude, but once you understand the idea behind the Italian custom you’ll see why Italians see it differently. Historically a man would enter an establishment first to ensure it was safe for his lady, also it was not seen as proper for a woman to walk into a place seemingly by herself. These days a man walking through a door first in Italy is a signs of respect and consideration.
Be Funny and Intelligent
This is pretty much universal. Making a woman laugh is generally a universal feature of first date success, but also try to keep your conversation diverse. Show your date that you’re interested, and can converse on a lot of different topics and even international events. Ask questions about Italy and show you have an open and curious mind.
Don’t Show Off
Showing off, dropping names and saying how successful you are doesn’t usually make a good impression on Italian women, and is something that will likely turn most of them off. While success is always good, talking overly about it isn’t.
Watch Your Driving
Don’t drive at such high speeds that you scare your date, but don’t be timid behind the wheel either. Be safe, confident and secure and your date will likely respond in kind.
Don’t Worry If She Doesn’t
Many Italian women can be somewhat crazy drivers and you’ll likely score points if you go with the flow. You might want to tease her about her loud music or speeding but don’t act afraid.
Avoid Making It All Me, Me, Me and Work, Work, Work
A date is all about getting to know one another, but if all you’re doing is talking about yourself then your date will likely get the idea that you aren’t all that interested in her and might prefer to date your mirror instead. Similarly, many Italians have different ideas where work is concerned and most don’t want to talk about work all the time. If you find yourself launching into your second work related story stop yourself, that’s one work tale too many.
It’s Okay to Kiss Her
Now, if the opportunity arises and she gives the right signals, it’s perfectly okay to kiss on a first date, just try to avoid doing it in a public place like the middle of a restaurant. It is acceptable to hug, kiss or hold hands while walking down the street.
Pay for the Bill
No matter what, whatever happens, the man in Italy pays the bill, period. Unless she invited you and specifically said before dinner that she would pay–and even then you should offer. This applies to whatever activity you do. An Italian woman will likely expect you to pony up for dinner and may offer to buy you an ice cream or something small later on, and it’s okay to accept. These days many women will reach for their wallet when the bill comes, but you should not even let her see it. If you really want to impress her have a chat with the waiter when you go to the bathroom and pay the bill before it even reaches the table.
Dating in Italy is not much different than dating in the United States, except for a few generalized cultural differences (like that tricky door!) Italy is also a perfect backdrop to find romance, although one must always remember that old Italian saying: “Moglie e buoi dei paesi tuoi!” A saying which means that one should always find wives and bulls from one’s own country!
Also, learn some Dating Conversation in Italian!