November 25


More Advice on Dating in Italy

By Rick

November 25, 2013

A while back I wrote an article about dating in Italy, and not surprisingly, it was one of my most popular posts.  As a result, Google now sends such inquires as “How to pick-up Italian girls” to my site.

Further investigation into my site’s statistics suggests that I have a disproportionate number of male readers in Italy who are keen to make the acquaintance of eligible women from the former Soviet Union.  Not wanting to disappoint the king of all search engines, I feel obliged to follow up.

But writing about this topic is tricky for several reasons.  One reason is that the protocols are changing so fast in this increasingly globalized, interconnected world.  The traditional roles that were standard only a generation ago are already grossly inaccurate when applied to present-day Italy.

Dating in Italy

For example, Jessica recounts childhood stories that she heard from the old women in her Sicilian hometown who spoke openly about their husbands’ extra-marital affairs.  For them, there was a certain virtuous pride in not being asked to perform the “dirty work” of pleasing their own husbands.  What’s more, a woman might have even bragged that her husband had the most beautiful mistresses in town, as if that somehow reflected positively back on her.

dating Italians and Sicilians
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Not so today, of course.  Dating in Italy is not as simple or “quaint” anymore.  Italian women are no longer willing to assume such a submissive role in the relationship—they now have “palle,” too (if only figuratively).

Meanwhile the men, understandably, are in favor of hanging on to traditions.  And don’t assume that the traditional roles are all negative.  On the contrary.  As I mentioned in an article that I wrote for the Italian website, Sul Romanzo, there is a certain brand of chivalry in how Italian men treat women.  This approach would almost be impossible for an American expat to replicate, but I can’t help but admire it.

italian single women online
Not sure this will EVER catch on in Italy!

Confusion abounds.  Add to this the relatively new frontier of online dating in Italy and you have the recipe for a total disconnect—and a subsequent drop in birthrate.  Fellow Rome blogger Shelley Ruelle wrote a candid piece about the realities of online dating in Italy on her site a few months ago. As she suggested, these websites are more often used as a means for married men to find a mistress, rather than for two people to find love, romance, or a relationship beyond the bedroom.

But I confess that I have always been skeptical about the Italians embracing this new technologically enhanced method of looking for a partner.  Italians won’t even buy a sweater online, so how could they possibly utilize online dating in its intended way?   Partners, like sweaters, must be examined closely, touched, and smelled before an opinion is formed.  An Italian would never trust an advertised version of any commodity, so why should a lover be any different?

I found this question and answer on the web, which I think says a lot about dating in Italy versus the US:

How do Americans flirt? Informally, above of all…

Anecdotal evidence points to a general trend: Americans (especially younger ones) generally pay little attention to the general appearance of their dates. This “low maintenance” approach means you probably won’t lose points by showing up in a T-shirt and trainers at a club. It does mean, however, that you may be wrong by giving your flirting too much importance.

Americans generally don’t show much sophistication in their approach to courtship. Europeans, on the other hand, are known for their innate tendency to be spontaneous and nonchalant or perhaps for being so good at flirting that they don’t always think what they say.  A 2021 “culture of flirting” study, which analyzed 90 million interactions connected on the dating site Italiano Singles, found that American women ranked second to last on the global “flirtatious” scale.

When it comes to inter-cultural dating, there are also the perils of language mix-ups to watch out for.  A while back I wrote a blog post about one such incident when I misinterpreted the “friendly” tone in which Jessica invited me to F#*% OFF!  Suffice to say that you have to re-scale your criteria for taking offence.

dating Italian women

So again, I continue to be astonished by Google’s faith in my content.  How could they possibly believe that I’m “an authority” on Italian dating?   I mean seriously, what have I done to deserve first-page prominence just below “” and “”?

Then again, perhaps their search engines are smarter than I realize.  If the goal of dating in Italy is to find a beautiful, intelligent, sweet Italian wife, then maybe I’m an expert after all.  (Hopefully this last comment will send a little “dirty work” my way this evening).

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

    • That’s right! I’m sure you’ve had some really bizarre search results yourself…but we’re all subjects of Google’s reign. ha, ha

  • When I lived in Madrid in ’97 us American girls found the Italian men to be very, ahem, aggressive. 😉 You could say the same for the Spanish men too. It must go back to those traditional roles, but also I think the American girls had a reputation of being a little too “friendly,” so the guys were especially aggressive with us. 😉 But in the end, you are right– in any country we are all individuals. If the connection is there, it’s there, and you can still meet a really great person. Cute photo of you and your wife!

    • Thanks, Lolabees! Interesting, the similarities in the two cultures. And…yes, you’re right about the American girls’ reputation. 🙂 Although I think that, too, is changing…

    • Hi Louise! It’s simple, really, you only have to learn 3 things: 1) Learn to cook pasta properly; 2) Learn to respect his mother; 3) Learn to use the bidet.

      OK, I’m joking, but it would be impossible to come up with a precise answer because in Italy, like everywhere, people are individuals. And while there are some cultural norms which are more or less universal (at least in comparison to the US or UK), these things vary region to region…and person to person.

      My honest advice? Learn to speak a little bit of Italian and a few things about the cultural beyond the stereotypes. Then after that, just be yourself! It’s the only thing that will keep a man (or woman) in the long run, anyway…in Italy or anyplace else.

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