Italian Girls Dating American Men
So here I am again, struggling to find my place among a group of female expat bloggers, all of whom are 20 years younger than me and ten-times better writers. I must be the unknowing beneficiary of some sort of blogger affirmative action program, because otherwise I’m at a loss to explain my inclusion in this field. Be that as it may, I’m going to keep posting until they kick me out.
Besides yours truly (the irascible malcontent from Rome), the original roster includes Misty and Georgette from Florence, and Maria from some lost village in Emilia Romagna that I can’t pronounce. And we have two newcomers this time. Let’s meet them all again, shall we, and see what the have to say about Italian girls dating American men?
Maria is a 30-something (something low) American Texpat, living and working in her husband’s tiny hometown in the province of Reggio Emilia. Her blog, Married to Italy, is home to her rants and raves and serves as her therapeutic search for hilarity amongst the chaos. (Read her article here, “Becoming Bold and Italic.”)
M. Elizabeth Evans of “Surviving Italy” is an American expat trapped between two worlds with her badass husband, his chest hair, and their poodle. She is a writer and partner of House Of Ossimori. Her award-winning blog Surviving In Italy, aims to honestly portray her life in Italy, the sober times, the drunken times, the yelling, food, family, and on occasion her obsession with the majestic Capybara. She’s also terrible at writing Bios. Someone do it for her next time, okay?
Georgette is an American social media strategist, copywriter, blogger and a certifiable ‘Tuscan Texan’ living and breathing all things Florence. Social inside and out, she lives in the moment and eats way too much pasta. She blogs about life in Italy, travel around Europe (and the world). Check out her blog, Girl in Florence
Gina is 26 year old California native whose unhealthy love of cheese, wine and gossip has made her a perfect transplant to Italy. She blogs about life in Florence, tour guiding for college students abroad, traveling and her dog Gorgonzola. When she’s not busy writing down all the crazy stuff that happens to her, she’s listening to Snoop Dog and trying to figure out how to open an In-N-Out Burger in Italy.
Rochelle Del Borrello is an Australian journalist by trade, something she has thankfully left behind to write, photograph and taste life in Sicily, an experience she shares on her blog Unwilling Expat (http://unwillingexpat.wordpress.com/ ) Rochelle is currently hating people’s obsession with the Selfie, Geordie Shore and the confusing world of Italian politics and liking Stromae, The Voice Italy, Springtime in Sicily and collaborating with other certifiable Expats in Italy.
OK, enough introductions, let’s get down to some light-hearted Euro-bashing.
We’ve had our jollies in the past, taking cheap shots at European culture and its social idiosyncrasies. Now it’s time for a little payback. (Whose idea was this, anyway?) This week we turn over the keyboards to our European partners and let them have a little fun at our expense for a change. It’s hard to believe that we’re voluntarily subjecting ourselves to this, but there’s nothing we won’t do for the amusement of our readers, and to fill them in on the proper customs and etiquette in Italy as it pertains to the dating scene.
My wife Jessica was born in the relatively small town of Messina, Sicily. As her family remained in the same place through the years, she had always yearned to travel and learn about different places. After time spent in Tuscany and England, she eventually transferred to Rome, where we met at an
After time spent in Tuscany and England, she eventually transferred to Rome, where we met at an aperitivo on the Isola Tiberina, one hot July night in 2010. I moved in with her two months later, and two years after that we were married. These days, she’s a full-time mamma to our beautiful little goddess, Demetra.
Here’s what it’s like for Italian women dating American men, in her words. Read what she has to say on the topic, and then click over to the other blogs to read about the opposite perspective. And please, if you’re in a cross-cultural relationship, let us know your thoughts, too! OK, take it away, Jess!
When people ask me to compare life in America to life in Italy, I’ve learned to answer the question diplomatically by saying “Well, you see, no place is perfect; you gain something, you lose something, and in the end it’s not better or worse—it’s just different. And it all depends on what your priorities are.” Diplomatic, indeed, this answer is also very true. It gives me a good chance to shut up, to keep my opinions to myself, which is precisely my intention, since it seems that opinions upset the very people who asked for them.
So, the very same applies to Italian girls dating American men versus dating Italians. When people ask me, I tend to just say, “I found a great man, who just so happened to be American – and to me this is just a detail.” Again, true. But of course there’s more.
And since I was asked for my opinion, I’ll give it.
Italian Girls Dating American Men
First of all I have to say that Rick is not your typical American – for whatever that means – just like I don’t consider myself as a typical Italian.
When an American woman tells me “Oh, I’d like to meet a hot Italian man who [insert here stereotypical adjectives that people associate with the Italian Latin Lover]…” I try to suppress a hearty chuckle. I believe that most American women would be extremely disappointed and quickly become frustrated with men who expect them to cook for them, iron their shirts, and don’t leave their mother’s home until they marry – if they ever do.
Same when an Italian man says to me that he dreams about meeting a sexy blond American bombshell. He’ll likely be puzzled when dealing with the hottie who wears reveling clothes with impunity, goes out for drinks on girls-only nights as much as she likes, and expects equal support about her career (read: she’s not going to wash more dishes than him).
Of course, these are some of the most superficial aspects. There are smaller, sometimes more meaningful things that represent a challenge for a couple from different cultural backgrounds. It truly takes an open mind and a profound respect of diversity to work these things out and, even better, to let them enrich your everyday life.
Let’s see a few examples.
– The understatement. Coming from a culture that has its roots in Greek tragedy (I’m Sicilian), I still can’t get over my husband’s imperturbable calm in every situation. Of course he thinks that I overreact most times. He still asks me, four years later, “why are you yelling?” when I think that I’m just talking normally. Now, the interesting thing is that when I’m back in Italy, I pass for the quiet one. So I bring to his attention the decibels level that most people in Italy reach when they talk ‘normally’ and there he has to concede that I’m actually not that loud. Until the following time. Same applies to gestures.
– The outspokenness. You’ve been taught that saying certain things under certain circumstances to certain people is or it’s not appropriate. You might be surprised to find out that different things have been taught to me as more or less appropriate. I suppose that when dealing with a very different culture, let’s say, a German and a Japanese, both parties would be very self-aware about possible social faux pax (Do I say “Hi?” Do I high five? Do I bend? How much? 25 degrees?) But western civilizations tend to presume that they are similar, after all. So at first it never occurred to me to think that I would have had to deal with boundaries so different than mine. Rick, on his side, didn’t see much boundaries. For example, he ignored everything about the “friendly vaffanculo” (a most endearing way to use a swear word) and in fact he dedicated a full post about it.
– Food. Now, understand. I am Italian. Let that sink. Italian. I sit down for meals. I prepare meals. I use tablecloths (and they are not checkered). I respect recipes. If I made a lasagna, I just don’t want to see you eating it in front of a football match on TV. And I want a little family time at the table. Now that we have an adorable little baby girl, I find myself repeating to Rick “No entertainment during meals!” I want my baby to learn that. When I’m invited for meals at Rick’s family or friends, with few exceptions, I just can never figure what’s going on. Four years later. Are we over for lunch or dinner? What meal happens at 5pm? If we’re about to eat, why is everybody standing? Why are the kids still running around? I can’t wrap my mind around it. I just gave it up.
– Honesty. Now, seriously. The best part about dating an American, for me, it was the honest and straight forward way to relate, approach, and date. I understand this might not apply to all Americans (hey, I told you I was lucky to meet Rick), but at an overall glance I think I have consistently seen a decent level of sincerity in the American dating panorama.
In Italy – and again, this does not apply to everybody – I had grown tired of all the seductive scenes and the Cirano poems and the drama. And I had grown tired of a game where girls should pretend to be disinterested even when they’re interested so as not to be judged, and men should pretend they’re serious when they’re not, just to have a chance to gain favor (among other goals). Rick and I might not speak the same language, but we always did understand each other when it came about our intentions.
In Italy, divorced men are a little snubbed, because the system makes the process of ending a marriage so miserable, long, aggravating, and financially burdening (and if you’re thinking “in America, too” just multiply that by “n”) that the majority of divorced people just won’t give it another try. Ever. They just remain too bitter and scarred. I didn’t need to ask to see that Rick had that optimism about life and that faith in love that one needs to put himself out there again.
All of that said, it should be obvious that being married to an American turned out great, because I married a great man, that is. If you’re dating someone from another culture, I would always say “Keep your mind open, and when you think it’s open, open it some more,” You’ll be rewarded.