May 24


Dating Rules in Italy

By Rick

May 24, 2018

Recently I was honored when my former Italian professor from F.A.U. asked me to write an article for an Italian website about my experience in Italy.  I asked him what subject I should discuss and he gave me “carta bianca.” Well, the topic must have been on my mind because it came to me right away: The Italian Dating Scene; Italians and Americans (and Italian-Americans) in cross-cultural relationships.

In the article, I suggest that in the Italian dating arena, we poor American men are severely handicapped—even totally disqualified—by our post-feminism sensitivities and political-correctness.  What’s worse, we don’t even realize what we’re doing wrong.

Arrivano Gli Americani

We are a polite breed, aren’t we?  Perhaps too polite.  We open doors, engage in smart conversation, avoid sexual innuendo, and never assume that an invitation for dinner or a drink is any more than just that.  Silly us, we thought that our All-American charm and goodwill leftover from World War II would instantly ingratiate us with those belle ragazze.  The truth is, we don’t have the slightest clue of what’s going on right in front of us.

Dating in Italy

italian americans, jersey shore

Case in point: last summer I met your typical Italian-American goombah at an aperitivo on the Isola one night.  Super nice guy; friendly, well-groomed, successful career—the whole meatball.  He was in Rome for a few months on a very specific mission: to meet and eventually date an Italian girl.  

I couldn’t help cringing when I heard of this plan, but I wished him luck and offered my advice, should he desire it. A few weeks later I ran into him again at a bar where he was telling the employee to pile some more “mutzadell” and “brahjzoot” on his panino.

I asked him how his quest was going and the sound of his bubble bursting must have been audible from across the piazza.  But after talking to him for a few minutes I came to realize that his ideal “Italian” woman bore a striking similarity to Snookie from the Jersey Shore and looked nothing like the Italian women that I knew.

Maybe it’s just as well.  He probably would’ve known how to handle Snookie—but I’m quite sure that he had underestimated the mortal danger he would have encountered if, by some random chance, a real Italian woman would have shown some interest.

My sympathies went out to him because his plight is a common one.  American men just don’t have the skills or the experience to successfully play the game in Rome.  Meanwhile our competition—the smooth-talking, Prada-wearing Italiano—has all the advantages when it comes to both the local girls and female expats.  He’s been practicing his art in situ since he was old enough to shout “ciao, bella!”

italian single women online
When all else fails, there’s always the Internet. At least it levels the playing field somewhat.

But the truth is, I don’t have any idea what he’s actually saying to these women to make them go blind with romantic fantasies.  I’ve tried eavesdropping on conversations, but there’s something very subtle and cryptic in the repartee that would simply fall flat if it came from an American.  We can’t even steal their lines, it seems, and attempting to do so only makes us look more foolish.

So it should be noted that American women have the exact opposite problem. Never before in their lives have they been showered (inundated, pummeled) with such overt attention from the opposite sex—and most of them are ill-prepared to deal with it.  Even when they recognize the obvious ruse for what it is, there is something inside them that wants to ignore the fact that they’re being played and just enjoy the attention.

I’ve watched the most intelligent, savvy women fall for the same blatant bullshit again and again, and then still end up dejected when they realize the plain truth.  How can she possibly believe that: she’s the only one who’s ever made him feel so overwhelmed with emotion; that he had never seen such beauty before; he had never even dared to talk to someone so classy, but his heart speaks for him and he can’t withhold the feelings… blah blah blah?  On the first night that they meet!

The Italian Dating Scene

Italian dating with foreigners

If these cultural mistranslations occur between Americans and Italians, the situation among two Italians is no less tricky these days.  The traditional roles are gradually being abandoned—and it’s happening too fast according to the men, and not fast enough for the women.  The women are tired of the aforementioned routine where proper decorum implores them to resist, even if they’re genuinely interested in the boy in question.

So now some of them are forsaking this centuries-old script in favor of a more a direct approach; only the Italian men are at a loss and don’t like it one bit.  For years they’ve assumed that “I don’t like you” is not to be taken seriously, whereas “I do like you” is synonymous with “let’s go to bed.”  This new honesty puts them off because it neutralizes their advantage in the hunt.  Herein lies the conundrum and perhaps one of many reasons why the birth rate among Italians is among the lowest in the western world.

Let’s see if we can put this game of cat and mouse in stereotypical perspective.

American men come to Italy to meet a nice Italian girl, only they’ve misjudged the peril and they lack the necessary skills to compete, so they are largely ignored or perhaps even mocked for their naivety.  For the Italian men, an American girl might be an amusing distraction for a long weekend, but there’s no challenge and really they cannot be taken seriously.  But their homegrown women are becoming much too modern for their tastes and so they might be happier eventually marrying a nice Russian girl who looks good in her high heels and short skirt and behaves herself properly (read: submissively) as long as the Gucci handbags are gifted with regular frequency.  American girls are overwhelmed by the attention given to them by all the Romeos on Vespas, but then are heartbroken when they realize the true (read: temporary/sexual) nature of the boy’s interest.  So they return back to the U.S. devastated by the Latin Lover, but now spoiled by his doting affections, making her compatriots seem, well, boring by comparison.  And what’s to become of the poor Italian girl who’s much too sophisticated to be attracted to an American and much too intolerant to betroth herself to an Italian?  Whew!  It’s a wonder that anybody hooks up anymore.  And yet…

Just doing my part

italian american marriage, marrying an italian
Un miracolo!

I could only write from the American male point of view, but I’d love to hear about the other perspectives, as well.  My central idea for the article was to explore how difficult it can be to discern something as unwritten and subtle as courtship protocols in another country.  It took me more than four decades to figure out my own culture’s accepted norms and then all of a sudden I had to question everything and start from scratch.

It worked out OK for me, though.  In fact, my Italian wife and I are doing our part to populate the next generation of Italians.  Our little bambina will be here any day.  So now it’s more important than ever for me to figure out what those mischievous little boys are up to so that I can…kill them all no matter where the hell they come from!

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About the author

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



  • Vattene dall’Italia escremento mafioso antiumano e da tutto il primo secondo e terzo mondo torna nel cesso mafioso del pianeta!


  • As a female, the worst thing about dating an italian bloke is his Mamma! Oh, and the ladies are extremely competitive, to put it mildly. It’s not how I remember dating in the UK!

  • I just read your article and then some of the comments and must say… I was not expecting such harsh responses! I know it hasn’t been that long but For the last 6 months I have been the “cliche” American girl in Italy alone as a single women and I see the exact same thing as what you are saying! The only difference that I can say is that I am a very outspoken person who says it like it is probably more than most. So when a guy feeds me some bullshit line I know it’s a lie, whereas I am very direct when it comes to basic things. For example, if I think you are attractive; I will tell you if you ask. But if I ask them their response is something like…” I could be.” Or…” I say something like; “I’ve had a fun time hanging out with you tonight,” their response is…” come to my place and continue the night talking.” Even if I said I am tired and say I want to go home because it is 2 am.

    Thank you for your post. I have realized that what you are describing is exactly what I am experiencing!

    • Hi Jess, and thanks for the feedback! Yes, I suppose everyone’s experience is unique… still, there are just too many stories like yours to ignore that this is the “norm.” Anyway, enjoy your time in Italy. Sounds like you have all the perspective you need to have fun and stay safe. Ciao!

  • That was the most idiotic, meaningless bullshit I’ve ever read in my life. What is your judgement then? The impression I get is you’re saying all Italian men are assholes. Is that true? I don’t know what other point you can be making. Maybe you’re right. I hope not. I doubt it.

  • The truth is men and women are the same everywhere you go. To act as if Italian men and women are different is silly. We are all humans with similar dna. To differentiate only creates borders. In the end we all want to be loved by someone and we all want to love somebody, simple as that. If you are genuine and sincere it will come across. If you are trying hard to act the part it will also come across. So just live and love without preconceptions.

    • Well Dan, of course! We all have the same basic human needs and urges.

      But the way men and women interact in, say, Arabia, is different from how they interact in a European country, or in America…

      Socialization between the sexes is VERY much culturally based.

  • I’m So happy I discovered you-and your words, which are well put together. Bravo!
    Can’t wait to digest everything you write, and maybe one day meet you with my (as-soon-as-I find-her) Italian wife!!


      • Ci hai azzeccato in pieno!!!

        Great post, Rick! I am an Italian woman in my late 30s living in Australia. I migrated here 10 years ago, and I must say that I totally agree with you. I am physically the typical good-looking italian brunette girl with a curvy but toned body and a thin waist, which here looks quite exotic and appealing I guess, amongst all the blondes…

        So I am not short of attention, but the problem is that the courtship skills of the average Australian guy in his 30s are really superficial, compared to what Italian guys are able to do to get into a woman’s pants! And the laziness really shocks me: some australian, new zealand or american guys who live here are shamesly capable to come to pick me up for a first date wearing thongs, a tank top and beach shorts, and they look like an ass when I turn up all dolled up and leave them there like a mammalucco just after one drink.
        An Italian man would NEVER do that!!!

        I have come to the conclusion that it is not all their fault though. I think that the average Australian girl will give them what they want very quickly, if they are interested in the guy in question. Therefore, as the guys don’t really have to practice how to “win” a woman, they are really clueless…I have also met Italian guys here who have asked me if I knew how to “play” with Australian women, to which I asked “what do you mean”, and one of these Italian guys said “well, it is no fun if the girl hands you her undies after the first few conversations”…

        I have even tried to take matters into my own hands and try to “drive” the game from my side. But as soon as I try to be more aloof and elusive the Aussie guy looses interest, as his general laziness doesn’t allow him to plan ahead and enjoy the chase. So there is no fun at all…
        In the end… All men want the same thing everywhere in the world (sex) but sex for italians is more of a quest, a reward at the end of an erotic, hot flirtatious innuendo… Instead in Australia if you dont give them sex within three dates they might even stop texting you… They are lucky that they are tall and muscular, unlike Italian expats… This is one thing Italian men should learn, to go to the gym more.

        Anyway… Good on you for having been able to crack the code of seduction and having landed yourself a lovely Italian lady 😉

        Ben fatto!

        • I enjoyed this reply. I especially the part about men showing up underdressed. Way to be classy. Love to meet a classic beauty.

          Planning to visit Italy soon. Need a huge scene change.

          Nice writing!



        • Complementi! You get the award for the best comments EVER on my blog!! (I might even have to “steal them” and write a new post in response to your observations.) I wish you the best of luck with either finding a good Aussie guy, or an Italian who goes to the gym! Ciao!

          • Lol… Well, thank you! It comes from first hand experience! I do have a LOOONG term Italian partner, we migrated together. But we are a bit libertines, and we like to have fun with others occasionally. That is why I have a comparison. I guess that when searching a sex friend I can overlook the poor pick up style, haha… But I think if I was still in search for a life partner I could not settle for an Aussie, I would definitely have to come back to find an Italian man (who goes to the gym lol…). Or a guy who has learned how to play the game!

            I hope that in the ten years I have been away the male attitude towards the gym has changed… When I was there, it was typical to hear unfit middle aged men commenting on guus who made the effort to keep a toned body with “oh that looks so gay”!!! I guess that many women must be attracted to “gay men” then… Lol…

            Enjoy life in the Penisola! I am loving life in Perth, the ocean, the blue skies, the vast horizons. And since I arrived the food culture has really improved. An Italian can really get by now, 10 years ago I used to struggle to find crusty bread and a decent coffee… I miss my family but I don’t think I will ever come back.
            Take care ;-P

        • Great response, sounds very helpful. Just out of curiosity, is dating younger Italian women any different then women in their 30s with technology nowadays? I’m 31 and usually more attracted to women in their 20s but I notice a big difference when dating in both age groups here in America. I’m curious if its the same in Italy.

          – Tommy

  • After many years as a solo female traveler in just about all regions in Italy, I have to say that in general the most agressive males are Sicilian…and for the most part have no respect for the sanctity of their marriages. Maybe some women are ok with this, but I find it at sad, probably I had a few affairs with men who never revealed their marital status and since it was never obvious, I enjoyed the company of a number of romantic Italian guys. One in particular who I will never forget! Now, I just dont care and am too happy in my own life to seek out any male company for anything but friendship.

  • Hey, Rick. I finally got around to reading your dating blog. Frankly, I’ve had no problem in Rome and Roman women tell me why: I’m not Italian. The Roman woman has modernized and liberated herself way past the Italian man whose thinking remains back in the Renaissance. (One woman told me her ex-husband never knew what she did for a living.) I’ve found what works in the U.S. works in Rome: Show interest in something besides their body, respect them, care about what they do and, once in a while, make them laugh. The problem is so many have been screwed over by cheating Italians (my blog from last winter: that they’re very jealous and very possessive. But I haven’t found American men are, pardon the expression, beneath them. At least with women in my 50s age bracket, they’ve pretty much had it after a lifetime of Italian cavemen.

    John Henderson
    Dog-Eared Passport:

    • Yeah, I see your point(s), and your “research” is more current than mine. 😉 I think that the age bracket IS significant, though, because one of the main reasons that an American would be dismisses outright is that he would not be considered “husband” material. So women who have “had it,” as you say, with the traditional Italian norms after years of dating (and possibly a divorce) would be much more open to alternatives. John, I need to interview you for my podcast on this topic!!!

    • It’s not easy to talk by stereotypes, guys 🙂 Some examples apply to the case, others don’t.
      My opinion at 35 would say that you can have only one partner in life (and of life), the one always ready to share everything with and take care about a woman.
      Let’s distinct between a solid relationship from something else. What I certainly noticed is that it’s true Italian men tend to be too attached to their ‘mammas’ (or, if not, raised by them with a narcissistic ego) and this, in my opinion, erode the natural willing to settle with another woman in a serious relationship.
      Usually narcissistic men are heartbrokers and unable to love. I think a woman can do nothing with it if not realizing to shy away from the danger.
      Regardless of the nationality, I think most of these responsabilites come from the family culture of the man/woman.

      • Well, yes, but if I didn’t make some cultural generalizations (you say stereotypes), then I wouldn’t have anything interesting to talk about on my blog. 🙂 In any case, OF COURSE it always comes down to the individuals…but the discussion didn’t have anything to do with any specific individuals. It was a cultural comparison, albeit a crude one. Therefore you have to paint broad strokes. Otherwise if you mention every possible exception, it’s an endless discussion.

          • Not inappropriate, just inaccurate (in my opinion, of course). If I thought it was inappropriate I would have deleted it. 😉 And I only repeated what the article was about since your comments implied that you missed the point. My tone wasn’t meant to be angry or mean, but I was just trying to further clarify my arguments for you. Truly, I’m sorry if you felt I was being harsh… I always enjoy your input and I don’t want you to hesitate commenting in the future. I LIKE IT when people disagree with me…but I still stand by my opinions. 🙂

            • Rest assured I hardly change my idea about sensations, Rick.
              I was simply replying to John’s comment, but then you suddenly left that “cold” feeling with your reply. I reckon I was writing nothing wrong or “inaccurate”. Not necessarily a comment must be coherent to the topic as the author of the post should.
              However, I too don’t like endless, sterile discussions. Certain discussions are mere nonsense.
              Good night.

              • Don’t take things personally or it gets really boring. Let’s stick to the content rather than your “sensations”.

              • Who do you think you are to comment under my replies to another person, milady?!
                Besides that, your English is not so good for being married to an American.

  • Just discovered your blog. Want to ask something and make a comment. This may be out of your realm of experience, so maybe you can’t elaborate, but I was wondering about inter-racial dating in Italy. Living in the Netherlands, I see mixed race couples all the time, not just in Amsterdam but in the small towns as well. Yet in all the times I’ve visited Rome, I don’t remember seeing any. Not one. And come to think of it, when I see the school kids on the buses, I don’t see a mixture of Blacks, Whites and Asians. It seems to me that the openness and curiosity that Italians had 40 years ago (when I was a student in Rome) has disappeared. As an African- American, I felt like a novelty then. Girls would approach me and start conversations because they were curious about where I was from and even guys would hit on me. One of my former teachers, who is 91, says that Romans have indeed changed; they have become more fearful of foreigners because Rome is filled with so many. She said, “Remember when you were a student? You could just enter the street, come up to the building and ring the bell. Now there is a gate at the end of the street. I have to buzz you in. Then there’s a locked gate in front of the building and a locked front door to the building!” Then she added, “to be completely truthful, we are afraid of other Italians too. You were here in the mid-70s, the beginning of the era of prosperity. Now we are in the age of unemployment. This breeds crime and fear”. Anyway, perhaps, as an Italian, your wife could add her perspective. Is there much inter-racial dating there? Has Italy become xenophobic?

    • These are great questions, and probably a topic I should address on my blog. I guess we’re talking about two slightly different issues: racism and immigration.

      Certainly there is racism in Italy, but it’s not exactly the same as the racism in the US. In some ways, the Italian version is more honest…meaning that to me, the foreigner, it seems acceptable to openly label someone based on their ethnicity without any ill intentions. In the US, I think political correctness sometimes hides latent racism.

      Meanwhile, there are some very real immigration problems within Italy, and it’s not hard to see why the average person would be concerned that their social system is supporting illegal foreigners at the expense of the Italian-born population. I’m not an expert on this, but I think that this is where the “xenophobia” comes from…which is a separate issue from inter-racial dating. But you’re right, it’s much less common in Italy that in Northern Europe, for example.

      • Hi. Thanks for replying to my comment. For me, as a person of color, racism and xenophobia are very closely related and often indistinguishable. In the Netherlands often Africans and Moroccans are associated with crime, but the Dutch can easily distinguish me, an American, from them and even from the Surinamese. They pay attention to the way I’m dressed and my accent. Thus, I am able to go to about in jeans and a T-shirt with no hassles. In Rome, however, I feel I have to be dressed to the nines just to go to the grocery. I’m just treated better when I wear a nice shirt and tie. People actually look at me on the street whereas the few times I’ve gone out in jeans and my college sweatshirt, I have been treated rather badly: I entered a restaurant and I was greeted with ‘What do YOU want?’ ; I reached in my pocket to pay for a purchase in the supermarket and the cashier hit my hand and proceeded to take the coins she wanted, as if I was too stupid to count out the correct amount ; I arrived at a hotel, for which I had a booking, and I heard ‘No Room For You’ before I even opened my mouth. What I’m saying is I’m automatically lumped in with those guys selling purses on the corner, the illegal immigrants from Africa, when I dress like the typical American tourist. I’m treated as if I weren’t there, a non-entity. It’s sad. I miss the Italy of my student days.

        • Wow, that’s really extreme. I’m sorry to hear that…how disappointing that some people believe it’s ok to be racist in this age of “information” where nobody can claim to hide behind ignorance anymore. I understand that appearances matter…I think everybody in Rome gets a little more respect when they’re dressed up nicely. But to treat people differently based on their race is totally unacceptable. I’m sorry that you had those experiences.

  • Love the article. Thanks for dampening my dream! HAHAHA I am tired of playing with American girls and have had a dream of leaving the US to live in Italy. Always thought meeting a beautiful Italian girl would be great, HAHAHA Thanks again, Pal! 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Jim, glad you liked it! Obviously, my article was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek (ok, maybe more than a bit). But still there’s some truth buried in all that sarcasm, so…watch out!

  • Hi Rick,
    this article is very nice and funny 🙂
    As an Italian women, personally I don’t mind the soft manners of American-English men.
    For my experience, the Italian men I knew were not always those “Latin Lovers”. I think the courage of a man can’t be measured by how well he performs at bed ( 🙂 excuse me for the explicit description). Some of them are heartbreakers, you are right. Also most of them are insecure or spoiled mama’s boys.
    Of course, I have nothing against Italian men, but I think they are still behind Italian women.
    Your pics with Jessica (and Demetra) are simply beautiful.
    I wish you all the best 🙂

  • Spot on, Rick. In 2008, I lived in Rome for about a year, came back for three months and since then I travel to Rome for work on +/- a monthly basis. I still have not met a single Italian woman. It seems impossible for a foreign man to meet a native woman. Meanwhile, foreign women meet local men by the dozen.
    I have lived in several countries -the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Spain and the Netherlands- and always met locals, men as well as women. Nowhere I have come across a scene like Rome’s.

    • It’s true, and I really want to dive deeper into the explanation for this for a future post. I have some theories, but I need to devise a poll for Italian women to see if I can get some hard data. I’ll keep you posted!

    • I used to be a young Roman ragazza of 18 when I met my American husband by the Fontana di Trevi a Roma. I think the reason it is difficult to meet Italian women could be because they tend to be conditioned to go out in cliques ” la clicca” , their regular hang out group to socialize. In the late 70’s (which is when I met my husband) still used to be frowned upon for girls to go out alone which reduced the chance of new encounters. An outsider had to be accepted by the entire clicca before the girl would trust him. It would also part of the social protocol game where the girl needs to be seen to be hard to get. It was different for me because I didn’t belong to a group and although that seemed quite subversive at the time it allowed me to hang out with whom I wanted to.

  • I just started following you and Im glad I did! Love this story! Thanks for the laugh. It made me temporarily forget about this long Chicago winter 🙁
    Congrats to both of you on your baby!

    • Hi Ann, thanks so much!! And I sympathize from you…I’m from Chicago originally. It’s still one of my favorite cities in the world, but the weather is really tough. Ciao!!

  • I can offer the perspective of an Italian woman living in NYC – and yes, unfortunately American men do come across as a bit bland to us, courtship-wise. We’re so much used to showers of compliments etc… that anything less than that is just kind of cold and uninteresting. I’d add something else, though. I found the dating scene here to be more gender-normative than at home, and that’s even worse if you do online dating. Italian women will take initiative, but here in the US men freak out if the girl makes the first step, which is quite amusing, and works out well in the end – it becomes self-selective. I did find your analysis of American woman – Italian men to be spot on, though – we sometimes make fun of how easily English-speaking women fall for games we’ve long been used to. Not in a mean way, but it is entertaining. I would also add that Italian women, at present, are significantly LESS interested in marriage than American women, and I am talking about educated, upper-middle class urban American women. They seem to need a partner a lot more than we do – but knowing that most Italian men are a pain in the neck, that’s hardly surprising, isn’t it? And it works out for the best for people who do end up marrying us, because chances are it means we really wanted to marry. Best wishes for your little girl!

    • Ciao Paola! Wow, that’s great insight, thanks so much for sharing your opinions. You have put it better than I could have. And yes, I’ve noticed what you’re talking about regarding Italian women of this generation (as a whole) being less interested in marriage than American women. It sort of goes against the stereotypes, but I’d have to agree with you based on my own observations.
      Thanks for the wishes for the bambina…she is really a joy and it will be interesting to see which culture she gravitates towards as she gets older. Ciao!

  • Rick,
    It’s so funny hearing from an American male’s perspective because I found just the opposite as an American woman living in the south of the boot. Everything in life turns on personal experiences……I have been fortunate to meet American men with ‘game” and Italians with no game except thinking that all American women are easy…and the desperate women who fall for it 🙂
    Auguri for the upcoming bambino/a

    • Thanks Lisa! Yes, we’ve all had our personal experiences which of course will all be different from the stereotypes that I was making fun of in my post. Since posting this a few weeks ago, I’ve heard every opinion from every side of the equation. It’s been interesting and I’m looking forward to diving deeper into the topic. By the way, the bambina has arrived and she’s doing great! Meanwhile, I’m shopping for a “lupara” to keep all the ragazzi away!

  • Hi! I really enjoyed reading this. I live in New York and I met an Italian man from Torino when I was on the subway. It was in a very romantic way. I was in a rush to an audition (I’m am actress) when my headshot with my name on it accidentally fell to the ground. I kept making eye contact with him and thought he was extremely handsome. But I didn’t pay too much mind to it as I was trying to stay focused on preparing for my audition. Then hours later I saw a friend request from him on Facebook. He wrote my name down and found me on there. He wrote me a beautiful message and left his number but said that he would only be in New York for 2 more days. We met up the next day and I had such an amazing time with him. I felt a spark with him that I don’t find with many men.

    Now that he is back in Torino he texts me everyday and sends the most beautiful messages and videos. Saying that he feels a spark too and is so happy he met me and that he tells everyone about me. But I am also quite aware of the Italian charm. I am nervous that his messages may be insincere while mine are very sincere. He works for a big italian soccer team and said he might have a week off in September. I am debating flying out to see him because I have always wanted to go to Europe and he is from the town my great grandfather is from so I would love to see it. But I’m also scared this might be the longest distance booty call and that I might have totally just fallen for a stereotypical italian. What are your thoughts. Also I am 23 and he is 28.

    • Hi Allie! Wow, what a great story…very romantic! If I were to look at this objectively without knowing the exact situation or the man in question, I’d have to go with the stats that say, yes, it’s long distance booty call. But not exactly, because I’m sure that he’s very sincere in his affection for you–but the two of you might have a slightly different idea about what the “spark” means. If you’re able to play it cool and lower your long-term expectations, I say go have fun and just see where it leads. Chances are it won’t lead to something very serious, but can’t we say that for any relationship no matter the location? We just never know and putting too much pressure on it up front is the quickest way to sabotage the situation. Torino is beautiful and since your family is from there, you should see…and you’d have a personal guide. Just don’t be surprised if the relationship fizzles after the trip. It might not, of course, but history says that you’re up against the odds. In bocca al lupo!

  • Ah this brings back memories! Even intelligent, fair skinned, blondes fall for the Italian men and their “charm”. We know it’s BS but it’s nice to hear the compliments even if it is just a part of their master plan. 🙂 fun while it lasts…and no…I haven’t kept in touch with the one I met!
    I did meet a charming man from Italy, while in San Fran. He told me to go to Genoa, (where he was from)…wear red lipstick & show some cleavage! This nice man was 80 years old….so maybe a word from the wise?! Cute story if nothing else!

    • Ha, ha, interesting advice from an 80 year-old! But yes, I suppose that would have been a typical attitude in that generation. Thanks for sharing, Melissia!

    • I have seen American women tend to ignore compliments. But why do they like it when Italian men give them compliments? What’s special?

  • Love this article! I’m looking for a nice, Catholic, Italian man that actually attends Holy Mass on Sundays!

  • Really spot on I’d say! I’ve been living in Puglia since January, and am in the process of moving to Rome and I must say that there seems to me also something of a difference in the dating practices of small town Italians (or perhaps just southerners) compared with Romans. Though in general what you say applies to both. Incredible Italian men are as good at playing the part of Casanovas as they are, when similar behavior from us in the States would likely get us slapped!

    • Thanks, Brenden! Of course, generalizations are difficult, and as you say, norms shift from place to place. But I’m sure whatever “skills” you’ve acquired in Puglia will serve you just fine in Rome…best of luck! Ciao!

    • Hi Mike, the article is still is queue, but I’ll be posting a link here when it’s published. Thanks for your interest…ciao!

  • Shame, this happens. All it does it cause mistrust and lack of self esteme. Why must they play these games. People get hurt, no one wins. Mind you, I do not think this behaviour is exclusive to Italy.
    Congratulations on your little bambino

    • Thanks for the congrats! Well, you’re right that it’s not only Italy, of course. But every place has it’s own version and the “rules” are slightly different and not always easy to figure out. Ciao!

  • The Italian dating/mating scene is very different to when I was in my 20s and 30s back in the 1970/80s. Yes, I’m really old. I’m an Italian who grew up in Australia then moved to Italy when I was 19. All the Italian men I met adhered faithfully to the stereotypes, but I had many close male friends so I learned how to recognize all the B.S. However, the game was still a lot of fun and I played it into my 40s when I met my American G.I. husband who was stationed in Germany. We met through – I was a travel agent and invited him to come to a travel fair in Frankfurt to meet in person. I expected him to be the “typical” sweet, polite, correct, naive American guy, but what a surprise: he came to our first date bearing a bottle of wine, a guitar and a beautiful song written for me (he has the advantage of being a talented musician). He had took me to an expensive German restaurant that he had scouted out before my arrival. We had a wonderful dinner followed by a very romantic evening drinking wine while he played his guitar and sang to me!! Gotta admit, he totally swept me off my feet.His heritage is all British but I told him that one of his ancestors must have been a Roman soldier!

    • What a GREAT story! But he’s making the rest of us Americans look bad by comparison. Yes, the game is changing, but there’s still plenty of those stereotypes all around (men/women, Italians/Americans). However, as your husband proved, we are all individuals and even if the stereotype is true for the majority, it’s always a mistake to assign it to a person before you know them. Anyway, thanks for sharing…ciao!

  • I really enjoy reading your blogs, you are such a prolific writer. It has been many centuries since I dated, but being a latina I can relate to the differences between Latins and Americans especially when it comes to dating and relationships…

    TE FELICITO EN QUE VAN A TENER UNA BAMBINA! I am partial to girls, ha!

    • Hi Lydia! Thanks so much for your kind words. With the arrival of the bambina, I have a whole new motivation for understanding the modern dating scene…ha, ha.

  • Very entertaining and interesting read Rick! I traveled Italy 11 years ago by myself just after college (on the trip I met my Aussie wife) and was fascinated by “the game” I occasionally saw. It was highly amusing to witness the cat calls on the streets. It’s something I really haven’t seen anyplace else because it seemed smoother than some American construction workers randomly yelling “hey baby!”

    Since pubs aren’t so big in Italy I also felt that was a disadvantage to meeting any local girls. I’m a decent looking guy and I was amazed that Italian girls NEVER even made eye contact with me on the street. I assumed it was because they already received too much attention and wanted nothing to do with drawing any more. But the reality is that I was dressed like a backpacker bum I guess, haha.

    Anyways, it all worked out! lol. Good luck to you and your wife on your upcoming baby!! 🙂

    • Hey Alex! Thanks for sharing your experience…it seems that it pretty much squares with my observations, too. Although I would say that you were right on the first account: the avoided eye contact out of social protocol, not so much for being a backpacker…you can get away with that look at 21 or 22. In any case, yes, it worked out for you. And for me, too! Ciao!

  • Another great article Rick….yes you are one of the lucky ones with your lovely wife and little bambina arriving soon……how about an article on divorced older women coming to Italy to meet their dream man……???? They hardly get a look in as it’s already filled with older divorced Italian woman or ” separati in casa”….. ( a strange phenomenon that is taking over due to the fact that no one can actually afford to divorce here and keep a roof over their head )…..!!!!!! It’s a mans world here as the women are 3 to 1 …..But this is where the American woman or any other foreigner has the advantage…( and I’m not talking about the young blonde eastern block women that flock here looking for a rich lover/husband…..just your normal every day divorcee…..apparently and I quote………” we are less complicated , less neurotic , more fun and we don’t ruin our looks by smoking and tanning…!!! Not to mention that if we are over here traveling then we are also somewhat financial “……….lol

    • Great points, Carla! Yes, I think American women have a great advantage if they know how to manage it. Maybe you should write a guest post for my blog! Thanks for the auguri…ciao!

  • Hi Rick, I can’t say I ever dated properly In Rome as I knew my (Calabrian) other half when I moved over here. He didn’t woo me, our first conversation was about politics. No compliments for me, he loves me for my mind! He is the least romantic, least jealous man I know. Terrible when these stereotypes don’t work out to your advantage! Great article though, many of my friends both Italian and ex-pat face the difficulties you describe.
    Congratulations on your baby news and love to Jessica.

    • Thanks Catherine! Yes, I’m having some fun with the old (somewhat) outdated stereotypes. Glad that it worked out for you, too! But my little one isn’t leaving the house unescorted until she’s 35!

  • Very entertaining article and,great insight to the Italian dating scene! Obviously you must have acquired some dating skills at some point that enabled you to transcend these differences in the two cultures to have met and married such a beautiful Italian woman! Tanti auguri and keep the lupara handy!

  • I read Shelley’s article, too. As a single Italian woman in my thirty, I would not resort to the online dating. I think that most of the stereotypes that Shelley mentioned ar true. And as Rick poimts uot in his own post, our culture is not ready for the open, upfront exchange. People like the game, for the most part.

  • I always wondered about the incredible amount of women in their thirties who live with their dog and have no aspiration for marriage or children… When I had my son here in an Italian hospital, I was the youngest mom in the ward. I WAS 30!!! HA! I don’t know that all Italians are suave or direct, here in the northern regions they tend to play hard to get and be more arrogant than anything else. But then again, I am not in dating scene, this is mere observation. AND I think Americans have enough game just by being Americans. If I had a dollar for every Italian girl that would take my husband from me, but then again it may be that my husband is Hispanic-American which these days it’s what’s getting all the play here. Being able to dance, have a minimal tan and have a Spanish accent in Italian is making italian women melt. I think the peruvian invasion is taking over!

    • VERY interesting perspective, Maria-Victoria! In the short span of my article, I could only cover my limited experiences with the most common stereotypes from Rome and south. What you’ve described sounds a bit different. However, I must tell you that the Hispanic-American vibe plays well all over the world, not just in Northern Italy! Ciao!

    • I am half Peruvian. I lived in Peru for months decades ago. I found the men to be like the best Italian men – polite, educated (in the old connotation), and caring. Now if you ask your husband if the perception of all Peruvian men in Peru is that way, you can be assured that their background will be noted. I have also had two Italian boyfriends when I was younger (not at the same time) and both made me feel special. American men do not exude as warm a personality, even if they may be warm inside. I don’t know if this generation is any different in either country. It’s just my experience.

  • Dating in Italy…. Che palle!!!! Loved your article, what a great read as always. Un Bacione from Sicily!!!

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