Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Telling an American You Love Them is a Turn Off

So against my better judgment I decided to enter (well tiptoe) into the world of dating in South Africa.* I arrived in South Africa with the intention of not dating anyone during my time here and using this as a period to “cleanse.” Repeated conversations with South African women about the infidelity of South African men, coupled with the fact that the average marrying age here is (I am guessing) 25 so there is a lack of eligible bachelors over 30 and the popularity of beer being apparent in the vast array of male protruding bellies, all served as a confirmation for me to stay far away from dating. However, after repeated prodding from my coworkers to be more open minded I decided to at least give one of my would be suitors a chance. I actually enjoyed myself on both of the dates I went on and thoroughly appreciated how chivalrous they both were. It’s the aftermath of those dates that has me retreating for the hills. One of my dates, repeatedly told me how much he loved me and was going to marry me at the end of our date. Following my other date, my would be suitor emailed me once, SMS me three times, and called me 5 times all in the next day. I did speak to my “I love you” date and tried to explain to him that he doesn’t know me so he can’t possibly love me. He is francophone and explained that in French there isn’t a word for “like” just “love.” That there are varying degrees of love and his love for me was small but growing every second. Needless to say this didn’t change my perspective. So being the cultural ambassador that I am, I then proceeded to try and explain my culture, particularly in regards to dating, to him. One of the great things about living in another culture is it gives you the unique opportunity to externally view your own culture. I was quite taking aback as I listened to my description of dating in America. Here is some of what I shared: Telling an American when you first meet them and don’t know them that you love them is a turn off. Americans are naturally distrustful. We believe that trust is earned not given. As such, we are guarded in our interactions and relationships until we feel that someone is trustworthy. In dating, this also manifests itself by not initially divulging your feelings, and most of the times not fully sharing your feelings until you know that the other person shares similar feelings. We are an individualistic society so we like personal space figuratively and literally. Dating in the U.S. is a game. Sort of like “cat and mouse.”

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