Dating Without Borders

The art of chatting up women, and believe me it is an art, is widely discussed in any social circle, whether that be around the coffee machine in the office or over Facebook in the form of increasingly degrading message threads, irrespective of gender, age or the intimacy of one’s relationship. Such discussions come in many forms; laddish boasting of one’s latest ‘conquest’, the latest tales of woe from that friend that just never seems to get laid or pearls of wisdom absorbed from an experienced uncle, whilst his wife looks on disapprovingly. I have even seen men, believing they have cracked the code, giving detailed seminars to groups of admiring disciples as seriously as they would if they were discussing the poems of Keats, or Hooke’s Law of Elasticity. Even the great Stephen Hawking admits he spends most of the day thinking about women and declared recently that “they are a complete mystery.” There is something strangely uniting and gratifying in such discussions, discovering that one is not alone in attempting to unlock this mystery and bonding over shared experiences, both in success and laughable failure.

However, you are all well aware of this. It is a tale as old as time – how to acquire a mate, be it for life, or just one regretful night of debauchery, is something entirely natural to us all. But dating takes on a whole new dimension when one talks about international dating. Having lived on-and-off in Switzerland and the UK for the past 8 years, going to an international school and working for a multinational company, means I have either dated, or talked about dating with, many different nationalities. There can be no getting around it – international dating is a minefield, with its own set of complicated rules and many a dangerous surprise.

Getting a girl’s number is never simple. It’s never just a question of having the balls to approach her, or having a good smile to go with the introduction. An attractive girl is hit on regularly, and she knows it. The guy must come across as special, different to every other guy out there. Even if you are as ugly as Iggy Pop or so nervous you are sweating like a teenage boy at a disco, the right line, the right timing and anything can happen.

However, this is not the case in Switzerland. You know what’s going to happen. She will, most likely, smile, be wonderfully polite, accommodate your pathetic French, let you buy her a drink (never buying you one in return) and, if you are deemed worthy, give you her number. The chance of you going home with her that night, or any time soon for that matter, is extremely slim.  Even a friendly grope or a snog on the dance floor really is too much to ask.

The most important thing to remember when talking to girls in Switzerland is this: they are looking for their Prince Charming. They may argue differently, and of course, there are exceptions, but generally speaking a Swiss girl is looking for you to sweep her off her feet, be utterly charming to the point of smarminess, shower her with gifts and declarations of your love, all whilst footing the bill at one of Switzerland’s numerous expensive restaurants. After all this, then, and only maybe then, will you get a peck good night.

Now it’s not that Swiss girls are necessarily prudes. It’s just a mentality and culture, quite different to that of Britain. To say girls in England are ‘easy’ or more promiscuous would get me in a lot of trouble, plus I would be doing a massive disservice to my many English girl-friends whom most certainly don’t fit this generalization. Yet, if one goes out in Britain with the sole intention of getting laid, they will get laid.

However, from my limited experience, if one engages a girl in conversation at the bar, or as you catch each other’s eyes as you wander on or off the dance floor, the chances are she will be not only more flirtatious she will also be more up for a laugh, forgiving of your slurred speech and will also be more than willing to get the next round of drinks in. This all seems very rosy and promising on the face of it, but what one must be aware of is that when a British girl flirts, she is doing it as much for fun as she is a sign of attraction. In Switzerland, this is not the case. If she twirls her hair, makes a cheeky comment or generally seems interested it is because she is. You know where you stand with a Swiss girl.

Girls in Britain are also far savvier. They will not fooled by basic ‘plays’ endorsed by Neil Strauss and his infamous pick-up artists. Nor are they likely to be easily swayed by constant compliments, protective zeal and doting looks. This is far more likely to come across as desperate or cheesy. The Swiss, in general, tend to show a far greater naivety to the more controversial and unchivalrous ‘rules’ of dating discussed in male locker rooms across the world, such as ‘negging’ (taping into a female’s insecurity), ‘time constraints’ (pretending you have somewhere better to be) or, my personal favourite, pretending to hook two mutual friends up, when in fact all you want to do is get the girl alone to yourself. You are far more likely to get simply laughed at for such behaviour in England.

I may come across as a cynic. This couldn’t be less true. I love my international upbringing and the opportunities I have to meet people from many different places. I have fantastic female friends from all across the world. There are also distinct benefits for dating in a globalised world. One’s lack of lingual skills can come across as cute and endearing if used properly and with the right amount of humility. The clashing of different cultures and customs is not only fascinating, but also makes for a great number of flirting opportunities. Plus, any awkward silences can easily be filled by asking specific details of their home town, or bringing up some piece of news you saw recently relating to their nation.

Throughout this article you have likely been absolutely disgusted by my generalization of Swiss and British girls, and probably rightly so. No two women are the same and it is this complexity and mystery which has seduced, destroyed and made men since the beginning of time. But, as is so often said, stereotypes are there for a reason: they are habitually true! Yes, American girls tend to be loud, daring and love a good dance. Yes, French girls are cynical and can’t take even the slightest sarcasm without being mortally offended. Yes, Swedish girls can be brutally honest. Yes, Eastern European’s are likely to require a lot of attention. But, and I cannot stress this enough, these are just casual observations from a British man who probably comes across as stuffy, pompous, loud, obsessed with football or any other of the many stereotypes associated with the British male.  And, and I must stress this even harder, it is these quirks and characteristics that make these girls so endearing, seductive and loveable. If we were all the same, it would be appallingly boring.

Globalization has brought with it many positives but I genuinely believe one of them is that the bringing together of different cultures and nationalities has radically spiced up our generation’s dating life. Hence my delight at currently being attached to a beautiful half-American, half-Japanese girl, based in Switzerland, who for the past year has been living in Spain.

It most certainly isn’t boring.