Dating in Italy 101: the cheaters, prudes, and all the grey areas in between

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the time when I understood very little Italian.

Back when I moved here in 2010, my Italian was not good at all. Meeting someone when you don’t have a good grasp on the language is very difficult. I mean, you can meet someone, but you kind of feel like you’re only ever able to scratch the surface, you can’t really get to know the guy. Think about when you go on a date, it’s all about getting a “good read” on the other person. But for me, it was just trying to understand what the hell he was saying. Doing this you don’t pick up on a tone of voice. You don’t get a feel for the person saying the words. It was really frustrating, and I always said, I’ll never meet anyone, I’ll never have a connection with anyone.

Now I understand pretty much everything. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be dying alone. Getting the language barrier out of the way, it’s just like dating any other guy: stressful. I find dating to be the most arduous task there is. So much so, that I have to psych myself up to go on any date these days. I’m fine until I get to the day of, and then I act like a whiny child, like I’m being forced against my will.

I can remember being 14 or 15 and discussing with my mom when I’d be able to go on my first date, and my mother shut me right down. Like most of our fights in my teenage years, it escalated, I screamed and cried, CRIED at the thought of having to wait just one more year to go on a date with a boy. That hype has passed. Now I’d rather sit under the covers in my PJ’s watching episode after episode of Law&Order SVU than brave the dating world. Well that makes me sound like I have no life, I’ll re-phrase: I’d prefer to spend my nights out with my girlfriends. I will die, go to my grave as the honorary third wheel and it will be well worth it.

It’s not so much the date itself that I have trouble with. Once I stop being a little piss ant and get my ass out the door, I usually have a good time. And dare I say it, I sometimes really hit it off with the guy. It’s great! But that’s when it all goes awry. Meeting someone I really like usually follows this pattern: excitement, anticipation, on set of paranoia, full blown paranoia, despair.

Dating in Italy has presented a whole new set of cultural issues that I’m trying to navigate. Italy is full of rules. Which is hilarious because nobody follows any of them. But what I mean is, it’s full of these unspoken rules to save you from making a “figura di merda”: for eating, for dating, for everything. You’re not supposed to wear white socks unless it’s to the gym. Did you know that? No white socks. Even if it’s under a pair of boots and nobody can see them. Says who? Everybody in this country is who. It’s just a big unspoken no no, one I try to keep in mind. I can’t tell you the couple of “Oh shit” moments I’ve had at the airport when I needed to remove my shoes at security and had a mini panic attack, not remembering what kind of socks I put on that morning. If I had got caught dead in my white Pumas I might as well have tattooed AMERICANA on my forehead.

When it comes to dating in Italy, again we need to look at this on a case by case basis, and it all depends on the guy, but usually you should be careful how many dates you’ve got under your belt before you jump in the sack. Yes, you’re two adults who like each other, what’s the big deal? IN THEORY. But if you really like an Italian guy, you better pump the friggin brakes. Back it into the station. Because if you sleep with a guy too soon in Italy (and I’m still a little fuzzy on what constitutes ‘too soon’), you run the risk of being cast off as someone who is not a “ragazza seria.” Gone. Done. Kiss it goodbye cuz you’ve been blacklisted sistah! Off to the island of misfit whores. That’s not to say an American guy won’t think the same (or won’t disappear for that matter), but it crosses your path way more over here. And just as a side note: I would not go around America sleeping with anyone and everyone. That whole ‘laziness when it comes to dating’ applies to sex as well. Lets put it this way, I have to really really like you, not just find you attractive, but really like you to bring myself to even shave my legs, and even then I’m not guaranteeing anything.

I can’t wrap my mind around this dump-friendly attitude. And here’s why: if you remember one of my previous posts about the guy with the girlfriend: it seems in this country that I’ve met two types of guys. Those who cheat and have absolutely no qualms with infidelity and the prudes who throw you out like yesterday’s garbage because ::tisk tisk:: you didn’t know about their number of dates before sex policy. It has made it really impossible to decipher who is who, and might I add, find where the normal ones are. I mean, is this some kind of sick joke?

I used to find myself saying that I liked Italian guys for the fact that there weren’t any games, if anything, they had NO game. They wear their heart on their sleeve, always want to talk about their feelings, never wait days to call. I think the tide’s turning on that one. And the real puzzling thing is that most Italian guys I know make the first move, no problem. And by that, I mean they attack. Italians have quite the aggressive first move tactic, even the prudes! I mean, is that just a test? Are you simply seeing whether I pass or fail? If so, it’s quite the mind fuck, and it’s just getting ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the way I saw someone write this word today on Facebook, “rediculace” (I digress, but I’m dead serious.)

Knowing full well this is a possibility, it makes the waiting game ten times worse. Is he interested? Have I been cast off? What did he mean by that text? Do I just not understand Italian or was he brushing me off?

I’m stuck somewhere in between trying to conform and not giving a fuck, but they’re on way opposite ends of the spectrum.

I can feel my wrinkles and gray hair growing exponentially.

For now I’ll just play the waiting game and let my eyes burn two holes into my IPhone screen.

Remember: no guy at your side means less effort in hair removal and onions for dayssss on your pizza.