Happiness in Love

The Ups & Downs Of Dating Around The World

By Laura Schreffler

Think you’ve got it rough? One writer explores dating customs in seven different countries — and what you’ll find out may shock you

We all complain about dating. The men in New York City are too focused on their careers. The guys in Los Angeles are too focused on their looks — and so on and so forth. But based on what one dater, Anastasia Savvina, has discovered in seven different countries, you might want to think twice before you grouse that dating in the good, old U.S. of A. is the worst place to date in the world.


You were all allowed to date in high school, right? Not so for the Japanese, who, for the most part, don’t dip into the dating pool until their college years. As in the US, marriage is the main objective, and — believe it or not — it’s still considered customary for Japanese parents to hire a matchmaker for their children.

Bottom line: Japan is apparently progressive and proactive when it comes to its residents’ dating practices.


You wouldn’t dare say that America is the worst place to date after hearing this: it’s illegal to date in Iran! Not only aren’t you allowed to fraternize with members of the opposite sex until you’re at the marrying age, but Iranian parents actually arrange the introductions themselves, too — which brings new meaning to marrying a mama’s boy. Because it’s against the law, young Iranian women actually borrow their relatives’ babies to go out and meet their men or invite a friend along as a ‘shield’ so they don’t get arrested.

Bottom line: Is there anywhere worse to date than Iran? I hope not.


Forget all you’ve heard about Italian amore — these European lovers are pretty damn hard to please when it comes to the daily dating scene. Instead of the customary American one-on-one dates, Italians reportedly enjoy group outings. In fact, according to one bella Italiana, 22-year-old ‘Isabella’,  “Many boys … [are] often too shy to ask a girl to go out. So the girl makes him understand she likes him so then they can ‘arrange’ to go out together, beginning with ice cream or a movie.”

Bottom line: Once you get Italian men to warm up to you, they’re caldissimo. But until you prove yourself worthy, they’re lukewarm at best. Plus, who wants to go on a romantic date with six friends? Not this half-Italiana, that’s for sure.


Surprise! Like Iran, arranged marriages still exist in India today, so dating just because you can is a foreign concept to most Indian women. “Despite being in their twenties many young people still live at home and thus must abide by their parents’ rules. So a lot of the relationship is about maintaining the secrecy,” 20-year-old Arundathi Gururajan says, adding, “People tend to go on group dates because single dates are harder to get away with.”

The arranged marriage in "Monsoon Wedding"

Bottom line: Living with your parents as a grown woman sucks — and so does having to live with their choice for you. I know what my mom would choose, and all I can say is this: I would so not be that into him.

The Netherlands (Holland)

Throw out the rule book, ladies, and welcome to The Netherlands — where the only dating rules are that there are no rules. “In Holland we do not have the kind of dates you know in America,” 24-year-old Dennis Dubbelman says. “[Americans] have a schedule like 1st date, 2nd date, etc. … we Dutch people aren’t that good in rules. Sometimes there’s kissing involved, sometimes even more … there are no strings attached.” However, according to Dennis, while they may not want to see you again and you may not know when you’ll hear from them next, they are totally gentleman-like when they do see you by holding open doors, letting you enter the room first and waiting until you sit down first to take their own seats.

Bottom line: Call me crazy, but I’m a traditional kind of girl. There’s comfort in consistently knowing the way that a relationship should evolve. If he doesn’t call in the States that means he doesn’t want to see you again — and isn’t it better to know for sure than to always wonder what happened?


Ah, romance. Mexican girls apparently get their first taste of romance from tele novelas, thus why they have higher expectations and a higher drama threshold when it comes to their relationships. But guess what? According to Anastasia, the guys are willing to play ball with their lady loves’ fantasy fulfillments. They turn on the Mexican magic charm, visiting their girlfriends at night accompanied by a mariachi band or a friend with a guitar all Romeo & Juliet style. The flip side of this is that if a dude crushes on you, he can still sing your praises outside of your window. If you don’t come out, he’ll get that you’re not into it — or you can simply have your parents throw water on his head to drive the message home.

Bottom line: Aside from the whole living with the parents thing, I dig these Mexican customs. Romance isn’t dead in one part of the world at least — and it’s cool that the tables are turned on the guys somewhere in the world as well.


Like the Italians, Australians start their dating experiences in big groups and eventually pair off around 18 or 19, the time in which they become bonafide world travelers. However, unlike America, its the girls who do the asking when it comes to dates. Yay women’s lib!  “Guys are reluctant to ever approach a girl if she is in a group of friends because the likelihood of her being a snob to them is higher,” says 22-year-old Aussie Esther Akselrud. Now, see, if a girl did the asking in the US, the guy would totally think he was in there and getting laid because the girl was into him enough to ask him out. Not so in Australia. Explains Esther, “The best a guy can hope for is a kiss and some touching … definitely no sex!”

The girl chooses in Australia

Bottom line: Dating in Australia is the equivalent of a Sadie Hawkins Day dance — it’s ladies choice, all the time. I dig it.

So there you have it, girls. I get it, we’re all still going to complain about our dating lives at some point, but at least we have some basis for comparison on how much worse we could have it. So be happy that we have the right to choose who we date — even if we sometimes choose duds. To err is human after all, right?



Filed Under: Blogs


About the Author: Laura Schreffler is a former New York Daily News columnist who left the world of celebrity behind to focus on what makes her happiest — love and travel. She is the creator of LoveTrekker.com — a website devoted to these two passions that she fondly calls “looking for love in all the right places.” In her spare time she likes to play matchmaker for her friends, dream about her next vacation and gaze at photographs of Taylor Kitsch. For more advice on love, relationships, and happiness, check out http://lovetrekker.com & her book "Internet Dating 101". And follow her here at Happiness Series with her weekly blog about finding love.



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