One of the recurring themes on this blog besides travel is American dating. I’ve written lots on this subject. After all, I’m a single man who just happens to like women. Since I was also born and partly raised in Eastern Europe where dating is actually a very pleasant experience, I always knew—and didn’t just have a gut feeling—that something about dating in America was off.
My dilemma was that I could never rationally understand why dating is so confusing and complicated in America. Lots of explanations are given by lots of people, but none of them truly explain the whole story. One of the most popular explanations is that the American women are somehow “masculine,” but the meaning of the word is rather foggy.
If, by “masculine,” one means that American women can be tough and ball busting, then I can introduce you to plenty of Russian women who are just as tough and ball-busting. Southern European cultures have pretty tough and “masculine” women; the stereotypical traditional Italian wife, for example, is very “tough” and “ball-busting” as demonstrated by her ability to run the house hold and even control her tough Italian husband. The explanation that American women are “masculine” was way too simplistic and not good enough. There was something more to it.
On my recent trip to New York, I had some free time and decided to use it go out to bars and meet women. My goal wasn’t to score. I had absolutely zero expectations. I wanted to put American dating under the microscope and study it like a scientist who studies microorganisms in his science lab.
So, I forced myself to forget everything that I thought I knew about American women and dating in order to learn and relearn everything from the ground up. I can say that I finally grasped the reasons that are responsible for making American dating culture so complex and so radically different from pretty much dating in any other country. And these reasons have less to do with American women specifically than with American culture as a whole.
The culture of endless discussion and debate
One thing that I didn’t notice before and only noticed now is that American culture is based on endless and endless talks, discussions and debates. Turn on the TV and you’ll be greeted by talk show after talk show consisting of people discussing all kinds of things. If it’s a news program, then the endless talk will about current events. If it’s a political talk show, then they’ll discuss politics, economics or foreign policy to death. If it’s one of those “lifestyle” programs like Oprah Winfrey’s, then the talk will about things pertaining to your life: how to date, how to shop, how to lose weight, how to get a man. People are constantly discussing pretty much everything under the sun.
As a result of this information overload, most women you meet in America have already formed various opinions on a wide range of issues. I’ve met girls who had an opinion on subjects ranging from the efficacy of Western sanctions on Russia, the best way to fight ISIS, to ways of obtaining Federal government funding for social services, ways of cutting Federal funding for social services, the best way to answer when a guy calls and reschedules, etc., etc.
A person’s opinion can be strong, weak, or somewhere in between. One thing is always for sure: when you have an opinion, you’ll always want to defend it; you’ll want to prove to others that your opinion is correct and someone else’s opinion is wrong. This naturally leads to people wanting to endlessly discuss all kinds of topics (how many times have you heard the pseudo-expression “let’s keep an open dialogue”?). And that opens the door for more and more discussions.
Flirting vs. formally discussing sexual topics
One night I had a date with a cute 29-year-old American girl. It was our second date. I knew that she liked me. I first eased into “safe” and boring topics like work and travel. At some point we began talking about dating and she told me a story about her feminist friend who’s doing a PhD on “cat calling.” I used that opportunity to ease further into other sexual topics.
There’s a huge difference between flirting and merely discussing sexual topics. And if there’s one thing I hate it’s talking about sex with someone on such a politically correct level that it feels like we’re discussing America’s foreign policy. It’s just crass. It shouldn’t be done. But that’s exactly what we were doing. We were sitting across from each other, drinking beers and openly discussing various sexual topics. She took the discussion seriously as though it was some kind of college debate.
Of course I would’ve preferred real, authentic flirting, but that just wasn’t an option. The girl was strongly into the discussion, so I had to keep chugging along, listening to her viewpoints and, in exchange, share with her my own opinions. It felt completely unnatural to drop the discussion and transition into emotional flirting. I couldn’t force her to flirt: I couldn’t force her to do what she wasn’t comfortable doing.
Knowing that I couldn’t physically escalate just yet, I decided to move the discussions into other sexual topics. I mentioned how I don’t believe in not having sex before marriage because I view sex as a fundamental part of any relationship (I mentioned at least 50%). I also mentioned that if you didn’t have mind-blowing sex, you are greatly missing out. Again, I expected her to get a little uncomfortable, but, to my surprise, she boldly began sharing her opinions on this subject as thought she had discussed exactly this topic countless times before.
So, what’s the problem, you may ask? It’s the fact that I wanted to genuinely flirt—flirt without all the politically correct bullshit on subjects that have already been discussed ad naseum—but I couldn’t. I simply had no other choice but to convert my series of irrational emotions that are typically employed during flirting into a rational politically correct discussion.
Flirting should be automatic
In pretty much all countries around the world flirting is automatic. In Brazil it’s automatic. In Colombia it’s automatic. In Russia it’s automatic. Flirting is sensual, emotional and imaginative. It’s the natural outcome of what happens when two people who are attracted to each other meet and display this attraction to each other. It’s a sexually-charged private conversation between two adults, not a watered-down public discussion that’s designed to be displayed to the entire country on a morning talk show. That’s what makes flirting special. That’s why you go out to a bar or a club after a hard day’s work: to let your rational mind take a break and enjoy an emotional conversation with a beautiful woman who you want to take home—and who wants to be seduced and taken home by you as well.
Can you imagine sitting across the table at a bar from a sexy Brazilian/Colombian/Russian girl and having a rather serious and formal conversation about some sexual topic? Of course not. You’re a man. She’s a woman. It’s been established that you both like each other. You’re not on some public talk show on primetime TV. So, why keep it politically correct and continue discussing the pros and cons of some mundane topic?
After mutual interest is established, the next step is to immediately move onto more interesting and physical things. Not in America. In America, you don’t get out of this discussion phase. Discussion is more or less a permanent mode of exchanging your thoughts and ideas with a person whom you don’t yet know well.
Trying to get through the wall
One of the reasons why you never cross this invisible wall that separates a rational discussion and irrational flirting is because of insecurity. Genuine flirting is emotional. It’s spontaneous. It’s also risky. It requires a certain level of confidence and self-esteem. There’s no prewritten script for flirting. On the other hand, a discussion about generally accepted things isn’t risky and therefore doesn’t require much confidence.
If you have a set of opinions, opinions that have already been validated by talking to lots of other people (or because you’ve already witnessed other people on TV having these opinions), then you have a certain level of confidence that your opinions are correct. You have no problems sharing those opinions with others.
It’s much less risky and requires much less confidence to merely discuss why mind-blowing sex is an important component of any healthy relationship because you’ve already discussed it with others or heard it discussed on TV than to demonstrate your emotional interest in the other person—real spontaneous interest, interest that can be easily rejected by the other person.
This reminded me of a time when I went out with a friend in New York few years ago. My friend is tall, confident and has absolutely no problems with women. He immediately approached two girls sitting at a bar. Half an hour later we were all comfortably seated at a table and discussing various sexual and relationship topics such as whether it’s okay for a woman to cheat on her husband if he gives her implicit consent. We also discussed how many sexual partners we had and similar topics.
The women were more than prepared for such topics of discussion. None of the women even blushed, so it wasn’t the first time that they were having such intimate discussion with a couple of guys they had just met in a bar. They were battle hardened.
That night at the bar resembled one of those “roundtable” discussions you see on an American Sunday morning political show such as Meet The Press. It was as exciting as watching the Senate debate an appropriations bill. We all took turns contributing to the debate by adding our own thoughts and opinions. Talking about strong sexual topics in a discussion format is just too crass. It just shouldn’t be done. Politically correct discussions about sexual topics destroy all shreds of any potential sexual chemistry.
Incidentally, I met my friend at the bar after I had just returned from Colombia, where I routinely had the time of my life going out and shamelessly flirting with very sexy and flirtatious women. To say that I felt like an alien who landed on another planet in that New York bar would be a huge understatement.
None of it matters in the end
The second major issue with American dating is that it doesn’t matter in the end. What doesn’t matter? The whole dating thing: building attraction, following up, seeing her again, etc. Dating doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because the expectations are almost nonexistent. And that’s due to the inherent structure of American society and culture.
American culture is about slaving really hard, making money—and commoditizing everything else that gets in the way. People are constantly on the go and barely have enough time to even send quick messages to each other. No one has time for an in-depth face-to-face conversation anymore. Dating is a commodity.
On top of that, today’s American woman has endless options when it comes to meeting and seeing new men. It’s common for a girl to go on several dates a week. I’ve been on my share of dates where I would discretely notice the woman’s smartphone receiving a new Match.com message while she was talking to me.
This greatly affects the dating dynamic for two main reasons. First, if you have a million options, you won’t be treasuring that upcoming Tuesday night date with the guy who approached you last Friday. You certainly won’t be expecting to meet your “prince charming” or “get swept of your feet.” Every date becomes an ordinary event, like brushing your teeth in the morning or taking a dump in the evening. Going on a new date is like going to a new restaurant: even if the service or the food sucks, you’ll just go to a new restaurant tomorrow. And since there are thousands of other restaurants you can be super picky.
She just doesn’t need a man in her life
The second issue why dating no longer matters is more psychological. Most American women simply don’t require a serious relationship. They don’t need a permanent company of a man. Their environment and lives are structured in such a way that it’s okay to never marry and have children. This is not my opinion: that’s really what they want. And when the woman isn’t looking for a serious relationship, then each date and its outcome loses its meaning and purpose.
If the woman isn’t looking to settle down or get married in the near future, then do you really think she’d put much effort into the date she’s having with you now at the bar? Probably not. She’ll enjoy the date but won’t really go the extra mile to impress you in any way.
That explains why one of my good friends is having such a rough time navigating the dating scene in San Francisco—an ultraliberal city with super independent women. (I’ve lived there for many years and never plan to return.)
For a while, he was going out with a 33-year-old woman. Things didn’t work out because she suddenly decided to “start her life over” and move to Europe. Then he began going out with a 37-year-old Americanized Russian woman. After several months things cooled down, became awkward, and she eventually told him that “she is not ready to settle down.”
It’s possible that my friend has no game with women. But such thinking just reinforces your prejudices. My friend shouldn’t need great game to be with an average girl who’s in the same league as him. He doesn’t need to be rich or look like Brad Pitt. Being a capable man with a decent job should be enough—unless, of course, you live in a society where people never ever plan to settle down and going on dates becomes nothing more than a routine hobby with zero expectations.
Where else in the world can a 37-year-old woman be this carefree and picky? I’m talking about a woman in her mid-late-30s, not some 22-year-old girl who’s just starting her life and doesn’t care about a serious relationship.
Freedom and independence
Now, I understand that a woman wants her freedom and independence. I understand that she wants to pursue her career and build her own professional life. I understand that she doesn’t require the company of a man. I also understand she doesn’t want to settle down. I get all that. I don’t live in the stone age. That’s perfectly fine with me. I’m not arguing against any of that.
My point is that if the culture is structured in such a way that it’s no longer necessary to settle down and build something meaningful with another person, then a woman naturally won’t make much effort on the actual dates as compared to if she had been living in a culture where serious relationships are strongly sought after.
If—before she ever goes on the date—the woman already knows that she doesn’t want to settle down, get married and have children in the next ten years, then the whole expectations will be very different. She would show up on the date, have a few drinks, exchange a few flirts. She might invite the guy back to her place. Or she might not. But there’re absolutely no expectations of seeing the guy again and building anything meaningful.
This is radically different in cultures that are structured around building strong human relationships. In Latin America and Eastern Europe (mostly everywhere outside the West), it’s fully expected that something will actually come out of the initial date. The woman actually wants to be in a stable relationship. The woman wants to have a man by her side.
I’ve gone on dates in Eastern Europe and Latin America where—if there was mutual interest—women had certain expectations that we’ll see each other again. Dating wasn’t just a hobby to pass the time. Dating was serious business.
The culture was less about quick dates and short flings and more about building something more substantial. Naturally, in such cultures, the girl and guy would put more effort into the relationship. When you commoditize dating, you inevitably force both parties to adapt very low expectations when meeting new people. People become mere commodities.
Frustrating and pointless by design
All of this makes American dating nothing more than a circus. Whole forests have been up razed and turned into endless stacks of paper that hold all the advice and information, all the tips and tricks to enable you to have a “successful” dating life, but in the end none of it matters. It’s a structural problem. It’s like to trying to make a phone call in an area with no cellular service. Yes, you have a perfectly working phone. Yes, it’s fully charged. But there’s no cellular service. And that means you can’t make a phone call.
The word “dating” lost its meaning from the original. It no longer means the same thing as it did fifty, twenty or even ten years ago. For dating to actually start to mean something substantial, the entire American culture must change, and that means our whole society along with our entire political and economic systems must be altered in some radical ways.
American dating is a frustrating exercise in futility. It’s about going through predictable motions: showing up; meeting the girl; debating various politically correct topics that have already been debated to death countless times; having a few drinks and then leaving with absolutely zero future expectations.
It’s frustrating and pointless precisely because it’s designed to be frustrating and pointless from the ground up. That’s what happens when you live in a culture that not only fails to inspire people to create long-lasting human relationships, but instead works in the exact opposite direction by discouraging you—and failing that—punishes you dearly from even attempting to try.