Dating: Everyone Does It or Do They?


There is a science to dating, one that can become even more specific depending on where you are, let’s travel around the globe  to discover how romances get lit. 

To Text or Not to Text:

Since we live in 2013, cell phones have become as essential to dating as astrology was to the ancient greeks. The US is fond of it’s 3 day rule.  A study by shows that only 6% of men in the US admit to have called a women less than 24 hours after the first date. The standard waiting time for the post first-date call in the US is within 1 – 3 days. Calling earlier might come across as overeager, especially because power is usually held by the party who shows the least amount of attachment in the US. In South Korea however, these statistics don’t apply.

A single American dating in South Korea might be caught, very off-guard by the “text-dating” culture there. The first 3 days in South Korean dating, involve non-stop, small-talk, texts. In fact, it is perfectly normal and expected to text the same night. Not getting in touch right away is usually interpreted as a sign of disinterest. On the other side of the spectrum, 80% of American singles would much rather have a conversation on the phone, rather than text after the first date. Also that age-old red flag of the man who lives with his parents, does not apply in South Korea. Real Estate in South Korea is outrageous (yes, it’s hard to believe, but there is a renting market even worse than San Francisco). In South Korea, not only does the tenant have to pay a monthly rent, but a deposit of $10,000, or more is required. So, going back to your date’s for “coffee” is rare, couples hang out in cafes and frequent “love motels” when in need of privacy.

‘Non-Dating’ Dating

The “testing the waters” period doesn’t really exist in France. The French have figured out how to date without dating. “From the moment you express interest in one another and kiss, it can be assumed you’re in a relationship,” says an article by Americans tend to wait it out a little to see where things go. While it is not unusual for Americans to have the “What are we? Are we official? Are we on the same page?” conversation, it might seem excessive and unnecessary to the French.  In the same article, an American woman living in Paris finds it difficult explaining to her family (when they ask how many dates she has been on), that “in France people go out in groups and then just kind of end up with each other.”

While most cultures on this list agree that the man should definitely always ask the woman out on the first date, especially France, the same doesn’t ring true for Sweden, Swedish culture emphasizes equality for both sexes.

This is how dating works in Sweden: Man meets woman at a bar, club or in a large group. Man tries to get woman’s attention. Never by direct approach  (this is considered too forward), but through subtle eye contact and possibly dancing. They talk, engage in some socialization, possibly flirting and other physicalities, then they exchange phone  numbers. After this, they text and text and text, no phone calls, just text, (similar  to South Koreans). Eventually both parties decide to meet for a Fika. This is where it might become a tad confusing  for Americans.

A Fika is a non-date that happens between people. It can be compared to having coffee by American standards but not quite the same. Since a Fika can be had with just about anybody, including relatives and friends, the trick is to pretend  the night of flirtation never happened,  the engagement of the other party’s company is platonic and therefore,  this “getting to know each other” event is never to be declared as a real date.

Another  interesting fact:  Swedish men are not known to be romantics. Due to Sweden’s gender equality,  it is not the man’s role to pursue the woman, so it might come as a shocker to American women when the man doesn’t offer to get the bill and  both parties are always expected to pay their definite equal share of the bill. The man is also  not expected to (and most likely will not) open doors, give flowers and charm the lady.

Iran has an even more peculiar approach to non-dating, where online profiles take precedence and marriages come with test periods. In Iran, the practice of temporary marriages, also called Sigheh, acts as an alternative for relationships. A vast percentage of the Islamic country’s population is younger than 30, and the mentality is to ‘test-drive’ before making a final commitment. This isn’t surprising, especially since there isn’t a lot of lee-way to finding one’s mate in Iran. The agency that arranges these temporary marriages is operated by clerics and those who choose to employ these services have limited options. They are allowed three meetings, two of which are supervised. If the couples have chemistry, they get a third meeting, after which they have one of two choices: get married or go their very separate ways.

Most governments aren’t actively involved in the dating life of it’s citizens, ‘most’ with the exception of Singapore. In the 1980’s the government of Singapore founded the Social Development Unit (SDU) as a government-run dating system that promoted marriages among college graduates. Alternatively, they also founded the Social Development Services (SDS) which supported marriages among non-graduates. Naturally this sparked a lot of controversy in Singapore because it segregated it’s educated singles from it’s uneducated. While non-graduate women and their parents protested that the government didn’t allow them to meet good prospective partners, others complained about the governments use of taxpayers money to fund dating schemes for graduates, who earned higher incomes than most anyway. In 2009, the government finally merged both agencies as the Social Development Network (SDN). SDN is still going strong in Singapore today and their vision still remains to “nurture a culture where singles view marriage as one of their top life goals.”

Dating is a dance. A very ritualistic dance that can change drastically depending on your timezone. There is something to be said about the more straightforward approaches in countries like France and South Korea, if you fancy someone, why shouldn’t you let them know, immediately?


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