Dates in the States
OK…It’s time to talk (EDITOR’S NOTE: heterosexual) relationships.
There’s no easy way to put this, but American men – you’ve got it easy. Observing the dynamics of relationships on either side of the Atlantic has been an enlightening experience from a British point of view. I know people always talk about the “accent” and how it gets you a long way in the U.S., but I’m more interested in the interactions I’ve seen between Americans themselves.
Sport provides the first example of these differences. In Britain, female attitudes to sport range, on average, from uninterested to disdainful. This manifests itself in some hysterical consequences. The lengths that some of us British men have gone through to try and secretly watch the football, without the other half finding out, are comical and at times pitiful. It’s not so much that we fear being in trouble, it’s more that we fear that girls might find our obsession with sports to be neanderthal and unsophisticated. I get the impression that here in the U.S. it is assumed and accepted that guys like sport, and that girls are often equally interested in watching the game — for whatever reasons.
Another thing I’ve noticed while here in D.C. is the general openness of girls to being approached, or “chatted up” as we would say. At home, when a boy approaches a girl without thinking out his game-plan properly, he faces a seriously stony-faced response, leading to further thrashing around in an attempt to regain some ground. The end result is never usually good, and almost always the male returns to his group in shame. An American girl would generally be a lot kinder in their response; she knows that the guy has made a terrible play for her, but she will at least give him a friendly smile, and a chance to relax and be himself.
I suppose what I’m trying to show here, is that in Britain, I get the impression that the power in modern (heterosexual) relationships invariably sits with the female. In the U.S. it seems different. The males and the females are equally keen to impress one-another. I can’t work out if this state of affairs means that Britain is further along the line of equal rights, or if the U.S. is more advanced, and enjoying some state of post-feminism.
I’d appreciate your opinions on this subject, but I’ll leave you with one true story to try and illustrate my point:
A friend of mine was on a date with a girl who he thought was particularly beautiful, and they were standing at the bar in a crowded Edinburgh pub. The girl, who he described as “extremely high maintenance”, went to the bathroom. My friend had downed about three pints of cider prior to the meet-up as dutch courage, and was also particularly desperate to pay a visit to the bathroom. However, according to his appraisal of the situation, if he went to the bathroom while she was away, and he wasn’t there when she got back, she would “definitely” walk out of the pub immediately. He envisaged a similar response even if he excused himself after she had returned. So, he made the extraordinary decision to relieve himself right there and then, standing at the bar in a busy pub. It was his rationale that he’d rather take this risk than risk upsetting, and losing, his date for the night.
Harry Allen is a British Fulbright Alistair Cooke Scholar here at American University. In the spirit of Alistair Cooke, he hopes to use this blog to discuss some of the many similarities and differences between the two countries, as he continues his studies here.
Posted in Brit Bit