Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking for an edge in dating? Flirt like an Italian

Moving to Milan when I was 29 and single changed my life forever.

I wasn’t looking for a husband; I just wanted a challenging life experience. I had enjoyed being single in Manhattan and Los Angeles; there were some great moments but I wanted to be spellbound.

Italy had just the right amount of adventure and style that I craved. A tall, single American girl living in Milan had its perks. After awhile, I got used to Italian men’s enthusiastic appreciation for women and grew to expect it. (Once when a full day elapsed and not one man flirted with me, I rushed home to look in the mirror to see what was “wrong”). Italian men’s playfulness and machismo was refreshing; women were revered for just being female and sexuality was conveyed with ease. These Romeos didn’t wait for happy hour or the alcohol to kick in before they approached a woman; they were pretty much turned on 24/7. You never knew who you’d meet when you were at the bar drinking your espresso at 8am.

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Gallantry was something else I wasn’t used to but greatly appreciated.
Italian men are raised to protect and respect women so they have a natural confidence when guiding you; you’re made to feel like you’re in the best hands. They don’t care if you’re a feminist or if a chivalrous gesture could potentially offend you. I only cared that I was finally being led and not leading.

What I love most about Italian men is their sense of romance. They’ll charm and disarm you with their passionate appreciation of culture, history, art, music and food. It’s not cool or romantic to talk sports or politics with women. They’re more interested in taking you to charming osterias on the top of sacred hilltops or listening to opera singers perform in a private garden at dusk or introducing you to secret spots in the middle of an enchanting countryside where Old Italian women make fresh mozzarella cheese.

Spontaneity and imagination is the cornerstone of courtship with sensuality leading the way. An Italian man is not afraid to express himself and let a woman know how he feels about them right away. Few games are played; bold moves are made. Women are rarely in the dark, unless they want to be. They can be tricky though. Once I was invited to a dinner party at my boss’s house. When I arrived, I immediately noted the silence. Where are the others? With great nonchalance, he indicated that I must have misunderstood him (He spoke fluent English). But rarely did I miss the second-guessing and over-obsessing that infiltrated my dating world back home. No wonder American women are accused of being overly-aggressive with men: they’re trying to get an answer!

They say “Americans live to work, Europeans work to live”. This is true in all aspects of Italian life. An Italian man’s love life is almost more important than his career. A lot of his time is devoted to surprising and delighting his woman. In America, it seems that having a successful love life is secondary to having a successful career. You people get more pleasure from your job than from your woman?! my friend Franco once asked me in disbelief.

While Americans tend to define themselves by their jobs, Italians define themselves by the quality of their relationships. There’s a big emphasis on family, friends and frivolity.
By the time I met my Italian husband, I had been living in Italy for six years. On our first date, he made me cry (a good cry), on our second, he took me to the most romantic grappa bar in the city and on the third; he cooked me an amazing dish of pasta carbonara. But it wasn’t until after the first month we were together and he wanted to introduce me to his family that I knew he was The One. As we walked towards the restaurant on the beach, I could hear laughter and loud voices. He squeezed my hand. The next thing I see is a table packed with twenty Italians all getting up and moving towards me with smiles, kisses, well wishes and wine.
I finally found my dolce Home.

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