The notion of “dating” recalls, at times, feelings of adventure and excitement. Getting dressed up; butterflies in your stomach; opening the door to a new, attractive person with new stories and jokes. That buzz you get from mutual interest and flattery.
At other times dating is a hopeless chore. A daunting, frustrating and confusing affair. The guy sitting across from you is coming on too strong. He has no sense of humor. And when you finally meet a great catch, he doesn’t call you because by next weekend he’s already found a new date via a phone app.
As a 20-something-year-old New Yorker living in Dublin, with experience dating in both pools, the first scenario sounds more like my experience dating in Dublin. The second, New York City. Of course there are outliers, and I’m speaking generally. But there’s more to dating beyond the date itself, and I’ve noticed some cultural differences between courtship in Dublin and New York City.
It’s no secret that young New Yorkers are some of the busiest people around. Juggling long work hours, projects, networking groups and the like, there’s hardly time for a big fat relationship. New York City is a frontrunner in one night stands and casual sex; a typical Tinder date is scheduled for 9 or 10 PM at a local bar. With that said, the NYC dating pool is so massive that people are less likely to want to settle down before seeing more of who’s out there.
Dublin moves a little slower, and people are generally looking for something a little more serious. Whether that means consistently dating one person, finding someone to shack up with for the dark and cold winter, or someone to bring home to “Mam.” If an Irish guy digs you, he’s more likely to just tell you. He’ll play far fewer mind games than the typical New York male, which may lead to an actual relationship much sooner.
The publicity of your fling
In Ireland, one casual aspect of dating is the guy’s approach to bringing you into his circle. Men here would be more willing to bring you home to meet the almighty Mam or siblings at the start, and would have no reservations in introducing you to his friends – depending on if you can have good “banter,” of course.
Maybe it’s the endless movie plots surrounding the subject, but “meeting the parents” is a far more serious ordeal in the US, signifying the “next step.” Additionally, the typical New York male might have reservations in introducing you to his friends until you can label your relationship. When he does invite you out for a night out with his pals, he’ll probably ask you to bring your girlfriends along.
The date itself
An ordinary date in Dublin takes place in the daytime. While you’ll definitely go for pints at the pub, it’s not nearly the only option. On a Dublin date you will walk, talk, adventure, and seize the day. You might go to a festival or take the DART out to lunch in one of Dublin’s coastal villages. I even went to breakfast on a first date once. I find that in this city, dates are less typical – they’re more like hang-outs.
As I mentioned, most NYC dates take place at a bar, late at night. I’ve never really heard of a date without alcohol; even grabbing a meal seems a little too serious for New York first date standards. And in New York, your date will be far more candid about wanting to take it to the bedroom. If you don’t end up going home together, s/he may take it as a sign that you’re not interested.
How can I not mention the force of the Irish mother? Here in Dublin, it unfortunately matters what your guy’s mother thinks of you. These days, if you’re dating in New York, you’re likely dating someone from Elsewhere, U.S., and so hang outs with your S/O’s family aren’t common because they don’t live nearby.
While being genuinely lovely and hospitable, Irish mothers may, behind the scenes, be skeptical or wary of your intentions with their beloved son – especially if you’re not Irish. To use a personal example, my partner’s mother (who I now spend time with regularly), has told me numerous times that she’s relieved I didn’t turn out to be “a typical American” (I’m still not really sure how to respond). However, she also says she’s relieved I’m not like his typical South Dubliner ex-girlfriend, “who was materialistic and wore too much makeup.” I guess it’s the mother’s way of saying “I like you,” while also saying “I have some expectations.” No pressure!
While Irish guys generally may be looking for something more special than a one night stand, hookup culture still exists. But there’s a less serious approach to the whole game of “getting the shift” or “scoring” in a club or bar. Here it’s more about the chats or banter, and the back and forth of jokes and laughter. The actual journey toward the “score” is almost more fun and important than the score itself. Ultimately, in all scenarios, Dubliners are just up for having the craic!
The same can’t really be said for New York City. What can I say? New Yorkers are a goal-oriented people. For someone on the prowl, it’s almost as if the conversation doesn’t matter unless you’re sure it’s going to end in the way you want.
This leads me to the dates that don’t amount to anything or the advances that don’t make it to the next level. This might be the biggest difference in my opinion, because it speaks to the general character of each city.
Dublin has a “no hard feelings” character. If a guy flirts with you or asks for your number to no avail, hey, no hard feelings. Off he goes, dancing his way to someone else – but not before a self-deprecating comedy routine. And if you go on a date without quite hitting it off, no hard feelings! Because it’s such a small city, I sometimes bump into former dates that never amounted to anything, and we always stop for a chat. When I first moved back here a year ago, I went out for a pint with a guy, but we didn’t hit it off in any personal way – it was mutual. However, from that point on, would invite me to parties and events where he knew I could meet people. What a gent!
New Yorkers, on the other hand, don’t take kindly to rejection. You might get cursed out if you snub someone, and you certainly won’t speak with the person again if the date didn’t go too swimmingly. It’s a city where men take themselves very seriously, and have an air of self-importance. It may lead him to react adversely if he doesn’t get his way.
Do you have experience dating in Ireland vs dating in the US? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.
Kayla Hertz, a former editorial assistant for IrishCentral, pursued her dream of moving to Ireland last year. In the fall, she’ll be starting an MFA program in Dublin.