Doesn’t it feel like everything was simpler back when our parents and grandparents were growing up? Not only could you see a movie for 25 cents but it seems like dating was overall a more wholesome and enjoyable experience. Maybe your parents were high school sweethearts or met in their local coffee shop but these adorable stories don't happen as often today as they used to. Since the introduction of dating app like Tinder and Bumble, the way we date has changed drastically. This new style of online dating has brought on a whole mess of new rules and dating norms. While you may think that many of these Western dating norms are strange and irritating, there are some dating customs from foreign lands that may make you think our dating culture is simple by comparison.
19. Australia Is Very Friends First
No one wants to be in the dreaded friend zone, however, in Australia being in the friend zone often leads to romantic relationships. Dating is a more casual affair in the land down under and long-term relationships are often formed from friendships. In addition, it isn’t left up to the man to ask the woman out first and singles will often meet with other friends in group settings. So if you want a chilled out dating experience the Australian Outback is probably the place for you!
18. A Little Help Goes A Long Way
Japan is known for their many technological advances (and Hello Kitty) but when it comes to dating some Japanese citizens are opting for a more traditional approach. Many young singles in Japan are turning to a classic tradition called omiai. This is a dating style where a professional matchmaker assists the suitor by looking into the background of potential matches and assisting with dating arrangements. Before the potential couple even meets, the matchmaker makes sure they are well-suited for one another and even exchanges pictures between the singles and their families. Of course, matchmakers have been around since time immemorial and these type of arranged matches were often used for political alliances between countries and royal families. The process of omiai has been updated for modern purposes and huge Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi even use matchmakers to set up coworkers on dates. You know what they say, some things never go out of style.
17. Rice To Meet You
An old saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well, the women of a group called Miao in Southwest China know the accuracy of this age old axiom. This group has a holiday similar to Valentine’s Day called Sisters’ Meal Festival. During this time, women make sticky rice in various colors, roll it in a handkerchief and give it as a gift to their potential suitors.
While this sounds like a fun way to get acquainted with a future partner, for men it can actually be a pretty harsh form of rejection. If a girl wants to tell her suitor that she is interested, she will place two red chopsticks inside of the roll of rice. If she is not, however, she will only put one chopstick inside.
Even worse, if a woman wants to make it clear that she is completely rejecting someone, she will place garlic or chili inside the rice. Ouch.
16. Money Can Buy Me Love?
Men often buy gifts for women while courting, but have you ever heard of a man being so infatuated with a woman that he actually buys her? In Chiang Rai, a province in Thailand, the practice of buying a bride is more common than you would imagine. In this province once a man and a woman get to know each other a bit and decide they’d make a good match, they head straight for the bride’s house and begin negotiations for the man to purchase his beloved. The man will speak with the bride’s mother and come to an agreement of a fair price before the couple can live happily ever after.
15. You Better Dress Your Best
In Western society it is common for people to feel the need to dress to impress on a date. In the African tribe of Wodaabe, however, the men specifically need to try and entice women through their choice of wardrobe.
In this culture there is even a courtship festival called Gerewol where the men compete with one another through dance to earn the admiration of the local ladies. Quite the opposite of what we’re used to in the West, dating is a relaxing process for women of Wodaabe but not for the men who dance for hours in the sweltering African heat just to get a date!
14. Amish You So Much
Although the Amish aren’t a foreign group as there are many Amish communities in North America, their dating customs are notable as they are so unique. Since the Amish don’t use modern technology such as dating apps, their courting procedure isn’t modern either. An Amish girl will typically meet a suitor at church as this is the biggest social meeting place for young people. If an Amish man is interested in a woman, he will offer her a buggy ride home. If that ride goes well the couple will spend an evening together in the woman’s home and move onto the Amish custom known as “bundling.” During this process, the couple gets into bed, fully clothed and spends a platonic night together under the same blanket.
13. PDA In Brazil
Those of us who hate public displays of affection should refrain from dating in Brazil as this is a common practice there. In addition to letting the public know, it is also common for a Brazilian to introduce their romantic partner to their parents fairly early on in the dating process. While most Westerners save this relationship milestone for a long term relationship, Brazilians get it out of the way even as early as the first date. Hey, if your parents don’t like your date, it’s good to find out fast!
12. From Russia With Love
When it comes to dating in Russia traditional roles and chivalry are the norm. It is very common for men to show up with lavish gifts on dates or even make large romantic gestures. A man will show his gentlemanly side by opening doors, pulling out chairs and never allowing a woman to pay or even split the bill.
But we have to warn you, if you ever bring flowers for a date in Russia make sure you buy a bouquet with an odd number of flowers. Even numbers of flowers are only for funerals and the date might end pretty quickly if you make that mistake.
11. Endless Anniversaries In South Korea
If you’re planning to find love in South Korea you might want to buy a calendar because there are a lot of anniversaries you’ll have to remember. Like North America, South Korea observes Valentine’s day but unlike North Americans they have about ten more holidays that revolve around romance. There is White Day on March 14th where men give presents to their loves, Rose day on May 14th where couples exchange roses, and Kiss day on June 14th where people kiss everyone they meet. Just to name a few.
10. No Pressure In Sweden
While some of the dating rituals we’ve discussed so far come with a lot of pressure, in Sweden they’ve found a way to relieve stress that comes with relationships. The Swedish word “fika” roughly translates to no-pressure dating over a cup of coffee. This is where two people will get to know each other and even flirt a little. Forget the fancy dinners and lavish gifts, coffee is a no pressure way to say “I’d like to get to know you.” Once a couple has decided to become exclusive, however, the fika stops and the romance begins.
9. Finicky Finns
Finland can get pretty chilly and it seems as though the winter weather has hardened many hearts. In this northern nation, public displays of affection are discouraged and romantic gestures are somewhat repressed. While we’re sure that there are many happy couples in Finland, the people are pretty keen on keeping their feelings to themselves. There’s even a saying in the country that the Finnish only kiss each other twice in a relationship, the day they get married and the day they die.
8. Croatian Coin
Proposals can get pretty lavish these days with men making giant gestures of their love in public spaces. Many brides expect to receive sparkling engagement rings and bouquets of roses but not so in Croatia! When a man proposes in Croatia he presents his future bride with a coin stuck inside of an apple. If the woman accepts the apple then the couple is engaged! While this is more of a traditional offering, the coin is sometimes replaced with cookies or candy. Some may prefer a diamond but we think candy is a good runner up.
7. Lend Me Your Hand
Chivalry is alive and well in Austria! The men here will often greet the opposite gender with a kiss on the hand. While you may think this gesture is a relic of the past only to be found in 1950s films, not so in Austria. In addition to this public display, Austrians are sometimes known to become physical pretty early on in the dating process.
6. Marriage Markets
Much like in Japan, there also seems to be somewhat of a matchmaking boom in China. The process in China, however, is a lot more public than it is in Japan. In the bustling city of Shanghai there is actually something called a marriage market. Here, parents of unmarried children literally sit outside and “advertise” their children to potential suitors with signs. This market takes place every weekend from noon until 5pm (look it up, it’s a real thing)! What makes this even more embarrassing is that most kids don't give their parents permission or even know that their parents attend the market!
5. He Loves Me (Or Not)
If you’re not a fan of playing games when it comes to dating, we would not suggest that you try and find love in Spain. We don’t mean board games like Monopoly, we mean waiting to text someone back for a week so you don’t come off as “too eager.” The Spanish are all about passion so they really love “the chase.” This often goes on for long periods of time before a couple even makes it to the first date. It sounds exhausting!
4. Me Before You
While many may consider a man holding doors open for a women to be a chivalrous act, in Italy it’s slightly different. Here it is even more polite for a man to enter a room before a woman but it’s not what you think! Italian men do this with the notion that they are protecting the woman from any danger that may be afoot in the room.
Another country where massive romantic gestures are pretty common place is Mexico. In addition to being a pretty romantic society, Mexico is more traditional when it comes to gender roles. This means that if your potential girlfriend’s father doesn’t like you, he’ll have the final say on whether or not you date her! In some cases her grandfather will have input too.
2. The Land Of Love
France, the land of baguettes, berets and French kissing. Well, not so much the last one. While France is often thought of as the land of romance and passion, couples tend to keep the PDA to a minimum before they make their relationship status official. Once things get serious, public affection is totally accepted but it would be considered strange if the couple hasn’t been dating for long.
1. Arranging Love
Although contemporary dating does occur in India today, there are still some parents who choose to arrange their children’s marriages. This custom is not as common today as it once was as more Indian kids are choosing to date in secret and they often struggle with the idea of not being allowed to choose their partners. However, some are happy to practice this custom as it often takes out a lot of the complications that occur in modern day dating. Whether or not the lack of modern complications results in a better long term result is up to the couple.