Generalizing an entire country is tough. Generalizing an entire country as big and as varied as the United States is even tougher, especially when it comes to a topic as nebulous as American dating culture.
To even begin to draw some legitimate conclusions about American dating culture, you’d have to first break the country down into eight distinct regions and cultures, or narrow things down to a specific metro area. For the record, OkCupid data says New York City is one of the worst places in the United States for anyone who likes getting responses to their messages, and Miami is the place where you’re most likely to get ghosted.
Still, love will always try to find a way, and we will proceed in our largely unscientific quest to arrive at some truthiness about American flirting habits.
Take good notes, and remain optimistic about your prospects. You never know when this advice will come through with the goods — or when Babbel will prove to be your unexpected wingperson.
Keep It Casual
The anecdotal evidence points to an overarching trend: Americans (the younger ones especially) are generally more dressed down when it comes to their appearance and their attitude toward relationships.
This “low-maintenance” approach means you probably won’t lose points for rolling up at the dive bar in a T-shirt and sneakers. It does mean, however, that you might go wrong by turning your flirtation into a big to-do.
Americans generally do not not have as much finesse in their approach to courtship as, say, Europeans, who are known for a tendency to be effortlessly charming and slick, or perhaps be so good at flirting that they don’t always mean what they say. A 2010 study of “flirtation behavior” that analyzed 90 million interactions made on dating site Badoo.com found that U.S. women ranked second to last on the global scale of “flirtatiousness.” In case you’re curious, Spanish women came in first.
The American flirting style tends to be more direct and sincere, and American women especially have been noted for their confident approach (which means they’re also a little more likely, in a heterosexual dynamic, to make the first move). According to one study, female users in the United States are the most likely to initiate conversations online.
“Casual” applies to commitment, too. More and more, being single in America means taking it slow and keeping your options open for a while. It’s not at all unusual for people to be seeing or talking to multiple prospects at once, especially if they’re using a dating app.
To successfully flirt with an American, treat them like a friend, don’t expect too much all at once, and aim to be down to earth in your approach.
Ask Them What They Do For A Living
It’s true: America loves the grind, and many people define themselves by either their work or their passion projects. It’s also not at all unusual to be juggling both at the same time.
Though it might be rude or kind of gauche to ask someone “what they do” in another country, it’s completely normal and expected in the United States.
By all means, take the conversation to a slightly more interesting place if you feel so inclined. But if you’re looking for an easy icebreaker to get the conversation rolling, this is a perfectly fine way to start.
Be Egalitarian In Your Approach
Egalitarianism also probably skews to a younger and more urban demographic, but those who have experience dating people from different countries often say Americans are a little less hung up on traditional gender roles, which goes hand-in-hand with the bit about women making the first move. For instance, you might find that people in the U.S. are generally more open to splitting the bill on a date.
Beyond gender, though, the egalitarian nature of American romance is generally about two people each pulling their weight to make things happen. It’s common for both parties to participate in making plans and following up with each other. So if you find yourself doing all the work, or expecting the other person to, you might want to try to aim for balance instead.
Know The Difference Between Flirting And Friendliness
This might be a dynamic that’s entirely specific to Americans and Brits, but more than one American who’s ventured across the pond has found that their friendliness can often be mistaken for flirtation in the United Kingdom.
Americans are an outgoing, smiley bunch, so you shouldn’t assume that every conversation is an invitation to romance. Again, if an American is interested in you, it’s entirely likely they won’t leave you guessing.
Familiarize Yourself With The American Sense Of Humor
This relative lack of subtlety can sometimes translate to the American sense of humor as well. Americans are not as dry and sarcastic as, say, Brits and Australians, but they are extremely goofy. If you find that your jokes are whooshing over your American cutie’s head, aim for more “silly” and less “subtle.”
In fact, Americans were voted the world’s funniest nationality in a global poll conducted in 2011.
In short: we can (and often do) do better than Adam Sandler humor, but we can’t fault you if that’s the stereotype you’ve developed in your head.