Monday, January 03, 2011

DATING IN NORTH AMERICA VS DATING IN SCOTLAND (Or: In Praise of Scottish Men, despite it all)

When I lived in Toronto, I dated quite a few guys. There was a ritual - boy meets girl, boy asks out girl on date, boy and girl discuss their compatibility, ambitions, and so on and so forth while on aforementioned date. In a nutshell: there is a dating culture in North America and both sexes are pretty self-aware as to what is involved. Sure, people can sometimes stray from the script, but in a culture that is permeated with rom-coms, we usually know what our roles are and what's expected of us.

In Scotland, it's not as straight-forward. When I first moved here, I had a lot of problems when it came to dating. I found that some guys wouldn't necessarily make the first move, even when it was obvious that both of us were interested. And if I decided to take charge and ask out a guy, some would react as if I was offering them my hand in marriage. And it's not as if Scottish men are afraid of commitment. Indeed, in my (almost) five years of living in Glasgow, I've found that most guys do not shy away from long-term relationships and in fact, a lot of guys WANT one here. Ladies, I KNOW!

You see, I just wasn't following the script of what was expected in Scotland - a country and culture that doesn't really have a history of dating and rom-coms.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, it was like everyone was just killing time to see if they could do better. Harsh, I know, but perhaps true? That's what it sometimes felt like anyway. Perhaps it's a big city thing and it's like that in London?

Nevertheless, in Glasgow, although there may not be a culture of dating, there are still some gender expectations that are firmly entrenched: men are men and should like football/ rugby, lager, blondes and boobs. Women, on the other hand, should like "girls nights out", spending money, and men with money to spend. A clumsy generalisation, sure, but still elements which, I feel, thrive over here; gender roles in the "macho west of Scotland", that people are expected to adhere to. Which isn't to say that Glaswegians are old-fashioned and/ or stuck in their ways. In fact, quite the opposite: I've found Glaswegians to be some of the most open and embracing people around. Once they hear an accent, Glaswegians want to know where you're from, what you're doing here, what you think and so on and so forth. Just don't talk religion and football and you'll be the best of pals.

When I first met my boyfriend, he thought I was a bit strange (which is probably somewhat accurate) and once remarked that it was "obvious" I wasn't Scottish, even just by "looking at me". At the time I joked it was probably because I didn't look malnourished. But I guess he was right - Scottish people do act and look a certain way (they're probably a lot more fashion conscious than I am, for example).

And so, here I am, currently in the longest relationship I've ever been in ( I KNOW! ) with a partner that still manages to make it feel right and yet sometimes, so foreign; he'll say we're having a "stooshie" and I'll reply, "a WHAT?!". I don't really know what makes it work (and to be honest, sometimes it doesn't always feel that way) but somehow it does (even though he is football mad, drinks more than I'm used to and like and speaks with a weird accent).


Ivy said...

Your description of Glaswegian guys makes them sound quite appealing. Are there a lot of cuties there? :P

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