Also, in an attempt to avoid having to write American/Canadian/Australian/British/Scottish/etc every time, I've just used "American" or at times "North American" rather liberally to cover all of these, sorry about that but it just makes for easier reading.
I’m a bit of a creep. Stalker-ish even. I’m just going to admit it. Who do I stalk? Couples just like my husband and I. Couples where the boy is Italian and the girl isn’t. In most cases, she’s usually from the UK or one of its commonwealth nations (go Canada!) or of course, America. It’s part of the reason I started the Love Stories Series in the first place, to have a legitimate excuse to ask all the big questions. I’m just so insanely curious to KNOW about these relationships, to know about their inner workings, how it all started and most importantly, WHY. Why are there so many foreign girls with Italians? Why have these relationships been so interesting to watch unfold (on YouTube, for example), what makes them so intriguing and what makes them work?
Over the past little bit, I’ve interacted with and connected with so many couples, both virtually and in real life, and there’s actually some underlying themes in all of our relationships, common threads that seem to link our stories. In this post, I wanted to talk about a few of them. The first one is contrary to popular belief: a good proportion of couples meet in America or somewhere other than Italy and then went through a brief or extended period of long-distance. This is strange to me because you inevitably think about the foreign tourist that comes to Italy for vacation and falls for an Italian but in all of these relationships that have turned into something far more serious seem to have their starts on the other side of the pond (by serious, let’s define this as lasting more than a couple years and seeing multiple trans-Atlantic flights and speaking about one-way tickets and eventually marriage). I met my husband in Canada. Tia Taylor met her boyfriend Enrico when he came to her high school in the US on exchange. Similar story to Carlo and Bailey I imagine, as they mention in one of their videos that they met in high school. Ditto for Sofie of Sofie’s World, she met her Italian boyfriend at a work conference in Spain. Angela and Davide met in Australia, her homeland while Davide was working there. Coral and Riccardo met in Scotland by chance in church. I think meeting abroad and then maintaining that relationship over a long-distance does wonders for relationships. You learn to communicate EXTREMELY WELL. Every time you are with that person feels like the first time. I mean, essentially the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” theory. Because you have to fight for this relationship adds some layer of romance that others don’t necessarily have.
The second theme I’ve noticed is that the girls tend to comment on how much the boys know about the world or that the boys have “opened their eyes”. *cue Aladdin singing “I can show you the world.”* Let me try to explain this because now it sounds like us poor, unfortunate North American girls are country bumpkins who have never been anywhere, seen anything, or done anything which is not the case at all. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I think Italian boys are more than willing to talk to you about certain topics that you would likely never discuss with an American boyfriend- Tia Taylor says she connected with Enrico over their chats on politics, history, and philosophy. I relate to this as I am also consistently blown-away by my husband’s casual commentary on historical events and art (even though he’s far from an art history major). Most of these things are just a part of the Italian education system and not as emphasized in the North American school system. What I'm trying to say is that an average Italian girl would probably not see this as anything special because they know the same things. So I guess more than that is the fact that Italians show you a different way to live and la dolce vita is pretty much irresistible to anyone. Plus they have Italy’s beauty on their side.
The third theme is related to the girls. We are all very extroverted and silly. I genuinely feel this is an American trait and maybe I’m going to get some contradictory and/or hate comments to this but I think it is not as prominent in Italian girls. Just to underline, I’m not saying that Italian girls are not extroverted and silly, there are certainly many that are, but as a generalization, if I had to choose where to put the heading “silly” I would put it on the American girl profile. We like to goof. We don’t care about making a bella figura (because it doesn’t really exist as a concept in North America). We makes fools out of ourselves and tend to not care very much. I’m also not saying that being this way is good or bad, it’s just how it is. That being said, I think that these traits are endearing (I hope!) to Italians who find us different, maybe from what they are used to, and what’s different is almost always intriguing at some point.
The fourth common factor is that in almost all cases, the girl is the mother tongue English speaker and the boy, being Italian, is obviously not. I feel like this dynamic serves as both a challenge and thus forth, a stimulating factor for the men who, as we all know, love a challenge. So basically you have this dynamic of where we, the girls, love their accents and they, the boys, are slightly out of their comfort-zone (out of comfort-zone = adrenaline and feelings of euphoria, an excess of endorphins which = happiness) for at least the beginning part of the courtship. The first part of the relationship is characterized by the girl having the “upper-hand” which is kind of exciting in a sense which is then replaced by a role-reversal if (as often happens) the girl travels or moves to Italy. Suddenly, we get a change in the relationship dynamics and now the boy is getting to teach Italian to us and we are dependent on them for almost everything in the beginning until we get integrated and they feel all “provider/protector” in this phase. In short, I believe that this flip-flopping of roles in the relationship helps to keep it interesting and exciting and therefore contributes immensely to overall success of the couple.
To end this post, I just want to say that it’s not like you can just take any American/English etc girl (Jane Smith) and throw her together with an Italian boy (Mario Rossi of course) and they are going to be Couple of the Year. No, of course compatibility, shared interests and values and blah, blah, blah go into a successful relationship, it’s not just about mixing cultures. That being said, these four things were just mere observations I’ve made from secretly “observing” *cough, cough, stalking, cough* famous and not-so-famous mixed English/Italian couples. I’ve included videos of some of the ones I mentioned in this post below for your viewing pleasure! I'll also be featuring Sofie and Emilio's love story very soon on the blog so stay tuned for that on Love Story Lunedì!
Tia Taylor and Enrico
Carlo and Bailey
Sofie and Emilio
Angela and Davide
Coral and Riccardo
Why We Love Italian Boys
The Double Standard Between Italian Street Harassment and American
Can Men and Women Be Friends? Here's How My Italian Colleagues Responded
Dating Diversity: Italy vs. Canada (and North America)
Cross-Cultural Dating: My First Jaw-Drop Moment with an Italian
Italian Men: The Unofficial Guide for Wives and Girlfriends
How to Snag (and Keep) an Italian Man
Asians and Italians…The Perfect Cross-Cultural Cocktail?
How to Date an Italian Man or Woman (From The Iceberg Project)