Well I say that the myth of the Italian cheater is as prominent as the myth of the Latin Lover and the response to query about the existence of either is the same: it depends. Some might argue that you can’t generalize entire populations and that the question at the heart of the matter is actually, are MEN cheaters? So instead of trying to make blanket statements, I’ll just tell you what I know. To my knowledge, my husband has never cheated and we’ve been together ten years now. To which you might say, that’s an exception, I can’t really use my own personal story as an example. However, I have spent the last ten years in the company of his male friends and I can also tell you that they have all, with the exception of one or two, had STEADY girlfriends for multiple years, although less than half are actually married. So that’s interesting right…they are young but not chicks by any means, closer to 40 than 30 let’s say. But unmarried. Young Italians are doing a lot of co-living (I don’t think we actually say this in English but it’s my attempt at a direct translation of the Italian “convivere” which would just be our “living together”). Some skeptics or the realists say this is due to lack of commitment, as if one of the two (usually the male) is unwilling to get married and settle down. In all honesty, I see it more for economic reasons, two incomes are often required to buy and maintain a house in Italy and weddings are killer expensive so understandably, young couples need some time to save up for these things. Maybe that’s what they’re waiting for? Going back to context examples, I’d like to case-study my colleagues. My non-married male colleagues probably have an average age of 27 with more than half being “fidanzatissimi” (super boo’d up) and the other half actively looking.
We are based in small-town Italy and SMALL-TOWN ITALY IS LIKE SMALL-TOWN ANYWHERE. Couples pair off extremely young, I’m going to say around sixteen although for many it’s even young and they stay together. This always baffles me because sixteen year old me is so different from (almost) thirty year old me and I would never want to give up the hurrah of the single years in-between but there’s also the benefit of growing together as a couple that is so lovely. In regards to cheating, in a small town in Italy, IT IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO CHEAT. I mean this in a logistical sense because everyone knows everyone and the nonne (grandmas) are watching from their front door stoops or terraces. The entire town knows that Matteo and Laura have been dating since le superiori (high school) and thus forth, if Matteo even steps out one night with Federica, the whole world is going to know in less time than you can say pizza. It’s just impossible. So to cheat, you need to put in a ton of effort (and funds). You probably need to drive out somewhere, leave a car in an abandoned field and drive ten more towns away and even so, it’s risky. For this reason, I would say small-town Italian men are for the most part, not cheaters. HOWEVER, I can assume that the temptation to cheat would be there without a doubt and perhaps these are the situations where, given a chance (ex: a work trip abroad, a boy's trip, basically anything without direct nonna supervision), cheating could happen.
Big city on the other hand, it’s a different story. The boys in metropolitan cities like Milan and Rome or anywhere where British and American girls go on “scholastic exchanges” (hey, I know what you’re exchanging, no judgement at all)…they are used to OPTIONS, ones that are there for fun and with an expiry date on them in the form of a return ticket over the Atlantic Ocean. But then it’s like any other big city in the world right? That culture is always there, like New York City dating. So many options, so little time and so little commitment needed. You can cheat on your girlfriend, ghost your foreign fling, and never be worried about running into either.
Finally, I think we always give men a bad reputation but I always like to remind people that IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO. So if someone's man-friend is cheating, that means there's a woman out there doing the same thing, possibly to a boyfriend or husband as well. In fact, my expat girlfriends in Italy would be more apt to say that we hear more stories of women cheating than men. Go figure. In the end, maybe this is all much ado about nothing.
Have you cheated or been cheated on in Italy? Have commentary to share on Italian men or dating in general? Leave me a comment and let’s chat!
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