Since the success of the post Why Are There So Many American Girls with Italian Boys? and all of the dialogue stemming from that topic, I’ve been itching to delve deeper into this concept. This fire is further stoked by each love story I receive and publish on a weekly basis (so many Italian/non-Italian couples out there!). In brainstorming more ideas and soliciting the help of fellow expat friends, one of them said to me,
“… there must be some underlying similarities with the Italian men who choose American women too. For example, we often joke that M is ‘Americanized’ from so many years in the USA. He was there during his formative years after all.”
That got me thinking, she’s absolutely right. In fact, of all the Italian husbands and boyfriends I’ve met, I’ve gotten along wonderfully with. I’ve maybe even thought of stealing one or two in the past, just kidding ladies! But this must mean something. It must mean that all these IHOPs have something in common with one another than makes them more attracted to and vice versa, more attractive to…non-Italians. If you’re wondering what an IHOP is, well it’s very specific and scientific terminology that I’ve spent years researching. Seeing as WAGs = wives and girlfriends, but HABs (Husbands and Boyfriends) doesn’t sound as cool, I’m going to invent “IHOPs” = Italian Husbands Or Potential ones. That's right, just like the International House of Pancakes because pancakes are delicious and so are Italian Husbands or Potential ones. In order to provide you with the most up-to-date, accurate information, I enlisted the help of five Italian men and their respective non-Italian significant others, so that's a total of TEN experienced, professional opinions coming together for this post. For thoroughness, the non-Italian women are from the following countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the USA. The Italian men are Italian.
Here is what we, the expert panel, concluded to be the top five characteristics that our Italian men have in common with each other (for the record, thoughts on the subject were gathered via Whatsapp and in person):
1. Anglo-linguistic Love: these men don’t just “get by” in English or “tolerate it”, they really, really love it to some degree. All Italians study English nowadays and many can speak it conversationally or can at the very least, survive a weekend jaunt to New York City. But our men are INTO it. They love watching TV series in the original language, trying out new slang expressions and idioms, and generally just show some increased curiosity towards English compared to their counterparts. This observation leads to the next point which is in fact, curiousness.
2. Curiousness: They say “curiosity killed the cat” (here’s one for your books dear IHOPs) but in this case, curiosity got is what got you the cat…*I’m silently laughing in my head at my dirty joke, did you get it?!*. Anyways, what’s important here is the characteristic trait of being curious. It’s actually a rarity here I’ve found, Italians do a lot of things very well – food, architecture, art, cars, fashion, and because they do so much so well, I think this makes them less curious, as if there’s not a whole lot of reason to look beyond Italy for new experiences because the best is already here. However, IHOPs with foreign women tend to be on average, more curious. This is hard to illustrate or to explain through words so here’s a clear example of the difference between a normal Italian man and one of our IHOPs:
An “exotic” Saturday night dinner choice:
Normal Italian IHOP
City break if money wasn’t an option:
Normal Italian IHOP
New York City or L.A. Kuala Lumpar or Kathmandu
Normal Italian IHOP
Route 66, The Maldives Patagonia, African Safari
4. Experience abroad: Now I’m not certain if this is a chicken-egg debate, but all of our IHOPs (except one) have had an experience abroad at some point in their life whether for studying or for working. You might say “well duh, and that’s how you met them so this point isn’t valid” but keep this in mind…50% of the couples met in Italy or anyhow, NOT in the country where the Italian man in question worked or studied abroad. Which means that AFTER they had their experience abroad, they came back to Italy and happened to knock boots with a foreigner. Coincidence? I think not.
5. Determination: It’s not easy doing long distance and it’s not easy to make a mixed-culture relationship work all the time. There are communication issues, there are bureaucratic issues, there are financial issues (who is going to buy the round-trip ticket this time?)…there are so many more problems to be faced than if these IHOPs just got together with a nice Italian girl from their town. Think about how much easier their lives would be?! They probably would have friends in common, they’d probably know all the same places, the same priest, and share not just a language but a dialect as well. Which brings me to the final point that all our IHOPs have in common: they are fucking determined. They chased us even though they knew they’d be in for mountains of paperwork and visas. They Skyped every weekend, sent letters by airmail and e-mails that we’d wake up to despite the 10 hour time difference. They went the distance for us when not everyone would and that speaks volumes about the kind of men that we’re talking about here. Thanks guys, vi vogliamo bene!
Some of my favorite mixed couples are featured below, click on the photos to read their love stories.
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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)