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Relationships in Italy versus America

Posted by on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 in 2017 Blog post.


In my Italian class this semester, in typical Italian fashion, we discussed love and romance extensively. Throughout these class discussions, I began to notice the disparities between the amount of people in long-term relationships in Italy versus those in America. In order to find out more regarding these dichotomies, I interviewed my new-found friend Daniella {male//25] from the Rent-A-Scooter shop. The interview only reinforced the differences I had already discovered between American youth’s casual outlook on intimate relationships–now often referred to as “hookup culture”–compared to Italian’s increasingly committed outlook on romantic relationships. I was inclined to delve deeper into this topic because of the prominence of “hookup culture”–a culture that encourages casual sexual encounters and avoids emotional connections or long-term commitment–amongst people my age, especially at Vanderbilt University, as well as the acute differences between this and Italian dating culture.

During my interview, Daniella was in complete shock when I described the concept and huge presence of hookup culture in the United States to him. It was evident that behavior perpetuated through hookup culture in America would be unacceptable, and even looked down upon, in Italian culture amongst people in the same age bracket. Casual “hook-ups” with people you have just recently met are few and far between, even unheard of, in Italy. I believe that these differences are products of the different night-life atmospheres in the two countries. In America, it is common to find forms of inappropriate dancing and aggressive flirting at parties as adolescents abuse drugs and alcohol, using their effects as an excuse to make poor, and even dangerous, sexual decisions throughout the night. Conversely, in Italian night clubs, I have witnessed people of my age sitting with a group of friends while meeting new people, exchanging phone numbers, getting a few drinks, and talking for lengthy amounts of time. As a member of a fraternity myself, I found these disparities both shocking and refreshing. Young Italians evidently place an increased value on conversation, versus than America’s fondness for physical intimacy. Italians do not go into a club expecting to leave with someone, but, instead focus on meeting new people and conversing while they are there, building emotional connections and going on dates with those who they “click” with. They play a much more respectable dating game which explains Daniella’s description of all Italian girls having boyfriends. It is actually more common to be in a relationship than to not be in one in Italy which differs drastically from America, where the majority of teens and young adults seem to have little interest in dating until later in life.

Daniella himself has been in three long-term relationships each lasting from 2-4 years. Not only is dating more common in Italy, but they often last much longer than American relationships, which often end in less than one year. The correlation between dating and the slow-paced Sicilian lifestyle is evidenced by the fact that Italians usually date for 5-6 years before marriage and people don’t begin to marry until around age 35. Additionally, Italians usually live with their parents until marriage–a stark contrast from American lifestyle where adolescents usually leave the house at age 18. All this evidence exemplifies the relaxed, slow-paced, and enjoyable Sicilian lifestyle. Italians are more content with delayed gratification, evidenced by their non-adoption, and even rejection, of American hookup culture. They would prefer to go on dates and get to know the other person to test one another’s compatibility. Moreover, Italians are in no rush to get married and are perfectly content with dating for years prior.

In my opinion, this culture and way of life is far more admirable and becoming than dating in America, where many people are merely concerned with using others for personal gain. Italians’ love for romance, genuine interest in the lives of others, and easy-paced lifestyle greatly appeals to me. The Italians are reaping the benefits of said lifestyle, with lower divorce rates, happier marriages, and an enhanced easy-going lifestyle. My time in Italy has made me inclined to adopt more of the citizens’ attitudes towards life and love and the dichotomies between my own culture and theirs has opened my eyes to just what I’m missing out on.

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