When I was breaking the news to my friends and family that I was moving to Italy I got a wide variety of responses but the one I enjoyed the most was giggling with my girlfriends about all the gorgeous Italian men waiting for me.
And there are some gorgeous Italian men, believe me.
But I am an American girl and I am comfortable admitting that I am out of my depth when dealing with Italian men. In my (very limited) experience, dating an Italian is like staring in your very own soap opera. Sometimes exciting, but mostly just full of eye-rolling moments.
Take my most recent Casanova for example:
Stage One: Romantic “meet-cute”
I was wandering around the canal district of Milan looking for a low-key place to grab dinner and maybe a few drinks. I normally have *very* good luck when picking a restaurant in a new city. Sometimes it takes a bit of looking, but I pretty much always find the perfect place. This time I found a blues club down the street from the canal. When I sat down and saw the menu I knew I had made a mistake but I ordered a drink and an appetizer. I am not kidding you when I say that this place had the worst food I have eaten my entire time in Italy. Really, it was the worst.
I was paying my bill and getting ready to leave when the pair at the next table asked me to join them. They turned out to to be cousins and the guy was very cute in an older, rugged kind of way. We talked for a little while and then the cute rugged guy asked me to dance. There was music, but no one was dancing. I said yes and before I knew it a party had exploded around us and everyone was dancing. Pretty freaking cute right?
By the end of the night he had slipped his bracelet onto my wrist and we’d made plans to meet the next day, and then the next weekend, and so on.
Stage Two: Inappropriate Professions of Love
Do you know what is not adorable? Being told “I Love You” by someone you just met a week earlier. Kind of makes a mockery of the sentiment, you know? I would also like to point out that I barely speak enough Italian to make myself understood and he speaks no english, so there is a very real limit to how much we can communicate with each other. There were no five-hour long conversations about our hopes and dreams. No deep, soul-baring confessionals. Just two people stumbling along trying to understand each other. So when I am being told “Ti amo, Ti voglio bene, and I love you” by this man I have good reason to doubt that he says these things in earnest. Rather, I get the sense that this is just what you do in a courtship, you say very romantic things that you don’t actually mean, which is the least romantic thing I can think of.
Stage Three: The Green-Eyed Monster
On top of the inappropriate professions of love, there are also the rages of jealousy. When I didn’t answer a text right away I got the passive-aggressive “Excuse me, I can see that you too busy to answer so I won’t bother you anymore” text (in Italian of course, which doesn’t make it anymore charming). When I told him that I liked him but he was putting too much pressure on me he gave me the cold shoulder, which was the breaking point for me.
*Please forgive me for getting on my dating soapbox, but I feel like I have to say this: Ladies, if anyone ever tries to emotionally punish you for knowing and maintaining your boundaries RUN AWAY. A man that doesn’t respect your boundaries will always be trouble. *
Stage Four: The Dramatic Goodbye
You can see where I am going with this right?
My grasp of Italian is not great, but I am pretty sure he told me that the bracelet he gave me for good luck would now bring me bad luck. Because we can’t just agree that we are incompatible, right? Now we have to start handing out curses?
Stage Five: The Post-Drama Overtures
So, a week goes by and I get a text from the charming Italian. Do you know what it says?
Really. I have no words.
I am sure stuff like this happens with men in every country, but it feels somehow exaggerated here in Italy. I can fully admit that I have a dramatic streak and I do like a little flair in a relationship, but shenanigans like this make me yearn for the kind of courtships you find in Jane Austen novels. I could do with a lot more Mr. Darcy and a lot less Casanova right now.