Dissecting the Modern American Male

Dating Non-Americans: Pros And Cons

Recently an article from the New York Observer came across my inbox. The article talks about how the best way to find a meaningful relationship is to find Non-Americans. The article goes so far as to even suggest places where one can find a sexy foreigner (grad school hangouts at Columbia or NYU, for example). In other words, there is some fatal flaw in the Modern American Male that makes them categorically undesirable when compared to non-Americans.

I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic for two reasons. First, there is a deeper component to this that should be mentioned. Secondly, I found the article to be not only trite, but also patronizing and overly-subjective. Also, on a personal level, the Observer is well known to cater to a certain class of Manhattan elitists, so when they publish articles like this, I think it is important to call them out, or at least offer a thoughtful rebuttal.

I tried to find some anecdotal background on the topic, and there are countless articles and blogs that mention some interesting idiosyncrasies in dating Non-American. (You can even watch Emma Watson give her two cents about it here.) First, almost everybody agrees that Non-Americans dress better, but more importantly, Non-American men are seen as more communicative, appreciative, and affectionate than their American counterparts.

In addition, apparently only Americans like to “date around”. In Europe, as in Asia, once there is mutual romantic interest between a man and a woman, they are deemed Boyfriend-Girlfriend. In the US, men will spread their romantic interest across multiple channels, slowly weaning away the options until they find one that they think worthy enough to have “the conversation” with. Almost like choosing a major between your freshman and sophomore years.

But, (there is always a But), non-Americans are looser when it comes to philandering. While they are monogamous in their romantic interest, they are polygamous in their sexual interests, and romantic solidarity does not necessarily imply sexual exclusivity. This goes for the women as well, BTW. In other words, non-Americans show a greater inclination to separate purely sexual interests from the relationship, whereas Americans relationships monopolize both sexual and romantic desires.

Let’s take this a step further and look at it from the academic perspective. Multiple papers come to the same conclusion: Even though there is superficial interest in dating foreigners, there is an underlying subconscious preference that pushes you to date someone of similar of a similar cultural or ethnic background. An interesting article by Fisman, Iyengar, Kamenica, and Simonson summarizes this point nicely:

“We are able to document convincingly that same-race pairings are the result of preferences rather than exposure to dating opportunities”

In other words, if some woman is on her Junior Year Abroad in Barcelona, odds are very strong that she will end up pairing with another American because of underlying preference, even though she is entirely surrounded by available Spaniards.

What does this all mean?

First, it means that the premise for the Observer article is an isolated example and should be taken with a grain of salt. But more importantly, it means that the undesirable qualities of dating Modern American Men are a mirror image of dating Modern American Females. American guys date around and are less attentive and affectionate, but so are the women! And like attracts like!

And here is the harsh reality: If you are trying to find a guy who is more attentive, more willing to commit, and more communicative about a relationship, you should consider your own actions and ask yourself if you are acting in the same undesirable way as the average guy. It sounds a bit callous, but if you interpret the research, the annoying dating habits of the Modern American Male are simply a mirror image of the Modern American Female, and the only way to avoid these habits is to break the cycle entirely.

Incidentally, there are tons of articles about the reverse effect: American men talking about their interest in Non-American women for various reasons. You can Google it yourself and come to the same conclusions.


Hugh Grant image via Geek Tyrant

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=618803087 Mélodie Melo

    I’m from France and I have to say : I disagree completely with this entire article. ” In Europe, as in Asia, once there is mutual romantic interest between a man and a woman, they are deemed Boyfriend-Girlfriend.” I can’t tell for Asian people, but in Europe, you can’t generalize that behaviour. I don’t think the way european people approach relationship is that much different than in the USA, except that we have to put a label on a relationship. I never heard anyone in France talking about “having the talk” in which they decide if they was boyfriend/girlfriend or not. It just something that happen after some time, but it doesn’t mean either that, during that time, people don’t “date around”. But to be fair, in europe, we don’t really “date” the same way than you do in the united states. It’s less more… formal.
    “While they are monogamous in their romantic interest, they are polygamous in their sexual interests, and romantic solidarity does not necessarily imply sexual exclusivity.” What ? Is this implying that european tend to have “open relationship” a lot more. Because I don’t think it’s true… I haven’t witnessed it. It’s kind of a stereotype.
    So, from my experience of europe and the united states, what you’re saying here is mostly stereotype that have a little truth in it, but only a little. Just like saying european men are more attractive or affectionate. They are not. Some of them are but it has nothing to do with the fact that they are european.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601357470 Alice Turnbull

    I agree with the above comment. Also, has anyone considered that maybe the fact that the non-American is – by definition – a foreigner living in America makes them more attractive, i.e. they are the sort of adventurous personality who would seek new experiences. They have also chosen America as their destination, so is likely to have an interest in American culture in common with American potential dates.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=289400654 Philippa Claire MacDuff

    I think it’s a bit weird to refer to ‘dating non-Americans’ and generalise traits that seem to be shared by ‘non-Americans’ – does this refer to people of every world nationality except the US? I am Irish, living in England and dating a South African. South Africans are typically very different from the Irish, however as two non-Americans I can assure you that we are not ‘polygamous in our sexual interests’. I found this statement quite insulting.

    I see that the writer is Israeli – do you think the traits you have described are a standard in Israel?

    Another point – yes I do agree with you that an American living in Spain for a year is likely to date another American, however not necessarily due to a preference but it’s natural to find allies in people from similar backgrounds when in an alien country where everyone speaks a language that is foreign to you…

    In other words, I agree with Melodie above on all counts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=121507820 Allye Vice

    I’m from Canada, and the attitude here is similar (finding a successful relationship with a non-American, or in my case, non-Canadian). I don’t think it’s necessarily about a flaw in the Modern Male in a North American country, but rather, it’s about finding someone with a different culture, or different experience than your own. I’ve had relationships with Canadian men, in which they were ‘successful’ (of course they did end – they didn’t end on a catastrophic level, just with the understanding that we weren’t right for each other, which I consider successful)
    There is always the hope that someone with a different culture than my own might bring something new and interesting to the table. When you are around North American men your whole life, and then you meet someone European, or Australian, or even from the other side of the country as you are – there is going to be a bit of intrigue there.
    So, while I don’t agree with the way this article goes about it (defining the different levels of monogamy seems incorrect – I know plenty of couples in open relationships where both are North American, and they wouldn’t have it any other way) I do agree that changing a dating pattern can change the result of the eventual relationship.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1607591 Kendra Williams-Valentine

    and let’s not forget… If you date someone truly not accustomed to dating an American woman, you will soon find assumptions such as the male being chivalrous and paying for dates, and big diamond rings for engagements a waste of time. It is not a given in Europe, and I know many American women who would be offended at the thought.

    I live in Stockholm, and have a Swedish boyfriend… after 2 years we are still not always on the same page when it comes to relationship roles.

    I am very glad to hear you challenge such an absurd article. Even though my boyfriend is European, I can tell you American men do just fine… got to know how to pick them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1259760068 Caitlyn Bellinger

    There are so many different types of Americans and non-Americans that it is hardly fair to stereotype dating personalities of entire nations. Even in the small town in the US that I live in, the diversity in dating personalities of my acquaintances alone is incredible. Take any relationship advice with a grain of salt, whether it’s from a magazine or your mom, and do what you feel is right :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14102782 Caroline Jeffery

    eh, i think it’s mostly about being attracted to someone that’s “different” or “exotic.” i dated a guy in college who was originally from pakistan and while our initial attraction had nothing to do with our respective homelands, i’ll admit i felt kind of cool and free-spirited to be seen as dating such an “exotic” type of person. of course that kind of yearning for some kind of social status is ridiculous, and it was never an actual part of our relationship, but i think it’s just fun to romanticize about falling in love with a foreigner, ya know, like how it happens in the movies? there’s the romanticized version that says it’s a real, quantifiable thing, and then there’s reality which is just about two people being compatible with one another.

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