Frat Boys vs Gentlemen: dating on an exchange year
Are there many differences between dating in the UK and in the US? Having done both, Lucy Connors reveals the differences of dating across the pond. What could be better than a few awkward interactions when you’re stone-cold sober?
American boys, specifically Southern American boys, belong in a different era to our Exeter rugby lot. Dating in Florida is one thing that has really revealed how deep of a canyon there can be between English and American cultures. Before I agreed to go on a date here, I had never had somebody open the car door for me to get in. It feels such an extravagance to make your date get out of their car, walk round to the other side, and hold the door open for you like a chauffeur. This is a situation made all the more confusing when you add in the fact that I can still never remember which side is the passenger side; no, I wasn’t offering to drive.
the lackadaisical approach people have towards drink-driving here one of the most stark and uncomfortable cultural differences I have experienced.
From the get-go, the experience is much more formal than it is back home, and that’s before you factor in the actual date. You can’t just nip to the Impy for a few drinks. There is nothing remotely equivalent for several reasons. Americans don’t have pubs. They also don’t drink pints. Their drinking age is 21. I am not. There also aren’t any ways to get around without driving. Although this probably wouldn’t stop most people, the lackadaisical approach people have towards drink-driving here is one of the starkest and uncomfortable cultural differences I have experienced. But I suppose it provides a very easy way to identify a red flag. All of this means that if someone wants to take you out, it’s going to be on a date, not just any date. They want to go for dinner and an activity; museums or Top Golf, or everyone’s Tampa favourite, the Riverwalk.
I offered to split the bill once and the poor guy looked so offended he responded with “you must do things very differently back home in England”
This stems from the still prevalent idea of the ‘Southern Gentleman’. A trope that undeniably makes me feel like I’m in a Tennessee Williams play. Picture someone trying to act like Prince Charming while wearing flipflops. It’s been quite easy to get the ‘ick’ out here. I offered to split the bill once and the poor guy looked so offended he responded with “you must do things very differently back home in England“. He was right.
The first date I went on while I was out here was genuinely awful, the most awkward few hours of my entire exchange programme, and very nearly scarred me for life. And he wasn’t even a Frat Boy. If the formality of boys trying to be a perfect gentleman is one end of the spectrum, the other is very firmly occupied by Frat Boys. I think the experience that best sums up the attitude of those in Greek Life was when a member of Zeta Beta Theta* tried to get me to put my number in his phone and had to decline a phone call from what was very obviously his girlfriend, in order to do so. The American college stereotypes are almost entirely accurate. Yes, they do all have pictures on their Instagram of them holding fish.
a member of Zeta Beta Theta* tried to get me to put my number in his phone and had to decline a phone call from what was very obviously his girlfriend, in order to do so
While playing the dating game is not my favourite, you wouldn’t be mistaken in thinking that having a British accent certainly helps the score.
Edited by Ryan Gerrett