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The 11 Differences Between Dating a European Man vs an American Man

Do you know the difference between dating a European man versus an American man? If not, read up!

Written by Amy C · 4 min read >
dating european men

I never thought that the cultural background of a dating prospect would make much of a difference when it came to relationships. However, since living in New York, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people from various backgrounds and it’s become clear that there are definite cultural norms specific to European men versus American men (especially New Yorkers).  I’m not to judge that one is better than the other, and mind you, my observations are based on my own experiences as well as a group of women I’ve interviewed in the last two years. The below is a list of some of the themes and commonalities observed. Now, when I discuss the differences between European and American, I’m referring to a mindset. You can very well be born in America but have a more “European” mindset and vice versa.

1. European men aren’t just aiming to score. American men on the other hand, tend to be goal oriented, with the aim of getting laid. Perhaps this ‘score mentality’ is for bragging rights, perhaps it’s for validation so they can feel wanted and desired, or perhaps it’s a pure ego play. American men will rush to get you in bed as quick as possible, while European men don’t appear to have the same rush (or desperation).

2. European men don’t ‘date’ – in the formal way that Americans are used to. The types of dates seen in movies – the formal ask, the fancy dinner and the entire dance that ensues simply doesn’t exist in the European mindset, in fact, the word “dating” isn’t even a part of their lexicon. Sure, they will go out for dinner and do fun activities, but it’s not packaged up in a formal and contrived manner.

3. European men aren’t into labelling. Unlike American culture, where there’s almost a rite of passage which takes two people from “hooking up” to “seeing each other” to “dating” to “exclusive”, these labels just aren’t a focus or concern for European men. They don’t over analyze the situation. Rather, the mentality is, “I like you, I want to see you, and if it’s enjoyable, let’s keep seeing each other”. It’s more organic and instead of defining the relationship in order to know how to act, they let the relationship unfold and the label of boyfriend/girlfriend just naturally develops in the process.

4.  European men are comfortable with women, which leads to respect for women. Perhaps this has to do with their upbringing, where it’s very normal for boys and girls to play and intermingle together. They grow up developing friendships with the opposite sex and in turn, develop more empathy and understanding of the opposite sex. In American culture, there is a clear segregation of the sexes, boys play with boys and do boy things and girls do the same. Then these boys grow up and are exposed to the opposite sex in an abrupt, often sexualized way.  The consequence of this is a lack of understanding of women, a lack of comfort and often, a lack of respect.

5. European men are raised to have great manners. This is definitely seen in how they treat not only women, but everyone around them. There is a courtesy, consideration, chivalry and thoughtfulness in how they act, behave and engage with others. They are also raised with strong family and community values, so there is a sense of responsibility and accountability for others, not just for the self. American culture raises children to be fiercely independent and to look out for ‘number one’. This breeds a generation of men who have habits of looking after their own needs versus the needs of the collective.

6. Europeans don’t get their sexual education from porn. For example, in the Netherlands, comprehensive sexuality education starts at age four. In America, sexual education is not taught until one hits their teens, if they are taught at all. The topic is still taboo and filled with shame. It’s no surprise that American men are left to their own devices, subconsciously learning about sex through porn and the media.

“Many American men are getting their sexual education from porn.”

7. European men do not “ghost”. Instead of cruelly dismissing someone by disappearing, they communicate that they are not interested. Again, this comes down to respect and manners.

8. European men have a different perception of beauty. As the media in Europe is a lot more heavily monitored,  Europeans grow up surrounded by media and images of women who are curvy, comfortable in their own skin, and sensual (versus overly sexualized). The latest law passed in France where excessively skinny models need to prove their health is a testament to that. But when you’re surrounded by American media, filled with Barbie dolls, waif skinny models and Baywatch breasts, the idea of what ‘beauty’ is becomes skewed.

9. European men have a quiet confidence, a demeanor that doesn’t need to scream out loud to prove themselves. The American way is loud and even arrogant at times.

10. American men like to date around. The dating culture involves trying out many different options at the same time. Call it the revolving door or hedging – there’s the idea in the American approach to dating that there’s always something better around the corner. With European men, if there’s mutual interest, they keep seeing that person and don’t keep hunting for better options simultaneously. The dynamic may or may not move into a serious relationship, but they are not trying to gather other options or back up plans in case it doesn’t.

11. European men don’t play games. Nor will they freak out when discussions of commitment or future come up. Americans (both men and women) have been socialized to play games, to act unavailable, to wait a particular amount of time before texting back… There are a set of ritualized rules that are abided by in American dating culture, and if you don’t play within them, you are labeled as desperate or needy or undesirable.

So does this mean the only hope for a happy, committed relationship is to move to another country? Not at all. As mentioned above, the observations summarized above are not really about where one is born, but rather a mentality that is influenced by societal and cultural values. We must be aware of our own behavior in the dating game, because we are active participants in how we are treated.  We must take a look at who we are drawn to in the first place, and why. If you keep attracting (and are attracted to) men who are emotionally unavailable and who treat you poorly, then it really doesn’t matter if your dating prospects are from France, New York, Vancouver or Mars – the shift needs to occur within you first and foremost. In fact, you may be experiencing attractions of deprivation, where you try to recreate the issues from childhood in your romantic partners. To find out more, read this article on “Why Do Good Women Pick the Wrong Men.

 

To learn more about how to change old relationship patterns, and how to create healthy ones, join my 2-hour Live Workshop on Sunday, April 25 where I’ll guide you step by step on how to become more secure in your attachment, manage emotions and our reactions to pain and create healthy relationships. Get your ticket here.

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Get the Breakup Guide workbook The Renew Breakup Guide will walk you through the entire process of healing from heartbreak, step by step. For only $9, the guide is packed with tools, exercises, and worksheets to help you repair your heart and move forward. Get it now.

Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile
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264 Replies to “The 11 Differences Between Dating a European Man vs an American Man”

  1. I agree that generally speaking felt more equal and respected from European guys and also I think that the made up dating rules of Americans are psychological challenging but other than that I have to say that there were a lot of questionable points in the article made as well.
    I got “ghosted” by a British boy once and I never “dated” my American hubby but we simply transitioned “European style” into our relationship. So, were my experiences just exceptions or is the US to EU not as black to white as described?!
    We also have to take in consideration that there is quiet a big difference in dating mentality in different European countries and also different American states.
    Spain is not Austria, New Jersey is not California..and don’t even get me started what goes on in L.A.! 🙂

  2. I am an American man, who has traveled to 15 of the states, lived in south, east, west, and lived in lived in Europe over 15 years and Middle East over 7 where have also dated many different nationalities and seriously studied relationship dynamics from cultural, spiritual and personality types. I appreciate the article. It gives an opinion on the differences and indicates clearly the possible bias and limited focus. European is a large segmentation of course to generalize (definite differences between Italian, German, France in the dating scene), as is American a large generalization (New York vs LS, vs Montana, vs Georgia).

    One thing that I have determined and will write a book on the findings is that in all relationships there is three things that help determine happiness in the relationship, regardless of nationality, but as a human being.
    1) self esteem and attachment levels of both male/female
    2) ability to listen to, understand and validate both yourself and the other LUV)
    3) learning to speak and communicate clearly the Love language of yourself and the other.

    We are humans! We have 6 basic human needs but each has different levels of these needs: certainty, variety, significance, love/connection, growth, and contribution. Our self esteem is strong when our human needs are at the levels we need for us. A man/woman with need for high variety and significance may sleep around to fill that need. Another with need for high certainty and growth may want to find partner who is loyal and can do many things together And be a life partner to grow together. It matters at a personal human level not at the country of origin (Peru, New Zealand, German, Italian,?Turkish, Sudanese, American, India, Thailand, Russian, Japanese, China )

    We are humans! We have a unique mind, body and spirit that is the true ‘ME’. Society external influences, childhood upbringing (attachment to primary care taker), traumas, cognitive self at age (12-15), and life experiences make us unique, not American or European. To love yourself, know yourself is needed before you can even put meaning to ‘I am American’. Just because you have American passport it does not change the ‘YOU’ it just confines you to the laws and norms of that country…you will be the same you whether you live in America or Europe or Asia. How often I have heard client and friends say … I just don’t feel like an American or European… Because they explore who they are inside and find it different than the social environments where they live.
    To find out about your self you have to LUV: listen openly to your body and thoughts, understand the way you behave and why it may be influenced by your childhood, personality and current human needs levels, and validate yourself to be that person you ARE, not the thin model media bombards you to believe you should be. Then actually listen to your partner (yes without interrupting him/her) and REALLY try to understand their history their goals and their human needs, understand they are unique, different from you and validate they are who they are (good and imperfect). If there is a match which satisfying three or more of your human needs then explore the relationship, if not, then be honest with self and partner. You may not be compatible for your unique self. You can’t truly love another until you LUV yourself and them.

    Probably the most repeated phrase in bad relationships is “You just don’t understand me”. And there is a very valid truth to it. First because we typically don’t try to LUV the other because we don’t LUV ourself enough to understand and respect the uniqueness of the other. And secondly because love has 6 different colors/styles and 5 different languages. It is like Russian, Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic. We would not expect a Russian woman and Arabic man to speak the same spoken language. It would take effort to learn the other’s language, learn the words, gestures, taboos to avoid, and phrases that are best to remember.
    Yet when it comes to “love” we forget that everyone is different. Each has internally a preferred love style (Eros, storge, Pragma, Ludus, Agape, or Mania). Each has developed and will have one of three attachment style that impacts their behavior in intimacy, conflict resolution, ability to communicate, attitude towards sex, and expectations in relationships (secure, anxious, or avoidant).
    Each has a preference for the 5 languages of love (Gifts, quality time, words of affection, acts of service, or physical). Just as with spoken languages Arabic/Spanish if I use the wrong words there will be no understanding. So if I give flowers and gifts to someone I love thinking that is my highest language of love (gifts) but she has gifts as her last form of love languages I will may hear “you don’t ever show you love me, you don’t understand me at all!”. Maybe her top form of love language is Acts of service (doing simple things around the house to help her not have so much to do), or maybe it is physical and she likes to hold hands, be made love to every day or exchange massages. Giving gifts would not be something she understands. You might as well be speaking a foreign language.
    So asking and learning the language you and your partner speak in terms of love style and languages is CRITICAL and more important than the nationality. Simple ask….. Then listen, understand and validate they are different and speak their language without expecting them to know your language. They can not read your mind.

    LUV

  3. Just thought I’d add my ten cents worth. As a European man I feel flattered with your observations, although I think you may have overgeneralised. I’ve lived and worked all over Europe and there are as many differences between European men as there are between your comparison of European men as a collective and the American demographic you’re putting forth. I’m from the U.K and some of my best friends are scattered all over Europe from Italy to Norway. And I can assure you there is a massive difference in mindset in all sorts of aspects between, for example, a Finnish guy and a Spaniard. I’ve lived in various Scandinavian countries and some of the biggest issues I’ve heard from women about dating Scandinavian guys sounds very similar to what you’ve said about Americans. As are complaints about our southern counterparts being overly aggressive in their behaviour towards ‘dating’ and equality. In England we share a similar approach in education to what you mentioned in your article about the US, when it comes to learning about sexual practice. We don’t hear a formal peep about it until we’re in our teens. Of course environment and culture have a massive influence, but in such a diverse continent of countries (sure, you could argue that France/Italy/Spain are pretty similar in many aspects), European men have very diverse attitudes and practices when it comes to mingling with the opposite sex.

  4. My experience with Spanish men is that they definitely don’t do the whole dating thing. Also dating websites are used a lot for just hooking up. I think some of your opinions about American men are maybe based on bigger cities. In Virginia, where I’m from, it may not be as common for guys to be dating multiple people at the same time. In NYC, that’s just the way it’s done. One thing I don’t like about European men, or Spanish men, as that they don’t believe in marriage as much as men from the US. I think culturally marriage isn’t as celebrated anymore. In the US, majority speaking, it still is what’s expected… I very much want to get married, and don’t think there are as many guys who believe in it here.

  5. I’m American and I lived in Krakow, Poland for two years – when you date there, you encounter all of the things you’ve deemed American. Ad nauseam.

    Meanwhile, I know that you said that this article isn’t based on scientific research but you’re population sample – European men living in NYC – is not representative; in fact, it’s pretty skewed.

    For instance, men who have come to the US as adults for professional reasons are probably the cream of the crop. For a work visa, your employer needs to be willing to do a fair amount of legal wrangling on your behalf. They must prove that no American can do your job. They’ve also got to be willing to put up a lot of dough to pay thousands of dollars in fees for that privilege and grant you time off if you need to leave the country for renewals. So that portion of the European men you’re citing is probably stellar professionals, which may translate into confidence and other desirable character traits. Admittedly, intelligence doesn’t always equal emotional intelligence, but it’s always something I find pleasant about lovers and friends.

    To return to my point, dating in Europe is not significantly different (in the ways you described) from dating in the US. May I suggest moving abroad to find out? Could you apply for a grant and move to Paris? (Seems like a fun experiment… there’s gotta be someone who would fund that! And who doesn’t want an excuse to move to Paris? I can also suggest Krakow – it has a lot of people from all over, especially Europe because of the Schengen zone, so you’ll encounter men from all over as well. Plus it’s beautiful!)

  6. Move to France and see how nice they will be to you, or move to Russia. You are generalizing all European men to be greater than American men, when quite simply they are not. Every country has its faults with the way they raise there men. Scumbag men are everywhere, not just American, just like nice guys are everywhere not just in “Europe”. This was obviously an article written out of anger of being rejected by American men for your short comings or insecurities that may scare men away. I don’t know but can only assume.

    Let’s put the thought process in a different direction. You like a guy, you have been seeing him for a while, maybe you decide to put a label on it and be exclusive to comfort your mind that the person you are with is the only one you want to be with. American men like to feel comfortable and not drowned in insecurity and the idea that the woman just wants to be friends. Let’s say this American man’s mother dies and he breaks down, maybe even cries, you would leave him in a heartbeat and go look for that European man that is banging everything that moves.

    You want manners, stop dating ghetto men. You want to meet someone nice, stop thinking that the men you meet in a bar are high quality. Please, you met him in a bar, doesn’t mean a thing that he had a suit on and your inhibitions are drowned in alcohol. Meet a man in a library or a coffee shop or working at a retail store. Maybe even online dating if he can write properly. Gain some goals and stop being insecure and lazy. Meet men while you are sober is my recommendation to you. Stop thinking up some excuses for yourself and all other women because you don’t have the courage to say hi to a decent looking guy while being sober. There are rotten apples everywhere. You are not going to find leonardo dicaprio, and even if you did understand they all turn pear shaped at some point, the guys who drink there lives away at least.

    I can go on all day and have given this more time than needed. But you give bad advice. Spain, Italy, France, UK, Russia, all have there flaws just like American men. It’s about finding the one that’s right for you, you just have to stop thinking you are going to meet the right one in a bar.

  7. it is also possible that the european men that come to the US are by their nature more cultured, considerate and curious and that is what inspires them to go abroad. It would be interesting to compare thoughts on guys who live in their home land. having dated a number of european, latin, and american men, men are men with similar basic traits no matter the origin there is just a different dressing. a good guy is a good guy no matter where he is from.

  8. Being a European man myself, I think a large portion of this article is pretty spot on – though Europe is a big place with very varied cultures and your mileage may vary on some of these points. I would say that the further east in Europe you go, the more aggressive and boisterous the men can be, and in some parts I’m ashamed to admit they don’t respect women much at all.

  9. Interesting. Didn’t realize that my husband was a secret European.

    This article reads like it was written by someone who spent their childhood fantasizing about European movie stars and grew up to write fan fiction about them after a few bad experiences at the worst sorts of American pickup joints. Real Americans don’t meet their mates at bars and on Tinder, which is where you’ll find most of the guys that meet part of the description here. Overgeneralized, over-idealized tripe that doesn’t apply to my own experience at all, unless you’re talking about the experience of things I’ve seen in movies or reality TV. Not real life.

  10. From one who is old enough to have known and dated tons of American men – I am in complete agreement with Amy’s assessment and couldn’t have said it better myself. At least for now, European men grow up loving, respecting, and accepting women for who they are – young, old, fat, slim. Their “ideal”woman doesn’t have to have big boobs, a giant ass and the brain of a pea to win their love. They have women friends, lovers, mothers, grandmas and sisters who all have equal value to them. They don’t shuttle their old into homes, or divorce their wives when the wrinkles appear.
    It’s called education, knowledge and respect. This no longer exists in the U.S. Here, it’s the “Kardashian” idea of beauty, a user mentality, and superficial love and is not admired by European men.
    I can only hope the “Americanization” of European men can hold out a little longer.
    And yes, I’m married to a Frenchman, and have known other European men. They are, quite simply, the best.

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