If you ever travel the world and realize one of the locals might be your one true love, the next step is usually to ask them out. However, dating etiquette and taboos are not the same for everyone. Certain ways people flirt back home that are considered cute or even romantic might actually cause a scene overseas.
We at Bright Side like to learn about the world and we just admire love! So we’re keeping you on your toes with this list of flirting habits that might get you in trouble around the world.
1. Public displays of affection
Remember how in high school, the kids who were caught hugging and kissing in the hallway got in trouble? In some countries, that’s the norm on the streets to various degrees of severity.
In some places like Japan or Korea, it can be considered highly rude. In other places, it might be extremely controversial. Some people have learned this the hard way by being arrested for kissing in public while in Saudi Arabia or other Arabic countries.
2. No public displays of affection
If you think there are a bunch of PDA rules to help you get by in every country’s social circles, you’re right. There are plenty of cultures where people are meant to be publicly affectionate, even when dealing with friends. In many Central and South American countries, where people often greet each other with cheek-kissing, not being too affectionate in public might make you come off as cold and emotionless.
3. Splitting the bill
Generally, in the west, splitting a bill is a perfect compromise. Traditionally, men were expected to pay for women, but many feel that’s insulting as it implies women can’t take care of themselves. That said, even when women are fine with paying for their date, they’re often seen as being taken advantage of.
In South Korea, however, splitting the bill is seen as insulting since that’s something that people do with friends. Usually, whoever makes more money is expected to pay, meaning that it is perfectly socially acceptable for women to pay for their boyfriends.
4. Bringing a date to weddings and parties
In the US, wedding guests are entering a battlefield. Attending without a date is a social faux pas and the quickest way to get your meddling friends and family to call the local matchmaker.
In the U.K., however, it’s best to go to these big life-events without a date since that’s where single people go to mingle. Some wedding invitations even require unmarried guests to attend alone. After all, in some cultures, weddings are the social event of the season!
You might think we already covered this with our segment on PDA, but it’s actually pretty complicated. In some cultures, different kinds of PDA each come with their own forms of etiquette. In some European countries like Germany or Poland, it’s best to hug your date; kissing is usually reserved for more serious relationships.
6. Going to a fancy restaurant
Americans usually like to go all out on a date. Going to McDonald’s for a date is usually only allowed if you and your significant other are still in high school…or if you’re a cute, old married couple.
In Sweden, people like to go on “practice dates” also known as a “fika” before hitting the fancy places, usually going to a pastry shop or getting a cup of coffee.
7. Taking your time
Americans might like to take their time when meeting up with a date. It’s considered “fashionably late” and going somewhere too early might make you look clingy or like you’re rushing the other person.
In some places like Germany, however, a person’s time is considered valuable and it would be considered rude to make someone wait for you.
8. Opening a gift in front of the giver.
Deep down, gifts are an important way to show someone you care. In the west, it’s important to show that you are grateful for what you received and not even opening it can be considered extremely rude.
In some Asian countries like China or India, however, it’s considered more respectful not to open a gift in front of the person who gave it to you. In fact, opening a gift too quickly can make a person seem greedy.
9. Eating habits
If you want to share food on a date, make sure you know the proper way to eat beforehand. A lot of countries have taboos on certain ways of eating, especially when sharing a meal.
In the west, when sharing food, it’s usually more polite to move it with utensils than by hand. In Japan, however, it’s considered inappropriate to pass food around with your chopsticks since that action is heavily associated with funerals. In China, be careful when eating your noodles, breaking one is considered bad luck and slurping them is in good form.
10. Giving flowers
The simple act of giving your date flowers might not be an issue in itself…in Russia, for example, men are expected to give their dates a nice bouquet of flowers as long as it’s an odd number of them. An even number of flowers is reserved for funerals.
Even history shows how complicated flowers can be. In the Victorian era, sending someone yellow roses could be insulting since they were thought to represent jealousy and infidelity. Even today, while they symbolize friendship, they could indicate to a date that you just think of them as a friend.
What are some common flirting habits that got you in trouble with a date overseas? Please share them with us in the comments!
Preview photo credit The Innocent Man / KBS Media Enterprises, Fifty Shades of Grey / Focus Features