Growing a love culture

1 Mar

[There are a few sweeping generalisations/stereotypes in the post, for which I apologise. Hopefully further research will make them less sweeping.]

Sydney society is big on cultures, and I don’t mean the cultural type. I mean the type you grow in a petri dish. We like to drink Yakult to help defrag our digestive system. And some people inject bacteria into their faces so they can’t raise a flirty eyebrow. If only there was a culture Sydney singles could be injected with to help them find love.

When it comes to dating, Sydney’s culture ranks low on the Love Ladder. After my time in New York, I’d put it down to Sydney’s conservative tendencies. Of course it was difficult to meet men in a city where they won’t make the first move and women still want them to. Despite our multiculturalism, we’ve still got a reserved British heritage hampering our efforts to find love.

‘If only we were les European, and more American in our attitude,’ I thought, ‘life would be filled with dating and potential love.’

But this weekend I learnt some harrowing news.

Keen to catch the boys at the beach in the Eastern suburbs while the weather was good, I slathered on my invisible zinc and headed to Bronte on Saturday. The plan was to work my way south to Maroubra, but there were so many guys at Bronte I didn’t get any further.

As expected on a sunny day, lots of guys on working visas were enjoying a barbie on our coastline. Since there were more men than bbqs, I had a captive audience. Guys were happy to do surveys while they stood in line waiting to cook. (Thanks guys!) Many of them had come out to Australia with their partners, but most of them had single friends in Sydney keen to find love. I realised these guys were useful. They were in a position to compare Sydney’s dating culture with their homeland.       

Two of the guys I surveyed were French but had been living in Australia for nearly a year. Representing the pinnacle of romantic culture, I was almost too embarrassed to ask them how Australia compared to France. The response was rather grim. Apparently in France most people are happily settled in a relationship by their mid-30s (ie. don’t move to France hoping to fall in love ladies. You’ve got better odds here.). I asked the guys why they thought this was and one responded that most men want to start a family in their 30s. Was this the difference? Men want to settle down, ergo they date with serious intentions, ergo they find love by their 30s so they can have kids. I realised I have no idea when Aussie guys want to start having kids (if they want them at all). Is our youth-perpetuating culture resulting in a pitiful dating culture because no one wants to settle down? Perhaps this is something to investigate in the next round of WWWtK.

On that note, I ask the French guys what a woman can do to increase her chances of a guy asking her out.

“Be a lady,” one of them said. For months now I’ve been thinking we need to be more like American women, friendly and (god help me) flirty and assertive. But perhaps what we’ve lost is that ability to lure men in with the feminine mystique French women are known for. Perhaps what we need to do is splice the American openness with French femininity, stick the petri dish somewhere warm and then dose ourselves daily with the resulting bacteria. What do you think?

 ~ ~ ~

As an aside, I had a great time asking guys our WWWtK question. They loved the idea that readers were sending in questions to add to my survey. I got some hilarious and some insightful responses. Can’t wait to share them with you in March.

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10 Responses to “Growing a love culture”

  1. sal March 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    March….do we have to wait that long!!!!

    • Lucie Stevens March 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      May be I’ll share some of them after this weekend’s round of surveying…

  2. The Single Girl March 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Maybe that is what we need, french women do have that thing that the rest of us have yet to figure out…maybe that is it, the feminine mystique. Good post!

    • Lucie Stevens March 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

      Thanks for reading TSG. Yes I need to track down some French women and put them under the microscope so we can work out how they do it!

  3. Pow March 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    Im not convinced that people are more flirty overseas, its more a case of when you are on holiday you are more friendly and people can sense it.
    Take a holiday to Surfer Paradise, when you are on holiday in your casual clothes, making eye contact with everyone and looking friend you will end up saying wow the men are so much more friendly here!
    New York has got a reputation for being most jadded (unfriendly?) city on earth! Maybe it was something in a persons attitude not the city?

    • Lucie Stevens March 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

      Hi Pow,
      Thanks for reading! I agree with you to a degree but there’s definitely something going on in NYC. It hasn’t been a jaded city for some time now. I’m not that knowledgeable about why but I have a feeling that post 9/11, Manhattan has really changed. And it wasn’t just the men who were uber friendly, it was the women too. We had women come up to us on the street and ask us if we needed help (and I don’t even think we looked that helpless!). It’s actually a very helpful and happy little island now. There’s a very strong village feeling to it and people do seem to really make an effort to be friendly. Plus it was freezing, so a thin blooded Sydney-sider like me was spending most of the time curling into a ball to keep warm under about five layers of clothes.
      Anyone else out there been to NYC? What was your experience?

  4. Stuart March 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Hi Lucie, not directly related to this post specifically, but tangentially to the blog as a whole: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704409004576146321725889448.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

    “Where Have The Good Men Gone?
    Kay S. Hymowitz argues that too many men in their 20s are living in a new kind of extended adolescence”

    • Lucie Stevens March 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

      Hi Stuart,
      Thanks for reading and for posting this link. I didn’t realise this was the situation in the US. There actually isn’t a man drought in Australia for women in their early to mid 20s (lucky Gen Ys). It tends to kick in around the late 20s and lasts until the mid 40s, when the odds swing back to favour women. Part of it is to do with the fact that more men permanently move overseas than women, but have often wondered if perpetuating youth contributes to the number of single women in their 30s. Maybe this will be my next area of study!

      • Stuart March 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

        I’d also like to mention that I’m a huge fan of what you are doing, specifically in tackling a myth (myth being a story told not for its truth but to encourage a specific set of behaviours), and generally in taking an idea, testing it against reality, and reporting the results to a wider audience.

        The latter used to be the function of people called journalists, however some time ago the journalists decided that they would much rather be advertisers, consequently they went from reporting what is true to reporting what will sell.

        So that you would take it upon yourself to make our world a slightly less confusing place simply from a desire to do so is a wonderful thing, and I thank you for it.

  5. Lucie Stevens March 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Thanks Stuart! That’ll really help me out when I’m not in the mapping zone but need to be. I’ll think of your words and feel like what I’m doing is actually useful and helpful, which will help push away my doubts. Much appreciated!
    I’ve had a few people ask me if I’m a journo (usually the slightly nervous guys ask me this). They’re always relieved when I tell them I’m a writer, not a journo. Such a big difference. Poor journos get told what to write (and the editors telling them have usually been told what needs to be written by someone higher up the foodchain). Writers like me can write whatever they want. I supposed the difference is journos don’t have to struggle to get paid for what they write (hint hint potential sponsors!!).

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