Between two countries, four dating apps, and over 1000 messages, I have learned some not-so-great lessons about dating abroad. Now I’m not going to give some boo-hoo sob story about the challenges of being an American Black girl abroad, and talk about how there are so many sexual stigmas attached to such an identity that the amount of inappropriate attention I have received (on- and off-line) is both overwhelming and offensive.
I have been fortunate in the sense that I have met enough wonderful people, and established enough amazing friendships while traveling, that I am able to overlook all the unpleasant advances I have experienced while trying to surf the sites for romance. The fact is there are obnoxious men (and women) in every country, of every race and status. And dating apps are the fastest way to learn this horrible truth. And though it may appear obvious to most about the superficial nature of meeting people online, I am determined to keep hope alive. I believe that among the millions of people using these dating apps, there is bound to be some nice, ordinary, down-to-earth guys with harmless intentions.
That being said, after years of lewd messages and disastrous dates, I decided to say goodbye to Tinder, and all those that came before it. BUT before I could hit the ‘Uninstall’ button, curiosity got the best of me. Might my romantic life in Italy be different? Could men in Europe provide any hope for this petite girl’s future in love? I wanted to find out.
I ended up giving my private contact information to an Italian guy that seemed to have potential. [Marco] He’s an engineering student who is in love with history and science. An obvious intellectual and classically handsome. We had been chatting for a couple weeks until finally deciding to meet. I was hesitant at first; I’m new to the country and his eagerness to meet so quickly kind of intimidated me. But he seemed normal enough so I gave in.
We met downtown, where he took me around the city center and gave me some historical background info about the town and its buildings. He then drove me to his hometown nearby and showed me some of his favorite spots in the valley. After a nice drive around the hills, he took me to a locally famous café where we had gelato and talked about our next meeting. Though the date itself was pretty peaceful and relaxed, it was everything in between that made it fulfilling. There was laughter, debate, staring, and handholding. There were castles, wineries, winding roads, gelato, and a sunset. It was romantic without the effort, comfortable without the awkwardness.
I won’t say it was a good date because he is Italian, or that it was better than most previous dates because I’m in Europe. But I do believe with a culture fueled by thousands of years of art and passion, and cities and buildings that have been standing since the origination of this culture, the country is bound to have some of that spill out into the atmosphere. Love is literally in the air; and it is hard to walk around without feeling some sort of yearning for passion or an appetite for art. Now I don’t think this means I will have better options on Tinder, or even that I will have better luck with dating. And who knows if a second date with Marco will be just as enjoyable as the first. I only know that being here to experience all the beauty that Italy has to offer, I feel that there will be more romance in my life; though it may be with the country, and not with the men.