blog features, cultures, dating around the world

Dating Around the World//Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

Laena S. 

(Note: LROL is for Little Reminders of Love.) 

LROL: At what age do people typically begin to go on dates? 

Laena: Since I am now in my late twenties, I’m really not sure when people start dating. I know my dad always told me I couldn’t date until I was 35, so I guess I’m disobeying every time I go out (sorry, Dad). I’m living in South Florida now, but I’m actually from Colorado, so everything is very new and different to me down here. If I had to guess, based on what I see, people start dating as early as 13 years old.

LROL: Who asks whom on a date, normally?
Laena: Down here, tradition is out the window. There are no rules about who asks whom. In fact, it almost seems the girls ask more frequently than they guys. The guys are outnumbered, and I think they know it. They seem to sit back and enjoy the advantage, and “let the ladies come” to them. Blech!

Unfortunately, I am a traditionalist and a hopeless romantic and can’t see myself asking a guy on a date. Ever. It has been interesting trying to survive as a romantic in a very unromantic part of the world.

LROL: What is a typical first date like?

Laena: In South Florida, there are a lot of clubs and bars. A first date is often not really a date at all, but a “meet up” at a club or a bar. It’s really very informal. If you click at the bar, you move forward; if not, both parties move on. Clubs make it very easy to do just that. Occasionally, a first date will be the traditional dinner date, but more often, it’s just drinks and/or dancing.

LROL: What is culturally “expected” of you and your date?

Laena: It’s difficult to say what’s “culturally expected” here. South Florida is such a mix of cultures that it really depends who you end up dating. Sometimes, it is very clear that the cost of the date is split 50-50, and other times, I have been out with someone who refuses to let me pay for anything. Ever. 
As for physical expectations, that kind of depends on the culture too, but I’d definitely say people down here are more physical than anywhere else I’ve been. It’s typical to kiss “hello” down here (even strangers), so at the very least, you can expect to get a hug and a kiss from your date.

LROL: Who decides what the date will be?

Laena: Generally, the person who asks plans.

LROL: Who pays?

Laena: As I said, it depends. Men from certain cultural backgrounds will pay every time. Others won’t even offer.

LROL: What are the post-date norms?

Laena: Sex on the first date is very, very common. Sex is very casual down here. I’ve known many people who have several “friends with benefits” but no boyfriends/girlfriends. South Florida has this whole beach/party culture that seems to remove inhibition. People generally want to do what feels good, live in the moment, have fun. Sex is usually seen as just that. Not for me, but that’s the norm.

LROL: What would you change about the dating culture of where you live?

Laena: If I had it my way, it would be much more traditional–dinner dates, walks on the beach, actually getting to know someone. I realize I’m not really in the best location for that. I think it’s sad. It is extremely difficult to have any kind of real relationship with someone because there is very little interest in commitment or spending real time together.

LROL: What do you like about the dating culture of where you live?

LaenaI guess I appreciate that it is relaxed, and I like that it often involves music and the beach. I love that there is a strong Latin culture here, so lots of Latin dancing.
LROL: What was your best date?
Laena: Once, I had a guy invite me to his house and cook for me. He made New York strips with a mushroom sauce and served it with a salad. He was really proud of the dinner he had made, and wanted it to be special. I loved it! Afterward, we went out on the deck and watched the sunset and then came inside to watch a movie. Even though we were at his house, there was never any pressure to do anything physical. It was all just very sweet. We actually fell asleep on the couch watching the movie, and then he apologized that he had kept me out so late when we both woke up and I finally left around 3AM.
LROL: And your worst?

Laena: It was a second date with this guy I was trying to give a chance. He was really nice, but I was not feeling it. However, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought that maybe he was nervous on the first date. So on the second date, we met at the restaurant he picked, and on the way there, I came up with a list of questions and conversation topics because he hardly spoke the first time. TONS of awkward silence. So this time, I would be prepared. Sadly, his one word answers got us through my list before they even served our appetizers. It was a really long night. Then, when the bill came, I pulled out my wallet and offered to pay, but he told me not to worry about it (I thought that was very nice… I like when the guy pays). The server came and took his card with the bill and then didn’t come back for a LONG time. I kept thinking this was torture! I just want to go home! The server finally came back and informed us that my date’s card had been declined. Declined! Seriously!!??? So I ended up paying for both of us. He apologized and promised to take me out again to make up for it. I politely declined when he called for that third date.

LROL: Anything you’d like to add that I forgot to ask?

Laena: …

Thanks Laena! It’s interesting to see the difference from the other side of the coast. I wish we danced more in Kansas. ; )

Do you guys have any questions you’d like to have added to the interview? Feel free to leave your idea(s) in the comments. If you’d like to participate in this series, please submit your contact information here.


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