I've lived in two majors cities: San Antonio, Texas and Berlin, Germany. I've also dated recreationally in both cities. Berlin and San Antonio have some pretty harsh stereotypes when it comes to dating. A single woman in Texas told me that "All the white guys are taken," and a lot of the foreigners in Berlin said that "German men make great girlfriends." I did end up dating a lot of Hispanic and otherwise international guys in San Antonio, and I had terrible luck with some incredibly feminine men in Berlin. Thinking back on all of my dates and near dates, I can't help but find countless differences between guys in Texas and guys in Berlin.
The first difference is the speed in which men and guys in Texas asked me out. My first date in Texas took only minutes to initiate. I was going door to door selling cable (more about this in the future) and I spoke with a twenty-something year old student for all of five minutes. He wasn't interested in cable, and I thanked him and made my way on to the next apartment door. Ten minutes later, he rushed down the stairs on his way to work, waved at me, and stuck a piece of paper on the stairwell for me to retrieve. It said, "Hey, sorry I don't want cable, how about dinner instead?" with his phone number underneath. Later when I was working in a store, guys would come in, buy something, hang around the counter until we were alone, and ask me out. I got asked out on buses, while shopping in other stores, and on the street. I usually turned those down.
In Berlin, however, things went quite slower. This was really interesting to experience, seeing as Berlin is a larger city than San Antonio, with a much more intense party culture. I would go to parties and meet guys, and if they were interested in me, we'd usually exchange phone numbers. Usually. Sometimes, however, they would just wish me a goodnight and say and that we would meet each other at the next party. If we did meet again, we would exchange numbers or go off on our own somewhere. If we exchanged phone numbers, we would usually write each other on Whatsapp for a few days until we found a way to subtly invite each other out. This was both annoying and entertainingly playful.
The dates themselves couldn't have been more different. Every single date I went on in Texas started with the guy picking me up at my apartment. Sometimes they would ask if they should pick me up, but mostly they just said "Pick you up at eight." Most of them opened the car door for me, and pretty soon I would accept or decline a second date based on whether or not they opened my door. (Snobbery or self-respect?) Dates were ALWAYS dinner. Every time. Then we would maybe go for a little walk if the neighborhood had sidewalks, and he would drive me home, walk me to my door, and kiss me goodnight. Every date followed this very strict movie-date formula.
The dates in Berlin had absolutely no rules. Most people didn't have cars in Berlin, so we would always meet up somewhere, usually the halfway point between our apartments. Most dates were in bars, but in the summer, we would have afternoon dates at the parks or the lakes. If we were having drinks, we would usually split the bill or take turns buying rounds. Sometimes we'd leave the bar and walk through the neighborhood with a Weg Bier, an "on the way" beer that we bought from the little kiosks, or go to a more scenic part of town and walk there. Dates usually ended at the S or U-bahn, with a hug or a kiss or a handshake goodnight. Sometimes, after two drinks, we'd be making out in the bar; sometimes after two hours one of us would be totally bored and drop a million hints that the S-bahn was just down the road and closed in a few minutes.
Then there's ''boyfriend status.' Most of the guys in Texas acted like we were a couple after the first kiss. Some of them took their time and asked for a few more dates, but a lot of them were already calling or sending me a text to say goodnight, just after one date. In Berlin, none of the guys thought we were a couple until at least a few weeks, and even then, we'd go to different parties and hang out with our own group of friends. I learned quickly not to expect guys to be sleeping with or dating just me, and I exercised my freedom just as openly.
If I had to do it over, I'd probably take my time dating in Texas and slowly get to know a guy before deleting his texts or telling him I moved back to Connecticut. I'd also go on a lot, lot, lot more dates in Berlin and cut the dates shorter if they were horrible. In both instances, actually, I wish I had the balls to stand up and leave! Like with this guy:
Hopefully I'll have the chance again soon . . . .
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Kristyn Bacon is twenty-two years old living in Berlin, Germany while working, writing, and learning the German language. Her stories have been published by literary journals such as MOOKYCHICK and DEW ON THE KUDZU and are included in anthologies by BOOKIMBO and SWYERS PUBLISHING. Her sports writing has been published by INSIDE DIRT and DAN HOLLOWAY, EIGHT CUTS. An architect read her work and compared it to George Saunders.