Navigating the dating scene in your own country can seem tricky at times, but at least you understand the rules of play. But what if you are an avid traveler and you are exposed to totally different cultures and dating customs that you are not even aware of? How do you navigate through international dating waters? There are some surprising and interesting dating rituals that might be useful to know before saying ‘hi’ to somebody that you’ve just met so you know what to expect in the future.
Japan: express your feelings with chocolate
Valentine’s Day in Japan is the day when girls give presents for guys and it is usually chocolate. There are two types of chocolate that the woman give: obligation chocolates or “Giri-choco” that are presented to friends, family or people that you care about or love in a non-romantic way. The more special kind of gift is “Honmei-choco” that is given to the guy the girl is romantically interested in or to her partner. These chocolates are usually either fancier or are homemade. Japanese women think it is not true love if they just buy chocolate from the store.
Exactly one month after Valentine’s Day, on March 14th, Japanese celebrate the White Day when guys return the favor by gifting chocolate to girls and it is usually white chocolate. The theory is that if the man you gave chocolate also likes you, he’ll give you twice as much back. What a result!
South Korea: make it official
It seems that being in a relationship in South Korea is something most people want to do and share their status with the world. To make it easier, group dates are quite usual and blind dates are frequent. Relationship wins are celebrated, especially by sharing your relationship status on social media. But, perhaps my favorite custom is the practice of wearing matching couple outfits to demonstrate your love.
Furthermore, it is normal for Korean couples to get a couple of rings as early as 3 months into the relationship to declare their togetherness. Acting as a married couple is the norm in Korea. There are places called “Dress Cafes” where you can go with your significant other, dress up in a wedding dress and take fake wedding photos that you would obviously share in social media afterward.
Iran: meet the parents
In Iran dating traditions depend on the family that the girl and the guy are born. While there are modern families who allow their children to date, somebody that they like, religious families believe that their children should not have any relationship before marriage. Young people meet each other through introductions of their families. This tradition is called ‘Khastegari’. Both families of a couple come together and they spend a few hours talking. If the guy and the girl like each other and both families agree on all the arrangements, bride’s family throws a lavish engagement party – ‘Namzadi’ where the whole community is invited to celebrate this special occasion.
Bali: get your teeth filed
Balinese can’t get married unless ‘Metatah’ is done – teeth filing ceremony performed by a priest – Brahman. The ceremony marks adulthood and usually, it is performed for a few children of the family at once in order to save the costs. It is said to be fairly painless, even though some cloves are usually used to numb the mouth.
Balinese believe that tooth filing helps to live in harmony with others and to control evil human characteristics such as greed, lust, anger, jealousy, ill-will, and intoxication by either passion or drunkenness. The ceremony includes a buffet of traditional food, colorful flower offerings to gods and calm wayang music.
Mauritania: the bigger, the better
We are all for celebrating the fuller figure which is magnificent, but in Mauritania, things can be taken even further. It is considered that the larger the figure the better, as a woman’s size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband’s heart. To achieve this ideal there is a practice called ‘Leblouh’, which is force-feeding girls to make them as big as possible. Older women force young girls to eat copious amounts of food and drink gallons of milk in order to increase their chances of marriage. Even though the government is trying to eradicate this tradition, young girls are still being subjected to Leblouh every day.
Iceland: forget the formalities
Whilst things like nudity and sex may not be discussed in some cultures, liberated Iceland sees these as normal parts of life and nothing to be embarrassed about.
Formal dates, like going to a restaurant are the exception, rather than the norm. It’s more natural to meet up over drinks and it is much more casual and relaxed. Anyone can ask anyone out, Icelandic women don’t feel they should wait to be asked or that it is the role of the man. Social media is also a big deal in Iceland and seen as a way of checking out any potential love interest. If you do marry in Iceland, you don’t take on the man’s name as is common elsewhere and it’s been this way for hundreds of years. Seems most straightforward!
If dating is proving a bit problematic, thank your lucky stars that you weren’t around a few hundred years ago, when people used to rub their scent all over an apple and give it to the object of their affection. Yep, you heard me, sweaty apples. One way to get the pheromones across I guess!
Comment below and let us know if you have experienced any unusual dating customs from around the globe!