What I Learned by Dating 75 Men from 22 Countries

22 countries, 81 days, 294 meals and 75 blind-dates – that’s the itinerary for Bambi Smyth’s international search for love. Find out what she learnt along the way! 

Not having much luck dating Australian men, Bambi Smyth decides it’s time to expand her dating horizon, and sets off on an international journey across the globe to 22 countries across 6 continents. In just 81 days she manages to arrange dates with 75 men aged 21-61, including an Italian prince, a Spanish gigolo, a Russian billionaire, and a priest at the Vatican. She even matches up each date with a dish specific to their culture e.g. “Stefano from Italy was a doppio espresso coffee, because he was hot, dark, steamy, and gave me heart palpitations." 

Read more about what Bambi learnt about how to navigate cultural differences when dating! - 

It’s often stated that “men are all the same”. But really, that’s much too simplistic – I mean, just look at Mr. Bean and Hercules. However, having recently travelled around the world effectively interviewing men on the subject, I would agree that whether they are sensitive or callous, adventurous or timid, passionate, sexy, or as romantic a common garden slug, most men are looking for love. It’s just a matter of getting them to admit it.

And when it comes to dating, it’s even more complicated. Cultural idiosyncrasies must be taken into account, else you could find your relationship lasting about as long as a hotdog at a football match.

Take for example, Brazilians. In my experience, both genders are enthusiastically sexually liberated, although the men seem more inclined to juggle a few partners at a time. So if you want your relationship to last with a testosterone-fuelled carinha, then you’re just going to have to turn a blind eye to his wanderings. But no – the same doesn’t apply to his tolerance in the reverse situation. Still interested?

How about Danes? They too are receptive to casual sexual encounters, but at least the men see women as equals, so it’s a level playing field. In fact, I was told, “If a Danish girl picks up a guy in a bar, and takes him home, that’s great! It takes the pressure off us men.”

And Brits? Well, if sober, the men tend to discourage overtly flirty behavior - as if it’s a little unladylike. Which is a problem because they’re invariably tongue-tied or awkward, and fearful of rejection, so not much actually happens in the romancing department at all. Unless they drink. A lot. In which case you might have a chance.

As for the French, well, flirting on both sides is mandatory, although conducted with a certain amount of restraint. They see seduction as a sophisticated and finely tuned art, to be practiced whenever possible. The men are charming for sure, but be warned flirting is generally just a game to them, and you may end up heartbroken if you think you’re going to name your next three children Clementine, Emmanuelle and Devereaux.

The Dutch are difficult. They can be warm and friendly at first, but if they sense you’re getting too close, they run a mile. I’d suggest backing off until they feel comfortable with you. Or conversely - a clog up their backsides might do the trick.

I loooove the Italians. They flirt like crazy and make you feel like you’re the only woman in the world. Even better, they’re happiest when you’re flirting right back at them. The only thing to watch out for is that they most likely have a little signora waiting them back home… sigh.
Japanese? They’re renowned for being vague and indirect in their communications, so it’s best to give a man lots of non-verbal clues and signals that you like him. Fluttering of eyelashes is good, whereas coming on too strong will definitely scare him off. Don’t be loud. Hugs and kisses are a no-no. And don’t mention the war.

Russians can be tricky. Even semi-successful Russian men have it all over the local women (who are invariably underpaid or unemployed), and most likely looking for a man to ‘rescue’ them. Indeed, when I asked a wealthy Russian how he’d impress a woman, he looked perplexed before replying, ”Well, I don’t need to.” It might be different with Western women however, who are more independent. Still, if you want to keep the relationship sweet (if not a little compromised) don’t show him that you’re cleverer than he is, or be too much of a feminist, or ever, ever, be seen without makeup. Still interested?

And as for dating Arabs? Look, I get the whole romantic headdress and falcons perched on shoulders thing, but unless you’re happy walking a few steps behind him, or coming home one day to find your hubby has taken another wife, then seriously, stick to getting your dates in Coles.

Confused? Well, then perhaps your best bet is sticking with Aussie men. As long as their idea of foreplay isn’t, “are you awake?”

The new travel memoir, 'Men on the Menu' by Bambi Smyth is available from October 1 at all good book stores, RRP $32.95. For more information, visit www.fivemile.com.au

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