America v. Russia: How Dating is Different

Polina Durneva from Russia studying at Cornell College shares her views about how dating in the United States is different than back in her home country of Russia.

As part of our microscholarship program we asked current international students what their observations have been about dating in the United States and how it compares to dating back in their home countries.

Polina Durneva from Russia studying at Cornell College is our third microscholarship winner for fall 2016. She will receive $100 to help toward her studies for the fall semester.

Read her winning essay below! 

“All we need is love” is what the Beatles were trying to convey to us over many years through their most famous song. Despite the fact that love does have a controlling power over our lives and decisions, this state of mind is not that easy to achieve; but those who do, can enjoy the beauty of sharing their live with a significant other. But, let’s step away from those philosophical talks full of nonsense and truth, and look at the dating culture in the great lands of America.

But before I share how drastically different American dating scene is for me, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I come from Moscow, Russia, and this is my third year in the United States. I was an exchange student in Colorado, where I got a chance to graduate from high school, and this year I am starting my junior year at Cornell College in Iowa.

Russia has been holding the stereotypes of highly conservative country, and to be honest I could not agree more. Even if Russian girls might be super obsessed with their looks and clothes, the dating scene is very conservative. Pursue of serious relationships in Russia starts before you hit your 20’s, and by the age of 25 most of your Russian friends will be already married and probably have kids. My parents started dating when my mother was 16 and my father was 19, and after 3 years they got married. Also, it is important to notice that most (and here, I mean 90%) of credible and lasting relationships are built on the foundation of solid friendship between a man and a woman. So, if you meet someone, you got to be friends with them for at least 3 months before you get intimate.

When it comes to the USA, the dating and relationships here are completely of a different mentality. It was a bit of a surprise for me that you can start dating someone a day after you met them, as long as there was a “click” between you both. Americans don’t like wasting their time, and if they see that someone is a good match for them, they don’t hesitate to ask that someone out. Well, obviously, it does not happen all the time, but this was the first impression I got when I was in high school.

In college, dating scene is slightly different from that of high school. How? Well, here the idea of a “hookup culture” is prevalent. I would say that around 70% of my college population is not looking for anything serious, and the actual dating is really rare. Especially when it comes to fraternities and sororities, casual sexual encounters are highly encouraged. Of course, they are people who are dating, but they just found what they were looking for and are completely satisfied with their relationships. Well, college years is the time of your life when you are trying to find yourself and reveal your potential, and the main thing about the hookup culture is that you are trying to find someone who would be the best option for you. It is different in Russia, because there most people just settle for what is available instead of exploring different options. But as one of my American friends said, “In America, people start thinking about marriage and children only after 27 years old.”

When it comes to the USA, the dating and relationships here are completely of a different mentality.

Furthermore, internet dating is real in America. In Russia, it is very vague and most people don’t trust it. Young people honestly despise it, and only those who are older than 40 years old may turn to this in a hopeless search for their significant other. Mobile apps such as Tinder is quite popular in the States, and it’s totally normal to meet someone from the Internet. Open-minded and friendly American are not afraid of meeting new people, while in Russia internet dating is not really acceptable.

Finally, in Russia people mainly date for the sake of creating a family and having children (this is one of the main priorities of the Russian mentality), while in America you don’t necessarily have to date to get married or have children. It is more democratic and open-minded.

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