I’ve been in Mexico for almost a year and a half now (hard to believe!) and people often ask me about my dating life here. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of salacious details for anyone because while I’ve been a number of first dates, there have been only a handful of second dates and exactly one third date. I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on the differences in dating culture here and there are at least a few things I find interesting.
First, the use of dating apps (Tinder, Bumble) is much less prevalent here than in New York. I’ve spoken to (and gone on dates with) a number of people for whom that was their first date with anyone from a dating app, ever. In New York, the dating app scene has grown pretty efficient: everyone knows the rules and more-or-less how to play the game:
- You don’t spend a lot of time chatting on the app, get to the first date quickly
- The first date should be a coffee or a drink
- No hard feelings if it’s only one coffee or a drink
- Everyone is interested in getting through dates relatively efficiently so as not to minimize time wasted with people you aren’t that into
In Mexico, it still feels like people are figuring out what the rules of the game even are.
- There are a lot more people on the apps who just want to talk, and will never commit to scheduling a date
- People are generally worse at making dating app profiles (more on this in a separate blog post) — I’ve seen countless profiles where all of the pictures are selfies, taken at the same time, in their car.
- Lots of people have written in their profile “what are we going to tell our friends when they ask us how we met? jaja” which is something people in NYC stopped writing 6 or 7 years ago — there is no shame or stigma attached to meeting via a dating app at all.
Besides the general dating app inefficiencies, I unfortunately feel like I’m naturally an ill-fit for some of the other dating customs here — while I finally feel like I’m able to speak Spanish well enough to be funny (sort of) and to show some of my personality, there’s still a few things that I feel like really weaken my game.
First, I can’t dance salsa — it’s shocking to me how much dancing salsa is a part of Mexican social life in general, but in particular I feel like my inability to participate fluidly in a night out of dancing meaningfully hampers my flirting ability
And, more importantly, I’m generally reluctant to make the first move with anyone — part of it is obviously me being terrified of rejection, but also I feel like the lessons of the last few years have really sunk in — I really don’t want to ever make a woman feel uncomfortable, and, after a bit of flirting if I’m not getting very strong signals that she’s into it, I’m generally inclined to just drop it rather than keep flirting and risk making her feel uncomfortable / pressured.
I’m not sure what the right answer here is — am I over-thinking these situations (as I’m generally inclined to do) and missing out on good dating opportunities? Or am I doing the right thing but with the (worthwhile) side effect of missing out on some dates I’m not particularly inclined to change, but it is something I’ve been pondering for a while now.
Here in Mexico I feel like it’s expected that men are more forward and women never make the first move — while in New York I could rely on a (relatively) level playing field, that seems to be much less the case here — I still feel like I don’t understand the unwritten rules of flirting and dating here enough to be able to walk the line between flirting and being overly-aggressive, so for now I will continue to err on the good side of that particular line.