After Giving Up on Finding Romance in Italy, This is What Happened
I came to Rome single, after an almost five-year relationship, not knowing what to expect or what to do. I actually wasn’t expecting anything in Italy, as finding romance was the last thing on my mind.
However, keeping in line with the idea that you “party hearty” when you’re newly single, I was determined to have fun while in Italy. That meant getting to know Italian guys (and maybe others). It was an exciting prospect at first, since my interactions with foreigners were limited to the British kid who went to my middle school (and who I barely talked to or had a crush on) and the incredibly gorgeous older German exchange student at my high school (who I also never talked to).
You know how you get all tongue-tied when you see someone who’s incredibly gorgeous?
But after I arrived, the appeal lost steam after crashing into the language barrier. It’s really hard to have a conversation with someone when you can’t really communicate. And conversation is how I prefer to interact with people because while beautiful people are, well, beautiful to look at, they’re too intimidating for me.
You know how you get all tongue-tied when you see someone who’s incredibly gorgeous? Right here. And there are some beautiful people in Italy, I can tell you.
For the ones I did manage to talk to (or those who approached me), it got old fast to explain that: yes, I do speak English; yes, I am from the United States; no, I’m not from Florida and therefore not from Miami (for some reason Italians love that city) or New York; yes, I’m an English teacher; and no, I will not give you my number so you can “have lessons.” They were also more pushy than I was used to and gave the impression that they thought I’d be “easy” because I was a foreigner. Not attractive qualities.
I realized I’d take a simplified conversation where I might be able to teach a few phrases over a bro-tastic one any day.
I will say though, props to the Italian guys I did manage to talk to a little bit, because I now know firsthand how difficult it is to have a conversation in another language you can’t really speak, what with my struggles with Italian. There were times I longed for a native English speaker so I could express myself without having to slow my speech down or simplify it.
But then I met the American study abroad students who were out at the bars getting completely trashed at age 20 because it was legal to do so, and I realized I’d take a simplified conversation where I might be able to teach a few phrases over a bro-tastic one any day.
The whole “Dude, what are you studying? Isn’t college so difficult? My history 203 class is, like, so hard because I have a five-page paper due in like, eight hours! I just chugged six beers and dude, I’m like, totally wasted. Where’s your beer, bro?” scenario is not really my idea of conversation (although I did find it flattering to think I looked young enough to pass for a college student) plus the difference in years and maturity level was enough to turn me off.
And the popped collars. Did I mention the popped collars?
We went for coffee a couple of days later, and five months later we’re still together.
So, after two months or so, here were my conclusions. I was incredibly glad to have left the States, because meeting Americans abroad reminded me how annoyingly obnoxious we can be, but Italians were definitely not my type. An American friend of mine told me to stay open to the idea of meeting an Italian, but I was ready to write the whole idea off.
But then, just after New Year’s, I was out with a friend and happened to meet a guy while pushing past him with a beer. We struck up a conversation, and at first I didn’t suspect he was Italian because his level of English was the best of anyone I had met so far in Italy, and he wasn’t pushy. Plus, at that time, I was desperately looking for work and he gave me two recommendations for schools I should apply to, so he got major points.
It was a pleasant surprise and I was legitimately excited for the first time since arriving in Florence. We went for coffee a couple of days later, and five months later we’re still together. I definitely didn’t see it happening and felt hesitant at first, but our relationship has been good for me. (An extra bonus: learning Italian insults. It comes in handy.)
When I started this trip, my goal was to keep an open mind and have new experiences out of my comfort zone. I haven’t always done such a great job of keeping an open mind, but I’m glad I did in this case because it’s been a great and unexpected surprise. I don’t know about the future, but for now, like everything else on this trip, I’m enjoying the ride.