The United Kingdom has traditionally had a considerable influence over the culture of the United States, and today the two share a number of similarities. Although they’re two English-speaking nations and have shared a warm relationship over the past century or so, the culture in each is surprisingly different when it comes to dating.
People who have dated both Americans and Brits can confirm that there are more than one or two things that these two cultures do differently on a date, and during the period of dating someone in general. Though the two can find common ground and have solid relationships with each other, there are a few things they’ll have to get used to.
Some of the different dating customs are hardly noticeable, while others are difficult to ignore and require a major point of view shift. Things that are normal in one culture can be offensive in the other, and red-flag signs in one country are no cause for alarm across the pond. If you are going to attempt some transatlantic dating, it’s a good idea to get up to speed first!
And though each culture has its own dating traditions and no-no’s, we can’t say that one is better than the other—you’ll have to decide for yourself whether you like how the Brits do their dating, or whether you’d be more comfortable dating on American soil.
15 Being Exclusive Is A Given In The UK, And A Conversation In The US
When it comes to being exclusive, Brits and Americans tend to differ on their point of view. In the UK, it’s generally automatically assumed that when you start seeing someone, you’re exclusive. Unless one of you specifically states that you’re seeing other people or you want to be in an open relationship, it would be pretty frowned upon to see a second person while you’re already going out with one.
In the US, being exclusive with each other isn’t automatically assumed for many people. Once you start going out with someone, you’re usually free to keep seeing other people too, and you don’t have to make a commitment to be monogamous if you want to keep seeing that person. Eventually, you get to the point in your first relationship where you have a conversation about becoming exclusive but until then, multiple dates are not off-limits.
14 Double-Dating Is Strictly An American Thing
The concept of double-dating is thrown around a lot in movies, but according to some experts, this is a strictly American thing. In one article, BuzzFeed reported that Americans are much more likely to plan to go on a date with four or more people rather than two and maintain groups in which all the partners are friends with each other.
In Britain, people tend to prefer one-on-one traditional dating rather than group dating. They might do a double-date if they happen to be out with a group of people, but it’s not so much a planned thing where each person has a partner and any extras are known as third wheels. They have been known to go out with friends and love interests at the same time, but not in any formal double-date conditions.
13 Meeting A Handsome Stranger In Public Is Much More Realistic In The US
Americans are known as one of the friendliest and most outgoing nationalities on the planet, so naturally, you have more chance of being approached by a random stranger in public in America than you do in the UK. If you’re British, you might have watched people in movies find their soulmates in public places like gyms, restaurants and even on the street, and thought that was totally unrealistic. But it actually does happen in the US: sometimes, strangers meet, exchange numbers and set up a date. It’s more common in bars and clubs, but it does happen in places where you’d never even think of picking up a date too.
That happens much less frequently in Britain, to the point where if you tried to pick up someone from the UK off the street, they’d be totally caught off-guard.
12 In The UK, You Tend To Already Know The People You Date
So if British people aren’t accustomed to meeting and swapping numbers with random people on the street, how do they ever get to fall in love? Well, according to one British Quora user, they tend to prefer dating people that they already know and have formed a friendship with. “We tend to hang around in mixed-sex groups—friends from the office, photography club or whatever—until two people decide that they like each other, and then they start dating,” she explained.
In the UK, dates are generally for growing closer to someone that you’re already interested in and know, whereas in the US, dates are more for getting to know someone to decide if you do really like them. Because of this, blind dates are a huge part of dating culture in America, whereas you don’t see them that often in Britain.
11 Questions That Seem Normal In The US Might Seem Like An Interrogation In The UK
Because of the different nature and purpose of actual dates in the UK and US, the conversation tends to differ as well. Since you might not know the person who you’re on a date with very well in the US, you might ask them a lot of questions to help get to know them and form an opinion of them. It’s normal to ask about their job, their family, their interests and anything else that you want to know.
But you probably shouldn’t do this when on a date with a British person, at least not according to BBC America. It was reported that since Brits are more laidback and less interested in getting to know total strangers, they might feel that this kind of conversation resembles an interrogation.
10 Americans Prefer To Get To Know You Through A Smartphone, And Brits Prefer The Old-Fashioned Way
The Telegraph reported that when it comes to dating, Brits like to cut to the chase and meet a potential partner in person as soon and often as they can. That way, they don’t waste time with trying to interpret emojis and the tone of messages and can build up a stronger connection with that person.
In the US, however, you’re more likely to spend a long time communicating with a potential love interest through a smartphone before you actually get to the point of meeting them in person. Americans usually start off with emailing or texting before advancing to phone calls, and then weeks later, meeting in person. This has obviously intensified with the introduction of various forms of social media and even online dating—it’s just easier to date from the comfort of your own house today!
9 Americans Go To Parties To Show Off Their Dates; Brits Go To Find Them
BuzzFeed reported that the two nationalities differ in the way they view parties and special formal events. In America, it’s a statement to go to a party, such as a wedding, without a date. People may even resort to asking those they don’t know very well (or at all) to be their date so they don’t have to be the only one there without somebody else. And because of this, parties might not be a great place to meet potential love interests, because the openly single people tend to be few and far between.
On the other hand, parties in the UK tend to be an opportunity to meet someone new. While Brits are less used to swapping numbers with strangers, they are more likely to do it in a setting like a private party, where they might have mutual friends with that person.
8 The Way You Look Is A Bigger Deal In The States Than It Is In The UK
The Telegraph claimed in their article that when it comes to physical appearance, Americans care more than Brits. That’s not to say that Americans are shallow, but looking good tends to be more important to Americans than British people, on average. Singles in the US tend to put a high value on a person’s figure, as well as face and outfit when deciding whether to go out with them or not.
While there are shallow people in the UK too, the article reported that Brits are less likely to care about the physical appearance of somebody, and are more likely to go out with someone who doesn’t possess their ideal body type. So if insecurity over the way you look is getting in the way of your dating life, a flight to London might be in order!
7 Splitting The Bill Is Much More A British Thing
Everybody has a different view when it comes to splitting the bill. Once upon a time, it was a given that the man would pay for everything on a date, but with the rise of third-wave feminism and a deconstruction of traditional gender roles, many people now don’t believe that it’s fair for the man to still have to take the burden of the bill on a date.
In Britain, the general consensus seems to be that the bill should be split evenly and no party should get special treatment. But in parts of America, where the culture may be a little more traditional, it’s more common for the male to still pick up the check, even if the female makes as much money as he does.
6 Americans Go On Dates During The Day And Brits Keep It To The Evening
Traditional dates may take place at night and feature a combination of dinner and a movie or dinner and dancing, or some other romantic activity. But in the US, going on dates during the day has become more and more common. Things like going on picnics, going on walks, going to the beach together or even going out for lunch are fairly standard.
But in Britain, the daytime environment tends to make people think that there’s nothing romantic about it. One London writer who went to college in Colorado for a year said that she agreed to go on dates without realizing they were dates because they consisted of grabbing a cup of coffee during the day. “… I thought they were trying to be friends,” she told Business Insider.
5 Meeting The Parents Is A Much Bigger Deal In The US
No matter what country you’re in, there comes a time in each relationship where you have to meet the parents. But according to one Quora user, the outcome of that meeting isn’t as big a deal in the UK as it is in the US. “Americans seem to genuinely care about having their parents approve of their partner, whereas, while we Brits like it, we typically take an attitude that, if they don't approve, then they can ... mind their own business,” she said.
Nobody enjoys having their parents disapprove of the person that they’re seeing, but mom and dad’s opinion seems to matter more in the US, and might even have the potential to destroy a relationship. Generally, parents don’t have that much power in the UK.
4 This Isn’t Just A Dating Thing, But The Love Language Is Totally Different
If you’re an American who’s dating a Brit, or vice-versa, you’re going to want to get used to the different forms of English slang for each culture. While both nationalities speak English, the different words and phrases used in each dialect could make things confusing if you’re not familiar with them!
In Britain, you go out for chips, whereas in the US you go out for french fries. In America, you go on vacation, but if you’re British you go on holidays. Between flats and apartments, lifts and elevators, mobile and cell phones, loos and restrooms, you might get totally bamboozled when dating someone of the other nationality, or even dating in the opposite country if you don’t know at least some of the general slang.
3 Income Is A Big Deal In America, And Something You Don’t Discuss In The UK
On top of physical appearance, income makes a big difference to how appealing someone is in America. The more money you make the better, and it can even be a strategy to show off how much cash you have to entice potential love interests. It’s not uncommon for especially wealthy people in the US to flaunt their wealth in order to impress their dates.
But if you’re dating a British person, you might want to think again before doing this! While making a lot of money is nothing to be ashamed of, The Telegraph reported that Brits tend to be turned off when their dates flaunt how much money they have. This is usually considered arrogant, and being humble is much more appealing, even if you do have an impressive bank account.
2 American Guys Are Generally Much More Animated Than Mostly Reserved British Guys
It might not just be a stereotype that American guys are more outgoing and passionate than British men. One New York-born writer who lived in London told Business Insider that the difference between the men of Britain and the US is hard to miss. Depending on the kind of person you are, this can be a good thing or a bad thing.
“I found British men were a lot less affectionate or forthcoming with feelings unless they maybe had a drink or two,” she revealed. “They were much more reserved, as American men are more huggy and communicative. Though the sense of humor of British boys is very fun to be around, and they can often be very 'cheeky' and charming when they want to be.”
1 Brits Prefer Netflix And Chill, But In America, The Dates Tend To Be More Sparkly
On average, dates in the US can be as big a deal as you want them to be. Whether you’re going dinner and dancing or out to a club or a social event, nothing is too grand or over the top. Netflix and chill is actually much less common in the US than it is in the UK, particularly in the beginning of the relationship. The Telegraph reported that Americans overall like to spend more money on dates and do things that are more exciting than their British counterparts.
In the UK, dates are generally much more chilled. Though Brits don’t always view day-time dates as real dates, when they do date nights, it’s often doing things that are much more low-key, like Netflix and chill or cooking dinner together.
thisisinsider.com, thetelegraph.com, buzzfeed.com