Dating is kinda great. There’s no real commitment other than whatever you’ve verbally expressed between you and your significant other, and you’re free to up and leave if things don’t work. You can see them when is best for you both, be it once a week or every morning when you both get ready for the day. You have no obligations except to each other, and that’s kind of great.
If you live in a country like the US, you can do pretty much whatever you want in terms of dating. Casual dating? Sure. Holding hands in public? Go for it. Netflix and chill? Sounds like a great night! Honestly, dating in the US has its perks, and in comparison to some countries, it can be relatively free.
If you’ve lived in the US for your entire dating career, it might be difficult to think that something as simple as approaching a girl or guy in public or casual dating might be outlawed in someone else’s life. But the truth is, that’s exactly what happens in other corners of the world! Even the most basic ways people meet others or date is completely illegal in other countries, and by doing what we consider normal can land you in some deep legal trouble if you try it over there.
But what are these dating practices that are outlawed, and where do these laws exist? Read on as we show you 15 dating practices that are okay in the US but illegal in other countries.
15. Approaching A Girl In Public
This one might seem crazy, because how else are you supposed to meet a person unless you approach them, right? But according to Bankerinthesun.com, approaching a girl in public is expressly forbidden in Saudi Arabia and will land you in legal trouble if you try it in front of the wrong people. Simultaneously, going to the mall is one of the best way to meet someone new. So how the heck does this work?
Bankerinthesun.com breaks it down step-by-step, but we’ll sum it up. Basically, if you’re a guy, you have to catch a girl’s eye and make eye contact. Establish your presence within her sightline. If she doesn’t completely dismiss you, you can move to the next step, which is to go to a more secluded area that you both have plausible reason to be in, like a unisex store. There, in the clothing racks, you’ll be able to exchange numbers. The fewer words exchanged in public, the better – save it for the phone conversation you’ll soon have. Crazy, right?
14. Casual Dating
Most Americans will try their hand at casual dating throughout their dating career. In some pockets of the US, casual dating is frowned upon, as dating is seen as the express purpose of deciding whether or not you’ll end up married to the other person.
But for some countries, casual dating is an absolute no-no. If you’re casual dating in East Indian cultures, it is not just frowned upon, but it will essentially decrease your chances of getting married. In some rural areas, you can face consequences for casual dating – and although some of the really rural villages don’t have laws in the sense that we have come to know them, they are laws to those that live and operate in the villages, and the consequences are still real – and sometimes can even be fatal. Date with caution!
13. Going Out For Drinks
Not only is going out for drinks such a standard date for many living in the US, it’s almost hard to imagine mainstream dating without alcohol. A common place to meet someone new is at a bar or club, with an opening line to meet a person being “can I buy you a drink?”. There are some subcultures and religions in the US that would say they can date without drinking, like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and Muslims, but for many others, drinking and dating go hand in hand.
But in countries like Yemen, alcohol is illegal, meaning you’re going to have to come up with another date idea. Guess you’re going to have to learn how to dance without that liquid courage if you travel to this faraway place. Can you imagine life without it?
Okay okay okay, while Snapchat isn’t expressly used for dating, it’s one way you can send…ermm…specific photos to your guy or girl and know that the photo will be deleted 24 hours later (and if they try to screenshot it then you’ll know, so that’s nice). It’s an extremely common social media platform, and many people can’t imagine using anything else.
Snapchat isn’t welcome everywhere, however; China has blocked its citizens from using the hugely popular app. While they have others that they use, it’s pretty crazy to think that an app that you probably use all the time is not part of someone else’s life all the way around the world. But then again, they probably think we’re crazy for not using their insanely popular social media platform called WeChat. Snapchat, Wechat…both are used for many things besides dating, but both are definitely used for dating!
11. Dating While In The Military
Any military wives or girlfriends reading this? You know how hard it is to be with someone when they’re deployed a million miles away. The anxiety, the fear, the loneliness…it can be a lot to bear. But you know that your significant other is over there missing you just as much as you’re missing them, and that they’ll check in whenever they can to tell you just how much they love you (same goes if you’re in the military as well – shoutout to the military men and women!).
But for North Koreans, they’re not allowed to date in the military, so their time serving their mandatory military service – all ten years of it – can be a lonely one. So when guys go in for their military service and emerge ten years later, they haven’t dated for a complete decade. Imagine trying to get back into that scene. HARD!
10. PDA (Public Display of Affection)
While PDA isn’t illegal in the United States, there are plenty of people that wish it was. Many will agree that the basic stuff like holding hands is usually acceptable, but some couples flat out need to get a room when they start kissing and really getting into it. Like calm down, right?
But in some countries like India, Indonesia, and Dubai, PDA is illegal. There are actually stories of tourists going to Dubai and getting arrested because they didn’t know this law and started making out in public places. It may not make sense to some people because we can do this in the US, but we can’t engage in acts past a certain…intimacy level…and for other people, that threshold is a lot lower. So when you think of it like that, it makes a little more sense. So keep it in the hotel room if you ever go to those countries!
9. Online Dating (While In The Military)
These days, it’s becoming increasingly more common for people to meet the love of their life online. Match.com, eHarmony, and Tinder, to name a few popular platforms, have shown people all over the world that dating is absolutely normal in the sphere of the internet, and if you haven’t met a significant other online, you most likely know someone who has. It’s just too prevalent!
But when it comes to Chinese military personnel, they’re not allowed to use such sites to find love while in the force. Since it’s not easy to find love while deployed, removing the best possible channel for them to date means that they’re likely not dating much at all (and if they are, chances are slim that it’ll work out when they return home). A bit unfortunate, really, since they’re putting their lives on the line for their country. They should be at least able to try snagging a date while they’re out in the field, right?
8. Dating TV Shows
What’s your favorite TV show? For millions of viewers across the United States, it’s The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or some other type of dating show that pairs people together for a chance at love. The people onscreen have become practically celebrities themselves, and all because they happened to be single when the casting call went out. If you’ve ever thought this was a way for you to find love, you’re not alone, as trying to become a contestant on the show is highly competitive. It may not be the best way to find love, but it is a method – not common, but definitely pursued.
But just a few days ago, news broke out that Turkey has banned dating TV shows (in addition to Wikipedia and other things). So imagine watching The Bachelor, and then suddenly the president decides that it’s a threat to the country and, with a stroke of a pen, cancels your fave. Would there be outrage? Uh, duh! So we’ll see how long the ban remains in Turkey, because we’re pretty positive there are a lot of viewers that really miss their favorite form of entertainment.
7. Bikini Shopping
Maybe this one is a bit cliche, and we admit that it probably is, but one thing you always hear is going bikini shopping with your significant other. Whether you’re the one trying them on or enjoying the view, it’s meant to be used as a bonding activity to show off the goods before trying them out. If you’re a girl, it’s a great way to tease your guy and make him want you more; if you’re a guy, you’re in, dude! Just remember to be helpful and have an opinion on one of them – nothing turns her off more than you being obviously inattentive and hating the experience (that she probably wasn’t super comfortable with in the first place).
But in some countries, women have to wear clothing that conveys an air of modesty, and getting that undressed in front of a man is a punishable offense. It doesn’t mean they can’t go swimming, as there are usually modified versions of swimwear for the occasion, but the bikini fashion show is definitely out of the question.
6. Couple Tattoos
Not every couple is going to get a matching tattoo together, but this is definitely a thing that some couples love to do together. Some really cute ones denote relationship status to each other, such as getting a male/female lion combo or a king/queen of hearts duo, while others share a verse of a song or line of poetry. When the two tattoos are placed together, it becomes evident that the couple is together – as plain as the nose on their face.
Some countries, such as Denmark, Japan, and South Korea place restrictions on tattoos, such as where you can have them on your body. Sometimes getting a tattoo and having a tattoo are seen as two different things – so the laws will be that it’s not necessarily illegal to have one, but if you’re caught in a tattoo parlor you’ll be busted. A lot of it stems from taboos, so don’t be surprised if a country that doesn’t like tattoos isn’t so keen on your ink (but we think it’s just fine – whatever floats your boat!).
5. Dating Period (Say Whaaat??)
Now here’s a crazy one for Americans to wrap their brains around – how can you find someone to spend your life with if dating is illegal? Like how would that even work? How can one date if they’re not allowed to date? Makes no sense, right?
Well in some cultures, dating doesn’t make sense at all, so they don’t do it. In lands where arranged marriages are practiced, dating is expressly forbidden, as it will decrease your parents’ chances of marrying you off. And arranged marriages aren’t always as they seem – some couples spend a short amount of time together before they tie the knot, while others meet each other on their wedding day. It’s becoming less and less common as time goes on, but this custom is still in full swing in many parts of the world.
4. Cohabitation (Living Together)
This one might be an easy one for Americans to understand, as plenty of religions in the US frown upon living together before marriage; in fact, at the time of this article, it’s still illegal in at least two states! That doesn’t mean that anyone is going to do anything about it though, as it’s one of those old, archaic laws that people don’t really get in trouble for violating. Plenty of couples live together while dating, and it’s an extremely common practice in all walks of life.
But in Iran, the laws are made loud and clear, even if more and more Iranians are starting to live together. It’s a problem, though, because if it’s found out that a couple is living together in what is called a “white marriage”, they can be arrested on the spot. For some couples, though, it works – it’s sometimes too expensive to get married and even more expensive to give the wife a dowry. It’s also extremely difficult to get divorced, and father’s rights usually take precedence over a mother’s (plus dating after a divorce is next to impossible). So sometimes it works out better for all parties involved by not getting married.
3. Interfaith Dating
Another one that might be easy to understand for some Americans, as certain religions prefer that a couple entering into marriage be of the same religion. It’s not illegal for a Mormon to marry a Catholic, to use two religions as an example, but both parties will not be able to access certain parts of their faith due to their spouse not being of the same religion.
In countries like Egypt, this is such a huge problem to them that they’ve flat-out made it illegal. If a Muslim woman wants to marry a Catholic man, she doesn’t have to change her religion, but if a Catholic man wants to marry a Muslim man, she absolutely must convert to Islam by law. And even though the marriages are accepted on paper, they’re not always accepted in society, and the couple often faces discrimination and is ostracized from their friends and family.
2. LGBT Dating
Americans are pretty split when it comes to same-sex relationships – while it’s becoming increasingly more accepted in society every day, there are plenty of people who are vocal against not only allowing the LGBT community to get married but even deny their existence. Despite what society thinks, gay couples exist, and they are legally free to date each other (and as of a few years ago take their relationship to the next level and get married). While there are plenty of videos online where people freak out when they see two gay people holding hands or displaying affection, there are no laws that say gay people can’t date, so they can kiss and hold hands all they want and not worry about being thrown in jail for it.
Unfortunately, that is not the case in many countries around the world. The latest news of LGBT intolerance comes from Russia, where Chechnya has established concentration camps for gay men in a horrific attempt to eradicate them en masse. Man’s inhumanity to man, indeed.
1. Sleeping Together
Some relationships physically escalate to a more intimate setting. And when it’s two consenting adults, it’s a great way to keep the relationship alive and interesting. While many people in the US abstain from sleeping with their significant other before marriage for personal or religious reasons, it’s not against the law for two consenting adults to spend the night together.
In some countries, though, it is a punishable offense to sleep with another person before marriage. If you’re sneaky enough you can probably get around the law, but if you’re caught, expect punishments ranging from fines, jail-time, physical punishment, or even death. Luckily, things are more progressive and fewer and fewer countries are levying these punishments, but it still definitely happens in some corners of the world. Which is crazy if you think about it, because as long as both adults are totally cool with it, why should there be a problem?
Sources: brainjet.com, mentalfloss.com, bbc.com, worldatlas.com, theguardian.com
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