Favorite Cross-cultural Dating and Pickup Mis-steps


We’ve all had those dating, or invitation to date, “miss”es. Those times when cultural differences send unintended messages of the “I’m interested” variety. Many of these are funny, and fun to share. Come on, share some of yours, the kind that are safe for public consumption, of course.

A few of mine that come to mind:

  1. In a jungle lodge in northern Thailand, we spent the day on elephants, walking the river.  I remember smiling at one of the young guides. That night, after dinner, I climbed up to my sleeping bag, only to find it already occupied! NOT what my smile had intended to communicate at all!
  2. And, on the topic of smiles, it also caused problems for me in Italy. As I was leaving my room in the morning, the door to the room next door was open. I’m US American-born. I smiled at the guy sitting on his bed. That night he knocked on my door at 2 am, and kept knocking. Sob story told to me through the door about how his mother had just died, he was sad, and needed to talk to someone. Stupidly, I let him in. Incredulously, as he started to touch me, I started nervously laughing (I had spent a lot of time in Japan, and had picked up a tendency to laugh when nervous or tense …) Gratefully, my laughter must have offended him, because he left my room quite quickly after that.
  3. I am straight, but when I lived in Tokyo, I absolutely loved joining friends to go to the gay bars in Shinjuku-sanchome. We had great times dancing and laughing the night away! The guys didn’t seem to care I was hetero. So, when a girlfriend in San Francisco invited me to accompany her bar-hopping the lesbian bars of the city, I was excited. However, by the end of the night, I was depressed: not one person at any of the places we’d visited had asked me or joined me to dance, yet she’d danced the night away. “Well, Dianne, you do have that ‘I’m not lesbian’ sign on your forehead.” Funny I hadn’t noticed that sign when I’d powdered my nose earlier…
  4. Finally, this one from Brussels. Touring around the city, no doubt with a map in my hand, a young Belgian offered to show me the sights. “I don’t have money to pay a guide today,” I responded. “No, no, just as friends. I have free time. I’ll show you around.” After walking around and enjoying ourselves, we had a simple dinner and a beer. I offered to pay. “No, no; this is my city. I will pay.” So he did. As we got up to leave, I noticed my little purse was missing from my bag. I looked around for it, but it was not in the restaurant. My new friend helped me retrace our steps, to see if we could find it. Nothing. That’s when I noticed it: the omamori, or Japanese good luck charm, attached to my little purse. It was hanging out of his pocket. “Do you have my purse in your pocket?” I asked. My new friend threw the purse at me, shouting, “I toured you around all day! And you can’t even buy me a beer!” Then he ran away.

Ok, everyone, I’m looking forward to hearing a few of your “Cultural Defective” dating mis-haps. And for all of us to reflect on what we learn from these often funny and painful experiences. Please share your story via the form below, or in the comments. Thanks for helping us build a better world!

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