A friend of mine, a fellow European, summarized how relationships on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean work in a comical, but also pretty accurate way: “In America, the girl is Barbie and the guy is Ken.
In Europe both are both.” So how does this actually apply to the way relationships differ from each other in two continents whose inhabitants once belonged to the same culture?
Well, for one, it has obvious, superficial reasons, such as the typically super-white teeth and perfectly groomed appearances that Americans tend to have compared to their more natural-yet-not-necessarily-better-looking European counterparts.
But aside from visual aspects, girls in the States expect to live their lives like Barbie in her dreamhouse, with her super-manly successful boyfriend. But while these expectations are high, I often find that putting guys on a pedestal and doing anything in order to get their attention is a big part of getting to this ultimate goal.
In America, guys get to be cool players who are allowed to switch between different pretty girl-toys who will simply obey their preferences.
From my experience at an American university, I understand that dating in the U. is a lot more spontaneous and relies a lot less on checking every detail about the other person.
Love is found, and dismissed, very casually and almost according to the preferences of the particular day.
I could hardly find anyone who wasn't in a relationship and who wasn't engaged in some serious PDA all over the place, complete with holding hands, wearing matching clothes, constantly uploading a super-couple-y profile picture on Facebook and so on.
It felt almost as though each person played their role in the perfect relationship, but could easily repeat it the following week with somebody else.
This leads me to my next point, of commitment not being the serious part of the relationship.
Apparently, a boyfriend or girlfriend is defined as being the most current interesting or comfortable member of the opposite sex that one can find, which also means that the relationship status is often likely to change in almost as short an amount of time that the neck needs to direct the face's gaze into a new direction.
Of course this is obviously not true for every single American, but it is the view that is generally conveyed to the outside.
In reality, though, American couples are often still getting to know each other when they are already together, and could easily end up holding their partner's best friend's hand in the next instant.
It's like there is a constant trial-and-error going on in order to find out who you can actually see yourself with.