American vs. Russian dating


Actual picture of my and Mr. B's wedding. From the 1920s. Also, Mr. B is a Bolshevik.

I’ve been married for over eight months.  This makes me a relationship expert.  While I was talking this weekend with Mr. B, we got on the topic of dating and marriage.  As we were talking, I thought “If this conversation were public, it would definitely offend the greatest number of people possible. Time to post it!”

We decided that Americans are way too picky when they date, for all the wrong reasons, which is why some Americans tend to marry late.   The average age for American marriage is now 28 for men and about 27 for women. That’s insane.  When my dad was 28, I was six years old.  As a result, my dad is now the youngest out of all the parents I know and he is chillin’ and enjoying me being married and is able to help us in the full capacity.  For example, if we buy a house, he will help us move, paint, etc.  I’m not saying we want him to, but at this point of our lives we don’t have to worry about him being in a nursing home, etc. It’s a beautiful thing.    Whenever we get around to having kids (it’s on our to-do list, right under “buy milk” and “return library books”) we’re not going to be in our thirties (we hope).  It’s hard to have kids that late.  Other people have written about this, including Penelope Trunk (whom, as you may recall, I disapproved of earlier, but I completely agree with her on this one.) Also, even though I’m pretty big on feminism and choice, etc, it’s not good for female biology, no matter how you slice it.

Americans (and maybe other people, but, yeah, mostly Americans) tend to date just to date for the heck of it in the beginning.  Russians (and maybe other immigrant/ethnic groups that I am too lazy to look up) date immediately looking for a serious relationship and for marriage.  Otherwise, why waste your time?

On the dating habits of young Russians, she said: ”Your attitude is that you are doing it for a higher purpose. A lot of people in the American community seem to date so that they have something to talk about with a friend at dinner.”

”If you are going out with someone for two years and you haven’t figured out some integral part of the relationship and you’re not sure and you don’t know, then you shouldn’t be together.”

I’ve noticed this occasionally with American friends, that they’ll date someone for no apparent reason, and break up with them for small slights, like, “She didn’t brush her teeth correctly,” or, “She called her mom too often.”  Not exactly, but silly reasons that should not be deal breakers at all.

Mr. B and I agreed that the key parts of a relationship that you should break up over include whether you can trust the person, whether you think they will provide for your family, and whether you think they are generally a good person.  Bad reasons not to continue a relationship include the fact that they crack their knuckles too much, the fact that they leave the cap on the shampoo open, the fact that sometimes they don’t put the milk back in the fridge, and the fact that they order cranberry juice at every restaurant they go to. For the record, no one in our relationship is guilty of any of these things.

Too often, I think, people tend to go into relationships not thinking about the key question, “Would I start a life/family with this person?”  Is it because of some cultural conditioning that Russians do?  Or just because we like to think about the long term (meaning death) a lot?  We are a very pessimistic people.

The little quirks you can live with and sometimes even ask the other person to fix.  If you get married younger, this becomes much easier, because the older people are, the more they settle into their habits.  I remember listening to one This American Life where the parents of the narrator divorced and got remarried because A)they had changed for the better and B) they decided that they didn’t want to start explaining themselves to someone else later in life when they had shared their youth.  Remarriage to your same partner: not highly recommended for everyone, but I can see the point.

I realize that I am not big enough for a statistically significant sample size (but yo’ moma is so fat, she probably is), but all the Americans the same age as me I know are unmarried, with maybe three exceptions, and they tend to skew religious, which may influence their decision.  All the Russians my age are married.  Did we make the right choice?  Only time will tell.  For now, I will focus on the shampoo cap.