The Mystery of Italian Men

Today I received several phone calls from Tony, a guy I met while on holiday in Italy.  But I still can’t figure out his strange behaviour.  Now why would a guy calling a girl be considered strange behaviour?  Well, because he doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Italian (except from some very simple phrases).  So, needless to say, we can’t really understand each other.

I know I wrote about how we were able to communicate in Italy despite the language barrier.  But speaking in person is one thing, speaking over the phone is quite another.  I can honestly say he’s probably called me more than 20 times in the past few weeks.  He’s also sent some text messages in Italian which I am at least able to understand due to online translators.

Recently we exchanged e-mails and have sent a few messages back and forth.  This has been relatively successful due to online translators as well.  And yet he keeps calling me!  Why, I wonder.  When I do answer the phone and we talk, he seems perfectly happy to ramble on in Italian.  Even if I say “I don’t understand” or “I don’t speak Italian” in Italian, he doesn’t seem to get it.

So I can’t help but wonder why he’s doing this and if I’m missing some important element of Italian culture that would make it all suddenly so clear to me.  So I got online and looked up information about Italian culture, Italian men and experiences people had dating Italian men.  I didn’t find any answers but I did discover a few interesting things:

  1. Italian men are more romantic but also more physical.  They expect to have sex sooner and are more passionate than most men.  [I know this is a stereotype and it doesn’t adhere to all men, but I found this information on numerous sites and numerous women with Italian boyfriends said it was true so there you go.]
  2. Italian men have a very close relationship with their mother.  If they take a girl home to meet their mother it means they are serious about the girl.  Their relationship with their mother often gets in the way of their relationship with their girlfriend though.  Also girls should never complain about the food the mother cooks.  [I found this one particularly surprising.  I had already known that Italians are very close to their families, but I didn’t know about this.]
  3. Italian men want a girlfriend/wife who can cook and clean in addition to being very beautiful.  These seem to be requirements as opposed to bonuses.  They want a girl who is similar to their mother in this way because they respect their mothers and, therefore respect women who are like their mothers.
  4. Italian men like to chase a girl, prove their worth to her and actually win her over.  Dating is like a game and girls must prove themselves to be worthy prizes to be won.
  5. Italian men are very put together.  They have nice clothes, wear nice watches, sunglasses, drive nice cars and are well-groomed.  They know how to take care of and present themselves.

Of course many of these may simply represent stereotypes.  And they may represent how non-Italians view Italian men.  I also came across some sites that said Italian women don’t agree with all they hype about Italian men.  They find them immature and childish because they live with their mothers, their mother does everything for them, and they don’t know how to take care of themselves or others.

Although I found some interesting information, I can’t say that I’m any closer to an answer.  Perhaps one possible clue is #4 on the list, that men like the chase.  Perhaps he thinks he’s chasing me, all the way in Russia.  Maybe the distance makes it more of a challenge, I don’t know.  But doesn’t he know he’ll probably never see me again?  So what’s the point?  Again, the communication hasn’t been the greatest so who knows what he thinks.  Then again, it’s entirely possible that I’ve unknowingly sent some signals that mean I’m interested and I want to see him again.  It’s entirely possible.

Or maybe it’s just a bit of fun for him and will stop when he gets bored.  It started out as just a bit of fun for me as well, just to see what would happen.  But after numerous phone calls and pointless conversations, I’m already bored of it.

An interesting thing to note is that, upon hearing this story, my Russian girlfriends say how romantic he is and that I should learn Italian for him.  It shows the attitude toward finding a good man: once you find him, you should do everything you can to hold onto him.

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3 Responses to The Mystery of Italian Men

  1. Sara 535 says:

    Dear Interculturalist,

    As an Italian woman myself (born and raised in Italy) I can tell you that Italian men are just like any other men in the world, meaning that there are so many different types that it’s really hard to try to figure them out as a single unit.

    I definitely don’t know your situation with that Italian guy…seems a little odd that he doesn’t understand that you don’t speak Italian haha. Maybe he’s a crazy guy? They have those too in Italy.

    • JMS says:

      Thanks for your comment! I’ve had this echoed quite often, that (insert nationality here) men are just like any other men. I think one of the most important things to know when studying cultures is when not to over-analyze someone based on their culture and evaluate them as an individual. Maybe he was a crazy guy, I think he may just have been doing it for laughs as my friends and I got a lot of entertainment from it as well.

  2. No. I don’t think he was doing it for laughs only. I think he genuinely likes you so much. He misses you I suspect, desperately. He probably imagines one day you will all of a sudden bust out some italian to him to confirm you care. He is besotted I think. Even though he knows you don’t understand his language. He honestly hopes that soon you will. His heart is taken by you. I’m not being soppy, I believe he is infatuated to such a degree, and probably flattered too, he can’t let you go. He just wants to hear your voice,
    Even though he struggles. A persons voice can say a lot, even if you don’t understand the persons language. If you like him too, try to learn a little. He will be impressed. If I really liked him I would go out of my way to learn Italian! Just sayin………… Take care my friend.

    Val in London UK.

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