Dating in Russia
Submitted 8 months 3 weeks ago by CultureWhiz.
Russian dating is more traditional in that there is no casual dating scene like there in other countries. Most Russians date to find a significant other with idea of getting married. There is no concept of “hooking up,” “seeing each other,” or “hanging out.” For hundreds of years, the goal of young Russian women has been to find a husband – and that has not changed to this day.
It is customary to meet people in much the same way as in most other countries: through social and work networks and in coffee shops and bars. The hope is to turn a casual encounter into a courtship. Online dating is also an option, particularly if you can speak Russian or live in one of the larger cities where there is a considerable expat community.
When out on a date in Russia, you’ll find that customs are generally quite old fashioned and traditional - where men adopt a highly chivalrous manner to “sweep women off their feet.” Spontaneity and whimsical walks are not generally acceptable as date ideas. The traditional notion of dinner and a show (e.g. movie or theater) is a good place to start. When going to a restaurant, it’s customary to dress somewhat formally and be well groomed, so men might wear nice pants and a jacket with a clean shave. Likewise, women may dust off their favorite dress with some nice shoes and makeup.
On the first meeting, you shake hands to form an acquaintance, and it is important to make eye contact when doing so. It is not uncommon for the man to bring flowers along – albeit always in odd numbers, as pairs of flowers are synonymous with funerals in Russia (yellow flowers, carnations and orchids do not go over well. Men should stick with roses or tulips). Men are expected to be highly courteous by holding the door open and helping with coats - and they’ll usually reach for the bill at the end of the meal too.
Now that you are both looking good and have found a place at a nice restaurant, it’s time to engage in the ancient art of conversation. Assuming that you are both at least conversational in either English or Russian, be prepared to cut through any small talk. Before the main entree arrives, you may be asked about your desire for children, job opportunities or income, and other questions pertaining to your rung on the dominance hierarchy and/or social or business ladder.
Couples tend to act as partners in most pursuits so being distant or stand-offish in a relationship does not work. The collective nature of Russian culture means that as a couple, you have a partner in most things you do.
Even after the first date, men are expected to offer gifts as Russian women attach importance to gifts. These can range from traditional chocolates, flowers, champagne toasts and teddy bears, to lavish vacations and the bestowal of automobiles for the wealthy. Gifts are intended not only for the girl, but for her child if she has one, and her mom if she resides in the same town/city. The presence of social media has put even more pressure on a date night to look good with fancy detail or in a posh (or possibly gauche) setting to share with the digital masses.
The main factor in Russian dating is chivalry – Russian admirers are very romantic and they lavish objects of their affection with flowers, small and big gifts and romantic events. Men will be very polite, will open doors in front of women, help them into coats and do all other similar things. The Man will never allow a girl to carry anything heavier than a tiny purse and will always pick up a bill at a restaurant. This is expected in 100% of cases even well into the relationship, so do not be surprised that the girl will not even offer to share. And if you offer to share do not be surprised if you never see her again. Not because the only thing she wanted from you was a free dinner, but because that is against the cultural norm.
Flowers are a must, not only for important events, but also for everyday dates. Make sure that you give odd number of flowers, since even numbers are for funerals only. Also, try to avoid yellow flowers – they are a symbol of separation or break-up. Long-stemmed red roses are a safe bet and the most appreciated flowers, since they symbol love. They are expensive, but no need to present a dozen or more – one red rose is considered equally romantic and will be much appreciated. If you think that red roses are too cheesy – go for tulips (in Spring) or irises or even for romantic field flowers. Avoid orchids (also separation connotation), carnations (too formal and remind of Soviet time) and lilies (smell is too acute).
Girls are never expected to plan the date – it is a man thinks of the idea, makes the plans and surprises his princess. Typically, men date younger girls. Girls are expected to be pretty, a skill that all Russian girls have mastered to a great extent. Be aware that a girl will start preparing for the date several hours in advance and maybe even several days in advance. And she will invest a lot of money, time and effort on things like an expensive manicure/pedicure, going to the beauty salon, choosing what to wear and on doing her makeup. She will want to look perfect and she will look her best on the date. Contrary to popular opinion, this has nothing to do with her trying to look chic in order to extract any benefits from you. This is just the upbringing and the habit here. However, she will expect a lot of admiration in return, so do not be shy to compliment her on her looks. Russian girl will always accept admiration with grace and smile and will they will appreciate your noticing. And when you think how much Russian girls spend in order to look beautiful, you may come to a conclusion that even if she expects some gifts in her honor – that is justifiable.
As a general rule for a date with a Russian: dress up a bit more than you would typically do for going out regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. For a man this means wearing a jacket and nice pants. For a woman, makeup and high heels (if you feel comfortable wearing them) are most appropriate. The typical outfit for a date in the US for a girl – skinny jeans, high heeled boots and a nice top, may be not enough in Russia. You may feel a bit underdressed and will feel more in place if you wear a more feminine outfit. That does not mean you have to wear mini skirt, but wearing a dress or a skirt and a top will be more appreciated than wearing jeans.
Understanding Russian dating culture can do wonders for your love life. Getting into a relationship with someone from another culture can be complex, as each culture places its own values on which qualities make someone a desirable partner. For example, what might be considered romantic, attractive or polite in one culture might not be well received in Russia. Don’t fear, though - there are no fixed “rules” for dating in Russia, and we hope this guide explains some basic etiquette about dating here to help you towards understanding Russian women and men – and ultimately be successful in Russian dating.