One of my biggest takeaways while exploring Western Europe for six months was a conversation I had with an Austrian couple.What struck me the most was that there isn't a word in many languages for what North Americans call "dating", and that, in fact, few cultures around the world actually "date".
In North America, I say I'm a dating columnist.
It's easy, pretty much every knows what that means, and if for some reason they're confused, I say, "You know Carrie in Sex in the City?
I'm her, but she wrote for the Post and I wrote for the Times".
People nod, and then ask me whatever pressing dating questions they have.
In France however, there's no such thing as a dating columnist.
I've been a semi-fluent French speaker since my youth, yet trying to share what I did perplexed most French, Belgian and Swiss folks I encountered.
My male friends scoffed, my female friends swooned."On sort ensemble" is something you'd say in Quebec (loosely translated: "we go out together"), but no one said anything of the sort in France.
Yes, the guy really planned to have me serenaded, on our first date, along the Seine River."I give advice to people who go out together," kind of worked, but most people didn't understand how or why I had a job.
I lost my credit card and was two hours late, so instead we met for wine and cheese.
That relationship ended because the gent couldn't communicate clearly with me, and kissed another woman at a party repeatedly knowing that I'd never take him back if he did.
I'm still grateful for the experience, because it showed me just what dating was, and wasn't.