For as long as we can remember, people have used any means necessary to form relationships and meet new people. Back in the Pride and Prejudice days, if a man wanted to meet his future wife, he would simply host a ball, and invite all of the prettiest girls in the land. I’ll admit, things have changed a *little* bit since then, but this obsession with constantly searching for the ‘right’ partner is still very prominent. With technology becoming ever-more pivotal to everyday life, it’s no wonder that the next logical step is to move this dating process which has always been one of the focal points of people’s lives into the online world as well.
Jetting in from the UK, I was definitely curious as to what the Argentine men and the dating culture here had to offer. If I’m being totally honest, up until now, British boys haven’t exactly set the bar high as far as being whisked off my feet is concerned. When thinking of grand romantic gestures, sarcastic British humor doesn’t exactly spring to mind. However, after only being here two months, it’s clear that Argentine men are much less awkward, and more accustomed to gushing their hearts out to a total stranger – there is definitely something to be said for the saying, ‘let’s not beat around the bush!’
England vs. Argentina
It didn’t take me long to realize that the dating culture in Argentina differs to that of the UK in quite a few ways. There are, of course, the obvious differences right from the outset, that moment when you catch eyes with someone, and you both know that you want the other person to make a move. Argentine men definitely don’t struggle with the same affliction that many men back home do, this terrible problem of being so awkwardly British that they can barely muster up the courage to walk up to a girl in a bar, let alone ask her out for a drink having just met her.
Last year, an article published by the Sun showed that 9 out of 10 British singles have never asked or considered asking a stranger out for a drink. I have found, however, that I have been approached by more men here in the last two months (whether it be in person or online) than I have in my whole dating career up until now. So, what’s going on? Have I suddenly become way prettier (which is obviously a possibility), or do the Argentines have this whole dating thing nailed down better than the Brits?
The Dating Apps
More than 91 million people use dating websites all over the world, and with more options to choose from all the time, suddenly the little paddling pool in which we used to fish, seems to be starting to resemble more of a lake. Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Grindr, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish – I could keep going. With dating apps of every variety, what was once a constant mental battle of “really should go out and socialize” vs. “really would rather stay at home and chill,” has now become much less of an issue, as you can literally browse through potential partners from your sofa.
Here in Buenos Aires, the newest fad is the dating app Happn, which takes the online dating world a step further. It doesn’t just match your profile to somebody with similar interests, but it actually notifies you when you walk past someone who has either liked you, or who you would be compatible with. Mmm, I know. At first glance is sounds a tad creepy, but I have taken it upon myself to do some research – from a purely work based perspective – so that I could get my head around the situation a little better.
My Happn Experience
I decided to dive into the deep end, and set myself up a Happn profile. I selected my pictures from that folder of gorgeous pictures that we all have standing by in our phones, I wrote myself a bio, and sat back in my chair to wait for the likes to roll in. I also decided to give my Tinder and Bumble profiles a little revamp, just to try and get a full cross section of all of the most used apps here.
In terms of selecting pictures, something I noticed while trawling through profiles, is that the Argentine boys definitely get their profiles a bit more “right” than your average English boy. I mean, for a start, most boys back home think it’s appropriate to choose a group picture of “the lads”: seven boys all with the same haircut wearing the same exact outfit and then they figure that this will be enough to inspire a right swipe… Wrong! Argentine men, on the other hand, definitely aren’t afraid to put up a few selfies – even if they’re not the most flattering angles.
England vs. Argentina
After just a couple of days, much to my surprise, messages started popping up all over the shop! So what was going on?
“Buenos Aires is the city with the third highest amount of ‘happeners’ in the world, with over 1.1 million users out of 1.6 million in the whole country (more than both Paris and London).”
An article published in Clarín last year, revealed that 30 percent of Argentines said they had used a dating app at some point, while 56 percent said they knew someone who had found their couple via a virtual forum. Compare this with Britain, where according to Statista, only 15 percent of British people were actively using dating apps in 2017. Is it really any wonder that success rates are so much lower when we’ve got almost only a third of the choice that Argentines have?
After just a couple of days, I was chatting with various other “Happnrs,” and it was fairly clear from the onset that people here are much more proactive on these apps. In England despite many people having a profile, they don’t use them on a regular basis, which might explain why according to an article released by the Guardian, 42 percent of people who are using Tinder in the UK already have a partner.
People sign up to these websites on a whim and don’t really take them seriously. By contrast, I believe that here in Buenos Aires, so far, all of the matches I have made have been more genuine and with people who actually have an interest in meeting you – or at least getting to know you a little.
Enter Martín! A fairly gorgeous, 25-year-old man, with a relatively well put-together Happn profile, English speaking, and willing to spark up a conversation with a little more than “hi!” – admittedly it wasn’t ground-breaking but it was enough to motivate a response.
A few days of chatting and the conversation naturally progressed to WhatsApp. Martín was very patient; I must admit I can be a little hard to pin down, and after “postponing” twice, he eventually managed to get me to a bar. So from the initial pairing online, right up to the end of the first date, I’ve highlighted my five main observations as a result of using dating apps on either side of the Atlantic.
1. Controversial political questions before we’d even sat down
Arriving on the date, after a long day in the office, hoping to have a drinks and some relaxed conversation, I was a little surprised when having barely had the chance to order my beer, Martín’s very first question was; “So what do you think of the machismo culture here in Argentina?” I was also asked my political views in the UK, as well as what I thought of the current political situation in Argentina. In England, it’s sort of an unwritten rule to avoid any direct, controversial conversation, especially politics, until you are much closer with someone – I guess the Argentines don’t mind if the first date gets a little heated.
2. Dates in Argentina are not early affairs
In England, if a boy asked you to meet up with him at 11 PM, you would undoubtedly think booty call. However, here it seems there is nothing unusual about meeting up with someone after what’s typically considered many people’s bedtimes. Added to this, they take the whole “fashionably late” thing quite literally, whereas back home, if a guy was more than ten minutes late, you would probably assume he was standing you up – writing it down, I’m really starting to see why dating is such a struggle back home.
3. Where are we going, exactly?
From my experience of dating English boys, 9 times out of 10, a date is going to take place at the pub. The perfect location really, not too formal, usually quite a good atmosphere, and of course, they serve alcohol. Here, it doesn’t seem to be so obvious that a date should revolve around alcohol, which I discovered quickly when I matched with Nacho, who suggested the park – a day-time rendezvous, surely not? And Martín, well I think this says it all;
4. Argentines aren’t shy about PDA
Maybe this is just Brits being Brits again, but personally I get a little uncomfortable about the idea of kissing in public. It seems however this isn’t such a problem in Argentina. Whether its on the Subte, in the street, a park, a restaurant, the Argentines have got a whole lotta love to give and they don’t wait until they get home to give it!
5. Locals love flattery
As touched on previously, I have found Argentine men to be much more direct than their British counterparts. Whether it be on a date, in a bar, or online, if they like how you look, you’ll know about it sooner than later. Perhaps this no-bullshit approach is one of the most obvious differences between British and Argentine men that I’ve found since being here, I’m not going to lie – so far I’m quite enjoying it!
Well first and foremost, everyone and every situation is different. Some are lucky enough to go on one Tinder date and find their soulmate (whatever that means), while others go on ten and then lose all hope of ever meeting someone at all. But, speaking from my experience what I can say, is that having been fairly skeptical about meeting guys this way, I have had a pretty positive experience – if you were at all interested, Martín and I have date number two this weekend.
So perhaps the English do need to take a leaf out of the Argentines’ playbook and start taking these dating apps a little more seriously. After all, with our lives becoming increasingly more hectic, and people lacking the time to dedicate to actually going out and meeting someone, perhaps there is something to be said for this cyber courtship? What have you got to lose?!