Why don’t Australian men know how to date?




House hangs and Netflix and chill shouldn’t be the only options.

When I found myself single a few years ago, I did what any newly single lady would do. I rewatched Sex and the City, I downloaded Tinder and I prepared myself to meet a bevy of eligible bachelors – it was my Carrie Bradshaw moment. Just replace heels with Birkenstocks and designer clothes with thrift shop finds.

I pictured myself spending flirty nights at bars and romantic evenings at quirky but dimly lit restaurants, you know, living my best life. There was just one problem: I was dating Australian men and they don’t really date, they just hang out.

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Australian men invite you for coffee, for a drink, to their house to ‘chill’ or to a mate’s party. They don’t actually take you out on dates. Restaurants are replaced with pubs and romance is replaced with, “I won’t root anyone else, if you won’t”. You’re left simply ‘hanging out’ and wondering how dressed up you should get to go sit in their sharehouse bedroom.

They also make it very clear pretty early on that unless you’ve been together for a solid amount of time they aren’t going to actually try. Trying is reserved for serious girlfriends and anniversaries, not first, second or even third dates.

Instead, your meetups will be approached casually and involve little effort on their part. In my experience, this makes it easy for things to fizzle and harder to get a sense of if they really like you. If it’s the cultural norm not to try, it’s hard to gauge how much someone is interested.

If you don’t believe me, think about your own dating history. I’m sure some of you have wonderful love stories but the majority of women I know met their boyfriend on a dating app, maybe met up for a drink to make sure he wasn’t a serial killer and then pretty quickly fell into a pattern of Netflix and chill. And that can be fine. Dating doesn’t always have to be fancy. But it would be nice to have the option, right?

It’s like Australian men missed the lesson on how to date (clearly they haven’t watched enough American romcoms). Instead, dating feels like being in a stale relationship. No one puts in much effort and you eat a ton of Uber Eats together. It’s less glamour and more mundanity.

What’s most annoying is it doesn’t leave much room for adventure or experience. Sure it’s nice to get to know someone over a few drinks at a pub, but as Carrie would say, I kept feeling that these men could offer me more. More effort, more attention to detail, more of themselves.

When I first became single I remember thinking it was important I find the perfect little black dress, you know, for all those gorgeous dinner dates. I soon realised my biggest investment should be a pair of good black tights that make my bum look great so when I’m off to hang out with a man in his room I can look cute and casual.

Of course, it’s not just me that thinks Australian men have no idea how to wine and dine a girl. Renae, 33, tells me, “When I moved to London, I could not believe what I was putting up with compared to the guys back here. These guys had their shit together, owned apartments or rented nice apartments [and] had scatter cushions. There were never house hangs and they would plan dates – plan!”

Similarly, Christina, 27, says, “Basically there are great guys in both countries but I find Aussie dating more chill with a lot more sarcasm and banter than American guys. American guys are more chivalrous I would say. When it comes to fuck boys in both countries I do find, in my defence, Aussie guys are more blatantly disrespectful – like they’ll say things that just baffle me.”

Amy, 27, agrees. “They just don’t really get it. In Australia, it’s about having sex and having a laugh but there are no like cute, planned dates involved. That can be good and bad.”

There is no right or wrong way to date, and no right way to fall in love. But surely it’s implied by just the word ‘date’ that both parties are going to put their best foot forward and make an effort. Presentation, a convivial place where you can chat to get to know each other – the possibility of food is always a plus – and a sense that the person in front of you is a civilised human being who is capable of thinking about someone other than themselves.

If your date has made no effort, then surely any clear-thinking woman would realise they could be in for a lifetime of disappointments. The sad part is that Australian men are setting themselves up for failure. I’m never going to pretend I don’t enjoy a Netflix and chill or a bedroom hang or a few cheeky drinks at the pub. But let’s explore the world together first. There are movies, art galleries, museums, bridges to climb, walks, beaches and restaurants and bars to discover.

If all goes really well, we’ll end up with a mortgage and responsibilities and be happy spending many a night balancing a takeaway meal on our laps while watching Squid Game. It’s time to call out a culture where, from the moment you meet, men just aren’t trying. The good things in life are always worth the effort, and I’m one of them.

This article was originally published on December 14, 2021.

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