Expat Life

So You Want to Date an Englishman

Maybe you’re in England studying and you’d like to fall in love with your (Insert famous Brit here). Or maybe you have a longstanding Mr. Darcy obsession. And just to clarify, don’t let that sexy accent fool you. Just because he speaks like Colin Firth doesn’t mean he is educated or douche-proof. Let me give you some tips on dating an Englishman.

Sam and I on a train
Sam’s hair was dyed for the show and now it looks like we have matching hair and may be related.
We ride trains very enthusiastically.

#1. Football (soccer) will be mentioned frequently.

Be prepared to start caring about football (soccer) and potentially cricket or rugby as well. I haven’t met a single man in England who doesn’t have a certain team that he supports regularly. Sam’s team is Sunderland. I feel like I know a lot about them now. I know that they lose a lot. So if you want to date an Englishman you are going to have to accept that enjoying football isn’t a pastime, it’s a damn way of life here. If he only cares about football, you are getting off easy. Sam cares about pretty much any and every sport in the entire world. He even listens to cricket on the RADIO.

If you are wondering who my team is- it is anyone that Sunderland is playing that week. I like to keep a healthy spirit of competition alive and present in our relationship.

#2. You will go to a lot of pubs.

Start picking out a “go-to” pub drink. You will be going to a lot of pubs when you first start dating. Bars, in America, are an important part of dating, but bars will never be cultural in America in the same way that pubs are in England. So pick a beer, wine or cider that is your consistent go to pub drink. Learn from my errors- cocktails are not typically served in pubs aside from maybe a gin and tonic- never, under any circumstance, try to order a whisky sour.

#3 Chivalry isn’t dead, but it is different.

This probably won’t shock most girls, but I went to college in the South, and I can honestly say that my date/dates picked up every single cheque on a night out. It’s part of the Southern American man mentality. Even if I offered to split the cheque, the answer was usually “no.” However, in England, if you offer to split the cheque be prepared for him to say yes. The man paying for everything isn’t as cultural here. The best rule of thumb is that whoever planned the date, who asked who out, is the one that will be paying for that date. And if you are drinking at a pub, be prepared to take turns buying the round. Whether you are out on a date, or just out with friends, familiarise yourself with the notion of rounds. The first time I came across it in England, and someone offered to buy my drink I was just like, “Sure!” not realising that I then was pretty much obligated to by the next one. It’s a no brainer really, but if you don’t expect it then it can be a surprise.

#4. Englishmen tend to be reserved.

Of course, this is just from my personal experience, but getting an Englishman to talk candidly about his feelings is like pulling a sword out of a stone. Damn near impossible.  On our first date I told Sam that I wasn’t going to have sex with him that night. (Just wanted to make it clear that I wasn’t the American college girl having flings all over Europe like in the movies.) And he looked like I had slapped him. I don’t think a woman has ever said such a candid thing to him on a first date ever. His response, “Erm, yea, I didn’t expect to?”

But the reluctance to display emotion is the first layer in the British stiff upper lip, and can sometimes come across as coldness. This also includes politeness and reluctance to speak out. Sometimes it makes me feel silly because I seem so over enthusiastic and loud. Whatever, I like being emotional.

#5. Don’t read too much into things.

He calls you “love”? That doesn’t mean he loves you. He ends his texts to you with two kisses instead of the standard one? He probably does that to his roommate as well. I once sat around with some girlfriends for 2 hours once discussing the fact that a boy my flatmate was seeing forgot to end a text with any kisses at all. In America, ending a text with “x” or “xx” isn’t really a thing, so it’s just one more thing girls have to stress over when dating in the UK!

interpreting kisses in text messages
As you can see, I take my interpretation of kisses very seriously.

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  • Emma C

    This is so very, very true – especially #2 but he should definitely pay on your first date. #2 regarding the etiquiette of rounds is unspoken but super important with friends and work colleagues too!

    • The etiquette of rounds is the first thing I’d encourage Americans to learn when they come to the UK because it is so important! I’ve seen people have reasonably harsh words with friends over failing to claim their round, etc! Or even worse, silent disapproval! xx

  • Ashton Kessler

    You guys are so cute! I freaked Alistair out so bad when we first started talking. He couldn’t tell if I was joking or if I was being serious. Bless his heart.

  • Betsy Transatlantically

    I am SO GRATEFUL that Jon doesn’t care about football! but I do get really upset if he texts another girl with three kisses – haha!

    • How did you get so lucky Betsy?! Ha, I get irrationally irritated by that as well! It’s just one of those silly things that’s easy to read too much into. xx

  • lauren [lolloped]

    Oh I just love this! I had a brief romance(?) while on holiday in London back in July. Well, it was a 2 day romance, but still, I get all of this! haha

  • Dee

    Hahaha I love this! I do want to try dating British men someday so this would really come in helpful. xxx

  • My friend is dating an Irishman. This sounds similar to him.

    I like the idea of splitting the bill/buying the next round. It’s only fair!

  • Amy @ The Tide That Left

    I love this, and having dated LOTS of Englishmen (and married one) I can say that it is an accurate description. The only part I disagree with, and it might be what our definition of dating is here that creates the issue, is that I’ve always been the girl who tried to pay her way while dating and most men will insist that they pay. I’ve even had pretty heated debates with me who won’t let me pay. That said, once you’re ‘going out’, which to me is the next step up from dating, I find that men are happier to split the bill.

    • Sam and I have had some really interesting conversations about our difference in opinions about “going out” “dating” etc. You and I will have to put our heads together and talk about the differences one day. When we first got together I considered us “going out” because we hadn’t made it official, and then once we were official we were “dating”. Separated by a common language yet again! xx

  • Sarah Beth

    This was such a cute post, especially loved the last point! It always good to remember that cultures are different, even if the place your visiting doesn’t seem all that much different than home!
    xx (uh oh, is this a thing I shouldn’t do now? haha)


    • There’s a saying about the US/UK that they are two countries separated by a common language. That idea really resonates through a lot of aspects of life. And I add kisses to all my texts to friends (men and women) even my boss gets one kiss if I am feeling generous! xx

  • LindsaySarah

    I love this post. There were many laugh out loud bits and I appreciate a healthy appetite for competition in a relationship, haha. During my study abroad time I only went out on a few dates and, even though in the US I’m considered shy and quiet to a degree, the guys in the UK thought me quite “confident” (maybe a nice way of saying opinionated..?)

  • Rebekah Mann

    This was hilarious!!! In some ways, I guess I feel lucky because my Husband doesn’t really like sports and doesn’t follow them at all (although he is an American so not a Brit…) I think the British would think I was crazy because I tend to be outgoing and outrageous (when I feel the urge come on, lol).

    I haven’t traveled abroad but I welcomed learning more about British culture. How do they view the monarchy over there?

  • Rachael

    Haha you should support Newcastle, that’ll be a way to keep a healthy competition with a Sunderland supporter alive! Being British myself and now living in the US and married to an American I kinda miss how reversed people are in the UK, sometimes its all a little too much in your face in the US.

  • Haha, this was such fun to read! I recognise what you wrote about and can see the diffeences in behaviour between UK and US men with my Hubby!

    Molly xo

    • I’d love to read your side as a British woman with an American hubby and compare the differences to our points of view. Have a great weekend Molly! xx

  • Yaumara Lindo

    What an absolute awesome post! This made me giggle so much! Thank you for brightening up my day! Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you so much Yaumara! xx

  • Stephanie @ Shades of Color Art

    haha love the text! In Puerto Rico girls usually buy rounds too. That’s why I try not to accept rounds from friends because sometimes you end up paying more! πŸ˜›

  • Dannielle

    Haha I love this because it is so true! Aside from the fact that I feel like I really dodged a bullet and my English guy isn’t that into sports except Wimbledon. I am SO much louder and outspoken than him though, it’s a running joke, but I don’t care, I like being emotional too πŸ™‚

    Dannielle | Chic-a-DeeDee

  • Hahaha this was awesome and hilarious πŸ™‚ My team is Manchester United πŸ™‚

  • Jessica Hobin

    Haha, My grandfather is very typically british and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the man say “i Love you” ONCE. Very proper and unemotional lol. I hope younger generations are at least a little better!

  • Ah, all of this is so true! My husband is a Geordie, so a Newcastle supporter (and a big Sunderland hater!) and our lives, since we moved back to the US, revolves around the Premiership on the weekends. And his biggest complaint about living in the US? Lack of pubs!

    • A true Sunderland hater! Have you all been watching it online this year? Or do you pay for premo ESPN channels that carry it? I love that he complains about the lack of pubs! I complain about the lack of cocktail bars in England so I guess it’s only fair πŸ˜‰ xx

  • Haley

    My cousins lived in Lafayette, Louisiana and I visited them in the summer twice. I remember the Southern boys.. and they melted my heart. I still think about how sweet those boys were. They make a good man in the south, I must say.
    I think it’s hilarious that Sam LISTENS to Cricket on the radio!!! But I suppose; don’t knock it until you try it.
    And I think it’s really funny that you told Sam right away that you weren’t doing that on your first date. I too, said the same thing. (But I did spend the night. We kissed ….. A LOT.)

  • Jennifer

    I’m actually surprised about typical Americans not buying rounds of drinks — I guess I’ve just lucked out that that’s just how my friends have always done things.

  • Melanie Marie

    This is great! Now I just need to get a British guy to properly test it…. πŸ˜‰

  • Sarah Pete

    Just discovered your blog and LOVE it. No, really.
    Your description of British dating is really fun. It’s so interesting comparing American openness with the British reserved nature. I remember, when I had my semester in London, that my American classmates were the ONLY ones who talked on the tube and being so embarrassed. I miss it, though. There’s something pleasant about the quiet, now and again, though opening up is great, too.

    And your text messages? Too funny!

  • Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    I have a husband who like your boyfriend loves all the sports, when we lived in America he would follow the Premier league all morning and then switch to American sports and then to Swedish ones!