ormally, I use this column to give my own spin on dating and relationships, my own story included. But, lately I’ve been bombarded with questions from my students (I work with American kids) about Italian women and Italian female friendships.
“Why do they seem so … so… so stand-offish?” the female students ask me.
It’s something that’s often stumped me as well.
So, I’m just going to put it out there.
Italian women: You’re hard to meet!
I know I’m probably going to get a lot flack for this. But it’s true.
Aside from my very good friend Miss X, I’ve found that in the three years that I’ve lived in Rome I’ve had only one other good Italian girlfriend I can confide in, laugh with, and generally count on. Sad but true. One.
All my other Italian female friends are either girlfriends of my boyfriend Fabio’s friends or are somehow related to him. Other Italian girls I managed to strike up a conversation with stuck around un paio di mesi or less.
It’s really sad. Particularly since when I first moved to Rome I made it a point to not hang out just with the other American students where I was studying.
I wanted to immerse myself in Italian culture, which meant making Italian friends. No such luck. I remember one of my first encounters with the Italian female. She was one of Fabio’s friends. Her name was Brunella. When Fabio first introduced me to her, I remember her eyes followed me from head to toe. When I went to give her a kiss, she quickly extended her hand. Almost immediately after Fabio told her that I was working toward my Master’s degree, she wasted no time in asking me, with a very disapproving look might I add, “Macchè, sei in vacanza?”
I was insulted.
Fabio said I was being permalosa.
Permalosa, touchy, maybe, but there’s definitely some truth to what my students observe. As soon as Italian women hear the female foreign accent, almost immediately they want nothing to do with you. Making Italian male friends, on the other hand, hasn’t been hard at all.
Other foreign female friends (not just American) have made similar observations. “It’s as if they (Italian women) don’t take you seriously. Or they think you’re going to steal their man, “ my friend said.
Steal their men?
Recently, I had this same informal debate with a cab driver on my way home from work. “É anche dificile per noi uomini Italiani conoscere le donne Italiane. Eh si, sai le donne Italiane sono un pò più precise. Invece, le donne straniere sono più aperte e quindi sono un pò più rilassate,” the driver explained.
He continued: “Ho due amiche. Una spagnola e una inglese. Tutte e due sono molto simpatiche. Posso parlare di qualisiasi cosa con loro due. Però, questo non vuol dire niente. Queste sono piccole differenze tra le donne straniere e le donne italiane.”
“Yeah, okay. I get that. Foreign women might be more open and more relaxed. But we don’t necessarily steal their men.” I told him.
“Maybe it’s Italian men that Italian women should really be worried about, not foreign women,” I insisted.
I noticed the wedding band on his finger.
“Da quanto tempo sei sposato?” I asked him.
“Io? No, io sono separato” — separated — “Mia moglie mi ha lasciato perche era gelosa. Sai, la verità è che tutte le donne sono rompi-scatole… ecco,” he said.