Navigating numerous social conventions that are intrinsic to dating is already difficult enough in your own language and country, taking this endeavour abroad could add a couple extra layers of potential awkwardness. But if you heart just skipped a beat for someone Polish, don’t worry. Here are seven tips that will help you break the ice.
Don’t be late
In fact, aim to arrive a couple of minutes early. Showing up late is a sign of disrespect and will not sit well with your date. Most Poles would wait for 15 minutes before calling it quits, a custom which has its origin in academic life. In Polish schools and universities, if the professor is more than 15 minutes late, the students can go home. Notifying your date about running late is a must and could help smooth the situation, but most likely won’t win you extra minutes.
Navigating the greetings
A kiss on a hand is a definite no-go. Even though you might have seen it in Polish movies, younger generations see it as old-fashioned. Usually a firm handshake or simple ‘hi’ will do, though many Poles choose a kiss on a cheek instead. Just remember that three kisses are reserved for family members.
Don’t offer yellow flowers
Buying flowers is a popular custom in Poland, but before you go running to the nearest florist, you should know the flower etiquette. Red is reserved for romantic relationships and can be seen as too obtrusive for a first date. Yellow symbolises envy and betrayal, making it a no-go, unless you know that your date genuinely likes this colour. Traditionally, a pink bouquet was a sign of friendship which could turn into something more, while a blue one indicated faithfulness, though those meanings are slowly disappearing from the collective consciousness. Another important thing to remember is to always offer an odd number of flowers. Bouquet with an even number are reserved for funerals.
Be tactful when handling the bill
If you thought that picking a bouquet was a maze of social conventions, you clearly have not made it to the settling the check part yet. Attitudes towards the traditional gender roles very greatly among Poles, so paying should be dealt with caution. As in many traditional societies it is customary for the men to pay, however some women look down upon this practice. Another custom states that it should be the inviting party who covers the bill, regardless of gender. To be on the safe side, offer to pay twice. Poles tend to always refuse the first time around and accept the second or third. However if they keep refusing, respect they decision and split the bill.
Mirror your date
In order to make your date feel more at ease, try to mirror their behaviour. For example, if they decide to order food or something to drink, order something too. It is considered somehow impolite to eat when the other person is not having anything, so in order to make them feel more relaxed, have something too.
But don’t criticise Poland, even if your date does
Poles are usually the first ones to complain about everything and anything Poland-related, from government or healthcare system to the weather, but they like to hold an exclusive right to do so. Judging Polish culture or economic growth will make your date fell defensive and won’t get you anywhere. If you want to steal your date’s heart, however, ask informed questions instead. They would surely be pleased to help you understand the complexities of the Polish history and traditions.
Walk your date to public transport
Walking your date home may be considered old-fashioned and impractical in big cities where people live further away from each other, but parting ways at a bus or subway stop is definitely well advised. What is more, the failure to propose to do so may be understood as a lack of interest and a sign of a failed date. It is also customary for those who arrived by car to offer a lift, though be advised that in Poland it is strictly prohibited to drink and drive, so choose your mode of transportation accordingly to your beverage choices.
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