Dating in Oz
Much of the world perceives Aussies as laid-back people who love a good time (and a good barbecue). They work hard and play hard, arriving on time and in style to both the board meeting and the surfboard-dotted beach. But how does this fun-loving, "no worries" attitude translate to the serious, complicated world of dating? Some Australian singles weigh in.
Where Are All the Good Men? Online
When it comes to settling down, Aussie men and women seem to be following the recent American trend of digging their heels into the ground. According to Relationships Australia, the average age for first marriage has gone up to 29 for men and 28 for women.
This might be because they're finding it harder to meet quality people. Aussies list their top barriers to finding love as the inability to find people who meet their criteria, a lack of places in which to meet people, and too little time to mix and mingle, according to Sexual Health Australia. It makes sense, then, that online and speed dating have taken off in Australia as they have in the US -- about 69 percent of those interested in finding a new partner said they would use Internet dating to do so, according to Relationships Australia.
Adam Sachs says his New York-based group dating site Ignighter.com took off more in Australia than in the States. The site, which targets men and women between the ages of 18 and 32, lets users create groups of between two and 10 people with whom to go out.
"We believe that the group-dating model really appeals to the young people in Australia, who love to socialize and aren't quite looking to settle down while they're still in their mid 20s," he says. "We do believe that the laid-back, group-oriented nature of the Aussies' social lives is what is leading to Ignighter's popularity over there.
"The Aussies also like to drink. We've noticed that a huge percentage of the profiles of our Australian groups make note that their interests involve drinking or hanging out at a bar. This is pretty common for our Ignighter groups around the world, but not as universal as it is among the Australian groups."
Aussies aren't necessarily looking for meaningful relationships -- and it may be more on the women's end than the men's. Only 13 percent of Aussie gals want to find a partner for the long haul, compared with 26 percent of men. And of the four in 10 Australians looking for some sort of relationship, friendship is the most sought-after type, followed by a long-term relationship.
Kimmy, a 30-something from Sydney, says people in her city take a largely casual approach to dating. If she likes someone, she will often ask him out for something low key, such as drinks or a movie. She believes the dating culture depends on where you live in Australia -- a place with several major cities hugging the coast but mostly rural communities settled in the center.
"I think everyone is different," she says. "Sydney city seems to have a lot of players and non-commitment types who sleep around, go out and pick up, and have absolutely no morals, whereas people from the country seem to have a more laid-back, honest, commitment-oriented view to relationships." She adds that having "someone" on the side is common here.
Libby Anders, 31, from Brisbane, has been single for five years and says Australian guys "take forever" to ask a girl out. "They 'hang out' with you and then eventually just think you're an item," she explains. "Or, they hang out with you, and then if you seem the slightest bit interested, they run from you. I did have a guy ask me on a date in December, but he left all the details up to me. I had to basically plan the date that he'd asked me on. Aussie guys just don't seem to want to take charge."
A Man's Perspective
If what the ladies are saying is true about Aussie men, Myles, a 33-year-old professional from outside Sydney, must be a fluke. He says he has no problem properly asking a girl out--"The girl I ask out can only say 'no'!" he says -- and believes women like when a man takes the initiative. He does admit, though, that he keeps the first date casual, "like lunch or dinner at a middle-class restaurant with a good atmosphere or show, whether it be a musical or live gig."
When it comes to playing the field, Myles doesn't do it. He sticks to dating one girl at a time, he says, and if something more develops, he participates in a "courting" process and lets the labels come naturally. If he's not too interested in a girl he's been out with, he'll either meet her for a low-key second date somewhere like a pub or do "the fade."
"I would probably not actually tell her that I didn't want to take her on a second date," he said. "I would think she would get the message if I didn't contact her within a week."