Swapping spit

Two NYC immigrants on the foreign affairs of dating.

Sofia Varino

Age: 29
Orientation: Gay
Country of origin: Portugal
Moved to NYC: In 2007
Profession: Graduate student, performer, movement artist and member of the Hungry Hearts art band

Robert Holub (RobtheBob)

Age: 28
Orientation: Straight
Country of origin: Switzerland, via Czech Republic
Moved to NYC: Less than a year ago
Profession: Struggling musician

Describe your ideal date.
Sofia: I like a little bit of everything in one night: coffee and pastries at my local Italian café, followed by a good movie and a huge meal with lots of red meat and red wine, topped off with the perfect cup of espresso. Then some late-night burlesque, followed by dancing the night away and a sumptuous dessert in a decadent place like Balthazar. To rock my world, she’s gotta be a hypertalented, ultraclever female who can divine all my secret desires and whom I can spoil rotten.
Robert: There’s a gym on 29th and Third Avenue that lets members hang out on the roof deck. There are never more than five people out there, so you can talk and drink a bottle of wine. Or I like 26th Street, on the East River. It feels like you’re out of the city. You bring a picnic and guitar and make it really intimate—a freeing experience.

What are the main differences you’ve found between dating here and dating in your home country?
Sofia: There is no actual dating in Portugal. You just hang out at home or with your friends and then either you step into a relationship or you break up. It’s not that different in London, where I also lived for six years. Dating is really an American institution, and one that I totally enjoy. New York is also heaven for casual sex encounters and hooking up, which I’m definitely up for, with sex parties and clubs catering to most of my needs.
Robert: Dating here has a lot of rules and patterns. I went out with a girl who told me that if I paid for dinner, that means I want to go on another date. The dating scene here is more like a sport. In Switzerland, we don’t even have a word for date.

What differences do you see between NYC women and women back home?
Sofia: NYC women are available, ready and willing! It’s so easy to hook up, I could almost become bored. Luckily, I have a good nose for interesting individuals whose company I actually enjoy as human beings.
Robert: Girls here are much more open. I would even say aggressive. You don’t need to chase them—they’ll come up to you and ask for your phone number. In Switzerland, people are more reserved and less accessible.

Which country has the hotter ladies?
Sofia: No contest: New York; although I miss the ethereal, almost virginal sensuality of Portuguese women. But I’ve been spending a lot of time in Norway, making movies with my band, and I have to say Norway has the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life! It’s almost too much—beauty overload.
Robert: New York. It’s the aggressive girls that get me. Swiss girls are very reserved, and I don’t think that’s sexy. Maybe she’s visually beautiful, but I don’t find her sexy.

What do you like most about NYC women?
Sofia: Their willingness to get together with me! Which is certainly reciprocated.
Robert: It’s easy to get dates with the women here. That’s not the case in Switzerland. And American women always like the way European guys dance.

Your accent: help or hindrance in chatting up potential dates?
Sofia: Definitely helps—it gets me everywhere I want to go and starts all sorts of discussions as to where I am from.
Robert: Women love the accent. I’m working to not have an accent, but if I realize they like it, I may pretend to have a bigger accent than I have. It’s definitely a plus.