Giulia Pines, 24, also met her German boyfriend, a jazz musician, through a friend one day after moving to Berlin three months ago, and he has already revealed that he would like to marry her someday. “New York men always think there is something better right around the corner and they make that very, very obvious,” said Ms. Pines, who grew up on the Upper West Side and attended Columbia. “It doesn’t even seem like a feeling that they should hide for the sake of whoever they are with.”
As an undergraduate, Ms. Pines had a romance with an Italian grad student who was also her teacher. Her advice for finding a Euro-boyfriend? “I would really say areas where grad students hang out, like up near Columbia or at N.Y.U.,” said Ms. Pines. “Of course, if you want the playboys or Russian oil heirs with a lot of money, you can always head to whatever club-of-the-week has just opened downtown. But then you’ll be competing with the models!”
Ms. Locascio also suggested that New York gals can find a Euro-husband in comp lit or foreign-language departments. “And I know there is a translation master’s at Columbia that probably attracts a bunch of foreigners,” she said. But: “I think there is a fine line between attracting a marriage-happy versus a green-card-happy European man. Honestly, I never had any luck meeting anyone, American or not, in a bar, but that said, you could probably go to the foreign-seeming places like Anyway Café, Café Sabarsky at the Neue Gallery or the restaurant at the Scandinavian American Center.”
The women interviewed for this article insisted that green cards were not an issue in their relationships. In Ms. Locascio’s case, the work visa her fiancé is awaiting would not require that they be married for him to stay here. “We would still get married [if he gets the visa], but it wouldn’t be so shotgun,” she said.
THE CHEATING CAVEAT
Meanwhile, the Euro-man has perhaps become aware of his competitive advantage over New York men. Mr. Locascio’s boyfriend, Theis Dueland-Jensen, is “baffled” by her tales of dating in New York.
“I was surprised with how I compared to Lisa’s previous boyfriends,” he said on the morning after their engagement. “My feelings for Lisa were just very apparent to me from the beginning, and it never crossed my mind to be hesitant or doubtful about it. It just seemed like a very healthy choice for me emotionally. I quickly learned that it was going to be a serious thing, and I guess I just embraced that. I do think Lisa had to sort of adjust to my willingness towards commitment.”
Sarah’s Herr, whom we’ll call Jack, was also surprised by the male population of New York. “Having heard some of my dating horror stories, he can only shake his head in disbelief and throw up his hands like the rest of us,” she said. “Who can explain New York men? There was one night when we were out with a bunch of New York men, and he was pretty underwhelmed with the way in which they conducted themselves—that they don’t listen to other people talk and are completely unchivalrous. He found them to be socially inept, insecure, and some of them he thought must be simply bad people.”
But what makes the European hunks so commitment-happy—a phase that typically takes many New York men until their 40s to reach? Perhaps it’s because they’re used to the kind of economic crisis that is now making our unaccustomed local boys (bonjour, Topper!) so whiny and insecure. Or maybe it’s the surplus of E.U. benefits—free day care, health care and tax benefits even for unmarried couples—that makes the possibility of contented ménage a more realistic proposition at an earlier age.
“Culturally, commitment is a lot different than it is here,” said Mr. Deuland-Jensen. “For instance, it’s so hard for a single parent to survive in the States, whereas my friend who recently became a father back home is not married to his girlfriend, and they could get married as sort of a nice ceremony, but it’s not needed. Their future doesn’t depend on it.”
It is possible, of course, that the European man is fearless of commitment precisely because he’s not totally committing, like all those French prime ministers with mistresses showing up at the funeral.
“Most men you meet here are in really serious relationships and they happen very, very quickly,” said Ms. Pines. “But they also seem to cheat a lot more in these serious relationships. So it’s actually very common that you have someone you’re living with and then you have a few people on the side.”
Ms. Pines, who is 24, says she is not ready to marry, but her German boyfriend has begun to build a convincing argument.
“We both made our sides very clear when we started dating,” she said. “He said, ‘I want to get married soon,’ and I said, ‘I have no interest in that.’ But I think things have gotten very serious very quickly and it’s something I would consider for the future, assuming we stay together. You do get wrapped up in this German idea of all of this commitment!”
As for Ms. Locascio, she couldn’t be happier with her Dane. “I told him I always thought I was going to just have to date some guy for eight years and then wait him out until he was finally like, ‘O.K., let’s get married,’” she said. “And he would say, ‘Why would you want to marry that guy?’ And I’d say, ‘I don’t want to marry that guy!’”