A survival guide for dating Russian women

Russian women are open to male chivalry – and are more likely to expect it from you.

Russian women are open to male chivalry – and are more likely to expect it from you.

Panthermedia / Vostock-photo
If you really want to unravel the mystery that is a Russian woman, you should probably skip this survival guide entirely and read some Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Still, since Russian authors were never known for their brevity, sending you off to a library before your first date with Natasha or Tatiana or Olga would simply be inhumane on our part. So, here are a couple of essential rules you’ll want to follow if you want to get a second date.

All Russian women are always young. If you’re addressing a Russian woman you don’t know in Russian, there is only one appropriate term for it and it is “devushka,” which means “young woman.” And yes, even if the woman in question is in her late fifties, she would still be a “devushka.” Any other form of address would not just upset her, but could also be seen as an insult. 

Foot the bill – no ifs, ands or buts here. In Russia, a woman expects you to pick up the bill on dates even when she is technically the one that invited you and even if you ordered a cup of coffee while she enjoyed a five-course meal with dessert. Yes, in Paris or New York, people tend to go halfsies on a bill. In Moscow on the other hand, if you try such a maneuver then your date will likely think you’re a cheapskate. If she is a well-mannered person, she would probably get her purse and do a fake “reach” for her wallet, making it seem like she is ready to pay her share. Don’t believe this ruse: it is pure provocation.

Carry the bags. Feminism is something Russian women tend to leave at home when they go to a grocery store. If there are two bags in front of you two, and one is heavier, you should take both of them. The ideal to strive for is ensuring your female companion is carrying nothing except her purse.

Shower her with attention. Compared to their Western counterparts, Russian women are more open to male chivalry – and are more likely to expect it from you. Opening the car door for her, helping her with her coat, letting a woman go first when entering or exiting a building – all of this is standard operating procedure in Russia, but they help to make a good impression nonetheless. And speaking of entering and exiting: while proper etiquette dictates that the woman is the one who is supposed to go first, there is one exception – the elevator. In this case, the male is supposed to enter first. This is probably so that in the unlikely case that there is no elevator, the female will remain safe.

Flowers! First of all, buy them for her. Secondly, do not buy them in even numbers. In Russia giving flowers in even numbers is only considered appropriate for funerals, although modern florists claim you’ll be fine as long as the total number exceeds a dozen. So, as a rule of thumb, either buy flowers in odd numbers, or buy so many that she won’t be able to count.

Russian women are allowed to be late for any meeting or event – it’s practically a law. If your date is 10-15 minutes late, take it easy – she is more or less right on time according to local standards. The reasons may vary.

They can be understandable –she was stuck in traffic or had to work late; not-so-understandable – she simply could not decide if a certain pair of shoes went with a particular dress; or just plain ridiculous – she arrived on time, but spent 20 minutes hanging out just around the corner so that she wouldn’t seem too clingy. After all her mother told her that any girl who knows her worth never arrives on time. Keep in mind that trying to find out what really happened is useless and might even be seen as rude. Give her a smile and tell her you are happy to see her even if it is already getting dark and you are freezing.

“I’m okay.” No guide will help you here. For centuries Russian men have been trying to figure out what a woman means when she says this. Does it actually mean she is okay and there is nothing to worry about? Or is it a hint meaning you’d better get some chocolate and roses? Unfortunately, the only way to proceed is trial-and-error, and it involves a lot of trying and an even greater number of errors. There is a reason that a favorite joke of Russian men is:

“Are you mad at me?”

“No.”

“Is it really bad?”

“Yes.”

This guide could go on and on forever, but that would deprive you of the thrill of trying to figure out how to get along with a Russian female. If nothing scares you off and you decide to marry her, go ahead and read some Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. It might help.

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