Woman saying ssshhh

Scottish people don’t date

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In her quest to assimilate into Scotland, Jennifer tries to understand why Scottish men are so hopeless at making the first move. Why don't Scots play the dating game?

My Scottish friend, Tim, confirmed what I have known for some time now: that Scottish people don't date. Or rather, they don't ‘date’ in the way that you and I (fellow Torontonians and people of the world at large) may be familiar with.

Over here, it seems that young men and women meet through friends, work or in a bar/club and after meeting and consuming alcohol, the newly acquainted individuals go back to someone’s flat and shag. Afterwards, it is decided whether or not they are a couple or just a sad pathetic fumble in the dark.

Woman saying ssshhh

Back in Toronto, men and women – again – meet through friends, work or in a bar/club but that's where the similarities mostly end. Perhaps it's an old puritan tradition that ‘Toronto the Good’ hasn't quite gotten rid of, but folks tend to opt out for the more traditional route of ‘courting’. That is, two individuals meet and exchange numbers/emails; one individual waits for a designated amount of days before calling/emailing the other; the individuals meet for dinner and have lengthy flirtatious in-depth discussions about life and themselves.

Generally there is a three to six date policy before sleeping with someone, depending on how skanky you are, how much you like the person etc.

Obviously there are exceptions to the dating game. After a few dates (and possible make out sessions), people in Toronto have that dreaded serious talk: the are-we-a-mutually-exclusive-couple-or-should-we-call-it-quits-so-I-can-make out-with-some-other-hot-lawyer-now?!

As such, because of the widely accepted practice of courting, men in Toronto seem more apt at making the first move. Generally, if you are out somewhere and making hot bedroom eyes with a dude, he is more than likely to attempt and strike up a conversation and hopefully ask you out.

Sadly, not so in Glasgow.

The men over here are hopeless at making the first move; I don't know if it's some weird cultural thing that hearkens back to the middle ages, but dudes over here seem completely oblivious. And I don't care how many times someone says that Scottish men are just shy because I'm shy too. No one actively seeks rejection and heartbreak but, alas, it's a side effect of dating.

Young man smiling at girl

Oddly, there also seems to be a Culture of Seriousness that surrounds a ‘traditional date’ over here. Although most young people have very few concerns about shagging a near-stranger, a lot of Scottish men break into a cold sweat if you ask them out for a coffee. It's almost as if you're asking them to practically set a wedding date.

This Culture of Seriousness extends into other aspects of Scottish life too. For example, this past Saturday my English friend and I went to a club in the West end. Although we dressed up, a lot of the other girls were completely styled to the nines with the latest fashions from Top Shop. My friend and I – although sober – went totally NUTS on the dance floor and *gasp* had fun. We did not take ourselves seriously at all while it seemed like everyone else was.

I'm not complaining nor am I making any judgements on either culture; I'm just trying to understand British men (ugh) and assimilate to the Scottish ways – without turning into a slag. I'm not the only North American woman to come to this conclusion either.

P.S. I've linked to this Leah McLaren article about British men before and even though she received a lot of harsh criticism for it, I think she is generally right.

(Fine print: Don't worry, Mom. You raised a good – and smart – daughter! They have to buy me dinner first!)



Jennifer is a Canadian living amongst the puckered pale flesh and scorching ginger hair of Glaswegians. After a mid-twenties life crisis and yearning to escape puritan ‘Toronto the Good’, she moved to Glasgow in March 2006. Follow her at www.idreamofhaggis.com.


Photo credit: Beer googles by A_of_DooM; Sssshhh by Eggybird (both Flickr.com)

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11 Comments To This Article

  • Lucretius posted:

    on 14th April 2017, 02:12:00 - Reply

    Ana, are you serious? Do you not understand testosterone levels in men drop when around women whom assume their roles?

    Are you unaware of all the scientific research that shows you are suppose to raise kids, and we are suppose to provide? How about the fact that the emasculation of men is the number one cause of single mothers? I think you need to learn what feminist ideology really is. Not equal rights, but more rights for you, and less for me. It's time that people like you, man-up, and wake up and learn these self-evident truths.

    Don't you talk down to somebody else for what you are responsible for doing! In the end, it won't matter, we will control everything. We will just have to evolve to that point again. (Which extreme feminism will spark). I believe in your equal rights for equal opportunity, but that's it. And that is definitely not what feminism is doing. My boy feels bad just for getting an erection now because of your flawed ideas. This is about the hating of men, holding them to standards that are not natural (Akin to blaming a girl because she got her period.)

    I strongly suggest you put more thought in your argument, and look at the real world consequences of what you speak.

  • Ana posted:

    on 11th February 2017, 02:48:26 - Reply

    Don't give me that "this is what feminism has done" garbage. Feminism is about helping women to achieve equal rights. It has nothing to do with hating men or treating them like crap. Quit hating on women just because they're assertive enough not to cater to your ego.
  • LongJohnSilver posted:

    on 17th January 2017, 12:21:17 - Reply

    You guys complaining about harsh rejections - they are not harsh, you just think they are and put too much meaning on them. Just play the numbers game, approach as many as possible. You'll get better, it will suck, but you will get better. Put yourself out there. Seriously, no messing, put yourself out there big time, full measure.

  • Natalie posted:

    on 11th January 2017, 03:48:09 - Reply

    Worst opinion I've read online to date. Surely you can't be serious. I'm a Scottish woman & in the nicest way possible, you're talking sh*t*. Did it ever cross your mind that not getting asked on a date has nothing to do with the Scottish having a problem with dating, maybe they're just not attracted to you? Think about it for a second. Then have a think about how all over the world you have confident/shy/awkward people when it comes to life, let alone dating. 

  • capedcrusader posted:

    on 20th August 2016, 18:50:54 - Reply

    Women can be very hearsh and ridiculing here to a man who asks them out who they are not interested in. Also in the UK pls bear in mind that again. if the girl does not care for you you can find yourself very easily on the wrong end of a criminal charge or allegation of sexual harrassment if it turns out your attentions are unwelcome. This is what feminism has achieved so don't complain girls
  • kayman posted:

    on 26th July 2016, 10:26:59 - Reply

    people f***ing on the 6th date are hoes no different than one night stands. why would it be different?

  • jack posted:

    on 8th May 2016, 13:01:33 - Reply

    It also might be because the women are harsh with rejection here. Which takes away a lot incentive for making the first move unless we know for sure they like you.

    And even then there's more games being played here, when its too early.
    I've had a few women enthusiastically agree to a date, but then ignore texts. Or wasting my time in other ways..

    I have none of these problems in other countries. Especially in America, because I think in the US its not seen as a big deal.

    So its not much fun dating for either side from the sounds of it.
  • JOn posted:

    on 22nd December 2015, 02:07:14 - Reply

    Less competition for the men who actually ask women on dates then!
  • Davis posted:

    on 1st April 2015, 09:24:02 - Reply

    ...Being a Scottish male who doesn't behave like that and having lived abroad and met people from Toronto, I can assure you, they behaved just like the Scottish people you're staring down your nose at.. [Edited by moderator]

  • ava posted:

    on 30th July 2014, 01:25:40 - Reply

    Hi I totally agree, British men are not only shy they are cold never make the first move unless if they're drunk. I'm an Italian living in England and come from a culture where men are known as red hot lovers in comparison to the men here. I also dated a Scotsman who not only never made any move let alone first, he was indecisive too. I think I'll stick to my country of Latin men !
  • Aye your right posted:

    on 9th May 2010, 00:31:21 - Reply

    Aye, I think your right. I think It is cultural (at least being oblivious, not being a slag) and as a Scot-American (but having lived there for 5 years when I was in my 20's), I can attest without a woman practically clubbing me over the head, I have no clue.

    I get teased mercilessly about it by both my male and female friends. It is not so much shy, as I certainly am not, more that the subtle "flirting" of most North American (especially the Canadians) totally blows by me.