He Fancies Me, He Fancies Me Not: English Lesson 10, Part I

I can’t resist. I have to retell the lessons I learned about dating in the UK. At the risk of getting too personal on my blog and at the risk of offending many a English male, this stuff was just too fascinating to glaze over as if it were not a part of my British experience. So fascinating it will necessitate a follow-up post.

Unfortunately for the sake of this semi-sociological study I’ve conducted in the previous nine posts, I didn’t date any native British guys while in Oxford. (I’ll briefly mention here that being “picked up” for a date when neither has a car, only bikes, destroys a girl’s chance of looking graceful or maintaining her dignity, especially when she struggles with turn signals as I did.)

In place of “dating,” I think most there would say “going out” which is more the equivalent of “being in a relationship” on this side of the pond. It was once explained to me that dating is an American idea that does not translate well in British society. But it looked similar to me, so I think I was missing something…

It didn’t take long–one week, in fact– to learn my big American smile and willingness to chat away with new people, particularly male people, could send the message: “I fancy you.” Not the particular message I wanted to send to a stranger in a pub. However, I didn’t fully understand the word “fancy” until several months into living in Oxford when I was telling my roommate about a boy, and she finally asked “Well, do you fancy him?” To which I responded, “I don’t know. I don’t really know what ‘fancy’ means.”

To shorten a much lengthier conversation, she taught me that to fancy someone is what I would call to like like them: the double like. You know, you can like a guy and then you can like like him. And that’s what fancying someone is in England–a great epiphany for me at the time.

So I learned to tone down the smiling as someone else explained to me this may send the wrong signals (smiling? really?). I kinda walked around frowning for fear every guy on the street would believe I fancied him.

But I had more to learn about English relationships, forwardness and a consistent complaint I heard about British guys not moving fast enough…

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5 thoughts on “He Fancies Me, He Fancies Me Not: English Lesson 10, Part I

  1. Yep, dating in its true form is very much a Northern America thing. Here in Australia we have a similar approach to the UK. We wouldn’t just go out to the movies or dinner with a different guy each weekend, instead we would simply only agree to go out like this if we have full intentions of the relationship developing further. We don’t ‘test the waters’ so to speak and just go out and have a ‘date’ to see if we get along. We do that more in a group form, go out with friends in a group, if we are attracted or click with someone then we may start talking casually, writing (email) and then the guy will officially ask you ‘out’ which means that you would be boyfriend/girlfriend. It looks similar on the surface but its not really.

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  2. Amanda, that’s so interesting! I told a group of girlfriends about your comment this weekend and we all decided that approach is much more simple than going on 10 dates with the same guy and neither of you knowing when it’s appropriate to call each other boyfriend and girlfriend 🙂

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  3. This is quite interesting! I love your blog by the way–I am planning on applying for grad school at Cornwall in a year, so I have been perusing your posts for tips!

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