Talking to Strangers: Bologna, Italy

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

by Silvia Donati

Emanuela, 37

What's the dating scene like here in Bologna?
This is a town of sissies. There's been a reversal of roles: men have become more effeminate, so women have had to become more masculine. So now it's the woman who has to chase after the man, and the man doesn't want to give it to you. Men don't have any sexual instinct, they have no desire, and even when they do, they can't get it up.

So much for the myth of the Italian lover.
Because it's just a myth! I have my own theory of why men are like this, and I'm talking about the men in this town, because it's different in other places.

Tell me your theory.
I think it's the distorted relationship they have with their mothers. The mothers here are omnipresent. They do everything for their sons, even when they're forty, and I'm telling you because I've seen it. To give you an example, the son of my ex-landlady, thirty-nine-years old, he still brought his clothes to his mom for her to iron, he had dinner at his mom's house every night, he kept his relationships secret because his mom wouldn't approve. It's sick — and the man starts to think, well, why do I need a woman when I have mom who does everything for me. So at least don't pretend to be a macho man if you're just a ricotta.

What do you look for in a man?
I want a man to be a man. I want a man who's always in charge, in daily life as well as in the bedroom. I can't stand over-sensitive guys — you know, the ones that you have to buy them ice-cream or give them Midol because they suffer from PMS. Women here end up believing that this is the norm, but it's not true. If you go to the south of Italy, where I've lived for some time, it's different. Courtship is still a prerogative of men. They call you, they bring you presents, if you show them you're interested they'd never chicken out.

Do you think men are scared of you?
I think men here are scared of women who show personality, who've had unusual experiences in their lives, because they're used to having much younger girls who put them on pedestals, who have no personality, so they can have absolute control over them. If you've had experiences of a certain kind, like I have, having lived abroad for example, men feel threatened in their masculinity because they don't know how to handle you. So they put themselves in competition with you, but they know they're going to lose. Like, they tell you they've spent a weekend in Milano Marittima or a week in London and they think they're really something.

Let's see if all of this holds true. Tell me about your last date in Bologna.
I met this guy through work. He wasn't really that cute, but he seemed nice, and seemed to have a personality. So one night he asks me out for a drink. Well, he talks about his ex-girlfriend the whole time; he tells me everything. They've just broken up because she cheated on him for the second time, and he tells me all the details, that she was bisexual… I mean, do I really need to know all that?! I was at a loss. And then he tells me about this place where the two of them used to go to watch people having sex and asks me if I want to go with him.

What did you say?
I changed the subject. So then the second time we went out…

Wait, you went out with him a second time?!
Well, yeah — I wanted to score. So we did have sex, and right after it, he starts telling me about the house where he lived with the ex-girlfriend, that apparently it was haunted. So we're lying in bed, we've just finished having sex, and, you know, you expect some cuddling... and he talks about ghosts. It was kind of surreal, so I got dressed and left.

Did you see him again after that time?
Yes, but it was random. We met at a bar. He was there with his cousin, who was even creepier than him if possible. So the cousin was talking and talking and at one point he says, well, if you guys go out again and have sex, I can watch you while you do it.

So have you lost all hope?
No, actually, please mention, I'm single and looking. And multi-talented.

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