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Bed is the one place where we seem to shed almost all of our debilitating inhibitions; where we're temporarily cured of our social unease. Shut the curtains, dim the lights, take our clothes off, and you'll find we suddenly become quite human. We can, after all, engage emotionally with other humans. We can be passionate, open, warm, affectionate, excitable and impulsive.

The differences between dating an Irishman and an Englishman

For a relatively brief period, our actions aren't governed by any particular, distinctively English set of rules. The next day, howvever, we revert to the usual state of awkward Englishness. We don't eat the nice lady's bra! What will she think of us? Male and female bonding.


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A ritual exchange of compliments can be observed at almost every social gathering of two or more English female friends. And, as I know from eavesdropping everywhere from pubs to office canteens, the compliments tend to follow a distinctive pattern.

Dating a British Man. How to Date an English Man. How to Date a Brit

The opening line may be either a straight compliment, such as: I wish I had gorgeous hair like you. The response to either version must contain a self-deprecating denial, and a counter-compliment. For example, you may say: It gets so frizzy —I wish I could have it short like you, but I just don't have the bone structure.

You've got such good cheekbones. This must be countered with another self-critical denial, and a further compliment, which prompts yet another self-deprecating denial and yet another counter-compliment. There can almost be an element of competitiveness in two women's one-downmanship. But the essence of the ritual is that few compliments are ever wholeheartedly accepted; and no self-denigrating remark ever goes unchallenged.

So how would English counter-complimenters feel about someone who just accepted a compliment, without qualification, and didn't offer one in return? The typical response was that this would be regarded as rather impolite and unfriendly, possibly even arrogant — and one woman told me that it would be 'almost as bad as boasting'. Another woman actually said: Mine's better than yours. The counter-compliment ritual may be distinctively English, but it's also distinctively female.

Indeed, it's hard to imagine English men having the following exchange: No, I'm a terrible driver, honestly — and, anyway, your car is so much better than mine, faster and more powerful. Not very likely, is it? The truth is that while English women are busy paying each other compliments, English men are usually putting each other down — in a competitive ritual that I call the Mine's Better Than Yours game.

English men can turn almost any conversation, on any topic, into a Mine's Better Than Yours game. I once listened to a minute Mine's Better Than Yours conversation yes, I timed it on the merits of wet-shaving versus electric razors. The rules are as follows. You start either by making a statement in praise of your chosen 'Mine' electric razors, Manchester United, German cars, whatever or by challenging someone else's assertion that his 'Mine' is the best. Your statement will always be countered or challenged, even if the other male secretly agrees with you.

It would, for example, be an unprecedented violation of macho etiquette to agree with a man who told you: The Mine's Better Than Yours game is usually fairly good-natured, with a mutual understanding that differences of opinion are not to be taken too seriously.

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Swearing, sneering and insults are allowed, even expected, but storming off in a huff is not. However strongly you may feel about the product, team, theory or shaving method you're defending, you must not allow these feelings to show. Any signs of earnestness or zeal are un-English and will invite ridicule. The merits of your car, razor, politics or school of literary theory can be glowingly extolled and explained in minute detail, but your own good taste or judgement must be subtly implied, rather than directly stated.

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Any hint of self-aggrandisement or ostentation is severely frowned upon, unless it's done ironically. It's also universally understood that there's no way of actually winning the game. In short, no one ever capitulates, or recognises the other's point of view.

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English Pubs take day-drinking to a whole new level.

British politeness is not just a stereotype. They could bump into a tree and will still quickly apologize. Admittedly weird American things such as a carousel in the mall will seem completely alien to them.

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How can you tell when an Englishman loves you? He calls you a silly moo

Also, very normal American things will be fascinating to them. You miss them all day, all the time. You should probably brush up on your knowledge of American sports. You will learn to love Skype dates. Watching a movie together on Skype can even be almost as good as the real thing! Tea will always be their first love. I kid you not, it is treated as a religion over there. A few of the best are squirrel, mocha, aluminum, and strawberry. You will not be disappointed.


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They do not find your attempt at a British accent as cute and endearing as you may think. Because in reality you sound like a chimney sweep right out of Mary Poppins. After a few months you might even be calling your friends your mates and complaining about the annoying adverts on television.