Bitesize Episode 12 - Dating a British Person, Pt. 1

Charlie Baxter

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Charlie gives you his own look on the cultural norms British people have when it comes to dating in a bitesize episode that will give you your fix of The British English Podcast in 10-15 minutes with plenty of native expressions for you to learn from in context. Enjoy!

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By Charlie Baxter

The Bitesize Episodes
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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 12 Transcript

Hello, hope you're doing well, whilst you're listening to this episode, wherever you are in the world, whatever you're doing, I hope you're well. If this is the first time that you've listened to this show, then I should say it's all about British culture and British English originally made for non natives who are learning English and looking to move to the U.K. But of course, you don't have to be listening for that exact reason. So I welcome you. If you're a new listener to the British English podcast, I do recommend that you start at the beginning with Episode one, season one. But if you've been around for a while, you know what's up. You know the idea. So let's get into it. Today's episode is a bite sized one, and this one is for those of you who are interested in the world of dating in the U.K. And while this might entertain a more general listener, I'm thinking more so of those who come to the UK as a non-native and want to fall in love with a British person. Now, unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that you will be destined for success after listening to this episode, as that would turn me from a podcast host to a creepy matchmaking service in one fell swoop. However, I certainly hope to shed some light on the oddities us Brits, generally speaking, indulging when dating. So get that kettle on, because this one is going to get hot and steamy.

This episode comes with a free worksheet over on the website, the British English podcast, dot com. So grab that and you can listen along whilst using it. Where should I begin? Well, let's start with my upbringing and the introduction I had to dating and the more daring topic of sex there I said it, I said it, I said sex. Now, I don't declare that the British culture is the one and only that finds the topic taboo, meaning not allowed to talk about. But it is definitely good to understand that in general, the topic is largely embarrassing to talk about, especially openly, and it would be frowned upon if mentioned in many social settings in the UK. There are, of course, exceptions that I will get to, but I feel it's worth stressing this point because I've had new students that tell me all sorts and I probably know things about them that I don't even know about my best friends. And it's really interesting for me to notice that when some students open up and tell me about some intimate details, I can feel my toes curl. And I think that is the Brit inside me. I'm very comfortable, consciously but unconsciously there's something about this conversation that makes my toes curl. I am glad to say that after maturing a little and trying to tackle this irrational Britishism, in my opinion, I am able to enjoy these conversations to a reasonable extent.

You know, I'm not I'm not encouraging talking about sex with my students non-stop. That would again be creepy. And I also want to declare that I teach adult learners. Can't be getting arrested now, can we? I wonder, d'you reckon I would be able to continue this podcast if I was arrested, if I was in prison. All I'd need was Internet access. Probably not. I'd probably be, yeah, unable to continue. Let's let's not get me arrested now. And as I said, there's no reason to because it's adult learners and I'm not encouraging it. I'm just listening. Occasionally when they open up and they tell me about things that would have made my toes curl, but I'm trying to suppress that British feeling of sex being a taboo. Anyway, let's go back to me growing up and my first exposure to anything romantic was on the telly. And for some reason I felt compelled to go, "uh, gross". I'm not really sure what that was about. And I'm sure it gave my dad a fright, but he covered it up well. So well, in fact, that they assumed I would be grossed out by all kissing scenes in films and TV. And this carried on far too long as I knew that I was lying to myself when I was probably, I don't know, eight or nine years old, maybe a little bit older.

I'm not sure. And I'd have to say, "oh, gross", out of habit to almost please my family that as a group were expecting the little boy of the family to announce his displeasure in what was in front of him when actually I was starting to think, "oh, this is interesting, what's going on here." And I remember I had my first girlfriend, I'm quoting here girlfriend, when I was 10 years old and I remember even kissing her. Yeah, I kissed her when I was 10 years old. Not a French kiss. That means not a kiss with tongues, just with the lips pursed or closed. and I remember she wanted to kiss for a long time. I was a bit like, OK, I wasn't that into her, but I kissed her. And I remember thinking, hmm, why is she breathing on me so much? And yes, this might seem young, but really all we did, apart from that, that kiss and we ignored each other for the majority of the school day and then spent the evening on MSN Messenger learning how to flirt like a Brit, which I will talk about in a bit. And we could say I was getting my chops down, I was getting my chops down. I was practising. I was getting my chops down. So at home, in a family that, according to Wikipedia, typically aligns with being middle class again, air quotes, middle class based on my parents professions, talking about sex was less common than having the queen round for tea.

And that even extends to talking about the opposite sex in general. Our biology teachers, however, were given the sad job of teaching us about the birds and the bees, which is a very old fashioned term, which refers to the conversation adults have with children explaining sexual relationships. Usually it'll be the parents to the children, and you would typically get that when you start showing an interest in having a boyfriend or girlfriend. So, you know, the normal age would be probably about 13, 14, 15 years old. And so around that age 13 or 14, we would gather around a table in class and witness our poor biology teacher struggle to keep a straight face when getting a banana out and pulling a condom down over it. And although I'm sure many other countries use a phallic shaped fruit as well, to this day, I am still baffled by the idea that the teachers and school curriculum writers thought and maybe even still think that a piece of fruit is the necessary object for this. I mean, if you think about it, we've got models of the heart, brain, intestines, skeleton, whole digestive system. And yet for a penis, we think it is far too inappropriate.

I get it. I feel a bit weird about it, but surely that shows a side of us that is absolutely irrational towards the idea of sex. So we use a piece of fucking fruit brilliant in my eyes that shows how warped we are as a culture to think that, you know, I even feel uncomfortable with the idea of of that. But that's been ingrained into me as a taboo. And again, as I said, many other countries probably have this feeling, but I think it would be much better if we were all far less secretive about the topic and felt much more comfortable communicating about it without any judgement. And I can only imagine how confusing this might be for those who find that metaphors and analogies don't come so naturally to them. Thankfully, though, in a weird way, the Internet was born and the perverse porn industry helped my generation conclude that we don't just wrap a banana in clingfilm and say class dismissed to consummate a marriage.

Sadly, it did corrupt us somewhat and our bedroom antics have definitely been affected by this. But actually this is where our behaviours seem to get a bit more normal in terms of cultural differences around the world, according to the anthropologist Kate Fox, author of Watching the English. So thankfully, I can close the bedroom door on that idea and turn your attention to the courting process.

I just wanted to interrupt this episode to let you know about something rather exciting that I am running over on the British English podcast dot com, I have created a seven day challenge full of fun and unique activities that will get your blood pumping if you really enjoy getting actively involved in learning English and to really incentivise you. I'm going to be turning this challenge into a competition amongst you all. So the people that put the most effort into this one week of activities every day will be getting some prizes. I'm not going to say any more right now. But if you are interested, then head over to the British English podcast Dotcom, find the courses tab in the menubar and you'll see the seven day challenge or find the link in the show notes of this episode. There are some terms and conditions that I explain in full on the Web page for this course, but the main thing to remember is it's going to be a live course, meaning it starts for everyone at a certain date. So head over there now to sign up and get ready for it to begin before you miss your chance to get really active with some fun and engaging ways to learn English for a whole week and then be in the chance of winning some fan-bloody-tastic prizes.

So thankfully, I can close the bedroom door on that idea and turn your attention to the courting process, you know that non-literary dance we do to attract a mate.

And it most definitely is a metaphor for us Brits as we are truly terrible dancers. And you know what? I can actually see it to be quite plausible and why we've turned out to be terrible dancers, because at a young age, it starts you know, I'm now getting sent family videos of my young nephews and nieces mimicking their parents who are encouraging them to now definitely air quotes here to "dance". But I can only describe what I see from what the parents are doing. And what I can describe as seeing is they're jumping around like frogs and swaying their arms in the air, like trees in the wind or maybe a cartoon ghost attempting to scare its victim. I expect I'll be doing exactly the same when the time comes. But honestly, what is wrong with us? I mean, we used to have a bit of structure, but now that the formal dances like the Foxtrot and Tango have been retired for quite some time, along with the current geriatric generation, we have very little structure to focus our pathetic sense of rhythm to. Whereas when I pull from my own life's experience when I was volunteering in Uganda, meaning I was having a fun holiday whilst building up my CV, I could see how the children were surrounded by passionately dancing adults with songs that were incredibly rhythmic and moves that clearly go well with it, and they're able to imitate it and proudly practise it.

And it was part of their culture. And I also saw how in Chile or Chile, Santiagans would flock to the salsa clubs with 15 piece bands blaring live music through the space that you could barely stop yourself from feeling that rhythm of the drums. And because of that, I think I even learnt how to tap my feet in time with the music. And this was all whilst watching seriously talented male and female salsa dancers strut their stuff and put a Brit to shame. So in a roundabout way of saying we are not known for our dancing. And so generally we rarely rely on being able to swoop a woman off her feet with a rose in our mouth. So what do we rely on? Again, it comes back to the backbone of Britishness, which is, you guessed it, our sense of humour. It's our defence mechanism, our go to courting technique, our survival instinct. And so, yes, we use it when flirting and of course, other countries use humour too when flirting. But I've noticed how we use banter and poking fun at each other much more aggressively than other cultures. And I noticed this when I was living over in America and I'd come back to the UK from time to time.

One of the biggest and most refreshing differences I noticed was how brutal the girls in my friendship group are when conversing with the guys, they are constantly taking the piss out of the guys and so equally the guys rarely hold back, which creates some hilarious conversations at the pub. And while this isn't always us flirting, if we are long term friends, this type of communicating definitely spills over into flirting right from the start of a first date. Poking fun at each other is our way of expressing interest. So if a Brit is constantly teasing you or in your eyes, perhaps just being plain mean, then just have a little think and question whether they are romantically interested in you, because they might well be. And I don't know if you did this in school, but I remember a physical push like punch or even a cheeky slap in the playground that was often a sign of interest. And it's it's as if that has morphed into verbal teasing or what we call banter. Now, another cultural difference to highlight that, again, Kate Fox does very well in describing in in the book, watching the English is what she likes to call courtesy flirting. Yes, courtesy flirting. My American friends took this a little more literally. And when I was dating an American, she would assume that I was being overly flirty with other girls.

I know. Can you believe it? What a horrible boy. And unfortunately, I wasn't aware of this so-called British trait, so I assumed I was indeed being, you know, sleazy. So I thought I should rein it in. But since learning it's what we do, I should have proudly just said, I'm sorry, I'm just being British. You see, for us, courtesy flirting or polite flirting is like saying you're attractive, you're a nice person who I'd be lucky to date, I'm not wanting to date you necessarily, but I'd be lucky if I was. Again, it gets a bit complicated when both people are single, but usually men being the ones who get a bit overexcited if a woman comes on to them, men who are in a relationship might be seen doing this courtesy flirting, for example, on a double date. I'd consider giving the other girl a compliment or even a bit of light banter or flirty banter. There is a fine line between courtesy flirting and just plain flirting, which would immediately sour the situation. So you've got to be careful. But I believe we do it as humour is ever present and compliments are available to be given. So let me explain the theory that Kate Fox has as talked about and that I'm now thinking up in my head a little bit more of if I offer some courtesy flirting to the other girl in the group of four. You know, we're on this double date. So it suggests I find her attractive, which is a compliment to her, but also to the guy that I'm still on this double date with. And yes, I have thought about the opposite situation. And it happens when a guy flirts in a courteous manner with my partner. I find it to be a compliment. It's you know, if it went too far, it would be very awkward. And I, I might have to say something,

But it's it's a bit like when a young person has a bit of a flirt with an older person, it's it's a bit like saying, no, you're not too old to be dating. You know, you're attractive. I'm not going to date you, but you should get yourself out there. You're you're attractive. Go on. Go for it you. Don't touch me, though. I was just building your confidence up. Stop it now, stop it now that's that's getting a bit rapey,

So don't take it too far. But the take home message here from this bitesize episode, just like every other one is, don't be rapey, but also don't be afraid to give a Brit a bit of banter. And if you keep both of those points in mind, you're destined to find love somewhere in the British Isles.

Now, I did mention there are exceptions to the rule of not talking about sex, which I will indeed get to in the next bitesize episode. So stay tuned for part two of dating a British person.

Don't forget that this podcast is available as a premium podcast, giving you manually edited transcripts, extended glossaries and flashcards. Also, if you wanted to dig even deeper, we have the Academy, which has exclusive videos going over the language used in the season based episodes analysing, giving examples, giving you the confidence to feel ready to go out and use that language yourself. And of course, we've also got the weekly speaking classes so you can practise it in a safe space, meet some like minded people and really build on the community in the British English podcast. For all of that, go over to the website, the British English podcast dot com. I also highly recommend that you get on my email newsletter because I keep you up to date with what's going on in my life, giving you a new email lesson every week, if that's not for you. Make sure you grab the free worksheet for this episode and I will see you next time here on the British English podcast. My name is Charlie and yeah remember, don't be rapey, but give a Brit a bit of banter and I'm sure they'll love it. See you next time. Bye for now.

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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

Character: Mike:
Alright geezer, how's it going?

Character: Chris:
Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

Character: Mike:
Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

Character: Chris:
Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

Character: Mike:
Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

Character: Chris:
Oh fair play, hard to resist those I imagine. Oh, here she is.

Character: Emily:
Oh, hi.

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I was wondering if you're ever going to join us tonight.

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