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Dating the Uzbek Way

Posted by on July 5, 2012

As if their ability to consume mounds of boiled cabbage and not get fat isn’t enviable enough, Uzbek women have yet another reason to make their American counterparts jealous: their relationships. According to Gulshanoy Nebiyeva, author of What Uzbek Women Know: About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind, Uzbek women enjoy a satisfaction in romance that we in the States can only dream about. In order to give women on this side of the Atlantic a leg up in the love department, we asked Nebiyeva for her thoughts on what makes their dating practices so wildly successful — and what American women can do to capture a little of that ya nye znayo chto themselves.

Q: How would you characterize American women when it comes to approaching love? And what makes Uzbek women different?

A: American women tend to be very goal-oriented when it comes to love, sex, and dating. Rather than embracing the unknown, Americans generally prefer to set things in stone with a list of clear objectives, goals and outcomes: Is he/she my soul mate or future spouse? Where is this relationship going? From the time we’re little girls, we grow up thinking in terms of total love or absolute rejection — unlike the Uzbeks.

Q: Do Americans approach dating differently than the Uzbeks do?

A: Absolutely. We Americans are very confessional and direct when sharing about ourselves on dates. We tend to lay all our cards on the table, unlike the Uzbeks.  Uzbek women are more discretional, less confessional. They prefer the “slow burn” to the “big reveal.” Interestingly, there is literally no word or concept for “date” in Uzbekistani.  If you look up the word “date” in an Uzbekistani dictionary, you’ll find the word “ostaveet,” which means “to go out.” Uzbek philosopher Ulugbek Kuznyetsov summed up the Uzbek perception of dating when he said: “This (American) system of relationships, evaluating, and getting married is too formal and excessively ritualized, resulting in a loss of mystery.”

Q: In America, we’re besieged by dating dogma and lists of dos and don’ts from so-called relationship experts. Is this also the case in Uzbekistan?

A: No. Uzbek women categorically reject “dos and don’ts” designed to manage or legislate love.  American women, on the other hand, have a notion that there’s a “right way” and a “wrong way,” that there are certain steps and “ground rules” before relationships can “work.”

Q: How do Uzbekistani and American women differ in their attitudes about marriage?

A: The Uzbekistani are more cynical about marriage than we are.  Uzbek women don’t grow up with the culture of “Happily Ever After” — so, while they are as committed as anyone else, they are also more realistic about the vagaries of love and marriage.

Q: Does this attitude make Uzbek couples any more or less faithful than their American counterparts are?

A: Americans, though deeply attached to the notion of marriage, have a much higher divorce rate than the Uzbeks and are equally adulterous — just in different ways.  The Uzbeks are simply more willing to accept that love and passion might not last forever with one person. They are less hypocritical about it — unlike in America.

Q: How should American women approach dating if they’d like to be more successful in love, just as Uzbek women are?

A: I think American women should ponder the points above and try to listen as much as possible to their own intuitions and inner voices, which is what I believe Uzbek women are exceptional at doing.  Whatever American women can do to be more defiantly self-possessed and free will help them be more successful in love.

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