This article should serve as a short course of savoir vivre for a man for his first date with a Polish lady. But it may be useful also to people who will be visiting their Polish friends soon or to anybody who is going to Poland. Read more about Polish habits in series of articles with advices for tourists. Check the most recent articles: Dating in Poland, Poles and Exotic Beauty Syndrome and Poles in Interracial Relationships and many more in section Dating Poles.
Polish women are perceived usually as pretty, feminine, with a good taste for cloths and elegant. No wonder that many men from different countries ask me how to deal with a Polish girl they have a crash on. Check also these articles from our site: Polish Marriages and Families, Some Statistics & Polish Wedding.
Here below is some useful advice:
First of all, you do have to behave no worse than Polish men do. Polish men are gentlemen, they open doors and let women always first through the door whether into (or out from) the restaurant, store, car or through any other door. The popular welcome among people (both, men and women) on a personal level is a kiss in right and left cheek. But do not try to kiss her in a cheek during the first welcome this may be seen as too arrogant and intrusive into personal space. Very elegant and old habit is to kiss a woman hand by a man during welcome. This habit is fading away, or it is being restricted only towards old ladies to show a respect. But you need to know how to kiss a hand properly, if you are not sure how forget about it because the effect may be opposite from expected.
Typical Polish men also would offer help to care a heavy luggage or suitcase to a lady. I remember when I was waiting for my luggage in Krakow airport in Poland after coming back from the USA at least two men were ready to take my luggage from the rolling conveyor belt immediately and give it to me. It was very nice since here in America the equal rights seem to destroy good habits between genders (women here are considered as the same capable to do everything like men). On the other hand if you are a foreign woman in Poland and a man offers a help to carry the luggage - be careful, sometimes it can be a gentlemen but sometimes a thief who wants to use your naiveté or he would demand a tip or another kind of service from you (for instance to exchange the money).
If you really want to win a girl's heart bring a fresh flower on a first date. In Poland flowers are given on many occasions like weddings, birthdays etc. If you are invited to visit a Polish house you are expected to bring a souvenir - usually flowers for a hostess, in some occasions also an elegant bottle of alcohol for a host. Flowers, beautiful flowers are available in Poland everywhere, especially on the farmers markets. So, please, do not forget about a flower unless it is a winter and flowers may be just too expensive or inaccessible.
If you go to the restaurant try to be elegant, always ask first what she wants to eat etc. Let her sit first in the restaurant. Pour wine to her glass first. But do not be pushy and do not ask her to drink more. Do not drink too much also. Alcoholism is a social problem in Poland especially among the men. You may lose all your chances if you would be tipsy. The first impression is very important. Do not tell her that you love her immediately. Do not try to impress her by talking only about your achievements. Listen to her, sense of humor could be helpful in your first conversation. Try to show that you are an intelligent, strong, self-assured but not too self-centered and self-confident and the most important show that you are protective of her. For instance if you would leave the restaurant and it would be cold and she would have only a light dress on offer your jacket to her.
Pay the bill in the restaurant or movie theater at least the first time. In Poland splitting the bill in restaurants is less common. Usually one person pays the full bill, the one who invites the others, and a man more often than a woman.
Polish women are usually good cooks (besides teenager-girls). When she invites you for a dinner bring a flower and appreciate the food. If you would try to fix food for her it would be even better!
Try to learn some Polish words. Below is a sample:
- "English word"="Polish equivalent" (pronunciation)
- "thank-you"="dziekuje" (djenkoo-yeh)
- "good morning"or "good day"="dzien dobry" (djen dobri)
- "good-bye"="do widzenia" (do veedzenya)
- "see you tomorrow"="do jutra" (do you-tra)
- "please" or "here you have"= "prosze" (prosheh)
- "I love you"="kocham cie" (coham cheu)
Now a few words about a personal distance. People in different cultures have different distance in which they feel comfortable. Poles like other Europeans (and also Northern Americans) do need to have their space, do not come closer than on the arm's length unless you are dancing or you hold her hand. Do not look persistently in her eyes this might be seen as intrusion in her private space. Be an observer, but a friendly observer and give her some space.
The last but not least.... important tip:
Polish woman is usually not a modern type of a liberated woman. She takes a commitment seriously. So, be aware!
Alina Zeranska, Janina Domanska (Illustrator), The Art of Polish Cooking
An interesting book related to the subject is written by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab, Mary Anne Knab (Illustrator). entitled Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore
I recommend Polish Weddings Customs & Traditions by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab