Cultural Musings

How we express love – Poles vs. Americans

There’s a real difference in the way Americans and Poles show their feelings. Americans love talking, so they’re very specific about theirs – so much so it’s sometimes cringy-worthy. Poles are sometimes so non-descript about their romantic feelings that you’d think they were cold. But it’s not like that. There are two huge differences in our modes of expressions – Americans say and Poles show. 

Americans express love the way they see it done in movies – outright and very over the top. On social media, you gave often see tribute posts, as I like to call them. Very open birthday shout outs or anniversary posts, which are mushy enough to make you feel queasy. “You’re my everything” and such. Sometimes it is really nice to feel appreciated for specific things, but usually it’s just too much. And I’m not talking about just women, men are just the same, sometimes even worse. 

Poles would keel over and die before doing something like that – even more so I bet they wouldn’t know what to say. Even when it comes to cards they write very impersonal greetings like “wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin” and wishes for health and happiness but nothing about the person specifically. So basically their expressions of emotions are much more toned down than ours, which seem to be infused with red bull, crack and steroids all at once. 

When my husband and I decided to get married, we just had a had talk about it and made the decision together. That was that. When I told him that I didn’t want any proposal or something like that he was so relieved because he thought I’d want some obnoxious proposal like from American movies. So he got lucky there – but by the time we got together I’d been living here for a few years so for sure that had an effect on me.

Overall, in my experience, Poles tend to show their feelings rather than say them out loud. That means they’ll help you with anything you need, cook you something, do things without needing a “thank you” and overall just being there. What’s even better is that there aren’t outrageously unrealistic expectations about relationships in Poland. You see a lot of Poles getting married to high school sweethearts and such, and I sometimes wonder if it’s not just because they found someone they like and that’s good enough. They don’t expect someone to move mountains for them, just to care for them and be a good partner.

I have to say, I do like that, but it did require a bit of acceptance from me. I like a nice card now and then or to hear some specifics about why I’m lovable 🙂 but I’ve just had to accept that that’s not really going to happen in the American way I expect it. It seems that “I love you” doesn’t require an explanation. It’s just enough as it stands (and maybe I should be grateful that I hear it from time to time!) So if you’re with a Polish guy, you might have to come to terms with that. In some way it makes the relationship more real. Look, grand gestures and grandiose expressions of love really only happen in movies. 

Check out this post for more info on my thoughts on American men vs. Polish men.

Do you have any experience similar to mine? Would you agree with my opinions or disagree? Maybe there’s something to it or maybe I’m just imagining things? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂

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6 Comments

  • Reply k. 6 December 2018 at 18:47

    they say that sometimes people say “I love you” kinda different way. eg. “have you eaten yet?”, “I brought you your scarf” etc. and I think it’s the same thing.
    we have even a meme fanpage in our “polish” internet which is called “jak powiedziec kocham” – how to say I love you. some of them are pretty stupid like “i’ll pay for your kebab” but some of them are true, actually. the bad thing about doing, not saying is that people sometimes don’t get it and they think that they are not loved anymore. they don’t talk about it at all and it’s pretty much destroying the relationship. but that happens when it goes WAAAAY too far. but, all in all, I like the idea of showing how you care. the best thing is when you realize someone does somethinf because they love you, but u havent had any idea 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 December 2018 at 20:15

      Yeah sure I totally like the idea too – I mean I’d much rather the situation where someone showed me they love me instead of just saying it and not showing it. Because then it doesn’t mean anything, you know? You can’t say “I love you” and never call someone or help them or do something nice for them. It’s totally fake!

  • Reply Lilia 6 December 2018 at 22:12

    I can describe my Norwegian boyfriend the way you described your Polish husband. And Im Polish. 😀

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 10 December 2018 at 13:56

      Hah maybe Norwegians are even farther on the non-emotional end 🙂 Really interesting! I’m sure it has something to do with personality as well.

  • Reply Ula 6 December 2018 at 23:16

    I think your idea spreads wider than just romantic relationships. It’s really great explains all the differences in American vs Polish attitude when comes to human relationships in general.
    Americans are so open and chatty, at the first meeting they told you about their divorce and mental breakdown and would never stop with simple ‘hi’ when running into you. Poles are extremely quiet and small talk between two stranger happens… well, almost never.
    On the contrary, when you tell your polish friends you’re moving or making some house makeover almost all of them would volunteer to help you. Americans? I think they wouldn’t even understand why you need someone to help you than just hire a company to move/do things for you.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 10 December 2018 at 13:57

      Oh yeah – forget asking Americans for help. I mean if they’re like your best friends, sure, but otherwise yeah not so much. Like you said, they figure you’ll just hire someone. That goes for literally everything – childcare, food, whatever. We’re not so willing to sacrifice our time to help people but we would actually pay for someone else to do that 🙂

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