I moved here 2 years ago from the UK with my boyfriend. We just split up a few months ago - I dumped him - and I’m trying to “get back on the horse”, as they say. Is it just me, or is it really hard to meet people in Zurich? Every time I meet someone’s gaze, they seem to look away quickly. I’ve been told I’m nice to look at, but I’m getting a complex! And flirting? Does this even exist here?
Getting back on the horse, as you put it, is always a very good idea and I applaud you for not sitting at home alone with a bottle of wine and a 10 CHF pint of Ben and Jerry’s watching reruns of “Ally McBeal” on the inter-webs. Well done. Leaving your flat is the first step.
Oh, and congratulations on dropping the dead weight. You do feel lighter now, don’t you? Oh, I relish that feeling. Doing something for oneself. A little drama, a little cleansing, some second thoughts perhaps, some break-up sex . . . shopping for new shoes, and next thing you know, you’re in an economy car, making out with a young boy from the hinterlands you met while dancing on a Wednesday night at Mascotte. . . Oh, those were the days!
Getting to your questions: yes. It’s hard to meet people here. Though I do hate making sweeping statements, I’m about to. The Swiss can be tough to get in with. They seem to have their guards up - especially around foreigners, no matter how cute you are. They remind me of New Englanders in that way. Takes a while to get to know them and for them to let you in, but once you’re in, they’ll gladly take a bullet for you. Seriously.
I have many delicious Swiss friends here but they were not easily won. I wined them. I dined them. I did magic tricks. I bought them expensive presents. It wasn’t until I made a concerted effort to stop being so chatty and to calm down that we finally bonded. I think they didn’t know what to make of me at first. The other thing we did is drink together. Lifting a glass (or 7) always seems to aid in cementing a true friendship. And then of course, the alcohol made me chatty again, but by that point, I’d worn down their resistance with my juvenile jokes, self-deprecation, depressing stories of my youth and sheer determination.
Stick with it, you’ll surely get somewhere. . . eventually. And in the mean time, stop looking. You’ve heard this before, as soon as you stop looking, things (men) come to you. And it does work. It’s just hard not to look, I know. Find a hobby. Volunteer helping people somewhere doing something. (I don’t know where one does this in Zürich. I haven’t seen any homeless shelters or soup kitchens. I’m the poorest person in the city, so perhaps you could just volunteer to come clean my flat every week? Call me. I’m serious.)
Some of the most charming men I’ve met here have been Swiss. Mind you, they have also been the most elusive and non-committal, but perhaps that’s because I was dating bankers and lawyers. Serves me right, I suppose. Perhaps it’s not so much Swiss men as it is bankers and lawyers. I’m a sucker for a man in a suit. And if he’s sporting pocket square, I’m in love. But someone who spends their days focused on money and/or screwing people over might be better off finding themselves a Russian Barbie as an arm piece and not a fabulous woman like me. I mean you. Right?
Maybe you should head away from Paradeplatz and towards Josefstrasse and ZuriWest. That’s where I tend to find my artists/musicians/sensitive-types. They seem to be better at playing the eye-contact game. And that’s a start.
Next time you find yourself meeting someone’s gaze, don’t look away. I challenge you. Silently invite them to a game of eyeball-chicken. You’ll win. I promise you. Maybe if we all start doing it, it will be a revolution. An eye contact revolution right here in Zürich. Think of all the changes there’ll be! People getting to know one another, saying hello, smiling . . . flirting even! Everyone understanding that just because I meet your gaze does not mean I want something from you. Well, I do, actually. Human interaction. It shouldn’t be so hard. But it seems to be here. But it could work! I’ll do it if you do. Let the revolution commence!
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