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Dating Tips from Your Italian Mom

An Italian mom who's ready to give some good dating advice.

Italian mothers are notoriously difficult to please. (Unless you’re her first-born son, in which case, the sun shines out of your culo.) You have a hard time getting her to be happy about any of your choices, but in one area she’s particularly scrutinizing: your dating life.

Sure, pickins can be slim. But if you think she’s going to just let any gavone date her daughter, you’re sadly mistaken. So maybe this once you should just listen to her. After all, the man you marry will need her blessing to do, well, pretty much anything.

Keepa’ the zippa’ closed.
With her Catholic upbringing, your Italian mother may be a little uptight about sex. But underneath the guilt and repression is a valuable lesson: Don’t get knocked up. (Otherwise it’ll be a shotgun wedding faster than you can say “Madonna mia.”)

Look for a nice family.
This is Italian for “marry another Italian.” But Ma is onto something here. When you enter into a serious relationship with someone, you not only get him but all of his relatives. Does their crazy match your family’s crazy? Or is it another level crazy? Does the person you’re dating rely on his family for every important life decision? Will your future mother-in-law be wearing a white poofy dress at your wedding?

He needs to eat.
Hopefully the guy you date has a healthy appetite for marinara. Otherwise, if he refuses that second helping at Sunday dinner, he’ll be met with, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you like my food?” Any answer other than, “This is the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth. I just wanted to enjoy it for a minute before I had another helping,” will be met with the Italian evil eye followed by years of distrust.

He should treat you like a princess.
The princess thing is so tired. But your Italian mother really means it. She’ll accept nothing less than royal treatment from a man intent on courting her daughter. She wants to see presents, flowers, romantic love notes, grand gestures. But mostly she looks for respect. A man who doesn’t respect her child will hear it from her. Out loud. Repeatedly. Until she runs him right out of your life. Thank God.

You’re wearing that on your date? No.
You don’t live with your Italian mom? No worries, she’ll be over your place in the hours before a big date if only to inspect what you’re wearing and declare that you’re showing too much skin. (“No man is gonna respect a woman who looks like she gives it away cheap down by the railroad tracks.”) You change into a turtleneck. Now it’s not enough skin. And red is not your color. And those shoes make your ass look big. Rest assured, if your Italian mom approves your outfit before you walk out the door, then you can pass any other stressful moment a first date might have to offer.

Where does he live?
On the other side of town? Too far away. Italian mothers can’t bear the thought of jumping in a car and driving 15 minutes to see their children. That’s way too much time between forming the thought “I have to tell my daughter something” and actually arriving at daughter’s doorstep to announce that thought. If your Italian mom thinks he lives too far away then he’s probably still too close. This is the advice you listen to…then do the opposite of.

Don’t date that guy.
Because your Italian mother is perfect. She’s never made any dating mistakes. In fact, she’s never made any mistakes, period. She married the perfect man, your father, and now she’s expecting perfection from the person who marries you. It may seem like a lot of pressure, but underneath it all is the real gem: set the bar high. She expects a lot from you, so why shouldn’t she expect the same from the person who gets to be with you.

When are you going to get married and give me some grandchildren?
You’ve been on three dates with a guy who seems to pass all your Italian mother’s judgmental criteria. He’s from the “right” part of Italy. (Anywhere but Sicily because “that doesn’t count, it’s not attached.”) You met his mom on the second date and she’s lovely, if not overbearing. (She came with you to see a movie and sat between the two of you.) He loves your mother’s cooking. (Date number three involved warming up some lasagna your mom sent over because she was convinced you wouldn’t cook an impressive enough meal for him.) Most importantly, he thinks the world of you.

You might not be convinced, but your mom is. And that’s when she starts nagging you to get on with it, already. She needs those 30 grandkids to spoil.

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