There are an awful lot of guys out there in Poland (and elsewhere) with Polish girlfriends. It’s not always an easy thing, I know and I feel your pain. This is the definitive list of ‘things to remember’ …at least until I think of the next definitive list.
1 Her name
Bear with me, I’m not being (completely) flippant. About 90 percent of all women in Poland are named Magda, Ola, Anna, Dorota, or Kasia. That’s it. This can be confusing. If you can’t remember your Polish girlfriend’s first name ask her what her second name is. Everybody has a second name here. Unfortunately it’s usually just one of the above, but you might get lucky and come across a Jadwiga (if you’ll pardon the expression).
2. Women’s Day
This is one of approximately 74 occasions during the year when you are required to give a Polish girlfriend flowers. Flower-selling is an immensely profitable and stable business in Poland. There are flower sellers everywhere and, until recently, they were about the only businesses that stayed open on a Sunday. Women’s Day? It’s in April some time; look it up. I’m not even mentioning Valentine’s Day; that’s so obvious that you entirely deserve to lose a testicle if you forget it in Poland.
3. She is a a princess
Polish girls are brought up in the tradition of old-fashioned chivalry and deference to the ‘weaker sex.’ That means YOU carry the bags, open the door, mend things, make tea in the morning, escort her to the bus stop etc. When a little exasperated by this I often point out to my girlfriend that she’s being a ‘bit of a princess’ to which she usually smiles and flutters her eyelids in complete ignorance of the negative connotations of the phrase in British and American English. Oh well.
4. Walking is impossible
Part of the chivalry thing mentioned above is the expectation that whenever you are walking somewhere together she should have her arm looped through yours. Down narrow and crowded streets this makes progress painfully slow. It’s sweet, and I kind of like it sometimes, but it would be nice to walk through crowded areas in single file sometimes instead of having to go through ridiculous sideways-shuffling maneuvers, every five feet.
5. You are furniture
While trying to relax and watch a film in which hundreds of Russian troops are hosed down by panzers she will use you as a pillow / footstool / nose-scratching device. This is also kind of sweet and nice, but it can make it hard to concentrate on the body count.
6. She has a mother…
…who regards you with more than a hint of suspicion. Polish mothers of that generation are convinced that foreigners are godless, feckless, untrustworthy imps sent by satan to steal their daughters and carry them off to London / Dublin / Des Moines. In other words, they are remarkably well informed. You have two choices; get your act together and behave like a decent human being or avoid the mother like the plague. Neither is painless.
7. Your food is not your own
It’s a well known fact amongst men that women mysteriously become ravenously hungry only when you happen to have a large plate of long-anticipated chips in front of you. However, the effect does seem to be particularly pronounced among Polish women, who claim to eat almost nothing. Always, and I mean ALWAYS, order or cook more than you can possibly eat because your stick-thin Polish girlfriend will inevitably develop the appetite of a blue whale the moment her anxiously selected ‘small salad’ arrives.
8. You can kiss other women
She has female friends and it’s perfectly acceptable, in fact encouraged, for you to kiss all of them up to three times every time you see them. Exactly where you put your hands while you are doing this is a issue I have yet to resolve successfully. Still, it’s an up side.
9. She’s smarter than you are
The Polish education system is a marvel and good education is respected above almost everything else here. Chances are that your Polish girlfriend not only speaks English, German, and Russian (how many languages do you speak) but also has a pretty good grasp of a lot of things that you slept through at school. You’re only hope is to pretend that such things ‘aren’t considered important in Western culture’ and shrug until she buys it.
10. …uh oh
I’ve forgotten the last one! I’m in big trouble.
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