English women treat me like I’m an alien from outerspace

Posted on November 7, 2008 by yankeebean

After reading Michelle’s comment on the About page, it reminded me of one the MOST INFURIATING things about being an American woman in Yorkshire.

English women.

Now, I know I can’t lump them all in together, and I know some really amazing English women, too… but nothing gets my blood boiling quite as much as ‘the look‘.

If you’re an American woman in England, then you know the one I mean… that LOOK that an English woman will give you when you try to do something INSANE like introduce yourself, or ask what their name is, or talk about anything other than totally neutral subjects like the weather or going food-shopping.

It drives me NUTS!!  It drives me punch-the-air-go-for-a-run-bite-my-tongue GONZO nuts…

Hey!  English chick!  I’m not going to bite you!  I’m not going to steal your boyfriend!  I’m not going to sprout wings and dive-bomb you!  I’m not going to beam you up to the mother-ship!  And my AMERICAN-NESS is NOT CONTAGIOUS!!!  (Unfortunately for you…)

I’m a web designer, right?  So sometimes I go to some networking events and try to meetnewpeoplemakenewcontants blah blah blah blah… I once went to an all women’s networking event in York (WHY??  What was I thinking??).  I swear to God, I thought by the end of it they were going to light up a bunch of torches and chase me from the building.  It was made very (VERY) clear, that they thought I didn’t belong there.  I mean, it was like friggin HIGHSCHOOL all over again…


Tell me this isn’t just me… PLEASE tell me it happens to you too??  I could use some support here…  and some witty quips and retorts if you can think of any.  We need to be prepared when confronted with this strange species…

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Kelly November 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    It seems to be the reoccurring theme in the article and comments is that American expats come over and expect British women to be exactly like American women and seem to be weirdly surprised when they find out we aren’t; something which they seem to blame us for. At the end of the day Britain is still a foreign country and possesses a different culture to America. Also like anywhere else you are going to see friendly and not so friendly people no matter where you move to. Lastly, in Britain it is more common to keep a small circle of close friends that you will try to be friends with for life rather than have a huge circle of friendly acquaintances that you can pick and drop whenever.

  2. t December 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I just found this blog and love it. I’ve been in London for two years and have struggled to make British female friends. Mind you, I’m a shy, reserved Canadian (always perceived as American though) and have never had so much trouble in my life. I was going to give up hope but now I will put your tips and advice to use in the New Year!

    • yankeebean December 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      If you’re ever in the Bristol area, send us a comment and let us know! Always good to meet a fellow expat :)

      • richard February 6, 2013 at 7:29 am

        sorry, i didnt mean to reply your post in particular, but to the main blog. i cant seem to delete it.

    • richard February 6, 2013 at 7:20 am

      im english albeit expat, living now in brazil and before USA, in total for 12 years. I share similar frustrations in reverse – living in my foreign environment. Its not just england that is guilty for the suffering you endure, the social clumsiness the locals make you feel so bullyingly. my grievances are almost identical to most amerivans comlaining about the English, but against brazilians and americans. I get almost same here in Brazil, a place people usually think as outgoing. Everywhere every country you go, the ignorant mob element always rejects, beckoning the pack to belittle the outsider, however colourful you may be. thats the sad part for them. its ignornant pack-behaviour you find in every land. However saying all this may defend my country and all its nuances as it may seem, I do pity you and i know full well what you go thru. English people in the south are notoriously reserved and clicky, you will find it more difficult to break into there little friend grops. My tip is be crafty, if you actually care to try even, ease in and show your social worth craftily. DO NOT brag in any way. american type no holes barred – I am the shit! – big-myself-up is instant suicide. Be crafty not l;ose your cool, use wit and intelligent fightback. English people, who find themselves as outsiders, do all this – but very slyly… you probably havent even noticedI know full well american puzzlement with this and have sympathy for you, but Ireland and every other english speaking country bar the USA it is also taboo to self-brag. DONT ever be inquisitive – however innocent iyt may seem – to the point the person backs off this is seen as very creepy and is also suidcide. Its not as easy like the US. English coldness, cronyism, clannishness and unfortunate social acceptance rituals for outsiders we demand, have all been borne out of obligatory distrust and aloofness fermented and formed over a 2000+ year old turbulent and violent expansionist empire period. Work around it. be smart and shrewd. everyone will want to be your friend

    • ann June 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      you just explained the reason you can make friends—CANADIAN–I am also canadian and trying hard to get to England(red Tape) I was told to make sure everything i have is marked canadian or with a flag—or something to show that I’m NOT AMERICAN. Those people are not liked very well anywhere for what ever reason.

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  5. Jo October 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m born and bred in yorkshire and I know exactly what you mean :D

    Re your last comment, It’s not just English women that have spent time in the US – I think it’s more english women who have spent time out of the smaller towns of Yorkshire that are less likely to react that way, if that makes sense. I lived in London for a few years and briefly in Paris and Glasgow and that broadened my horizons somewhat.

    • yankeebean October 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Very good point! Now I’m curious if this is the same all with small town/big city America.

      Thinking about it, I wonder if it’s almost the reverse in the States? You’re more likely to have a friendly chat with someone from a small US town. In a US city, you’re more likely to get the ‘crazy-person-please-stop-talking-to-me’ stare…

  6. Johnny Appleseed October 10, 2012 at 5:34 am

    English people aren’t much better than Americans are if they pollute their country and insult men if they stare at their breasts and compliment them. English women, and all women throughout the world should not be looking at compliments in black and white, they should be looked at in shades of grey.

    • yankeebean October 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Wait… what? I have no idea what this means…

      Are you saying we’re not allowed to be annoyed if people stare at our boobs?

    • Alex Krycekov November 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

      “…looked at in shades of grey.”

      Like the 1950s tv stereotypes they are?

  7. Alex Krycekov March 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Actually, I’ve had this experience with British women online. I was in a fandom for a British entertainment with people from all over the world. While British women couldn’t EBS/BBS others online. They did have a habit of making very selective responses to comments and IMs. iEBS?

    There were nested rings of acceptance with real inclusion only reserved for a core group, all British. Runners-up were Commonwealth and Europeans, with one or two Americans who already held established status before their arrival. The Variables were people, generally American or Canadian, they didn’t want to alienate because they’re talented enough to possibly be useful later, but kept things fairly impersonal just in case, or relational aggression if they challenged the core group’s authority. The Ballast were extremely deferential Anglophile Americans that they could use for grunt work, or as backup in a conflict with an American. The Rabble was anyone who wouldn’t be useful and Americans in general, who received no communication at all, or iEBS if they put themselves forward.

    Nothing on a comment thread or email has the immediate confrontation that prompts social anxiety. These women hadn’t known each other since they were kids, and had only introduced themselves a year or two ago. They befriended brand new women, if they were British or Australian. They weren’t especially reserved or demure in their online identities. It was purely about power. Constructing and enforcing a hierarchy with them at the top.

    For the record, I was considered a Variable. They were always polite to me publicly, but I caught them talking trash about me privately (via their own technological incompetence). It didn’t matter, because I already loathed they way they treated others, and kinda knew they were full of it when they were “nice” to me. It drug down the whole atmosphere of the fandom, and was one of the reasons I left it. And definitely THE reason I will never get involved in a British-based fandom again…no matter how over-the-moon I am for Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston. ~girliesigh~

    • yankeebean October 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      My heart goes out to you!

      And I love Benedict Cumberbatch, too :)

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  9. Valerie McCarthy April 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I can relate to this post. I have lived both in Ireland and England for the last 4 years and have spent alot of time isolated without any friends, only companionship coming from my husband. At this point in time, I don’t bother to try to make friends, but have decided to keep to myself. It is what keeps me from lowering my self esteem and worth.
    I consider myself a bit of a fragile soul and it is probably due to the fact that I am currently not working and a stay at home mum.
    My daughter attends a preschool and the mums are not very friendly towards me. Sure they say, “Hi” and little things like that, but it is only because they don’t want to seem totally rude. At first, I thought it was going to take time before they would warm up to me and that it wasn’t personal. I was very cautious about being too pushy so kept my distance while trying to be amiable. I now realise that I will probably spend many more years without gal friends, but thank GOD that my husband is MY best friend which helps me cope with such a loss.

    Thanks for sharing your story, because I was beginning to think there was something personally wrong with me.

  10. Yorkshire Yank August 23, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I was hoping for responses from British women.

    Ros, your post was very informative.

    I can see why someone wouldn’t want to start a friendship with someone who would be calling them drunk at 3AM, but it takes quite a few casual cups of coffee before a friendship will reach the 3AM phone call stage, if it ever does.

    Here is something that happened to me.

    A long time ago, my husband bought me a violin. I never learned how to play it, and it just sits in its case at home.

    Recently, I was having a casual conversation with a female acquaintance, and she said she was a violinist. So, just to continue the conversation and to show her that I was impressed with her talent, I mentioned the violin my husband have given me and I said “Maybe someday you could teach me how to play it.”

    Big mistake.

    I could immediately tell that I had said the wrong thing.

    So right away, I had to say “You know I’m only joking, right? You know I’m not really asking you to teach me how to play the violin, right?”

    The conversation basically ended after that.

    If that had been an American woman, the conversation would have went:

    “Maybe one day you could teach me how to play.”
    “Yeah, sure.”

    and then we would have moved on to talking about something else.

  11. Catriona August 22, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Aaaagh!!! I’m horrified to read all this about US women’s experiences with British women.
    I’m from Yorkshire originally and I promise I’m uber friendly, probably to the point of annoying and I’m sorry to hear you’ve suffered those awful stares, I have no idea what that’s about.
    Probably partly because of visas, I come across way more Americans here than I do Brits and have had the good fortune to form what I hope are lifelong friendships with these women.
    I’m glad to see though that some readers are enjoying conversations with British guys, they ( generally speaking of course) have a great sense of humour and I miss that, if I meet a guy from the UK here I usually think it’s a mirage.
    my professional world is dominated by American men…. a whole other topic I guess.
    This is my first time to this blog and it ROCKS!!

  12. Ros August 21, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Wow. This is fairly horrendous stuff to read, speaking as a bona fide Englishwoman from Sheffield, South Yorkshire! All the more so because I recognise enough of the reaction in myself to know that we do probably make it difficult for our US sisters to make friends. Don’t get me wrong, I think the examples described above are awful, ill-mannered and downright rude…I swear I have never done the EBS thng ;) But I have to admit I do know the feeling of recoil when faced with this social situation…
    I am an outgoing British woman, extrovert (and loud!) by UK standards. I’m also a psychiatrist. This is making me think really hard about what it is that gets in the way of making friends with women from the other side of the Atlantic. For me, I think it is about boundaries. As was said above, we live on a little island with lots of other people and having the right to be by ourselves (sometimes even in the presence of others), and have this right respected, is part of the culture. Lack of respect for boundaries is something that is associated with youth, ignorance, bad manners, lack of guidance… think a stranger’s child climbing all over you or a puppy jumping up and licking your face. I think there are some women who are overwhelmed by the extroversion (although I am extrovert- sometimes even brash- and either don’t cause the same recoil or don’t notice it if I do ;) Some may even be made so anxious that they dissociate- but my guess is that there are a good few more who simply see it as bad manners, or social ignorance to have their boundaries invaded at the wrong speed in a certain social setting. And usually the stranger in a group of women would be playing it safer to wait to be approached by the old hands, rather than taking matters into her own hands and starting up anything more than the vaguest of interactions. It could be seen as presumptious. And, in a circle composed of less enlightened humans, you will be excluded if you appear to them to be bad mannered, childish, ignorant/ impatient of cultural norms. There is something terribly threatening to the average Englishperson about having those boundaries invaded. And a cup of coffee is never just a cup of coffee, it confers aquaintanceship, a lessening of the ability to avoid a relationship if it turns out to be awful, a pathway to further rights like being phoned at 3am when the boyfriend leaves, having to babysit for kids in times of emergencies etc etc etc And how would you trust someone who doesn’t recognise the boundaries in the same way as you not to keep overstepping them? We all have had nightmare ‘friends’/ work colleagues who drain us emotionally even if they don’t demand more material support, because of a disregard for appropriate boundaries and a sense of entitlement to attention and involvement. I wonder if these fears are what triggers our English defences when faced with someone who ‘comes on strong’.
    I am being devil’s advocate here, btw. I don’t normally feel any of this stuff consciously. But also trying to give an honest opinion of my generic English responses, in the hope that it will be of some use. All the stuff I have read above and on the rest of this site makes me think that there are a lovely bunch of american women wandering around the UK trying to make the best of us socially stunted creatures!
    re the blokes- well, I guess the women will be rolling their eyes at their menfolk’s attraction to something a bit exotic and different. And if they are paranoid or have poor self-esteem…well- you become a threat through no fault of your own.

    BTW- UK boundaries don’t seem to apply to t’internet, have you noticed? ;)

  13. Marina August 18, 2010 at 1:19 am

    I am not American, but i know the look. First year here i joined a gym to work out and … wait for it … make friends – ha ha ha.

  14. Yorkshire Yank July 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Michelle, that was fascinating.

    I also have a busy life and don’t have lots of time to spend socialising (most of us probably do), but I don’t consider having a cup of coffee with someone to be a huge imposition on my time.

    And I would never turn down an invitation from anyone unless I actually had a conflicting appointment, sincerely felt that they were up to no good, or was facing a difficult work deadline – in which case I would postpone the coffee date to another time. How rude!

    Your housemate’s girlfriend’s description of British women sounds like they’ve never outgrown the high school clique mentality.

  15. Graham July 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    I completely agree with your comment about British women. I am British, however my wife is Japanese. We lived in the UK for 2 years, now living in California. My wife used to get the “look” and get ignored because she was different. I wanted to shout out “open your mind…”. When I ask my wife if she would want to live back in the UK, it always come back to the difficulty of British women. British men seem to be much more tolarant and accepting, but there seems to be this built in feature that prevents a smile, open minded conversation from the women.

    Now living in California I see co-workers who are British and their wifes have a torid time cause they won’t fit in. Such a shame, life is too short and there are so many wonderful people to meet!

  16. Parakeet May 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Yes, I agree with “the look” that British women give non-British women. I lived in the UK as an American for many years up till a few months ago and I never ever felt like I was particularly accepted by my British female… friends? Acquaintances? It was like I could never get across “the wall” separating us. Oh well. I tried! The “English blank stare” continues to be alive and well, though…

  17. Michelle March 29, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I completely agree on how hard it is to make British female friends. I lived in the UK for 11 years, did a year of undergrad there, a master’s degree, worked at a UK company, had a serious British boyfriend for 3 years whom I lived with (he had a zillion close friends of his own, who all had girlfriends and wives — all of whom called me “The new girl” even after 3 years, and I would hear secondhand that they had girl-only parties like baby showers and birthday drinks to which they invited all the wives/girlfriends in the group, except for me).

    I am reserved, thoughtful, nice, totally not a hussy, friendly, very loyal — but I always was treated as if I was some kind of sneaky minx who was gauche, out to have affairs with all men, and only half-human.

    Most of the guys were really friendly with me, but most of the women were not. And of course, the friendly guys would get in trouble with their wives/girlfriends for being nice to me, and would have to start being distant towards me, which hurt my feelings a lot. I have lost British guy friends who were my friends for years and years (knowing me for longer than they even knew their wives) because after they got married, their wives put the kibosh on any interactions with me. I guess that probably happens in the US, too.

    And the British guys didn’t always see how the British women treated me. The guys wanted me to make friends and would tell me just to try to be friendly, invite the women to do things, etc., and then I would try, and get shot down (but the men wouldn’t see that part). Some of them, if they weren’t very perceptive, thought it was all in my head.

    I also agree with what was said here about people who are half-this and half-that, not 100% British – they are more open, more understanding.

    After I’d lived there 10 years, I finally had a half-French, half-British woman who had gone to high school and university in the UK explain something to me. I was the housemate of her boyfriend. I would often chat with them in our kitchen while we cooked dinner. Her boyfriend was from Canada and had been my classmate in the master’s degree course, and it was entirely platonic between him and me. We’d known each other for 4 years, and he knew I didn’t have many female friends, and he thought it was somehow something that I was doing wrong or that I wasn’t trying hard enough (he had no idea how hard I had tried!) One night, we were all 3 in the kitchen, and my housemate was standing behind his girlfriend, chopping some veggies. His back was turned during most of the general conversation his girlfriend and I were having. Then, I took the bold step of asking her if she would like to meet up in town during a workday and have a coffee sometime, and he turned towards me (she couldn’t see him) and he nodded his head vigourously in support (making eyes that said, “Yeah, ask her! Yeah, that’s how to make a friend!”). Then she said, “No, I don’t think so.” His mouth dropped wide open, he looked at me with disbelief in his eyes, and he whipped back around to the chopping board. I then asked her, “Well, do you have any friends who are single women, and might want to go out sometimes to have a drink and see if we can meet any nice men?” And she said, “Yes, I have some great single friends, but no, they wouldn’t want to get together with you.” By this point, I was in shock. I know that her boyfriend was in shock (he still hadn’t turned around from looking down at the cutting board, even though all his chopping was done). Then she said, “Look, Michelle, I really like you. But you need to understand something. British women develop a group of friends when they are young – usually as teenagers, and at least by the time they are in university. They keep those friends close the rest of their lives. By the time they are 30 or so, they know each other so well, have the same jokes, are so involved with each other’s lives that the group can’t absorb a new member. It would be awkward and imbalanced. We also don’t have the socializing time in our lives anymore that it would take to get to know a new member as well as we know all the other members of the group. Besides, if I started doing things with a new friend, all my old friends would feel like I was abandoning them, and I’m not going to do that. I don’t even have time for the friends I already have. Therefore, no, I don’t want to even try to be your friend, and no, I don’t want to introduce you to the single girls who are in my set of friends. I’m sorry.”

    I must say, after this, I could see that this sort of thing must have been behind most of my friend “rejections” that I got over the years from British women.

    And it was true that I can remember a lot of British women saying to me, “I don’t even have time for the friends I already have,” as if I was asking them to suddenly become my best friend and spend the next 51 weekends with me — when actually I had just asked if they wanted to meet for a drink or go to an art museum or something, *one time*! For Americans, getting together once with a new person does not obligate you to bring them into your life forever after that, it’s just a chance to get to know the other person. But for British women, it seems that even taking that first little step of meeting somewhere for an hour means a huge raft of future obligations that they just don’t even have the energy to think about.

    This is so different from the way most American women approach friendships. No matter what our age, it seems that we are always open to getting to know nice new people, and don’t have to have just one clique from our youth turn into our entire social world.

    Also, later that year, I saw an article in one of the Sunday magazines of one of the UK papers, about a British woman who’d gotten divorced at 35 and suddenly lost her entire clique of girlfriends since they were married to her husband’s friends. She then tried hard for years to get to know new women friends. She was spurned and treated as some kind of threat, instead of a potential new friend, and she’d never felt that before. She also pointed out how a single woman in the UK above the age of about 32 is seen as a huge threat by all other women (whether they are married or not), and is kept away from all boyfriends/husbands, no matter what the woman is like and no matter if she’d be the last person in the world to steal a guy. Just being available was the problem. And I found that as well – I was often treated as a threat, before anyone even got to know me. It didn’t help that I have long blond hair, blue eyes, and am slim – they see this combination as “automatic American bitch,” even if I’m not.

    But, it did make me feel better that a 30-something British woman was also being rejected by almost all her potential female friends, so maybe it’s not just the American-ness that is causing it.

    Recently I had to move to the US for 2 years because my mother had a terrible accident and she had no one else. But I’m probably going to move back to the UK soon, and my whole view is different now. Firstly, I am not going to feel bad if I can’t make British female friends. Secondly, I am not even going to waste my time trying – if it happens, great, but if not, no problem. Thirdly, I am going to focus more on befriending other expats than I did before (‘cos before I was mainly around Brits and I didn’t want to be one of those non-fitting-in, expat-only type of people, but this time I will reach out to many more expats than I did before). Fourthly, I am going to focus first on finding a nice guy to be in my life, because it’s easier to be accepted there by other women when you are attached to a man. Fifthly, I think I’m at an age where a big wave of British women will just have had divorces, and while it’s too bad for them, I think more of them will be in the position of not having as many cliquish friendships as they used to have, and might have experienced that their tight circle has loosened over the years with people moving away, divorcing, dying, having children, etc. Sixthly, I am no longer going to “hide my light under a bushel” – I realized that the constant rejection and suspicion that I got from many British women over an 11 year period had made me act more meek and quiet than I would naturally be – but I AM a humourous person, I AM a friendly person, I AM unique, and I don’t care anymore if they give me that “look”, that blank “stare”, turn their backs towards me en masse as others of you have also experienced – let them do it!

    • Toni June 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

      I’m a fully fledged born and bred English late thirtysomething who came across this blog, and from there your post, completely by chance. I’m on my way out so my reply will be shorter than I’d like, but I didn’t want to go without saying something.
      I’m totally horrified by so many comments and posts about being given the cold shoulder by English/British folks. Admittedly, I have been on the receiving end of death stares, blank stares and unfriendliness in the States – although this was largely geographical – all cases occuring in New Hampshire (a place I loved – Live Free or Die, Baby!) and especially Hawaii (numerous awful incidents from Caucasian men living on Maui and Big Island, including one who ran at our car with golf club, screaming eff off, ‘go home’ etc.), but I have also been the recipient of much US, Canadian, Kiwi, Italian and German friendliness and the idea that curious, friendly visitors aren’t being welcomed here, well it’s terribly disappointing.
      I’m so sorry that this has been your experience, Michelle, and I do hope that in the intervening time since you wrote this post, you’ve met some less narrow-minded, insular individuals.
      There is much of the US political and social system that other nationalities despise (I heard Americans referred to in Australia as ‘seppos’ quite a few times. Seppos-septic tanks-yanks). But there is much to criticise in many nations and no individual should be treated rudely because of their national identity, be they English, American, Iraqi or Congolese. Everybody who has been rude to you needs to rememeber there is good and bad in all nations and all people, and they seem to be forgetting to explore and enjoy the good in you because their bad has taken over.
      If we’d met, or I’d met anyone on SNFY, I’d have undoubtedly asked you about where you’re from back home, and hoped that you listen to me rave about my great experiences in the US (New Orleans, Provincetown, New Hampshire, Savannah, Nantucket, BBQ in Memphis, Utah, SF, LV, brilliant Boston, and perfect Montana), my less great ones (LA, San Diego, Hawaii eesidents) and most of all my not-happened-but-so-want ones (Chicago, Big Bend NP, Washington State, Wyoming, ND, SD, Oregon, and more Montana). I’d be keenly interested in how your UK life was panning out, the pleasures, disappointments and regrets. I’d want to know what you made of the Arts, the beaches and small towns and villages and preoccupations. But most of all, I’d want to extend the hand of welcome to a visitor, who might be homesick, who might be lonely, who might be feeling estranged or uncertain, and I’d want to congratulate her on being so brave as to leave the familiar and strike out in new, sometimes hostile, surroundings.
      Congratulations to you all and best of luck,

      Toni, Birmingham and Devon xx

  18. Missy March 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Thank you for elaborating on this point! I always tell my British friends here about this problem and they are surprised. I feel like there is a definite bias against American women — even mums. So many times I go to playgroups and no one will say anything except a “yes” or “no” in response to an opening gambit from me. I’m by nature somewhat shy so I’m not an “in your face” stereotypical American and yet I still receive cool treatment by others here. It has made my 5 years living here very difficult, especially since all three children were born here and I am not working. When I first moved here I never thought I would want to hang out with other Americans (I’ve always been one to dive into a culture), but now I unashamedly seek them out!

  19. Imen McDonnell December 31, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Just came across your blog–love it and can totally relate! While I am not living in Britain, I have married an Irishman and live in Ireland where most of these traits are identical (though DON’T tell that to an Irish person!). Most of my friends here are English and even though I’ve known them for 3 years it still feels like small talk in many ways…very frustrating and difficult to accept given that most American women are very open and have such different energy. I am reminded of our “melting pot” American culture all the time….part of why the English/Irish (most other countries actually) innately keep to themselves is because they have been a country unto itself for centuries whereas we have lived in a young country where we’ve welcomed emigrants for as long as we’ve existed. It’s natural. And it’s BEAUTIFUL. And i miss it!!! Thanks for your fun blog!! Imen xx

  20. Yorkshire yank December 30, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I have found photographic evidence!

    I came across a photo that my husband took of me when we spent a day in Scarborough a few years ago.

    I’m sitting on a step at the edge of the beach, eating something like a pasty.

    A little bit away from me, a women is sitting, with a man sitting next to her on the opposite side of her. The woman has her head turned away from him and she is looking directly at me, with a look of absolute disgust.

    I haven’t said a word to this woman. I’m not looking at her, I’m looking straight ahead at the camera. My husband is right there taking the picture, so it’s not as if I’m alone and on the prowl for men.

    I don’t know if she would have heard me speak, and so heard my American accent, so I don’t know if she has this attitude toward American women or all other women in general.

    When the photo was taken, I had no idea that anyone was looking at me. I just discovered that when I found the photo very recently.

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  22. Abigail November 4, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Although I am American, I am a bit reserved with people both when in the U.S. and here in the U.K. My American father is a private, reserved person and my mother is a Latin-Asian who never had an Anglo-American friend in her life. I don’t think I am scaring off any British people with extroverted, over-the-top behavior. Nevertheless, I couldn’t agree more with this post about the difficulty of making friends with British women. I have lived in Britain for 5 years and I have yet to move beyond shop talk with British women. All my friendships in the U.K. are with Asians and Europeans (German, Spanish, Bulgarian, Bosnian, etc.). I get one of two responses from British women: 1)They try to mother me in way that reminds me of my ghastly English mother-in-law. This usually starts with a open attack on all things American to gauge my response. When I pass this test, they start fussing and patronising me. 2) They are just as reserved as I am and we never move beyond talking about ordering supplies or the next meeting. My mother emigrated to the U.S. in her late 30′s, which is the same age I emigrated to Britain from the U.S. I really don’t want my life in this country to be like her experience in the U.S. Although, she has lived in the U.S. for 35 years, she has only had first generation immigrant friends – either Asian or Latin. She has never made a “white” American friend and we never had any “white” American friends over to the house. She always felt excluded from mainstream American life. During my childhood, I watched her struggle with this exclusion and loneliness. My inability to feel a part of British culture causes me despair sometimes and puts a strain on my marriage – my English husband refuses to live anywhere else than the U.K. I don’t want to give up, but I could use some advice.

  23. Dyana October 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    regarding male PAs and receptionists. Have to say I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I never worked with a male PA/secretary/receptionist in the US, but I do here!

    I’ve given the blank stare myself a few times generally when people have just made outrageously rude comments that deserve no answer (as opposed to offensive comments which do deserve answers), and I’ve been on the receiving end. I’ve found it to be a non-confrontational way of communicating when someone’s gone a bit too far, but you’re not going to hold it against them as long as they cut it out.

  24. Steve Shawcross October 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    PS: I love your EBS, even natives can get it (trust me!): I think it’s a rather subtle (or cowardly) way of being informed you have put somebody’s nose out of joint.

    It is a UK-wide phenomenon as others have observed, so you may wish to change it to BBS (British Blank Stare)… many folk of the Celtic ‘fringe’ don’t like the English– calling them (or associating them with the) English is a heinous sin ;) They don’t mind taking English taxpayers’ money through the Barnett formula though ;)

  25. Steve Shawcross October 16, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the info Yorkshireyank, most helpful :) The UK still has long way to go, before we become egalitarian society as of the Nordic countries. Little wonder Norway has been consistently found to be the best place to live in the world in recent years.

  26. Yorkshireyank October 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm


    The US allows for 12 weeks unpaid family leave each year, which does not just have to be for maternity leave but for other family or health-related issues, such as paternity leave, adopoting a child, taking care of an ill relative, dealing with your own health problems, etc.

    However, private companies will have their own polices. For example, the company I last worked for in the US allocated a number of weeks at full pay plus a number of weeks at half pay, depending on how long you had been working there. So, for example, you could be entitled to 4 months at full pay and 4 months at half pay.

    I agree that the NHS provides both women and men with services that would not be available to everyone in the US.

  27. Yorkshireyank October 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Regarding gender-work differences, am I the only one who finds it odd that in the 4 1/2 years I have been living in the UK, I have never once encountered a male receptionist or secretary? Where I come from, these are entry-level roles on career paths for both men and women.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but I would like to point out that I have only encountered the ‘EBS’ among some English women here.

    There are friendly women in the UK, just as there are friendly women elsewhere, and I also enjoy the company of some British women.

    However, the EBS seems to be a British phenonomen, as noted by other expats here. While I have met some women in the US who aren’t nice, because there are also women who aren’t nice everywhere, I have never encountered an equivalent of the EBS – the “I’m going to pretend you don’t exist even though you are standing right in front of me looking me right in the face and talking to me” look. If American women have a problem with me, they will either
    1. State their problem to my face or
    2. Physically avoid being near me or – if that’s not possible – at least look away from me.

    And as I stated above, I have lived here for 4 1/2 years, so this is hardly a short-hand prejudice. It is based on personal experience over a decently long period of time. And I think the same goes for other expats here. – I don’t know anyone else on this board personally, and yet I am not the only one who has experienced the EBS.

    I wonder if women who have moved to the UK from other countries than the US have had similar experiences.

    • yankeebean October 15, 2009 at 2:04 pm

      Oh no, I have that ‘naughty-and-shouldn’t-have-done-that’ feeling about adopting ‘EBS’… whoops!

      I know just what you mean, Yorkshireyank – it’s not all English women at all and I also have some friends that are English ladies (who are wonderful… REALLY outstandingly wonderful). But it’s happened to me (personally) enough that it officially drives me (personally) up the wall (personally) ;)

  28. Steve Shawcross October 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Just out of interest, how much maternity leave do Americans get typically — I’m told 12 weeks by a couple of Texans. Does it vary state by state?

    Because by comparison, women in the UK can get up to 52 weeks on maternity leave. Let’s not forget many ‘medical tests’ that are free for women on the NHS here– so in some senses life is better for women in the UK :)

    However I do believe that women and men should get paid the same, if they are doing the same job; so there is still some way to go, I concede.

  29. Savannah October 15, 2009 at 3:52 am

    “Last year the Chartered Management Institute and salary-survey specialists CELRE found that the average female executive is earning £13,655 less than the average male executive.”

    There are interesting pay disparity statistics in this article at http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/gap-1.pdf

    In case you don’t want to read it, I summarize the figures here:
    U.K.: average gender pay gap: 20%
    U.S.A.: average gender pay gap: 23%

    There are obviously other ways of asserting “the U.K. is a less feminist country than the U.S.A.”, but quoting pay differentials, particularly single job instances, is not the best way to do it.

    What other documented and quantifiable means are there to give substance to the proposition? Please do propose others!

    For an example of a female American expat blogger who lives in perfect harmony with her English female neighbors, and who enjoys their friendship as much as they admire her, please visit i-say-tomato.blogspot.com. You’ll get a view of English women which is unbiased by short-hand prejudices such as ‘EBS’! (BTW, I am not the owner of that blog, so have no interest in promoting it apart from using it as counter-evidence.)

    • yankeebean October 15, 2009 at 1:20 pm

      Savannah, to quote a wise sage:

      There are obviously other ways of asserting “Americans who live in perfect harmony with English female neighbors”, but quoting a single instance, is not the best way to do it.

      (PS – SNFY ladies, ‘I Say Tomato’ IS a great blog and I also recommend it – AND she has the cutest dog on plant earth… You can find a link to her blog on our links page)

      • peacefulyorkshire October 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm

        Hi Savannah,
        Oh yes, that blog is a good one. In fact every blog on our links page we recommend wholeheartedly.
        Ohhhhh…. wait. Now I see… you were trying (in a very English roundabout way, perhaps?) to tell us that you find our opinions offensive with various encounters involving meeting the natives and feminism? Was that what that was all about? Sigh.
        Well, lil darlin, I am gonna have to point you right on over to the comment pages where we have a blatant disclaimer that you might not agree with everything we say (gasp!). Nor do we expect you to. We’re not even trying to get you to agree with us!! But I am afraid, that by proposing that we change what we write about or calling our views ‘short-hand prejudice’ is just not the way to go about it. I will have to respectfully disagree with your words of advice.
        Yours sincerely,
        Ms. Peaceful Yorkshire

  30. Steve Shawcross October 14, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Wooah Yorkshireyank, hold your horses :) I perhaps didn’t word my last post that clearly…

    I said, or rather quoted my feminist friend, that all the battles *here* (that is the UK) had been “won”, when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. There I was simply reporting what my friend, and (in part) what Lynda Bellingham said. Since I’m male, I personally can only reserve judgement on that particular view and defer to the views ladies I know.

    In fairness to Margaret Thatcher she did directly and indirectly encourage and inspire women to go out to work, to make better lives for themselves and play men at their own games. That lady was not for turning!

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me as to why abortion rules in India have any bearing upon feminisim in the UK, I probably missing the point there: But since you mention it abortion has been legal in the UK since the 1960s, a while before Thatcher became PM.

    Fair comment you produce there Yankeebean, however that gap has been reduced significantly in recent years: The difference has long been put down (rightly or wrongly) to the potential of women to have babies, then take time out of their job to raise them– thus women get paid less.

    I certainly don’t agree with that reasoning/excuse, and I believe that that women should get equal pay– males and females are both human beings at the end of the day!

    It is worth pointing out that much anti-discrimination legislation on such grounds has been passed since that survey was commissioned, as Harriet Harman will be happy to tell you about– at great length no doubt ;)

  31. Yorkshireyank October 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Margaret Thatcher having been Prime Minister means that all the battles have been won?

    India had a woman prime minister before Thatcher was in office, and they still abort female fetuses there because girls are useless.

  32. Steve Shawcross October 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Good point about feminism not existing here: I think the reason for that, is because “all the battles have been won” as ardent feminist actress Lynda Bellingham said recently. I reckon people such as Germaine Greer would inclined to agree, she is nowhere near as strident as she used to be.

    I know a lady who was an ardent feminist in the 1970s, and she says the battle was won in the UK during 1980s. Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister confirmed that; if a woman can become PM, then anything is possible. Margaret Thatcher also was very encouraging for other women to forge a career for themselves, and make their presence felt in boardrooms.

    The need for feminism was truly over by the 1990s in the UK, with the declaration of “girl power” by the Spice Girls and the ladette culture. I’d say in the UK we’re in post-feminist culture now, especially with all the anti-discrimination laws we now have in place [shrugs]

    • yankeebean October 13, 2009 at 9:50 pm

      Oh Steve Steve Steve… Last year the Chartered Management Institute and salary-survey specialists CELRE found that the average female executive is earning £13,655 less than the average male executive. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/sep/18/women.equality)

      Femanism will be over when I earn the same amount of wonga for my hard work as the guy with the office next to mine…

  33. Yorkshireyank October 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Question – how do English women make friends with other English women?

    I mean, there must be times in the lives in English women when they have to pick up and move to new communities where they don’t know anybody, and the women already living there have already established their little cliques.

  34. MM October 11, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    My yank friends and I used to call that EBS, the “english blank stare”, where people just freeze in their tracks at any sign of warmth or friendliness. Don’t EVER attempt feminism there, it doesn’t exist.

    So happily back in San Francisco after 7 years over there :)

    • yankeebean October 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm

      MM – my favorite thing about EBS is that it sounds like IBS. Perfect… :)

      Consider the term officially adopted!

  35. Yorkshireyank September 26, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Great article. Now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve heard the word feminist once since I’ve lived in the UK.

    A while back, I was at a party with my husband and spent the time speaking to one of the few British women that I really like and get along with very well, although, unfortunately, I don’t see her that often.

    The next morning, my husband said to me, “It’s nice that you were speaking to Susan at the party, because most other women don’t like her.”

    I was very surprised by his statement.

    This women is intelligent, interesting, successful, dresses well, is good-looking and has a fantastic body for her age. If this were America, women would be jumping over each other to be friends with her. It seems that here, they only see her as competition.

    How sad.

  36. Yorkshireyank September 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t see myself as threatening.

    I find it sad that in the 21st century, women still treat other women as rivals, when we should be mentoring and supporting one another.

    I mean, in yankeebean’s original post, she talks about getting “the treatment” from British women at a networking event for women.

    If women are not going to be supportive of the other women there, then what was the point of the event?

    • peacefulyorkshire September 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Yorkshire Yank–
      I know what you mean about not feeling a bond with other women here, or at least supported by your female counterparts… The other day I was at my own PhD seminar and had “am an I alien or something?” type experience with two other women my age and doing a PhD topic very similar to me. I went and introduced myself to them at the tea break on recommendation of my supervisor. Note: I did this in a very casual, friendly non in-your-face way. I didn’t push, act too excited, I followed all the rules (as has been reported on this blog) . Well, it happened just as Yankeebean writes in her blog post: Unfortunately the two women just stared at me like I was well a creature from another planet. Like they didn’t understand English. They made no attempt at making any conversation or were they polite. Hard to believe that they will be able manage to get their higher degree with such poor social skills! It was so bizarre! Finally I just excused myself politely and walked away. I’m a bit used to that by now and just think that some British sisters have really poor manners!
      Anyway, I blogged about the lack of “Sisterhood in Britannia” a while back. You might find it interesting:

      Feminist, Late twenties, looking for sisterhood in Britain

      Enjoy !!
      Peaceful xx

  37. Steve Shawcross September 11, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Interesting post there Yorkshireyank.

    I’m very pleased that Yorkshiremen have the good grace and decency to speak with you, and rightly so. My father’s family are from Yorkshire, salt-of-the-earth people– Yorkshiremen are very friendly.

    I can only think that these women are somehow threatened by you? That you’re a confident, friendly, pleasant and intelligent woman– and they can’t hack it– so they feel ‘threatened’ by you somehow. I’m not trying blame you there– since it is they who should get over themselves and their jealousy.

    So no, I don’t think it’s anything to do with you personally. Our humour is not an issue with you, and you’re aggressive. I don’t think you’d have trouble in the East Midlands– we’re down-to-earth– but friendly!

  38. Yorkshireyank September 10, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    With me, sarcasm isn’t the issue. When I’m having a conversation with someone who is British, I can tell when they are joking and when they aren’t.

    With these women though, I don’t get to the point where they can be joking/sarcastic – they don’t even want to speak to me. Being sarcastic implies having a conversation with someone, and we haven’t gotten to that point.

    Calling someone a name other than by the one they wish to be called is just rude – it’s not an American thing. I’m sorry that you had to put up with that. (I have issues with British people mispronouncing my first name after they’ve heard me pronounce it correctly, so I think it’s less of a UK/US thing than a not listening/being stubborn thing.)

    The behaviour of the British women that I am talking about seems, to me, more than just about being quiet or reserved. There have been times when I’ve approached a British woman to speak to her or ask her a question, and she’s just stared right through me, with a blank expression, as though I don’t exist.

    I’m quiet and reserved myself, but if I want to avoid speaking to someone, I walk away before that person has a chance to approach me. Once it is obvious that someone wants to speak to me, they deserve eye contact, a smile and for me to listen and respond to what they have to say.

    There have been occasions when I’ve approach a group of British women, and they’ve immediately turned their backs to me and start talking among themselves. Or when I’ve been talking to a British woman, and a friend of hers came along, and she just walked away and started whispering to her friend.

    It really is like high school – well, not my actual high school experience – but a Hollywood movie about high school where the stuck-up popular girls keep to themselves and ostracize the new girl.

    Another thing that I find very strange is the way that men and women here in Yorkshire seem to have such completely different personalities. Men strike up conversations with me, and I find it easy to strike up conversations with them. (Which is why I don’t think I have an issue with the British sense of humour.) It’s not about flirting – I’m in my 40s, happily married, wear a wedding ring and I don’t wear particularly revealing clothing, and we end up talking about unsexy things like politics, the economy and global warming.

    If I try to make small talk with a British man, it turns into an interesting conversation.

    If I try to make small talk with a British woman, I get a blank stare and a bored look.

    I don’t understand that. In America, I find men and women to be equally friendly and equally easy to talk to. I don’t have one strategy for speaking to men and another for speaking to women.

  39. mrsmollon September 9, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I am fascinated by this post. I have worked with a number of lovely American women (in London) and often pondered on why (despite their obvious loveliness) I have struggled to warm to them. Some of the reasons I have struggled to articulate are here. One of them is not. I used to have a boss from Philadelphia. She was great and we remain in touch many years after parting ways. Now (and only now) can we joke about the fact that we just did not get each other’s sense of humour (this remains one of the only jokes we share!). She would often start laughing before my punchlines (politeness!), I would often be silent at the end of her jokes, not realising she had finished!

    We Brits also rely heavily on sarcasm and I often feel that Americans just think we are being plain mean (we’re not).

    I also concur with the fact that we usually find American women too forthright and direct (ok – read: scary). I now live in Dubai and come across many more Americans – when I first arrived I remember being horrified (so much so I called my Mum (who was horrified too!) when one American women shortened my name (Jennifer) to Jen on first meeting. Please note that “Jen” is only available after 6 months – minimum… I know this must sound daft, but just give us time, we’ll warm up, I promise.

  40. Steve Shawcross September 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Ah yes, we British teetotallers do exist :) I can’t stand the taste personally… others abstain for health reasons, others because they don’t like being drunk/hangovers, some people for cost and others because they are usually “the designated driver”. So teetotality is more common than you think here, I know a few non-boozers ;)

    However many British like getting drunk for whatever reason… depsite what some hysterical papers and nanny-state MP/experts claim, most Brits do know their limts and don’t anything stupid when drunk. Of course there are people who just have the one pint or glass of wine of an evening, because it helps them unwind ( and they enjoy the taste)– doing so can actually be beneficial to one’s health.

    Some Americans tell me the more restricted and reserved attitude to alcohol in the US is a hangover (excuse pun!) from the days of prohibtion. I don’t know whether you would agree with that, but we’ve always had a relaxed attitude to alcohol here right throughout history!

  41. Yorkshireyank September 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I can’t believe I found this! I am American (married to a Brit) and I live in York and I get the exact same response (THE LOOK) from British women here when I try to talk to them.

    I’m a quiet, introverted woman (not the stereotypical loud American) – in the past, people have sometimes made comments about me being too quiet – so it’s not about me being too pushy or in someone’s face.

    I don’t think smiling at someone and giving a polite “hello” is pushy – but that’s what gets me THE LOOK from British women.

    Not all British women behave this way towards me, but it has happened enough times with different British women.

    On the other hand, I have no trouble talking to British men.

  42. yankeebean August 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Hahahahahaa!! I was just looking at our stats and one of our top keyword phrases that people Google to find us is ‘British women scary’.

    That is flippin’ HILARIOUS…

    Although one reader also found us by searching for ‘cranky American girlfriend’ – whoops :)

    I should say that I’ve been using some of the tips mentioned by Redilocks (http://www.shesnotfromyorkshire.com/2009/08/07/how-to-make-friends-and-influence-people-english-style/) and they’re working a charm, though. It’s starting to look like I can turn things to my favour! Huzzah!

  43. FriskyTurtle August 27, 2009 at 2:19 am

    I’ve heard of others like you, English teetotaller. Similar to Sasquatch, I know it possibly could exist but have yet to see it for myself. Have had similar conversations with the husband over his nightly ritual of a pre-bed tipple.

    To be fair to my German friend, she says what’s on her mind. But that’s why I like her! It’s refreshing.

    • yankeebean August 27, 2009 at 8:09 am

      I have a German friend that’s really good at ‘saying it like it is’ (in fact there’s a post about her), but the thing that amazes me the most is that she can say it without offending anyone (at least as far as I can tell).

      I can’t quite put my finger on how she does it, or I’d do it, too. Either she has the equivalent of a super-power or I’m really good at putting my foot in my mouth.

      Probably both…

  44. Steve Shawcross August 26, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I think you’re German friend does have a point, albeit hyperbolic.

    Alcohol is just part of our socialising, when going out on the town, unless you are a “designated driver”. A lot of people use it to relax and unwind for themselves (to de-stress in other words), and there is probably an element of pressure to be fun(ny) when you don’t feel like it– alcohol helps relieve that!

    There is also a historic reason for our boozy ways. Until the early 20th century, alcohol was often far safer to drink than the local water supply, especially in cities– even babies were given beer! So it was a staple part of our diet.

    Of course since Victorian times we now have comprehensive water treatment facilities and ultra-clean water supplies: Whilst technology has moved on, our ingrained regular fondness for booze has not quite left us! Although giving alcohol to under-threes is illegal ;)

    It was unfair for German friend to generalise though: I’m tee-total, and I don’t need booze to talk to strangers, enjoy myself or network– and know plenty people who are the same– so worry not :)

  45. FriskyTurtle August 26, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Coincidentally, myself and 2 other ex-pats female friends (one American, one German) were commenting on this very subject only last week and how it all ties in to alcohol consumption. The German friend who has lived in the UK for 28 years said “I love hanging out with you (American) gals because you don’t need a half bottle of wine to be outgoing and personable”. She did have a point as I can’t think of many experiences where I’ve had a good, long chat with a random British woman outside of a bar or pub.

    Next time, hit the networking meeting after you’re sure they’ve all had a few glasses of wine first. Your experience will be MUCH smoother, methinks.

  46. Steve Shawcross July 29, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I can sympathesise with you on this one. Personally I don’t mind strangers making conversation with me, as long as they are friendly and assertive. If you were to come up to me, I wouldn’t feel threatened at all (OK I’m not female, but…)

    However many people find some Americans to be too ‘in-your-face’ (rightly or wrongly), and that aggressive method can be off-putting some people– it’s threatening for some people sadly.

    I know you are being facetious when you say: “Hey! English chick! I’m not going to bite you! I’m not going to steal your boyfriend! I’m not going to sprout wings and dive-bomb you! I’m not going to beam you up to the mother-ship!”.

    Ironically that could come across as baleful, if you project that polemic– you may unwittingly do this? My advice would not be too pushy… a gentle trickle of water rather a full-on power shower– if that makes sense!!!

    Yes, there are a few snotty types (mostly in southern England) who won’t take kindly to you, but are they worth bothering with? They have the problem not you… you come across as very friendly and affable to me– I don’t there’s anything wrong with you.

    On a side note I thought that quote from Thomas Wentworth Higginson was unfair, and one of those American misconceptions about culture I feel…

    I think the British have high self-awareness (sometimes too high maybe), and we don’t like to unduly invade people’s privacy– we like our peace and quiet– hard to get on our crowded islands. So when you see people sitting in silence on the bus, train (wherever), it’s probably because they are pysching up/winding down from a busy day at the office or bustling through crowds of shoppers– or just meditating generally.

    That said most people will be happy to have a conversation with you in the UK, we know what you are Americans are like [cheeky wink]. I will indulge you, if nobody else will!

  47. Hope G July 22, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I have been in Lincolnshire for a year now, and while I find most of the folks friendly enough, I find the women my age to be very unwilling to do more than the required ‘hello-and-isn’t-the-weather-lovely’ sort of thing. The neighbour lady shoots daggers at me when she sees me (I think she thinks I am after her husband coz he and I chat alot), but the ladies that buy eggs from me are ever so friendly…so who knows. I find that the folks who are the friendliest are ones who have been to America and have some sense of the lifestyle and culture.


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  49. Michelloui May 23, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Hmmm… I must admit I do know The Look, but I have several points to contribute for the other side of this!

    I’ve been to several all women’s networking events and what I loved most about them was that everyone was so open and friendly and ready to do the gung ho ‘here’s my card what do you do’ networking gig. I remember returning home after the first one and telling my husband ‘how American’ it was!

    I worked for a while in recruitment and I found being American (and relaxed about making friends) an advantage.

    One of my closest friends is Australian and she has also been in the UK about 19 years and we both joke about ‘how English’ some people are, meaning ‘stereotypically friendship-frigid’ but it is mostly the older generation we find.

    And finally, living in Essex I have found people really much friendlier initially than when I lived in Northumberland–although for the record (and for any Geordies reading this!) I should add that once I got to know people in Northumberland they were very warm!

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  51. kenandbelly December 2, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I’ll commiserate with you! I thank heavens that most of my social life with Brits at the moment involves other mothers. (Though the majority of my social life involves other international students and their partners). At least with the other “mums” we have the kids as common conversational ground. The mums at the playgroup we attend were really taken aback at first but I think they’re now used to me. I’m pretty reserved for an American, though.

    Maybe Manchester is a bit less insular than Yorkshire in that many of the Brit women I know have spent time in the US, so that helps, too. Still, you’re so right on about the high-schoolishness of the atmosphere! Everyone’s so awkward (at first)!

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  54. An American Girl in the UK November 9, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Loved this! :)
    For a laugh, have a look at this. I think you will agree:


  55. pacificyorkshirebird November 7, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I know that look! I’m constantly being subtly reminded that I am breaking social rules with THAT look. I still try to shake people’s hand and English women have no idea how to react to that. Sometimes I hold my right arm back with my left hand when meeting new people.

    Once, I said something to a boss that I thought might have come across as brash and too forward. The next morning I came in and apologised for it and the best thing happened. She said “Have I never told you that my mother is American? Don’t worry about it. You are fine darling.” I was so relieved… and I miss working for her!

    I can see why we are intimidating so some English ladies. But for a culture that is supposed to be so refined and well-mannered, they sure are good at saying what they think without saying anything at all.

  56. peacefulyorkshire November 7, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Good for you— for making the effort to go network and taking that step for your business!

    “The Englishman’s strong point is his vigorous insularity; that of the American his power of adaptation. Each of these attitudes has its perils. The Englishman stands firmly on his feet, but he who merely does this never advances. The American’s disposition is to step forward even at the risk of a fall.”
    –Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911), U.S. clergyman, author

  57. yankeebean July 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Hope!

    I completely agree about the English women that have spent time in America before – there’s definitely a different reaction there. One thing I’m realising over time is that I’m part of the reason English women don’t warm to me. I’m really outgoing and a little loud and I think the reaction I interpret as mean, is actually some kind of confusion or sensory overload. Probably something to do with my forward attitude, loud(ish) voice, and copious hand-waving.

    I’m starting to get into a little bit of a flow where this is concerned and I’m getting better. I make a firm effort not to take any reaction personally and just keep asking more questions to see if we can find a subject we’re both excited about. This is the ultimate key.

    If the conversation comes to screeching halt, I just come out and ask, ‘So what’s you’re favourite thing to do in the whole world?’. That question has a good success rate in my experience…

    Anyway, I know it takes two to tango – so if English women don’t seem to want to tango with me it can’t be all their fault.

    But, bloody hell, it’s taken me a long time to start feeling and thinking this way. Reading our readers’ comments has been a big part of what’s helped me start to sort out my head. You guys freakin’ ROCK!

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