This article originally appeared on VICE Germany
At the end of 2015, Yvonne Eisenring decided to quit her job, leave her apartment and travel the world looking for love. Tel Aviv, Havana, New York, Hamburg, Rome – in one year she visited 12 countries, had over 50 dates and then, when she got back, wrote a book about her experiences. I got in touch with her to find out if it's really easier to fall in love when dating is your full-time job.
VICE: Was your job so stressful that you had to take tim off to find a date?
Yvonne Eisenring: I started working when I was 20. I was one of the youngest TV reporters in Switzerland. When I turned 27, I realised that I hadn't been in love for a while and asked myself why. I wanted to see if falling in love is more likely to happen, when you have free time and no responsibilities. Some friends thought it was a brave thing to do, others worried that I was gambling with my career.
If I had taken that year off to do some postgraduate training, then nobody would have thought twice about it, since it would have been a good thing for my career. But with falling in love, you never know if it's worth it.
So, we're capitalists when it comes to love?
We're very performance-oriented. Everything we do has to result in something. And since being in love doesn't yield immediate results, we choose to spend our time on our bodies, our careers or our social media profiles instead. You only have time to meet someone between leaving the office and going to the gym.
Isn't it performance-oriented to treat falling in love like a project?
That's not what I did. It's not like I signed up for all the dating platforms like Parship and OkCupid and sought out my one true love. I just started traveling to see what happens when you have more time and more headspace. Friends would set me up with men – or guys would just talk to me on the street and I had the time to respond. I only actually used Tinder in New York and Hamburg. I wouldn't have met anyone in Hamburg if I hadn't used Tinder.
Did any of the men you dated live up to any national stereotypes?
In order to say, "Cubans are like this," and "Germans are like that," I would have had to have dated 5,000 men, not 50. But certain clichés were confirmed. In Cuba, I actually did go salsa dancing a lot, and my date told me I was the most beautiful woman he'd ever met within five minutes. New Yorkers never wanted to commit – they were always waiting to see if there was someone better around the corner. Dating seemed to be a hobby for them.
The Italians that I met were easygoing and paid me a lot of compliments. And they actually did talk about their mothers a lot. For example they'd say, "The carbonara in this restaurant is good, but my mother's is better." I also noticed that in Italy the differences between genders were more emphasised: men and women seem to be a mystery to each other in the South of Europe, but they all seem to like it that way.
With Germans, the cliches weren't true. A lot of my German dates were funny and sarcastic. They were able to laugh at themselves and they all looked good. I think people in Central Europe have an unjustly bad reputation when it comes to romance.
What did you think about the British?
I only met Londoners. One of them actually visited me for a weekend in Vienna afterwards. He was very polite and funny, and a true gentleman. After we had been out all day together, he changed into a white, button-down shirt for dinner in a restaurant. I thought that was cute, but a bit much. But London was like any of the other big cities for me – people have very little time and too many choices.
In general, I was surprised to find that men all over the world are hustling to find love. There is that cliché that men don't care about finding love. But I don't think that's true at all. Some even booked flights to see me again and really put themselves out there.
What was the worst date you've had in the last year?
One time, I was talking to my date about how we both like to sing. He started belting an Italian aria in the middle of a café. His voice was actually good but it was at four in the afternoon and we hadn't had anything to drink.
What did you learn from your time off?
The most important thing I learned was that it's worth to take the risk, and focus on your private life. Some people are afraid of losing control, or of getting hurt. Falling in love shakes you up. It's strange that people will put so much effort into their careers but don't want to invest anything in love.
Did you find love, then?
I don't want to say because that would be giving away the end of my book. All I'll say is that I'm very happy at the moment.
So many rom-coms are based on the idea that you only fall in love when you least expect it. Is that an illusion?
You can't hunt for love, but it does help to get around and keep your eyes open. Of course you can bump into the love of your life in the supermarket. But if your head is filled with other stuff, you'll just keep walking on. You have to take the time to allow for accidents to happen. You have to set the stage so that love can make its entrance.