Navigating your way through the dating scene can be hard enough at times but when you are quite literally speaking a different language it can feel downright impossible.
A survey carried out on the expat community in Europe shone the spotlight on what it’s like to date someone from a different culture and what to expect.
A European affair
The survey on European dating included responses from around 500 expats living in a series of countries on the continent: Spain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Participants were probed on a number of intimate subjects including how they viewed themselves, their relationships and also their sex lives.
Whilst every relationship is of course an individual entity, some patterns emerged about the dating scene which could be useful to know for an individual arriving from a different country.
The importance of making friends
One of the most common factors which quickly became apparent is that in Europe, ‘asking someone out’ who you don’t know is a relatively rare occurrence. Instead, most people get to know potential partners through friends and in community groups and only once comfortably acquainted suggest going out on a date.
But it seems that once things are moving in the right direction, there are no set rules about what to expect and when. Responses received indicated that whether to kiss – or more! – on the first date were very much an individual thing, with a sexual relationship developing almost immediately in some cases whilst in others taking some time to emerge. Expats taking part in the poll said there were no cultural rules about the pace of relationships.
Getting things started
Making the first move was one of the few areas where different countries showed a distinct preference for either the man or the woman getting things moving.
In Switzerland, many expats felt that the woman needed to be the instigator as very frequently the man would hold back until given the green light.
However, this was very much not the case in France, Spain, Germany and Belgium where it is far more commonplace for the man to be the one to ask a woman out on a date.
In actual fact, Spain and France retain a rather traditional approach with a lot of emphasis on the chase. What this means in practice is that if a woman refuses, her suitor may just think she is playing hard to get and keeping him guessing! For this reason, if the answer is a definite no, it’s essential to make this absolutely clear – politely of course! – as relying on subtle hints won’t get through.
Where your date might take you
You may well be used to going for a dinner in a restaurant, or possibly a drink in a bar but dating continental-style can mean some very alternative venues.
Walks in the park or around the city in either the afternoon or evening are common affairs, and if all goes well you might move on to a casual bite to eat in a cafe or a drink.
Exercise is certainly a common theme as in the Netherlands a bike ride is one of the most popular ways to spend a date.