Swedes might not be known for their talkative ways, but more so for their good looks and very polite manners. So dating the Swedes might not always be as easy as you think. If you’re in Sweden for Valentine’s Day and about to go on your first date with a Swede, here are some insights on what you could/should expect.
Gender equality is serious business
Sweden is one of the world’s most equal countries when it comes to gender equality and the norms of what a date could look like. So the dating scene has undergone a total makeover the last 30 years or so. Even though many countries have adapted to the same, more liberal norms, Sweden has probably taken it one step further. It is just as usual for a woman to ask a man out, as it is the opposite. In fact, many think it is necessary if there should be any dating at all. Also on the date, as a girl, you shouldn’t expect that the man will pick up the check after the dinner or “fika”, usually people pay for themselves. And as a man, assuming that you should pay may be considered rude as it would suggest the woman can’t pay for herself, although she can and wants to. Something some might find a bit strange. The success factor of a date depends equally as much on the man as the woman. As a woman, don’t expect your date to hold up the door or pull out your chair.
First dates are casual dates
If it’s your first time dating a Swede and you are hoping for a candlelight dinner at a fancy restaurant? Think again. It is not very unusual that the first date will include going bowling, hiking or playing pool and drinking beer. Or simply going to a bar for a drink. Of course there’s also the candlelight types out there, but most often the first date will a “testing the waters” of sorts to see if there’s anything there worth investing time and energy into. After some time, the dating might get to the next level with more lavish activities.
Stay humble or else you stumble
Swedes tend to live by the law of Jante (Jantelagen), which means that you should not brag or think that you’re better than someone else. This is deeply rooted in the Swedes and therefore boasting yourself or your accomplishments will most likely end up being perceived as extremely unattractive. Not staying humble will make you stumble.
Conversations mean listening (and drinking)
Although Swedes aren’t the most chatty people on the planet, they’re really good listeners and genuinely interested in getting to know another person, which is very nice. As in any conversation, there needs to be a balance between talking and listening, so if you really want to impress your Swedish date, remember to listen as much as you talk. Once the Swede feels comfortable, you’ll notice that they aren’t afraid of asking straightforward questions. This might also have something to do with the alcohol you’re (most likely) drinking. Swedish alcohol culture might seem a bit strange as most Swedes tend to consume alcohol only (or mostly) during weekends, and not as much in the middle of the week. One reason might be that Swedes take their job and responsibilities very seriously. Being hungover at work simply won’t fly.
What happens next?
Anyone who is Swedish or who has already dated a Swede knows that what happens after the first date can be a bit confusing. It is very important that you don’t get ahead of yourself and leap to any conclusions about the success of the date. Swedes are not very quick to show their emotions and usually both men and women play it cool after the first date, even though they might be interested. It is very important not to be perceived as needy or obtrusive, so control your enthusiasm while texting your Swedish fling (by the way you should always text, not call). If it’s meant to be it’ll be, if you just play it smooth. If your first date was bad, just delete the number and go for a party next weekend. There’s a Swede for everybody!
If you’ve already been on your first date with a Swede and need to step up the romantic game in your relationship, here are some romantic tips for couples in Stockholm.
(Note: This post was written by a Swede with a Swedish perspective on what people from different cultures and countries might perceive as different when dating a Swedish person.