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Dating the Danes | First date (the Kiwi's view)
When I first arrived here I met a guy at a friend’s party who I instantly liked. He was fun, cute, and knew that a ‘kiwi’ was not just a person but a large brown bird. So I asked him out. Granted I didn’t use the ‘date’ word but I thought it was obvious – any situation past 8pm at night that involves a man and a women getting together with the intention of having a good time is a date. Period. Not so according to the Danish rules of courtship.
Four months later, after films, drinks, a double date, a bit of hand holding under the guise “let me help you so you don’t slip on the ice” (funny that the ‘ice’ lasted for a kilometre) and I’m thinking this is going great ... I knew perfectly well we weren’t a couple, but I definitely thought we were on the way to something. So after much frustration one night when my flirting techniques were really getting me NOWHERE, I said the three forbidden words in the Danish Dating Dictionary: “I like you”. From the look on his face you’d think I’d said: “I love you”. He was in shock.
Needless to say he thought we were “just friends”.
You see, the Danish rules state that unless explicitly stated no man or woman is your date/love interest/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner until explicitly stated. Until then you should feel free to act as openly as you like: flirt as much as you like even if you have no intention of following through, spend long-drawn out periods of time together sharing your most intimate secrets, introduce them to your parents, and bring them back cute trinkets whenever you travel.
The line between friendship and dating here is horribly messed up. The fact that Danish men (and women) pursue purely platonic relationships with the opposite sex has meant their dating culture suffers badly.
So here’s the big mistake I made here: I tried to play the Danish dating game according to New Zealand rules: if we like someone we ask them out (heaven forbid) out loud, we flirt with the objects of our affections and not with our friends, and we consider the opposite sex a thing to ‘date’ not to ‘befriend’.
The Danes didn’t accept them. Most Danes consider a solid friendship as the only way to start a relationship – the thought of an ‘awkward’ date or blunt comment like “I like you” is way too much for them to handle.
Most Danes I know have hooked up with half their friends and dated about a quarter of them. Furthermore they don’t consider it weird (quite the opposite) to shamelessly flirt to the point that any normal human being would consider it a sign they’re into you.
My advice to any foreign woman here is to forget whatever rules you thought applied. Here in Denmark it’s a whole new ball game. There are no fouls, no outs, no red cards and of course no rule books. While much of the time I would like to hand out red cards to Danish men – I can’t – although I can try to twist the game in my favour.