Dating

Dating, How To Date in Denmark, Stories about life in Denmark

Dating in Denmark: Get Drunk and Find Your True Love

This essay is from a series I wrote in co-operation with the Danish tabloid BT in 2003, shortly after I arrived in Denmark. The line drawings are my own.

On my very first night in Copenhagen, I went with an American girlfriend to a downtown discotheque. I’m a blonde, and she’s an attractive black woman, so you could say we had something for every taste.

We sat at a table roughly the size of a pizza. Three men sat across from us, a distance of approximately 25 centimeters. For an hour. Without saying anything. I think Zulus or spacemen would have found some way to communicate with us, but this was apparently beyond the capability of three well-educated Danes.

Finally, fortified by gin and tonics, we spoke to them first, and they turned out to be nice guys. But that was a lucky night: Since moving here, I have been to many a discoteque where women shake their booty with their girfriends for hours while men watch with pretend disinterest from the sidelines, their eyes radiating invisible beams of desire: Please, miss, ask me to dance.

Dating in Denmark
How do Danish men and women meet each other? I know it happens; the streets are full of Danish babies. But much like other reported miracles, such as Christ walking on water or an American president delivering a speech he wrote himself, it’s something I’ve never seen with my own eyes.

For one thing, Danish people seem to think that talking to strangers is uncouth. Ask Danish men why they don’t chat up women, and they say that women don’t want to be approached. They’ll make fun of you; they’ll think you’re desperate. They’ll think you want something from them.

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What men want of course, is the same thing that has produced a world population currently approaching 7 billion. Most women want the same thing, although they’d probably like it to last longer than three minutes. Yet you see Danish men and women in parks in the summer, sitting alone on blankets, or in cafes in the winter surrounded by their buddies or girlfriends with their hair carefully gelled, lonely and horny but contemptous of anyone who dares to approach.

Extreme drunkenness is socially acceptable
The icebreaker of course, is alcohol, and I have little doubt that if it vanished from the Earth tomorrow Danes would never reproduce. It didn’t take me long to learn that in Danish parties and nightclubs, there was a window of time, roughly from 1am to 3am, where social interaction was possible. Before 1am, Danish men weren’t drunk enough to talk, and after 3, they were too drunk to talk.

Extreme drunkeness seems to be the accepted way to meet that special someone, as explained to me in the days when I still was seeking a Danish boyfriend.

“What you do,” a Danish girlfriend explained to me, “is you get trashed and go home with somebody. Then in the morning you decide if you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend.”

This one-night stand culture is very difficult for foreigners to understand. One-night stands certainly take place in the US, but it is something unusual and embarassing, like making a lot of money in Denmark.

What do we tell the kids?
Here, drunken sex with a complete stranger seems to be the hopeful prelude to a serious relationship, possibly marriage. If children result from this, it is hard to imagine what their parents tell them about the night Mom and Dad first met. My grandparents once told me that they met outside a Depression-era dance hall, since my unemployed grandmother didn’t have the 10 cents necessary to get in, but maybe I just didn’t hear the whole story.

Which leads me back to dancing. Here is what I have learned: in Denmark, it is bad manners to ask a girl to dance, but it is good manners to get very drunk, make sure she is drunk too, and ask her to come back to your place. She will quite likely say yes, if only in a misguided audition for the role of girlfriend, leaving you both a little sad and bitter the next morning.

Long ago, before I ever thought of living here, a Danish woman told me that her country was a place with a lot of sex but not very much love. I wonder.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2019

Dating, How To Date in Denmark, Stories about life in Denmark

Danish Men: Not John Wayne

This essay is from a series I wrote in co-operation with the Danish tabloid BT in 2003, shortly after I arrived in Denmark. The line drawings are my own.

When I first came to Denmark, people kept asking me what I thought about Danish men. It seemed like a weird question. Why didn’t they ask what I thought about Danish weather (bad) or Danish food (bad), or, for that matter, Danish women and children? (very nice, in my experience).

I soon learned their interest in Danish men was a variation on the famous German saying: Man spricht uber das, was man nicht hat. (You talk about what you don’t have.) There are NOT a lot of men in Denmark, although there is quite a bounty of tall, timid boys.

While the culture of egalitarianism has done some great things for Denmark – where else will you see tattooed musclemen pushing baby carriages? – it has led to a terrific siphoning off of testosterone. Danish men seem too timid to do anything that makes men men, such as taking risks, taking initiative, or enjoying the pure thrill of the chase. Don’t return a Frenchman’s calls, and he will become intrigued and pursue you until the end of the Earth. Don’t return a Dane’s phone call (singular) and he will forget the whole thing.

Either that, or worse, he will sit home and sulk about it. Last year, I briefly dated a good-looking triathlete, a guy with a hot job and a fancy car, the kind of guy that in New York would have arrogance preceding him into the room like a bad after shave. Three days after a single unreturned phone call, I got a tremulous email from him.15-1

You haven’t called I wonder if this is because you don’t like me please , if I am bothering you, let me know.

For a girl used to American macho, this was about as expected like John Wayne asking for second coat of nail polish.

This is not to say that American men are perfect: they wear baseball caps everywhere but the shower, and their idea of child care often involves letting the child sit beside them while they watch basketball on TV.

But I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I must say that the relations between the sexes in Denmark are the strangest I’ve ever seen. The women do everything: they initiate, they seduce, they even get on top, and the men seem to expect it. “I want to be scored,” a drunken colleague once confessed to me. Imagine John Wayne saying that.

I know that when you choose to live in a foreign country, as I have, you must learn to adapt to local culture. I have learned that expecting a door to be held open for me is an invitation to get hit in the face with a door. I have struggled home with large packages while male neighbors just cheerfully wave hello. Wearing high heels and a skirt, I have wrestled my bike out from a pile of collapsed junkers while hefty workmen smoked cigarettes against the bike rack.

But I don’t know if ever get used to the timidity factor. Three months ago, my co-workers set me up on a blind date with a 36-year old man Danish man who had built a successful international company. We arranged to meet in a small cafe downtown, and since I was there a bit early, I got a cup of coffee and sat alone at a table near the door. Apart from the waiter and a group of elderly Swedes, I was the only one in the place.

My date arrived on time, and when I saw him coming through the door, I was pleased. He was a real looker, tall and athletic. He saw me, smiled, and went to the bar. Fair enough, I thought. He’ll order himself a cup of coffee, and then come sit down.

And he did sit down. He sat down at the bar, and took to looking out the doorway.

He sat there. I sat there. He sat there, staring out the door.

Could he not see me? Did he think I was late? Was he waiting for somebody better to come along?

Or, as I now suspect, was he simply waiting for me to make the first move? Was he waiting for me to get up from the table where I was sitting, walk across the room (carrying my unfinished coffee), and introduce myself?

Sadly, I’ll never know, because after the 15 minutes it took me to figure out what was required of me, Mr. Wonderful got up and left.

What do I think of Danish men? I have heard that they are wonderful, that they are warm, funny, thoughtful, and sexy. I hear that they are the prototype for men of the 21st century. I am looking forward to meeting one.
 

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).

 

Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2019