‘Friendship in Denmark is a slow-growing plant’


I was in London this week, and did a little fall wardrobe shopping. I got tired after walking for awhile, and it was lunchtime, so I sat down in a pub. I had a beer and a fish and chips and a British guy next to me was also having a beer and fish and chips and so we just chatted through lunch. We talked about politics, the weather, the job market. After lunch, we waved goodbye and I went back to shopping. I never found out his name.

The reason I mention this is that it never could have happened in Denmark. Danes don’t talk to strangers. They talk to their friends. The idea of a casual lunch with someone you will never see again makes no sense to them.


Foreigners often say it’s hard to make friends in Denmark. This is because Danes take friendship very seriously. A friendship is a commitment, often a lifetime commitment. You will often meet adult Danes who have friends they met in kindergarten.

Acquaintances and no-obligation friends
For you, as a foreigner, this can be tough. Danes don’t really have the idea of ‘an acquaintance’ – they have the word, en bekendte, but it isn’t used very often. If you were in some other countries, an acquaintance might invite you, maybe your partner, over for dinner and then, three months later, you’d invite the acquaintance and her partner and maybe it would continue and maybe it wouldn’t.

That light, no-obligation friendship – Danes don’t do that. In Denmark, friendship is an obligation, and a trust. Friends don’t let each other down. So, when a Dane meets you, he may think ahhhh he’s a great guy, but I really don’t have room for another friend. I have no time to see the friends I have. Meaning, the people he’s known since he was three years old.

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 2021

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Avatar
    Reply Joana April 16, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    For Danish people having lunch with someone they’ll never see again doesn’t make sense, but having sex with someone they’ll never see again does make sense. Welcome to Denmark

  • Avatar
    Reply An OLd Exchange Student August 14, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    If only had I heard this podcast in 2010 when I was an exchange student. Coming from a strak different culture (India) where you become good friends with one another within a month, I fealt ostrasized the year i had lived in Denmark. We dont have the concepts of ‘making plans’, we are a spontaneous country. It was brutal for the 17 years old me.

    I find there’s a strange conundrum in DK, Danes have a very high level of trust in their countrymen, stark higher than what an average Indian would have in a fellow Indian. Abiet this, I find it weird that within 6 months Danes would form friendship level equivalent of what Indians would do in 1 month.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.