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

Dating Danish Women: A guide for the foreign man

I get a lot of mail from readers of this site, but a lot of the mail I get is on one particular topic.

Here’s one from this week, from Teddy in Ghana: I WANT TO KNOW IF DANES WOMEN WILL DATE A GHANAIAN MAN. I AM VERY MUCH INTERESTED. And one from last month, from Alex: “Hi, I’d like to know if Danish girls would date a bi-racial Brazilian guy.” And one from late last year: “I’m a gay African American male who would like to date a Dane. Any advice?”

Basically, a lot of the mail I get is from men, wanting to know how they can get some action in Denmark.

I can understand this. Danes are very beautiful. And I can tell you now, most of them will not immediately reject you because you have a different skin color. I know of several babies of mixed heritage here in Denmark.

While I can’t offer any personal insights on gay dating in Denmark, I can tell you that male-female dating in Denmark is hard, even for the Danes, and it will probably be hard for you too.

Usual tactics won’t work
That’s because the process that works in much of the rest of the Western world doesn’t work in Denmark. In most parts of the world, a man will see a woman he likes, and he’ll approach her. He’ll try to start a conversation. Maybe he’ll ask if he can buy her a coffee, or some other type of drink. If they’re in a nightclub, he might ask her if she’d like to dance, or maybe go outside and get some fresh air.

These tactics will get you nowhere in Denmark. In fact, they will get you rejected, and then you’ll worry that that you’re being rejected because you’re a foreigner. No. Danes are not good with strangers, any type of stranger. Generally, they don’t talk to strangers. They talk to their friends.

I’ll tell you how to get around this in a minute.

Don’t tell her how much money you make
But first, let me tell you another thing that will get you rejected. I’ll call it Manhattan behavior, because it was the way people dated when I lived in New York City. Men would tell a lady how much money they made, and how much money they were going to make, how much power and influence they had, and how expensive their watch was.

This will get you nowhere in Denmark. First of all, if you have money in Denmark, the government’s going to take it all away. The tax department will have your number, real fast.

Second of all, Denmark is a very non-hierarchal society, very flat structure. I think it’s fair enough to say most women will prefer a man with a steady job, but saying you have a top management position just means that you have to spend a lot of time working and not as much time with your family and friends. That’s not very Danish.

Show off your good works
So instead, if you want to impress a Danish woman, talk about how your work benefits society at large, particularly how it benefits people who don’t have a lot of resources.

For example, there are a lot of foreign engineers in Denmark. Don’t tell a girl, as I have seen done, yeah, I’m an engineer, it’s pretty boring. No, say, I’m an engineer, and I’m helping people in developing nations access clean water.

Hmmm…pretty good. Another way to impress a Danish women is showing how your work benefits the environment. I’m a petroleum engineer. My job is to rethink drilling to minimize the danger to the environment.

Hmmm…sounds great. Creative industries, like design, and digital media, and video, are also popular in Denmark. Whatever you do, frame it in a way to show how it’s helping people. I really suggest guys prepare a little speech to this extent before they start to meet women in Denmark. 2 or 3 sentences, that’s all it takes.

As a matter of fact, if you’re hoping to meet women in Denmark, do a little preparation beforehand.

For example, check out how the local guys your age have their hair cut, and what they’re wearing. I’ve seen foreign guys in nightclubs with tight business shirts and shiny business shoes on, and they’re getting nowhere. Do some reconnaissance first, maybe do some shopping. Danes are casual, but not sloppy.

And light on the cologne, guys. It’s actually not necessary at all, but if you insist, use a very, very light touch.

Meet the guys first
Now, as I promised, back to how to meet women in the first place. Danes, as I mentioned, aren’t very good with strangers. They talk to their friends.

What you need to do is come into their circle of friends. I suggest talking to one of the guys in the group. Talk to him about sports, the deejay, how he knows the host if you’re at a house party. And after a few minutes of chatting with him, you can ask him if who that girl in the brown jacket is, and if she’s here with a boyfriend. If she’s available, now you know the lady’s name, and she’s seen you with someone in her group, so you’re a complete stranger any more.

Go over and introduce yourself, and say you hear that she’s a petroleum engineer, whose job is to rethink drilling to minimize the danger to the environment. And that’s fascinating, because you really care about the environment. And I think you can take it from there.

This is somewhat how the Danes do it themselves, except that there’s a lot of alcohol involved.

Basically, Danes go through all the same steps, but they’re very shy, so they do it while drinking a bottle of wine, or sometimes a bottle of vodka. If alcohol vanished from the Earth, so would romance in Denmark.
 

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

Dating Danish Men: A guide for the foreign woman

I saw a movie this week. It was the latest in long-running series called Father of Four. The series has been running since the Fifties. As the kids grow up, they just replace them with new actors.

Anyway, in this episode, there was a romance. The oldest sister, who’s about 20, meets a handsome young man with a guitar. What struck me watching the movie was that the male romantic lead was visibly shorter than the female lead. I’d say at least a couple of centimeters shorter, maybe an inch.

Now, in Hollywood, they’d have that guy standing on a box, to look taller, or have the actress standing in a hole, to look shorter. In the Danish film, there was no attempt to hide it. They had them walk side by side through a meadow. I had to admit, I couldn’t focus on the love scene. I kept thinking. He’s really short, or maybe she’s really tall.

Not the dominant figure
In Hollywood – or Bollywood – movies, the male actor is taller because he’s supposed to be in charge, the dominant figure. But that’s not true in Danish romance. The man is NOT in charge.

This means a lot if you’re a foreign woman dating a Danish man. He is a not a Frenchman who will pursue you to the ends of the earth. He doesn’t send flowers, he doesn’t buy chocolates. He doesn’t take you in his arms and kiss you until you’re breathless. If you are a romance novelist, the Danish man is not your dream man.

If you’re a feminist, a Danish man IS your dream man. He will cook and help with the housework. He will take being a father seriously. He’ll spend time with the kids. He’ll take your opinion seriously. He doesn’t force himself on you. In fact, you may have to force yourself on him. But if you do, he’ll usually be really grateful.

Danish women carry their own packages
Why are Danish men like this? I’ve asked my Danish male friends, and they say they’re reacting to Danish women. Danish women, they say, like to do things for themselves. They don’t want some clown opening the door for them, or helping them carry packages. They can carry their own packages. My Danish male friends say that after offering to be chivalrous a couple of times and getting turned down in a nasty manner, they don’t want to do that any more.

So, the Danish male approach is largely passive. They wait to see if the woman is interested. I get a lot of mail from non-Danish women trying to figure out if the Danish man they’re dating is interested in them. He’s really happy when I call him, but he never calls me.

I honestly don’t know what to tell them. I mean, I come from a culture where men whistle at beautiful women they don’t know walking down the street.

When I first moved to Denmark, I thought I’d stopped hearing whistles because I’d aged out of the whistle target group. But I’ve since established that beautiful young women don’t get whistled at either. Danish men do not want to offend women.

Sometimes err on the soft side
Now, I’m a modern woman, and I like a lot of things about these modern men. But they can occasionally err a bit on the soft side.

For example, a few weeks ago, we had a big storm in Denmark, and it knocked down some large trees. Before the local government came to collect them, some people were sawing off bits for free firewood, or to make furniture, or other arts and crafts project.

On our street, there was a very large tree down, and as I was walking by that Saturday, I saw a young couple trying to take part of it home. The small, slender young woman was sawing away at this big tree with an old-fashioned manual saw, while her boyfriend was just standing there, smiling, with his hands in his pockets.

Now, I don’t know what was going on.

Maybe he had a back injury – he was about 25, so maybe had a very youthful back injury. Maybe he was a professional hand model and couldn’t risk his fingernails on a messy metal saw. Or maybe he was a big wimp who was willing to let his girlfriend saw a giant tree stump while he stood there, acting like a giant tree stump. Who knows?
 

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, Podcasts

Dating in Denmark, Part 1: Meeting Danish women; a guide for the foreign man

 

Dating in Denmark is hard, even for the Danes, and it will probably be hard for you too.
That’s because the dating process that works in much of the rest of the Western world doesn’t work in Denmark. In most parts of the world, a man will see a woman he likes, and he’ll approach her. He’ll try to start a conversation. Maybe he’ll ask if he can buy her a coffee, or some other type of drink. If they’re in a nightclub, he might ask her if she’d like to dance, or maybe go outside and get some fresh air.

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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.

partyscene-700x460

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

Stories about life in Denmark

Politeness in Denmark: Some thoughts on Danish etiquette

“Is there politeness in Denmark?”

That was the question I was recently invited on a national TV show to discuss.

The implication was that I was supposed to say that Danes were not at all polite, because effusive praise and cheerful agreement make for a rather dull TV show.

But Danes are not impolite. They have their own version of courteous behaviour, which is based on reinforcing aspects of their culture that they care about.

Chivalry died so feminism could live
Gender equality, for example. Gone are the days when a gentleman would pull out a chair for a lady or walk on the outside of the sidewalk to protect her from mud and rogue horses.

Chivalry died so feminism could live. No one expects the modern Danish man to take off his costly high-performance all-weather rain jacket and put it over a puddle so a lady can walk across without dampening her feet.

She has her own costly high-performance all-weather rain jacket, and probably some spiffy high-performance waterproof boots to match.

Gender equality is why it is considered polite in Denmark for couples to split the bill on first dates. It is courteous to make the lady pay for her own hamburger. This shows that a Danish man respects her autonomy and earning power.

It’s also why some Danish women enjoy dating non-Danish men.

A gender divide on the bus
I find there still is a gender divide when it comes to giving up your seat for the elderly on public transport, however. Old ladies are quite pleased when you give up your seat for them – in fact, they often demand it.

Older men, by contrast, can get rather huffy when you offer your seat, because they like to think of themselves as still quite vital and handsome, in a Sean Connery kind of way.

I have learned to avoid offering men seats unless they are using a cane or wearing a long, 1960s style dark raincoat, the universal sign of a man who is extremely old and owns it.

Respecting people’s time
Another important part of contemporary Danish etiquette is respecting people’s time.

Everyone in Denmark is extremely busy or likes to think that they are. That’s why turning up to appointments on time is so important. Not just in a business context, but in a social context.

I’ll never forget the time I planned a 7pm dinner party on a chilly winter night. I happened to look out the window at 6:55 and was surprised to see all of my guests sitting in their cars, with the heat running, ready to push my doorbell at precisely 7pm but not a minute before.

This social punctuality is a shock for many internationals, whose own version of politeness is to be “fashionably late”. Even in New York City, where I lived before moving to Denmark, an 8pm start time suggests that you should turn up at 845 or so.

If you turn up at 8pm for that New York appointment, you will encounter a host or hostess with wet hair, wearing sweats, still folding the napkins and putting them on the table.

Turn up at 845 in Denmark, by contrast, and you will get a burned dinner and a boiling mad host.

Booking in advance
Another part of Danish social etiquette is booking your engagements very far in advance. Internationals always gasp when I tell them that mid-October is already far too late to invite your Danish friends to a Christmas party.

And once booked, an appointment is a nearly sacred obligation. Even if the date is months in advance, you simply turn up at that date and time without ever needing to reconfirm.

You don’t cancel unless you’re sick, you have a family emergency, or there is some kind of natural disaster like a hurricane.

It’s considered very poor form to cancel just because you got a better offer, or because your team just made the playoffs and the game is on TV, or worst of all that you are simply too busy. This would rudely suggest that you are busier than the person you cancelled on, or at least think you are.

When time management goes out the window
Of course, once you sit down at a Danish dinner table, time management goes out the window.

You’re expected to spend hours talking, eating a bit, drinking a lot, and talking some more. Being in the moment and enjoying the other guests’ company is hygge.

And prioritizing friends and family for a short time above the cares and stresses of all the other stuff you need to get done is the highest form of Danish politeness.

This column originally ran in the Danish tabloid BT on October 9, 2019.

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

Stories about life in Denmark

Tips for Danes visiting the USA: What I tell my Danish friends travelling to America

This column originally ran in the Danish tabloid BT on July 3, 2019.

As summer vacation season begins and some of my Danish friends and business contacts tell me they are heading to the US on holiday, I’m always pleased but also a little nervous. Oh, dear, I think to myself, I hope they have a good time, and get to see the good side of America and not the bad.

And I try to give them a few tips for Danes visiting the USA.

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