Dutch Quirk #90: Go through a ridiculous number of dating stages before committing

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #90: Go through a ridiculous number of dating stages before committing

So, you’ve been seeing someone for six months, you go on dates regularly, and you’ve met each other’s friends but are you actually dating?

If you’re in the Netherlands or dating a Dutchie, you’re probably scratching your head thinking: “Maybe? How the hell am I supposed to know.” 🤷

What is it?

You’re confused because many Dutch people go through several stages of dating before even thinking of any kind of serious commitment. 💘

In the meantime, you’re left wondering how long you can tread the thin line between friends with benefits, a situationship, and a relationship.

It’s all very confusing, but this American TikToker has hit the nail on the head and identified three stages of Dutch dating that makes it just the tiniest bit clearer. 👇🏻


The 3 stages of dating a #Dutch person 🇳🇱 and the corresponding slang

♬ one summer’s day ~ spirited away lofi – Closed on Sunday
Here are the 3 stages of Dutch dating summed up, for those who are still confused:
  • The Scharrel: At this stage, you’re having loose, sexual relations with someone you’re friendly with. There are no real commitments on either side. It’s all fun and games!
  • The Prela: You can reach this level-up only after the Scharrel has proven successful. Feeling like you want to spend more time with each other? Maybe even go official, buy a nice gift for Valentine’s, or meet each other’s friends? Congrats, you’ve entered the pre-relationship phase.
  • The Rela: This is the hardest stage to reach and takes a lot out of a Dutchie. The Rela stage is nice because it doesn’t require meeting the other’s family or abstaining from seeing other people. But who knows? Maybe you’ve found someone you really like, and you want to keep them around. Then an actual, committed relationship might be a good way to go. 😉

Why do they do it?

Aside from a liberal attitude towards drugs, the Dutch are also very easygoing when it comes to their sex lives and have an open mind.

Sex is no taboo subject in the Netherlands and dating is not restricted by ideals of purity, abstinence or even monogamy. Without these societal pressures, there really is a lot of flexibility in the Dutch dating scene.

What’s more, the Dutch are in essence very pragmatic and liberal people. Why work your way up to the relationship stage if you can simply enjoy the freedom of the Scharrel or Prela? Valid question.

The Netherlands is also a very LGBTQ+ friendly country. Image: Depositphotos

Why is it quirky? 

As a single-ready-to-mingle in the Netherlands, entering the Dutch dating scene can be quite confusing.

This is true even for Dutchies, but even more so for people who are from more conservative countries and kissing for the first time marks the beginning of the relationship. (This is really not the case in the Netherlands!)

The upside? The Dutch are direct and good at telling you what they want and need! Just ask to clarify any unnecessary confusion.

Should you join in? 

To be honest, you don’t have to! Every Dutchie will understand if you’re not the friends-with-benefits kind of person. There are also single Nederlanders looking for a committed relationship.

On the flip side, if you know what you want and communicate it clearly, there really is no need for confusion at all.

Don’t forget, dating is meant to be fun! Even in the Netherlands. 😉

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2022, and was fully updated in November 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara moved to the Netherlands at fifteen and she is here to stay! After all, there is so much to love about it, except maybe the bread (as every German will tell you). Next to finishing up her bachelor's degree in European politics (dry), Cara loves to do yoga, swim, and cook delicious veggie food.


  1. Totally. Was asked straight and firstmost can I kiss you. When I said I don’t like kissing in public he took me by the hand and we kissed in a perfectly sheltered place. Later on he asked me if I wanted to have s*x and could we go to his house, when I hesitated, he said, don’t feel pressured it’s only if you want to. Then we became friends with benefits and life is simple and fine. You gotta love dutchies.

    • Wow, disgusting! No wonder the West is going under. As J. D. Unwin already laid down in “Sex and Culture” in 1934, sexual promiscuity is always sign of a culture in decline. I grew up in a patchwork family and hate my life. I despise all those horny idiots like my father who only satisfy their wicked list without thinking about the consequences the child as well as society as a whole will suffers.

      Were I not a Christian fearing Hell, I’d commit suicide immediately — which is even legal in NL!


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