When I decided to pack my things and trade Paris for Amsterdam last October, little did I know of the uphill battle ahead. Harsh weather? Expensive health insurance? Geen probleem. But the dating in the Netherlands and those habits are an endless struggle. Whatever, here I am, regardless of the red flags and myths concerning this overrated topic, jumping in.
If you are not familiar with the phenomenon, say hello to clueless, and if rollercoaster-ish romance is a taste you are keen on giving a try, be my guest and enjoy the ride. As much as I love exoticism and variety, I believe in eating local wherever I go, so Dutch men it is. Brace yourselves, girls, for two major obstacles shall inevitably pop up during dating in the Netherlands:
1: There are tons of foreigners, expats and tourists, so forget about your supposedly sexy accent, looks and manners, these weapons are now part of the furniture.
2: Dutch women. Say no more. They’re amongst the hottest creatures on Earth.
Still looking to hunt for a red-pants-gel-haired viking ? Fair enough. Like their female counterparts, they’re quite exquisite. Dutch men are overall well-travelled, sporty and ambitious. Yet it seems they’ve skipped the essentials when flirting is involved. A vast majority of them act like picky slow burners, to the point where interacting with a nice guy starts to look like rocket science. And this is where the hagelslag crumbles. One genuinely wishes they would sell some dating lucky charms in all them souvenirs shops, because trust me, they would make a fortune by the time you’ve finished reading this article.
En route for the Holy Grail
Anyway. Due to their strong background culture of gender equality and tolerance, think 21st century and ditch gallantry because there is none. Period. Get ready to sweat, swallow your pride and go the extra mile: just like in North America, it’s a no pain, no gain policy. If you want something, come out and play, and more importantly, ask for it.
Welcome to step 3: a proper twister mental game to somehow manage going on dates. Communication appears to be über clumsy and blurry, and it’s got nothing to do with the language barrier: Dutch boys are far from being open books. Picture trying walking on eggshells in a thick fog, attempting to read massive knots of mixed signals without a map. The thrill, passion and surprises are sadly not an option. Sure, it’s OK to split the bill (see deadly mistake n.3 here) and of course, we understand it takes time to get to know someone. But come on… we’re not teens anymore and I refuse to turn into a machiavelic love soldier. Who hasn’t heard all sorts of “Dutch boys like it when you’re mean to them” or “it only took us seven months to be officially boyfriend and girlfriend”? I thought they were supposed to be very straightforward. Dutch lads are actually a very busy specimen that will plan everything in advance, and it seems like they had everything served on a silver plate when it comes to relationships. Which, remember, is a scary word to them. Do us a favor, do not use it. Do not.
We don’t mind not getting flowers, even after months of “seeing each other” and we’re not necessary big fans of PDA either. That being said, there are so many other simple ways to keep the boat floating in most countries. In the Netherlands, you’re landing onto several sorts of undefined layers referring to what’s going on between you two. Like the so called “probation period”, a traditional pattern screaming “try before you buy” and “I might switch to a better option as soon as I can”. A grey area you’re better off not mentioning under any circumstances.
Dating in the Netherlands: Chin up, ladies, and handle with care
Limbo definitely has to come from the Dutch language, implying a kind of stress many candidates have failed to comply with. The hardest part is not knowing when you’re going to see each other next (hmmm… how about January 2017?) or if you ever will again.
Some go through the infamous “talk” just like in most English-speaking countries. In France, although it’s on its way to change, you’re either in or out of a relationship, simple as that. Smooth transitions to a naturally functional couple? Wrong country. And wait, how in hell am I supposed to keep my cool on the back of a bike with the rain and wind ruining my eyeliner and hairdo, considerably reducing my sexiness potential.
The funniest thing is that whether you’re an expat or a native, you will come up with quite unusual anecdotes on your next girls’ night out. Be ready for some serious nodding, solidarity and advice flying all across the room. Who does in this day and age, have time for games and doubts anymore when for instance, Tinder became so popular and socially acceptable here? Dutch dating websites are booming as well. I met Marije, a young entrepreneur whose successful dating business ViaMarije brings back the good old-fashioned and trustworthy side in meeting someone. These trends prove how being in a relationship actually matters. Is the love game like Dutch cuisine, slightly blunt but with strong possibilities to spice it up a bit? One pattern stands out from the bumpy process: re-adjust your standards and adopt the laissez-faire attitude.
But there is an upside
Looking at the bright side, discovering new social ways is also intriguing. Turns out it can even be soothing – yes – to go with the flow, leaving you some personal space and freedom Dutchies are so deeply attached to. Keep in mind that there are many boats on the canals and that lots of happy Dutch/foreigner couples assert that once you’ve won the key to their heart, you’ve successfully reached well-deserved romantic heavens. After all, Willem did marry Maxima..
Disclaimer: this piece is based on personal observations and in no way claims to be universal truth