Dating someone from a different background and culture can be an interesting and enriching experience, but it can come with some unforeseen challenges too. Making your love life work is never easy, but with a bit of work, mutual respect and intercultural understanding, it’s always worth the effort. While German men may not be quite as famous for being romantic Romeos as their French and Italian counterparts, once you understand the dating culture in Germany, you will see that German men are not at all as cold or overly-rational as the stereotypes dictate.
So here are some key things to keep in mind when dating a German guy.
- Meeting someone in Germany
- Flirting with Germans
- Splitting the bill
- Not big on small talk
- Speaking German
1. Meeting someone in Germany
Dating apps are probably the most direct way to meet someone in Germany if you haven’t already found someone in your circle of friends. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and OKCupid are some of the most popular options in Germany. While meeting a stranger for the first time can be nerve-wracking, if you keep an open mind and show a friendly face, this can work really well for many people. It is extremely common and well accepted to meet online in Germany.
If you prefer to meet a guy the old-fashioned way, be ready to put yourself out there. Germans can be a little reserved with new people, but of course, there are still many ways to make new connections. Get creative, join clubs, turn up for events like concerts and parties, make friends with your neighbors and invite your colleagues out for drinks after work. Even if you don’t meet that special someone, these can be important steps towards maintaining a happy, balanced social life.
2. Flirting with Germans
It can be hard to tell if a German man likes you, especially when you come from a background where it’s common for men to be the ones who make the first move. In comparison, German men can be rather shy or taciturn. Oftentimes, they don’t explicitly ask you out on a date but rather phrase it like “do you want to go for coffee sometime?” so it becomes hard to tell what their intention is. Furthermore, many Germans like to keep their distance until they get to know you better, so it may be best not to get too personal too quickly. Nevertheless, it may pay off to be the one to take that first step and reveal a bit more about yourself. Mystique can be overrated.
Many people will tell you that in a relationship they are seeking someone who is fun and will make them laugh. This can undoubtedly be an issue as Germans have a very particular sense of humor. The idea that Germans aren’t funny is a rather unfair stereotype, but it does take some time to understand German humor. Unfortunately, German jokes don’t always translate well, nor is making fun of yourself quite so common as in anglophone countries. While this can give the impression that Germans take themselves too seriously, and some certainly do, not all German men lack a sense of humor. Dry sarcasm is their weapon of choice, and if that’s to your taste, they will have you in tears. A lot of humor in Germany centers around political satire so it is worthwhile being informed about politics, society and current affairs if you want to keep up.
It is a well-known national stereotype that Germans are punctual and, in fact, most of them are. The reason for this lies in their culture and belief that everyone’s time is valuable. So if you show up late, it suggests to your German friends that you don’t value them or consider them equally important to yourself. Of course, not all Germans are sticklers for time, but nevertheless, it is considered particularly rude in Germany to show up more than ten or fifteen minutes late without good reason and without phoning ahead. Timekeeping can be the cause of much tension, so avoid this pitfall if you want to maintain good relationships of all sorts.
5. Splitting the bill
It is generally accepted that you split the bill on a date in Germany. Although some might criticize this as symptomatic of the “death of chivalry”, this practice is the symptom of more balanced gender roles, where some old-fashioned expectations and behaviors have lost most of their cultural currency. Equality, after all, is to everyone’s benefit. You may have to split on coffee and dinner, but if you are looking for someone who will go 50/50 on relationship building, housework and even childcare someday, the tradeoff is well worth it.
6. Not big on small talk
Germans often like to speak directly and honestly. There is no beating around the bush. They aren’t afraid to talk about life’s serious topics and ask big questions. Don’t be surprised if over the course of a relaxed dinner conversation you end up discussing world politics, your philosophy of life (Weltanschauung), your relationship with your parents and (despite the stereotype about German coolness) deep feelings. This can be a bit intense but is perhaps better than talking about the weather on a date. Most Germans like to keep up with national and worldwide events, so for instance, listening to Deutsche Welle’s Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten (slow spoken news) to improve your German, keep up to date with current affairs and have lots to discuss with your new German guy, could be a great plan.
7. Speaking German
Although love can overcome any (language) barrier you can’t spend all your time gazing into each other’s eyes. If you are in for the long haul with your new partner you will want to communicate in his language. But at least you will have the perfect tandem partner to help you improve your language skills quickly. The process of learning each other’s language can be a great way to bond. As well as this, your new boyfriend will probably prefer to speak with his friends and family in German, so it can really help you to fit in with and enjoy his social circle if you can understand and participate in the conversation.
Happily ever after?
Now that you have an idea of German dating culture, you can hopefully avoid some common missteps and misunderstandings when dating German men. While this general advice can certainly help you on the way to cultivating a great relationship, at the end of the day it’s all down to learning to understand and communicate with your special someone, putting your good side out, being honest, light-hearted, a good listener and not all too serious.
Leona has her roots in the South of Ireland, where she grew up on her family farm. She went on to study World Politics at Leiden University College, The Hague and then completed her MPhil in International History at Trinity College Dublin. Leona has now settled in Berlin, having fallen in love with the city. In her spare time she is working on perfecting her German in anticipation of her doctoral studies, during which she plans to study modern German social history. Her hobbies include bouldering, dancing and reading a healthy mix of history books and corny fantasy fiction. You can find more info about her on LinkedIn.