Dating in Sweden
Disclaimer: This post is based on my personal experiences and by no means is supposed to serve as a guide on how to date in Sweden. It does not show a cross-section of the entire society but rather my own small, very small circle and people I have encountered. I am cisgender and pansexual (I identify as a woman and I am attracted to all genders). Since I have been dating only cisgender men so far, I will refer to those in this post. I often exaggerate for a comedic effect. Don't come at me!
|My dating experience in one picture.|
I have been in Sweden for eight and a half years now, but never dated here until the end of 2019. Unsurprisingly when I started dating, I had no idea what I was doing, how dating in Sweden, and specifically in Stockholm looks like. After a bit, I realized that it would be great to read a little about it in the Interwebs because maybe, just maybe it is different than in my home country - Poland. And oh boy, was I right.
The main difference I have observed and then later read about was:
Making a move
This is in my experience 100% woman's job. Whatever this move is: sitting next to the date (instead of on the opposite side of the table), hand-holding, kissing, etc. - it is on me to make a move. I am curious to date a woman and see how it works then. I am thinking there would be a different set of rules there.
This is a very new and different job for me. In general, I am very forward and I do not have a problem with initiating contact. I am outspoken, flirty and honest, I am comfortable with showing affection in public and private. On the dating front for some reason, my predisposition brain still expects and craves this initiation to come from a guy.
As a not natively Swedish woman - how does this lack of initiation feels to me?
Simply put - it feels like a rejection. It makes me feel unattractive to the person I am on a date with, which is super silly since I am a confident person by nature. It takes away my confidence in the long run too. If after a few dates nothing is happening, even tho I am showing interest in furthering the physical, I also get quite bored. But I am working on it. You may not like this conclusion but:
As a non-native Swede, it is mainly me who has to make adjustments in almost every area of my life, dating etiquette included.
This may not be surprising to a lot of people, I get it. But it goes a bit further even, which is still baffling to me. If you match with a guy on Tinder - he will not message you first. Yes. Some even write it in their profiles:
"If we match, I am 100% not going to write to you first"
- Swedish single dude on Tinder
Is this a part of the Scandinavian "gender equalising" responsibilities distribution? I think it went a bit too far. How about we throw this one away and replace it with: "Message if you are interested in talking to the match, no matter what your gender is"
Anyway and seriously - It is a small price to pay for gender equality.
Staying on the topic of equality. What about paying in a restaurant?
According to my readings, there is no expectancy from either side that the guy will pay the bill.
I am ok with that, I am a strong independent woman, I make money, I can pay for my burger. No beef here. Where is the beef?
There is no established etiquette.
Why? Am I asking for too much? I mean seriously... please tell me if I am.
My proposed resolution:
- If you feel like you want to pay for both of you - do it. If you don't feel comfortable taking charge - ask the date if it's OK that you pay for both. This is regardless of gender.
- If you did not make plans on who is paying, and you are first to receive the bill, ask/inform the service staff that you are splitting the bill. This is regardless of gender.
- If you are inviting your date to an expensive restaurant, be prepared to pay for both or ask in advance if they are ok with the place and prices. This is regardless of gender.
- If issues/misunderstandings occur, try to offer a resolution. You can Swish each other, offer to pay for next date activity, cook them a meal, etc. All of those also a nice segue (or segway if you prefer) into another date question.
- I am not a fan of splitting the bill exactly in half. The reason for that is mainly alcohol. If my date wants to have 4 beers while I sip a glass of water, they can, but they have to pay for it. Maybe it is weird, but paying half of someone's (basically a stranger) indulgence should not be a social norm. I do not pay for their snus, cigarettes or pot either. Call me old fashioned.
Surprisingly, it is fine. It is fine to have children. Obviously not for everyone, but among countless Tinder and Bumble profiles I went through it was very rare to see (in my age group 33-45) sentences like:
"I don't have children and it is better if you don't have them either"
If you subscribe to r/relationships r/dating or similar subreddits, you may have seen posts of lamenting 30 year olds, phrases like:
"Miraculously he was ok with me having a child"
"Agreed to try to date a single mom"
"Said she was not interested in single dads"
I don't know what reality is in USA, I never dated there. But here in Sweden I would say it is quite easy to find a date. What is not so easy is to find time if both you and your date have children. Most parents operate on so called vv. It took me a while to figure it out. Please correct me if I am wrong but it could be either "varje vecka" or "varannan vecka". In essence - you are a parent with children on board every other week. If it so happens that your weeks do not align, it is very hard to change that schedule, as it involves the exes to agree.
For me, the biggest obstacle is that I do not speak Swedish well enough. I am scared that if the situation with my date starts to get serious and it will come time to meet his children, I wont be able to communicate with them. But I worry about everything and anything so it is possible I am making too big deal out of it. Yet to date a person with children. If I do - I will make an update.
My dates have been great about me having a child. One of them got a chance to meet my son and spend a lot of time with him. It did not work out between us but I am grateful for the experience. I know to protect and prepare my son and myself better in the future. Because he is growing and understanding so much more of what is happening around him, I want to prioritize his needs and well-being ahead of mine when it comes to relationships.
I can only describe my experiences as positive so far, which means I am not secretive about my current situation (work, home, etc) with anyone. It is not my problem if they are not OK with it. If they are not OK - they are free not to date me. In quite a short time, I have learned a lot about dating in Sweden, my own situation and feelings. About the actual needs that I have.
I think most people think they want to be in a relationship and I guess I thought so too. Turns out - I might have been wrong, or just want something else for now. One thing I have observed about myself, that at the first dates stage, if there is something hard with this new person to overcome, I would rather stop seeing them, than have a hard conversation. Why? Probably because they were not the right person for me. So I try to end it nicely and in a friendly way, making sure nobody was too invested to suffer greatly.
So much for now! Hope you are having a great pandemic.