Dating A Swede
The rules of dating are different everywhere. After being in Sweden for 9 years and single for 6 of those years, I think I finally have the hang of it.
If you're not Swedish, dating a Swede can be a tricky minefield to navigate. I've been dancing through that particular minefield for a few years now and want to share what I've learned with you... I wish someone would have told me!
There are a few concrete rules when it comes to dating a Swede, however, even these concrete rules change due to things like geography (where is the Swede at the moment) and how close they live to their family.
I'll break this down into different categories. Some of it may seem wierd or judgemental. I swear these are objective observations.
Note: I'll be discussing real Swedes in Sweden, not people in other countries of Swedish decent or real Swedes anywhere outside Sweden.
A bit about Sweden
Does he like me or not?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Swedes are notoriously introverted and this fact should never be underestimated or forgotten.
Swedes typically assume that if everything is going the way it should, there is no real need for affection (I love you's or flowers,etc.). In fact, I know one Swede who told his live-in girlfriend that as long as he kept coming home to her just assume everything is fine.
This can be extremely frustrating in the beginning of a relationship when you really don't know if they like you or not. I've been there. I'm in my forties and was actually Googling "is he my boyfriend or not".
You will not change this behavior, don't even waste your time. If you require a lot of attention or affection, a Swede (in Sweden) is not for you.
More important than you think!
Swedes in Sweden are different than Swedes when they are abroad. This has been confirmed not only by myself (I was married to a Swede I met while he was in the USA) but countless friends who met their Swede abroad, then when they moved to Sweden the Swede was a completely different person.
Swedes, when they are abroad, are generally carefree and happy. They are quite irresitible actually. This does not fit life in Sweden at all and quite often the Swede will go back to being truely Swedish once back on Swedish soil.
Swedes, in general, require order and tradition, and when things deviate from the norm they don't deal with it well. The same Swede who was living life to the fullest abroad easily changes into the kind of person who would never do anything outside the norm back in Sweden, and the norm in Sweden is quite different than the norm in many other countries.
There are two reasons for this: Jante Law (jantelagen) and fear of confrontation.
Jante Law (pronounced yanteh law or yantehloggen in Swedish) is a behavioral pattern seen in Scandinavia which requires that nobody is more successful, happier, has more stuff or is in any way different than their neighbor. In fact, quite often anyone who is seen as achieving more than their neighbor is looked at negatively. In a relationship this can cause many problems if you are the kind of person who wants to be financially successful or even own a house.
Swedes are really bad when it comes to confrontation. You can actually see the confusion in their eyes if you suggest something not typically Swedish. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just know what you're getting into. If you want something done, you are probably going to have to do it yourself if it requires the Swede stepping outside his/her comfort zone at all. Outside Sweden a Swede is adventurous, inside Sweden they are completely opposite.
The point is, even though you think you know your Swede, where they are determines who they are. I can't stress enough how geography changes them, I have several friends who are literally stuck in Sweden because they moved here for their Swede, had a child, realized the Swede was a whole different person here and broke up with them, but have to stay here for the child, often times for decades.
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Mamma och pappa
Mom and dad, get used to having them around.
Swede's are typically very close to their parents. It's quite common for Swedes to visit their parents often and let their parents be very involved in their life and decisions.
This isn't for everyone. If you're okay with your husband going to his mom about whether you two should buy a house or not, great. If you're the kind of person who wishes to basically cut off your Swede from their family, give up, they will chose the family over you.
Your Swede's parents will like you immediately and give you a chance. This is very comforting and helps the transition if you have moved to Sweden for your partner. They will be very involved in your life and relationship with your partner. Occaisionally you will butt heads with them when you are trying to do something that isn't "the Swedish way", but for the most part they will be fine.
There's a good chance you will see your in-laws, and they will see you, naked in a sauna at some point. Just roll with it.
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So are we dating or not?
Only time will tell.
How it typically works in Sweden is if you get a second date you are in a relationship.
This confused me for years. My way of thinking is that dating is for figuring out whether you like each other or not. The Swedish way is to only date someone you already consider relationship material and a second date means you are already a couple.
Swedes will stay with someone much longer due to settling into a relationship much faster. They just assume things are how they are supposed to be and everything is fine. After the first date, do not expect any sort of wooing, you are already in a relationship.
Now, here is where we have a bit of a split when it comes to Swedes and their behavior. I'd say about 50% jump ahead in the relationship 30 years to the not talking so much, less affection, never going out, general monotany of being together for so long... after the first date! The other 50% will want to be in clubs and take classes and have fun, this does wear off though. I was talking about how incredibly boring a Swede I used to date was after just a month with my male Swedish co-worker and he said "wow, it took me six months to get that boring".
Simple rule: if a Swede sees you a second time, you're in.
Have you ever dated a Swede?
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