Here is a tongue in the cheek guide to dating a German (and keeping your sanity intact during the relationship). Brace yourself for a silly generalised post about how to date a German, typical quirks of German SOs and German dating rules.
But since it is Germany we are talking about we can safely file Love & Relationships under that label too.
I have been long out of the playing field so dating is not exactly my expertise anymore. But hey, I have been in a relationship with one for a good few years. In fact, we recently got engaged. And yet, we never stop experiencing the subtle cultural differences in our day to day life. It got me thinking about my past and current relationships — with German or non-German men.
Now that Valentine’s day is just around the corner, it seemed like a perfect time to publish this cheeky little guide.
Are you single in Germany and curious about dating a local? Or perhaps you just spotted a German out in the wild. Now you are wondering about your next best move? Don’t stay clueless, my dear foreigner!
So gather around, grab a Weizen and let me guide you on how to approach, woo and date a German. <3
Disclaimer: The following post contains obscene amounts of national stereotyping. 😉
1. They Are Not In-Your-Face Flirts
One of the first things you will notice about the Germans is that they are not the most obvious flirts. Definitely not like their British, Italian or French counterparts for whom flirting is basically a national pastime.
You could look like a total knockout, but Germans may not even turn their heads. But don’t fret! It’s not because they don’t find you hot. It’s just how the local flirting etiquettes are – too subtle for us foreigners to detect.
You see, the bold pick-up culture like in North America or Britain does not really exist in Germany. Just like friendships, romantic relationships are formed over time, through personal contacts (or a Verein).
This is not to say that Germans never-ever go out with a complete stranger. It happens all the time. Just don’t expect them to approach or shower you with attention. Or throw some cheesy pick up line at you.
But don’t lose hope, my dear foreigner! Time is your friend. Give them some time (and a few beers). They will soon come out of their Jack wolfskin shell and do what many Germans do best —
Talk directly and to the point.
So some good old beer courage helped and you chatted up your German. They gave you their phone number/ Facebook/ Snapchat.
Yay! Foot in the door. Now comes the next phase.
2. They Will Walk The Talk
Germans just don’t say shit just for the sake of it.
If someone is nice and friendly to you, it probably means that they are just…friendly. If they aren’t interested in you, they won’t fake it either.
There’s also none of that “we must meet for drinks next week” and then nada.
If your German said they’ll call you at this date or time — they will. Maybe they will call to tell you that they can’t wait to meet you next Thursday. Or to let you know that they are not interested any more (now that their beer goggles have worn off).
But they WILL call.
But if you suggested to them that you want to meet next week, you ARE expected to do your part. If you said that you will call them, don’t flake out. Not following through on your own words is considered very insincere. They will not take you seriously.
So pick the phone and make that call. They are expecting it.
Alright, you two had a great phone conversation. The first date with your German has been set.
3. You Will Never be Late For a Date Again
Dating a German requires a whole new appreciation of this timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff. When they say hey, let’s meet at 4 pm, they will be there at 3.55 pm.
What the hell is 4ish or 12:30ish?! That does not exist in German culture. Don’t ever mistake turning up late (or making someone wait for you) as a power move. Because it won’t be. Your German date will see that as a sign of your incompetence and inability to organise your time.
Very very unsexy!
Remember, Germans find it very hot when someone is respectful of their time and punctual to a T.
So don’t make them wait for you at the cafe and give a heads up if you are running late.
Now it’s time to prep you for German face to face dating rituals.
4. Don’t Go Too Big on Small Acts of Chivalry
Remember what I said about ‘walk the talk’ above? Gender equality isn’t just a new political fad, they actually practice it. Germans, like most Europeans, are truly conditioned to gender equality right from their childhood. Maybe a bit too conditioned for some cultures.
Ladies, this one is for you. Most German men won’t hold the doors or pull the seat out for you. They also won’t pay for your meal/ drinks for that matter. Germans are all about going “Dutch” on a date.
And that’s okay. It is not ‘ungentlemanly‘. German guys are not cheap.
They just respect you as a fellow grown-up adult. Germans have complete trust in your ability to open your own doors, get seated properly and pay for yourself.
Gents, German ladies expect to be treated as equal in relationships (this applies to ALL ladies, BTW!). In fact, a lot of them may find it amusing if a man does these trivial chivalric gestures for them. So guys (or gals), when you date a German woman, then tone down on the gallantry a bit. It will be lost on them anyway.
Among other things…
5. Humour Will be Lost on Them as Well
If you want a funny one, get a Brit. There, I said it. 😉
When you date a German, you start noticing a pattern.
They take your jokes a wee bit too literally. The banter between the two of you doesn’t flow easily. Your self-deprecating humour leaves them increasingly concerned about the state of your mental health.
You see, humour does not come naturally to Germans. Or maybe we foreigners do not get it. Whatever the case might be…
As the saying goes, German sense of humour is no laughing matter. I mean, think from their perspective. Can you even apply humour to a new automobile technology or make a logistical process more efficient with it?
NO! So what’s the point of it?
Many foreigners are used to a more relaxed social environment where complete strangers can make the most absurd jokes with one another. In Germany, however, that is just not as common. Remember, jokes are reserved for their close family and friends. You’re just not there yet. So hang in there.
Again, there are individuals who break this mould and are immediately friendly and humorous, but this is rare.
They can still have their funny moments. You may discover that your German is into that infamous ‘Wortspiel or Wortwitze’ type of humour. In that case, may Lord help you!
Wortspiel aus der Hölle… pic.twitter.com/sHJMogf3kR
— Freifrau von Hanebüchen (@Burgfrollein) November 10, 2013
Now I personally enjoy a good pun, but let’s admit most puns are outdated or simply annoying in any language. When you come to Germany and see them around nearly everywhere, you may get a feeling that German humour is just a little outdated.
And then there’s this annual atrocity!
Anyway, you have decided to overlook the German funny side for the time being. Because they’re drop-dead gorgeous after all! 😉
They are more than just a pretty face though…
6. They Take Conversations Very Seriously
Germans claim that they do not indulge in small talk. But many foreigners beg to differ.
Have you ever greeted your neighbour and asked how are they doing? In many cultures, you will just get a monosyllable response with a courteous nod and be on your way.
But your German neighbour will explain to you exactly how they are — how they’ve been sleeping poorly, that their cat pooped on the bed, or why the other neighbour’s overgrown bushes bother them.
Get ready to listen to an entire week’s worth of whining. It’s totally on YOU for asking them how are they doing.
You will notice this during your dates as well. Ask them a general question. Be prepared to get a literal answer. They are so much into details. Not in a showy or romantic way, but they are just precise.
Well, you are totally enamoured by their nerdy explanations. You enjoy their company very much and want to see them more often – like properly date them.
How should you proceed from here? Well…
7. You Don’t Need to Play Any Mind-Games
It is admirable how straight-forward Germans are and they mean what they say. WYSIWYG, Baby!
Enough with the stupid mind games and dating rules. Romance is a simple business for Germans.
In fact, dating isn’t really a game in Germany. Two people meet, like each other, meet some more, Snog. Shag. Rinse and repeat.
There are also no gimmicky ‘bases’ or DTR talk here. Once you start hanging out with each other, it is just taken for granted that you are in a relationship — with each other. When they are with someone, they really are with them. No need to have a serious relationship talk sitting around the table with awkward “where is this going” or “what are we” questions.
On that note, seeing more than one person at the same time is frowned upon. It might be normal in North America, but not in Europe.
If your German SO finds out that you’ve been seeing someone else besides them, they’ll terminate your datingvertrag ASAP without any prior notice.
But you really really like them and want a serious commitment. What happens next?
8. Your Relationship Will Move at a Snail’s Pace
Dating in Germany is a lot like making friends and filing an annual tax return — it takes time. And a lot of effort.
Most Germans do not rush into relationships. It might take weeks or months to get past four or five dates alone. When you date a Germany, don’t expect a whirlwind romance. They tend to be quite calculated and patient at the start of a new relationship.
You will also notice that sex isn’t always the first thing on the German mind. Many foreigners, especially women, find this very refreshing when going out with German men. Some cultures have contrived dating rules that after so and so many dates a couple should make out or bump uglies etc etc.
Not in Germany.
You can take your time to get to know each other, and hit the sack together when the timing feels right. It could be on the first date or after 11th — No. One. Cares.
Similarly, there are no unwritten rules about getting married. If your German SO does not pop the question after 2 or 3 or 4 years (or whatever number your native dating culture recommends), it DOES NOT mean that they don’t love you.
Maybe they’re just not in a hurry or do not see any obvious perks of getting married. In that case, you should educate them about taxes benefits for married couples in Germany. 😉
It’s very common for couples in Germany to stay in a relationship forever without being officially married. As long as you’re celebrating Christmas or Easter as a family or going on holidays together, you should have no reason to doubt their commitment to your relationship.
They also show their love and commitment in other ways
9. Romantic Gestures Are Different Here
Germany does not have a superficial gift-giving culture. So don’t expect to get spoilt by lavish presents just for the sake of it. Gifts in Germany are meant to be thoughtful and have real sentimental value.
Did you ever experience something funny together with your German on a holiday? Well, now that’s an inside joke between you two. They will totally get you a present referencing to that moment.
Or like that one time you mentioned your favourite band or musical. Your German SO might have noted that down in a mental diary and already ordered tickets for their next concert in your city.
Or they might surprise you with your dream city trip for your birthday.
So yeah, they may not splurge on material stuff like clothing, gadgets or jewellery but they will go out of their way to show that they are attentively listening to you. Always.
That my friend is romance, German-style!
Germans are not totally unromantic. They are considerate, you just have to ask them what you want or desire in a precise way, so they know how to accommodate you.
But when it comes to asking them what you want…
10. You Will Have to Grow Thick Skin
Fine, so things are sailing along smoothly between you and your favourite German so far.
One fine day you made a grave mistake of asking their opinion on your new outfit/ hair colour/ that freshly cooked pot of chilli.
And they go ahead and do what Germans do — tell you exactly what they think. It is so not nice, and definitely not what you wanted to hear from your darling German.
But at least it is their honest opinion and Germans prefer honesty over friendliness.
As the saying goes in Germany, SELBER. SCHULD!
Never ever ask a German for feedback if you only want to hear fake nice things. 😉 They prefer to tell the bitter truth instead of sugar-coated lies. Trust me, after the first few blows of German truth bombs, you will come to favour them over superficial niceness anyway.
The other workaround is to embrace their criticism. But unfortunately for you…
11. They May Not Have Thick Skin
Every foreigner with a German SO can vouch for this — they can dish it, but can’t take it. Criticism, however constructive, might be too hard for them to handle and bruise their delicate ego.
So tread very very carefully, when you critique their atrocious omelette cooking (burning) skills or when they don’t fold shorts the Marie Kondo way (totally NOT speaking from personal experience here).
You see, German culture is all about Ordnung in every little aspect of life. Perfectionism is valued more than improvisation. There is a specific way of doing things here.
The German way = THE right way.
If you dare suggest that they did something incorrectly, you are questioning their entire delicate plane of picture-perfect existence.
A lot of foreigners notice very quickly that Germans take themselves too seriously — this is why self-deprecating humour falls flat here. They are just not raised to acknowledge their own mistakes. Admitting you are wrong is personally humiliating.
This by no means is a trait exclusive to Germans: some people just can’t apologise. But you will notice that it is way more widespread in German culture.
Few years in your relationship, you will understand that Germans are trustworthy and loyal partners, in spite of their pedantic perfectionism.
This has good and bad aspects in all situations obviously. One of which is…
12. You Will Have to P.L.A.N (Your Entire Life)
Germans thrive on planning the minutest details. Their natural state is somewhere between planning and anxiousness — with no room for improvising. So they become anxious if something is not planned.
Going on a relaxing beach holiday? Forget about spontaneity or staying late in bed or doing something on the fly (because, holiday!). They will map out each and every hour of your two weeks long vacation.
Starting from the minutes required for breakfast, hours allotted for relaxing at the beach, and time spent at every museum in the city to the countdown to the dinnertime etc.
Are you two finally ready to get hitched?
Bear in mind that financial security and long term stability are supreme for Germans, sometimes even above personal relationships. So make sure that all your insurances are up to speed.
If not, your German SO may not consider you real marriage material. Marriage is basically seen as a contract that Germans think very long and hard about.
While discussing our imminent wedding, my now fiancé nonchalantly dropped the ehevertrag in the planning. We have not decided on this yet, but Ehevertrag or prenups are not all that uncommon in Germany.
Caution comes over commitment. Rationality trumps romance.
Dating a German might not be the most passionate relationship of your life, but it sure will be the most solid and practical one. 😉
Romantic relationships evolve very slowly here but also tend to be stable most of the time. Rest assured, you do not have to deal with an emotional rollercoaster all the time.
Just don’t forget that national stereotypes are what they are. Just stereotypes.
There are Germans who may fit this blueprint up to the hilt. But there are also those who are flirty, spontaneous, with a good sense of humour to boot.
You can take everything written here at its face value. Or you can fuck this guide entirely and simply be with someone who reflects and respects you and your values.
Nationalität ist egal! 😉
So do you have a German SO? What is your experience of dating a German? Tell us your experience of german dating in the comments below!