Couple enjoy dinner together. Photo credit: Tove Freiij/ Image Bank Sweden

Netflix and Chill, the Swedish Way

Single and Ready to Mingle?

It is February which means it is the season of love.

(Insert cupid’s flying arrow here)

C’mon. Don’t groan. Even those of you with the coldest of hearts might find yourselves a little more soft to the the mushy and the romantic. And for those singletons out there, you may be finding yourself longing for someone to share your student housing twin bed with because it isn’t already small enough.

But dating is hard. Period. So much swiping. So many bad first dates. So much wasted energy. And then try to date in a new country like Sweden… with a different language, a different culture, different customs…

UGH. Im exhausted already just thinking about it.  Ain’t nobody got time for that. Seriously. Especially when you’re a full-time student with papers to write and tests to take…

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So it’s no wonder most of us just prefer to “Netflix and chill” at home … alone… because at least our bed is always there and always warm, and Netflix is the dependable partner we need to pick us up when we’re down. And so yea, it’s easy to begin to succumb to the idea of being alone forever.

But before you go and wave your white flag and surrender to perpetual “singledom,” I have something that might help. With the expertise of my Swedish friends and your questions as my guide, I have put together some tips and tricks to navigate the Swedish dating game.

Keep calm and read on.

Question(s) 1: How do people meet? Are dating apps used? If so, which are popular?

You guessed it, Tinder.  I know it’s disappointing you guys. We all wish that in a place as progressive as Sweden there would be something better than Tinder. However, it seems universal that it’s the best app that we got. For the LGBTQ community, there is “Her” for queer-identifying women and Grindr for queer-identifying men, but I’ve been told Tinder is still the better option.

Tinder is often the way to meet new people, but word on the street is, it is really there to meet people looking for something more casual… if you catch my drift. So if you are just looking for a good time, Tinder can be just the place for you.

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But for those of you looking for something a bit more than the casual tinder fling, the best place to look is up from your phone and turn your eye to your fellow classmates. From my extensive research (talking to the five Swedes in my class), a place of study or a place of work is often where true love awaits. So if you thought about skipping that lecture, don’t! Your row buddy might actually be the person you’ve been looking for all along…

Question 2: How do Swedes flirt?

So turns out they don’t, really.

How Swedes responded to this question…

“Do we even?”

“I think Swedes, in general, are very bad at flirting… I personally do not know how to…”

“Well, haha, take the opposite of how straight forward an Italian is and how loud an American is and imagine the opposite… no seriously… I think Swedish people in general are not so obvious when they flirt.”

Well, cool. That answers it then… ???

 

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Question 3: What are some cheap date night activities?

So there are many options, but it depends what you are looking for. Unlike in the States, if you are looking for something more serious you do a daytime date. You can take a walk or hike in many of the parks Sweden cities offer or have fika  at a cafe. And when the days get longer, your day date options do too!

For nighttime ideas, you can grab a beer at a student nation, or a wine during an “after work” special. Go to a restaurant or find a club to bump-and-grind to all night long. And still, you can bundle up and enjoy a nice walk outside in a lamplit city.

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When things get a little more comfortable, you can always bring date night activities home. Make dinner. Enjoy a bottle of wine. Play a game of banana grams. Watch Netflix (my personal fave). Whatever you two (or three or four, Im not judging) enjoy doing, do it together and call it a date!

As for the queer kids, because Sweden is so pro-LGBTQ, queer people can find comfort wherever they go. However, ironically, because of this, Sweden does not have a thriving queer scene as one would expect, like in cities like San Francisco or LA. But if you are looking for some gay bars, you can find some in Stockholm that help should quench that thirst.

Question 4: What’re the norms around sex and dating?

Disclaimer: If you are a little blush-y when the word s-e-x gets brought up, go ahead and skip this part and go to the next question.

Now back to our normal programming…

To be honest. I was pretty shocked by some of the answers my Swedish friends provided. Swedes tend to be a reserved people. Yes, they certainly are progressive, but when you first meet them, they can come off as a bit aloof, a bit stoic, and certainly difficult to read at times, so I assumed that their views on sex may be similarly reserved.

Boy was I wrong.

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My understanding is that casual sex is very much a normal thing here. It is normal for people to have sex early on when dating someone new. If you want to have a midday coffee followed by a midday romp, that is a-okay by Swedish standards, even if you just met.

Swedes are rather liberal when it comes to sex and believe it should be a fun, safe and pleasurable activity for both parties (a revolutionary concept, I KNOW) So if toys help make it more fun and pleasurable, go for it! If you like to experiment with swinging or multiple partners, there are certainly spaces to do that!

But of course, you never have to do anything you do not want to, and if you want to take your time getting to know someone before hopping in bed, that is perfectly okay! The important word for everyone to remember here is enthusiastic consent.

Question 5: What are commonly used pet names?

Generally, Swedes don’t use pet names as often as some other nationalities do. I thought I was averse to them too, until I got myself a girlfriend and have replaced her first name with “baby.”

It’s gross. I know.

Using pet names like “honey,” “baby” and “darling” aren’t much of a thing here in Sweden. However, if you are DYING to integrate and you want to call your new Swedish boo something that fits, use the word “älskling,” which means “my love” in Swedish.

Question 6: Are their gender roles in dating?

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Unequivocally no.

For a society that emphasizes gender equality, patriarchal dating standards do not hold, meaning yes, chivalry is dead. Men, even holding open the door for a woman or pulling out her seat before she sits down can be an offensive act, even if your intentions were good.

Equally so, women dating men, you should not expect a man to pay for you on the date. And equally so, men do not expect to pay for the woman. If either party wants to, be sure to ask beforehand, they might say yes, they might say no. Whatever they say, be sure to respect their preference.

As for showing interest, if you have a crush on someone, let them know! Ladies, you do not have to wait for a man to make the first move and men, you are not expected to either! Queer kids, just keep on doing what you do.

Y’all are free to do as you pleaseeeeeee! So go on and get some!

Check please

So now you know. Dating in Sweden may be a little different than what you’re used to, but at the end of the day, it is still just dating. Meaning it sucks most of the time.

But as some famous sports person once said, “You can’t make the shots you don’t take.” So get out there and have fun! You might meet your next SO, and if you don’t, well, Netflix will be waiting for you when you get home.

 

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