You are an expat who didn’t move to Germany for love, but would instead like to find your love in Germany? This dating in Germany guide is for you as we dive into German dating culture, etiquette, and do’s and don’t.
This is a rather personal article, where I introduce you to some stereotypical dating rules and my own experiences dating German and foreign guys and girls. Would you agree that qualifies me to give you valuable ‘survival guide’ advice on dating in Germany? 😄
Where to meet people in Germany?
Before any dating can happen, of course, the biggest challenge is to meet someone date-worthy, especially as an expat.
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Let’s look at some numbers from the latest wedding study done in Germany.
Germans like to date within their social circle. They listen to and, more importantly, trust their friends’ judgment. So it is no surprise that the number 1 answer in the survey was that 26% met their partners through friends. Followed by online dating sites and apps (23%) and meeting at a party, bar, or disco (14%).
When it comes to same-sex couples meeting through friends is only number 2 with 29%, and number 1 is dating sites and apps with 39%. The third most popular way of meeting a same-sex partner is through social clubs and hobbies.
I had met my German boyfriends through friends and my German girlfriends via an online dating site. Jen, my wife from Guatemala, and I met through a sports club. It seems like I check all the boxes.
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What is dating in Germany like?
Compared to other nations famous for their dating culture, like Italy and France, Germans are far more rational than emotional. That can be exhausting, but also refreshing, depending on what you are used to and what you are looking for. Here are the 13 most prevailing factors in German dating culture.
1. Dating a German is not necessarily romantic in the beginning
When you agree with a German on meeting alone, you might consider it a romantic date. In contrast, the German will consider it as getting to know each other better, without having decided yet, whether there is a common romantic connection.
2. Dating a german means exclusivity
When dating a German, the worst thing you can do is date other people simultaneously. Germans don’t mess around, and when they give you their valuable time and energy, they expect the same from the other person wholeheartedly.
Going out with other people at the same time is pretty much like cheating and conveying that you are not seriously interested. Dating while being exclusive; however, does not mean that you are in a relationship already.
3. You have to be punctual for dates
Germans are punctual. Germans are punctual at pretty much everything, dating included. Being late is rude and will end your possible relationship before it even started. Instead, be there five to ten minutes early to make a good impression.
4. Flirting with Germans is difficult
Germans are not good at small talk, and when it comes to dating or even worse, flirting, Germans can become awkward quite fast when approached with small talk. Instead, Germans like to get into long detailed conversations. Those are not always the most romantic kind, as it is about getting to know the other person, their thoughts, opinions, and values.
5. Be ready for honest and direct conversation
Germans are very direct. They speak their minds, also when it comes to dating. They will let you know how they feel and whether you are their type or not. Protecting your feelings is not the number one priority when dating. On the flip side, Germans mean and do what they say. So if a German tells you they like you, they really like you. When they tell you they will call you tomorrow, you better make sure to have your phone around.
6. Dress nice but not too nice
Germans like to take care of their physical appearance. That being said, they like to look decent, but not over the top. They expect the same from their date.
7. Gender equality is significant in German dating
Gender equality is strong in Germany. A man’s expectations for a German woman to become a stay at home mom while dating is a slap in her face. A man having issues with a woman earning a higher salary should reconsider dating in Germany. Machismo is growled at by German women, which doesn’t mean that German women don’t appreciate a gentleman.
On the other hand, German women might not be able to handle compliments confidently. They will be confused as to whether the guy means it or whether he is messing with her.
8. Who pays the bill on a first date in Germany?
‘Do German guys pay for dates?’ is one of the most common questions amongst expats. The answer is no. Due to the strong gender equality, it is common to split the bill on a first date in Germany. Inviting a woman on the first date would be considered a sign of disrespect. Down the line, Germans tend to talk about finances and put up a rule of handling things. It is also quite common that men and women in exchange invite each other for dinner. Staying equal, in the partnership as well as with finances, is quite essential when dating in Germany.
9. Love your independence
On top of wanting to be considered as equal, Germans love their independence. Don’t be surprised to take things slow. Just because you might think you have met your significant other does not mean that he or she will drop everything, to spend every single minute with you and woo you all the time. On the contrary, Germans keep up their normal lifestyle, go to their sports groups, meet their friends, and fit you in between.
The moment a German prioritizes you over a regular habit is a big sign of ‘I’m in it for good’.
10. There are no written rules
There are no rules about steps to take on the first, second, or third date in Germany. When to kiss, when to have sex, and when to say ‘I love you’. Germans do all of the above when they feel it’s right, and they mean it, at least when they are looking for a serious relationship and not just a fling.
11. Vacation together – yes or no?
Germans love to travel and will expect you to travel with them. At the same time, though, they will also expect you to respect them traveling with friends without you. Whether that is to go party at ‘Ballermann’ in Mallorca with their best friends or on a city weekend trip with their family. Don’t become jealous – remember the importance of independence.
A German is serious about you when they join you to visit your home country. Jen asked me whether I wanted to visit Guatemala with her in our first year together. Four years later, we took my sister and her husband to Guatemala, and the following year my parents. That says it all.
12. Be prepared to plan your life
Being German basically stands for being a planner in every life aspect. When dating a German, you better start maintaining a calendar, as Germans do plan ahead weeks, months, heck sometimes even years. On top of that, when Germans commit to attending an event or accept an invite, they mean it and expect all involved parties to live up to it. Germans would never say yes to something out of politeness when they know that they will not live up to it.
Jen had to learn about the German ‘no’ on various occasions and appreciates it a lot, as a German ‘yes’ means you won’t be disappointed but instead that you can rely on that person.
13. The role of the family in dating a German
When a German introduces you to their family, that is a sign of serious commitment. You better learn some German, as by far not all parents of Germans will speak English. The rest is on you, just like in any other country in the world, the relationship with your potential parents in law can be tricky. Some embrace you as part of the family and keep in touch with you long after your relationship is over; others will give you a tough time and see you as a threat.
Moving into a relationship with a German
Be prepared to bring some patience into German dating – you have to be in it to win it. Just like there are no rules about when to kiss, have sex, etc., there are also no rules as to how many dates it takes to be officially in a relationship.
When you have made it to the relationship level, the next step, and test for the relationship, is moving together to a new apartment. It is relatively uncommon that one person moves into the place of the other.
Remember the planning part? Well, a relationship with a German is nothing else but planned life. Dinners alone, dinners with friends, doing sports, jobs, vacations, weddings, children, retirement. Don’t get scared now; Germans just don’t like leaving things to chance.
Getting married to a german
When it comes to getting married, Germans are private people. As the latest wedding study shows, 36% of all proposals happen at home and 29% while being on vacation. Well, and 18% of German couples get married without an actual proposal – say what?! Maybe those are the same couples that get married for tax reasons (24%). No reason to panic, though, for 96% of Germans, the biggest reason to get married is love.
Are you wondering who typically proposes? In straight couples, it still is traditionally the man (75%), and only 3% of German women take gender equality to the next level.
Stereotypes are just that
Everything you have read above about dating in Germany is highly stereotypical. It can be the absolute truth or further from the one German that will sweep you off your feet. And isn’t that the beauty of it all? Be prepared for the Germanness as well as for surprises. When Jen started to kiss me, I exclaimed in a very stereotypical way, ‘I don’t date Latinas’ and look where that got me – I married one 😅.
I hope you are ready and excited to start your German dating adventure. Don’t try too hard though, the best things happen when you least expect them, including meeting that special someone. Good luck! ❤️