What’s it like dating German men?
Having lived half a decade in Deutschland I’ve had my fair share of experiences – some grand, others regrettable – and can offer, cautiously, a Yankee perspective on the general question that will have generalized answers*. So please forgive (and indulge) me.
9 things to know before dating German men
1. Equality above chivalry
If you want an equal partnership – make Germany your first port of call. Here, all’s fair in love and equality. Rent and restaurant bills are split down the middle. You’ll seldom find doors held open for women. And it is extremely rare that a man will offer you the last seat on public transport. (Seriously. You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve seen pregnant women left standing).
2. Personalities: East vs. West vs. Bavaria
Just as American Northerners scoff at Southerners, Germany has its own regional rivalries and personalities. Here it is in three very broad brush strokes:
West Germans: They believe they come from the best part of Germany – and many are afraid to go in the eastwardly direction (fear of neo-nazis, lack of infrastructure, all the stereotypes). Educated but often arrogant individuals. As a German ex of mine said, “We are America’s rich son-in-law.” Only a West German would say that nonsense.
East Germans: the metaphorical step sister to West Germany’s post-war Cinderella story. Since shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, they grew up with the perception that West Germany is more desirable, more sophisticated, and the one that every hot economy wants to date. But with that insecurity comes a personality that, in my opinion from having briefly worked in the East, is more tender, down-to-earth, and my personal favorite: quiet.
Bavarians: Consider this group the German equivalent of America’s conservative South: deeply rooted in tradition, laden with gentlemen, and no one can understand what they’re saying with their thick accent.
Berliners: The wild card; a cocktail of West and East Germans.
3. Be direct and open to direct comments
No one can mind read, but here’s why it won’t bode particularly well in Germany: Die Deutsche Leute are direct – and they expect a well crafted communication style in return. If you say: “Everything is fine.” Then baby, everything is fine. They will tell you how they feel without any coaxing, and you ought to do the same.
Tip: If you lack talent in expressing your feelings (like me), you should stick to native English speakers who can interpret – and register – the art of passive aggression.
4. Sex is…
My friends’ responses on sex usually depend on their relationship status: Those who are blissfully dating will say it’s great, but nothing mind-blowing; those who have moved on say it’s anticlimactic and lacks sensuality; while the bitter broads compare it to German engineering: efficient, practical, but above all – quick.
However the above isn’t entirely fair. Major German cities are known for boasting both mainstream and underground sex and fetish clubs that are sure to house men that would make Christian Grey look like a timid schoolboy. So if kink’s your calling, these places are beckoning.
5. Cheap heap
In the expat community, Germans are known for being tight. Case and point: I know of a groom that once ordered Chinese delivery for his wedding reception dinner AND made guests pay for it. Another groom had friends work without pay at his reception to cut costs, effectively sidelining them from the celebrations (Note: both instances took place in West Germany). I could write short stories on anecdotes like this.
So ladies: if you’re at dinner and try to pull the fake “reach” for the bill stunt, you better be ready to follow through. The same goes for offers on drinks, paying for cabs, movies, [insert anything of monetary value here]. In Germany, humility does not call for a polite refusal at the first offer.
6. No relationship defining
When dating Germans, there are no formal discussions on “going steady” or relationship titles. But for those desperate to gauge, here’s my own unproven barometer to help guide:
- Three dinners or more = you’re dating. If he pays, you’re dating and he’s moving mountains.
- Sleeping over five times or more = you’re in a relationship. (Exception: if he already directly said he does NOT want anything serious. All men mean it when they say that; don’t try to change him).
- Moving in together = you’re in a serious relationship. Weddings and babies might be discussed informally, but it doesn’t necessarily mean marriage is on the table. Don’t ever forget it.
- Marriage = the proposal may be the first time you have ‘the talk’.
7. Know your politics
Germans love a good political debate and it’s impressive how much they know, or at the very least are curious, about current events. You’ll also find it refreshing to go beyond the Red State, Blue State rhetoric by having civilized debates based on reason rather than emotion.
8. No sarcasm
Don’t believe what you hear, Germans do have a good sense of humor – just more deadpan than slapstick. But if you want to be funny do avoid sarcasm because it won’t register with Germans unless they are exceptionally fluent.
Tip: Germans tend to prefer British wit (think Monty Python) to the crass American humor (think – actually, don’t think – of Bridesmaids sink defecation scene).
9. They’re a good secret to have
A German acquaintance once said: “We German men are hard to figure out. But if we let you in, you have a great secret all to yourself.”
He’s right. German partners are mainly interested in you. They don’t catcall on the streets. They don’t blatantly flirt with other girls and they don’t eye harass other women (at least not when you’re around, anyway). Germans may seem rough and direct, others wholly reserved – but once you break through that tough, beautiful exterior, you’ve earned their trust. And you’ll find a side that is sensitive, loveable, and indeed – a secret worth keeping.
*Disclaimer: Of course there are many exceptions. Relax. This is light hearted love on well-known stereotypes.