Ask any expatriate, exchange student, fellow traveler, or even the guy selling strawberries down at the Saturday market, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: Swedish women are confusing, even more so than… well, there might not be anything more confusing than Swedish women.
Dating in Sweden can be... well, complicated to say the least. Photo: Tamar Amashukeli
And you know what? I agree. I’ve gone on a few dates here, and every time found myself more and more perplexed. Christ, even O.J. Simpson’s police chase makes more sense.
Let’s save ourselves a lot of time here and just agree that Swedish women are incredibly attractive. They have terrific personalities, million-dollar smiles, and are more in shape than 99.99% of everyone else. They’re well-educated, know exactly what they want in life, and usually speak with an accent that makes us men melt every time we hear it. Oh, and did I mention almost all of them look like they should be modeling somewhere? Seriously, Tyra Banks has nothing on them.
But damn, they are enigmatic. Allow me to illustrate by sharing my personal experiences.
I’ll admit I’ve always been a little nervous courting the opposite sex, probably due to watching – as God is my witness – more romantic comedies than quite possibly any other heterosexual male on earth. But I held firmly to the popular U.S. stereotype that Swedish women go crazy for American guys, and let my friends do the rest to inflate my ego to levels perhaps only rivaled by Muhammad Ali or Zlatan Ibrahimovic himself. I was young, I was in good shape, and I was American: when I arrived in Sweden, the ladies wouldn’t stand a chance.
But as the weeks went by, I gaped in paralyzed horror as my self-esteem was quickly ground into mush. Not only did all my previously held notions turn out to be totally wrong, but it seemed the opposite was true; compared to the endless number of good-looking, well-muscled, and much better dressed Swedish guys, it seemed no woman was interested in a pale, skinny American with absolutely zero fashion sense and a shaggy haircut.
Eventually, however, I drummed up enough courage to ask a girl from one of my classes for a fika in Teleborgs Slott. We talked, laughed, and I somehow managed to pay for her – something many Swedish women, I knew, were not used to. We hung out a few more times and, in my mind, there was no way I could fail. I was IN.
Just because you had a fika with a girl in a castle does not mean she will see it as a date. Photo: Ben Mack
But then disaster struck. I asked her to dinner, assuming the answer would be an automatic “yes.” Instead, I received a text message explaining that dinner would feel “too much like a date.”
In all my 21 years, I had never been so confused. Would feel too much like a date? Really? I mean, c’mon, we had coffee at a freakin’ castle!
A good way to get to know a girl is to spend time with her, even if it involves freezing half to death. Photo: Johannes Feldmann
In one swift blow, my self-esteem returned to its liquidous state. A few weeks later, it evaporated entirely when, after getting the phone number of a girl I had warmed up to, she rejected me by flat-out saying I wasn’t her “type.” Looking back on it, I probably asked her out for the wrong reasons anyway, but if I had known what I know now I could’ve gotten a lot more sleep.
A few weeks after her – whom my friends only refer to as “Miss A” – there was yet another girl. Unlike the others, she took the initiative of “first contact” by talking to me after a class we shared. A hopeful sign? Perhaps. But then again, I’m pretty sure I’m not psychic. And later events would certainly validate that.
The two of us had something in common right away: both of us studied journalism. She seemed to spend every moment picking my brains on life in the U.S., determined to study there one day. We had similar tastes in music and movies, and even shared a secret passion for documentaties.
Travelling to places such as Kalmar Slott is also a good way to get to know a girl. Photo: Ben Mack
We hung out every day for about a week, and finally one night she spontaneously invited me over for dinner. We ate a nice meal of chicken and rice, and then we talked for a bit. And talked. And talked. And talked some more. By the time I finally excused myself and went home, it was past 4 a.m. She had poured her heart out to me, displayed the entire spectrum of human emotion, told me things she said she had never told anyone else – or so I thought.
A couple weeks later, she told me she was seeing someone. A guy whose name I never learned, of whom she and her friends had never spoken, and of whom I didn’t even see any evidence of on Facebook.
Jeez, how cruel can a girl be? If you want to say “I’m not interested,” then just say it! Mentioning possibly fictitious boyfriends only makes it crueler!
But that’s dating in Sweden for you. If I’ve learned one thing from my time here, it’s that I don’t know anything.
So everyone, I’m with you: I’m just as clueless as you are. If you can decipher the mystery of Swedish dating, let me know.
I’ll be drowning my sorrows in coffee.