All the Scandinavian Dating Rules You Should Know

Dating in Denmark can be tricky for foreigners who aren’t familiar with Scandinavian culture. It is said that Danes don’t date in a traditional way—they tend to skip the flirting phase and be very direct about their feelings. Of course, when it comes to romance, every person is different, but these tips may prove very helpful for expats.

Dating Danish Women: A guide for the foreign man

I get a lot of mail from readers of this site, but a lot of the mail I get is on one particular topic.

Here’s one from this week, from Teddy in Ghana: I WANT TO KNOW IF DANES WOMEN WILL DATE A GHANAIAN MAN. I AM VERY MUCH INTERESTED. And one from last month, from Alex: “Hi, I’d like to know if Danish girls would date a bi-racial Brazilian guy.” And one from late last year: “I’m a gay African American male who would like to date a Dane. Any advice?”

Basically, a lot of the mail I get is from men, wanting to know how they can get some action in Denmark.

I can understand this. Danes are very beautiful. And I can tell you now, most of them will not immediately reject you because you have a different skin color. I know of several babies of mixed heritage here in Denmark.

While I can’t offer any personal insights on gay dating in Denmark, I can tell you that male-female dating in Denmark is hard, even for the Danes, and it will probably be hard for you too.

Usual tactics won’t workThat’s because the process that works in much of the rest of the Western world doesn’t work in Denmark. In most parts of the world, a man will see a woman he likes, and he’ll approach her. He’ll try to start a conversation. Maybe he’ll ask if he can buy her a coffee, or some other type of drink. If they’re in a nightclub, he might ask her if she’d like to dance, or maybe go outside and get some fresh air.

These tactics will get you nowhere in Denmark. In fact, they will get you rejected, and then you’ll worry that that you’re being rejected because you’re a foreigner. No. Danes are not good with strangers, any type of stranger. Generally, they don’t talk to strangers. They talk to their friends.

Don’t tell her how much money you makeBut first, let me tell you another thing that will get you rejected. I’ll call it Manhattan behavior, because it was the way people dated when I lived in New York City. Men would tell a lady how much money they made, and how much money they were going to make, how much power and influence they had, and how expensive their watch was.

This will get you nowhere in Denmark. First of all, if you have money in Denmark, the government’s going to take it all away. The tax department will have your number, real fast.

Second of all, Denmark is a very non-hierarchal society, very flat structure. I think it’s fair enough to say most women will prefer a man with a steady job, but saying you have a top management position just means that you have to spend a lot of time working and not as much time with your family and friends. That’s not very Danish.

Show off your good worksSo instead, if you want to impress a Danish woman, talk about how your work benefits society at large, particularly how it benefits people who don’t have a lot of resources.

For example, there are a lot of foreign engineers in Denmark. Don’t tell a girl, as I have seen done, yeah, I’m an engineer, it’s pretty boring. No, say, I’m an engineer, and I’m helping people in developing nations access clean water.

Hmmm…pretty good. Another way to impress a Danish women is showing how your work benefits the environment. I’m a petroleum engineer. My job is to rethink drilling to minimize the danger to the environment.

Hmmm…sounds great. Creative industries, like design, and digital media, and video, are also popular in Denmark. Whatever you do, frame it in a way to show how it’s helping people. I really suggest guys prepare a little speech to this extent before they start to meet women in Denmark. 2 or 3 sentences, that’s all it takes.

As a matter of fact, if you’re hoping to meet women in Denmark, do a little preparation beforehand.

For example, check out how the local guys your age have their hair cut, and what they’re wearing. I’ve seen foreign guys in nightclubs with tight business shirts and shiny business shoes on, and they’re getting nowhere. Do some reconnaissance first, maybe do some shopping. Danes are casual, but not sloppy.

And light on the cologne, guys. It’s actually not necessary at all, but if you insist, use a very, very light touch.

Meet the guys firstNow, as I promised, back to how to meet women in the first place. Danes, as I mentioned, aren’t very good with strangers. They talk to their friends.

What you need to do is come into their circle of friends. I suggest talking to one of the guys in the group. Talk to him about sports, the deejay, how he knows the host if you’re at a house party. And after a few minutes of chatting with him, you can ask him if who that girl in the brown jacket is, and if she’s here with a boyfriend. If she’s available, now you know the lady’s name, and she’s seen you with someone in her group, so you’re a complete stranger any more.

Go over and introduce yourself, and say you hear that she’s a petroleum engineer, whose job is to rethink drilling to minimize the danger to the environment. And that’s fascinating, because you really care about the environment. And I think you can take it from there.

This is somewhat how the Danes do it themselves, except that there’s a lot of alcohol involved.

Basically, Danes go through all the same steps, but they’re very shy, so they do it while drinking a bottle of wine, or sometimes a bottle of vodka. If alcohol vanished from the Earth, so would romance in Denmark. 

Dating Danish Women: A guide for the foreign man

Learn to be direct

Even though the previous ‘rule’ should have been enough of a hint, we thought we should say it out-right: Danes appreciate directness. So, feel free to skip the standard phrases (“you have the most beautiful eyes/hair/face/lips I have ever seen”) that you might usually use before asking someone out. If you do well on the date you’ll have plenty of time to express what attracted you in the first place. But remember: being direct doesn’t mean being rude. Make sure to have learnt the difference before entering the Danish dating scene.

Learn to be direct

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Think about the sort of person you would like to share a long-term relationship with.

Looks matter, for sure. But the chances are you would choose someone who is genuine, considerate, interested in you and who makes you laugh. There’s nothing wrong with that: it’s the most human thing of all: we want to be with people who make us you write your online dating profile, make sure you’re the sort of person you would want to be with. Try to resist the temptation to talk just about yourself: make it clear you’re interested in other people too. What would you like to do together with your date? What do you enjoy in people? Show that you are someone who is great company, not just someone who expects people want to be with them.

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36 Comments

Haha! Nice one for men! ? Indeed Danish women are pretty tough. Being surrounded with Danish women who are married to foreigners they seem to have good connection despite the differences. Just with the “not showing off your money”. In my opinion women nowadays prefer to marry someone who is stable and with that comes money! ? I remember a Danish host said to me.. I saw your dates´ car! He must be earning a lot of money! ? And she is well, a very successful woman.

Very interesting…… you have any suggestions for women dating danish men. as well? It would really be helpful too. ?

Hi Lis! Yes, here are my tips for the non-Danish women dating a Danish man…

I am a non-Dane, but have been living in Denmark for 14 years. I am a commuter too, and even though I am used to the peculiarities of the Danish society, it strikes me every time Danish men push past me or even push me just to get a seat on the train. And… if a pregnant woman is standing on the train or a bus, the rest of the seats are usually occupied by men, of course. ?

Ha ha, Ilse! A Danish commentator once said that before anyone would give up a seat on Danish transit, you’d have to be ‘blødende, dødende, eller fødende’ (Bleeding, dying, or in the midst of giving birth.)

My experience is that once they know you, Danes of both genders are kind, loyal, and thoughtful. But if they don’t know you, they can can inexcusably rude. This also applies to other Danes, not just foreigners.

Great insights! I think your observations and suggestions are spot on. I moved to CPH last Fall from the US and was wondering if you had any online dating sites that you’d recommend for us expats — to either meet locals or each other.

Hey Don! There are a lot of different dating websites for different communities in Denmark. I don’t know enough about you to recommend a specific one, but you might try ‘Elitedaters’, which is for people with college degrees and other career-oriented types. They have an English version, which suggests they’re looking for international users, and I’ve noticed a large female-to-male ratio there that should benefit men looking for women! Good luck.

I have been reading the book Shantaram, which is based on a true story. In the book it says in Copenhagen they have some clubs called telephone clubs where you go to the club, share a table and everyone has a telephone, and you call people on different tables to chat. Is this something that is just fictional or does it still happen as I am going to Copenhagen and would be interested to visit. Thanks

Hi Amy! I have never heard of any club like this in Copenhagen….although I would suppose these days every club in the world features people calling each other on mobile phones!

Hi Kay!First of all, it’s a really great website you have here! And really some good advice you give out.. but, as a Danish woman, I can’t help to feel a bit offended. A danish woman isn’t that complicated, all we like is the truth. Some of the point you make are good and sadly true, but you also makes it sound like we are a bit stupid and only need to be told what we wanna hear.

We like the truth, we like being complimented, but we can extremly embarresed when people give us a compliment. And then the last thing, my advice as a danish woman, we don’t like to admit it, but we live by the law of Jante (Jante loven), ones you look it up, you quickly see how easy danish women is to be around ?

Hey, Nina – thanks for your input! I realize giving conversational tips can be a little bit simplistic. That said, the way that men approach women differs greatly by culture. Some of the men who write to me ask if they should approach a Danish woman they don’t know but find attractive by surprising her with a bouquet of flowers, or by writing her a love poem. That may work well in their home cultures, but it’s not likely to be a big hit in Denmark!

can you tell me when it’s the best time to go to denmark i mean when you can find lots of girls in bars and the best beaches during summer time! to find a date? and best places to find a good room for rent?

For me as a black men who has 6 month in denmark looking for a dansk women have experinced several times this…its either in social network or even in city when you in facebook and add a danish girl and try chat with her,the next step is she calls you stranger and block you,in streets every girl i try make a conversation with she claims she has a boyfriend in my list i came across 8 girls and they all have boyfriend,so is it like a cultural in denmark that everyone has a boyfriend or till now am soo searching for a girl i would like you to help me madam kay or even hook me up with one…

Its not easy for Danes girl to accept your request on facebook . I can say they hate strangers. But when get Danes guy or girl as a friend trust they very nice people . They kind and loving peoples . They used to help allot . I have a Danes friend who is retired teacher . He used visit me here in Ghana very two years . He just left Ghana three day ago . He and his wife are very friendly and kind too .

What is the Danish equivalent of asking out a girl.

I know a girl reasonably well, we seem to get along well and have common interests. I like her and think she might also be interested.

How do I communicate interest in her, without embarrassing her? I am of course the foreigner, desperate to start a new life, it is likely she doesn’t have the same pressure.

Since you guys have common interests, why not suggest getting together for something that involves those interests? Say, for example, you both are wild about Danish rap music. (Unlikely, perhaps, but humor me for a moment.) Find a concert that’s at least two to four weeks away and ask if she’d like to go with you. No need to pay for her ticket – that’s too much too soon, even if it’s her birthday or something.

If she says yes, then you can spend the next 2 weeks discussing the rapper’s latest music and what he’ll play and who the opening act is and where you should eat before or go afterwards. Don’t feel the need to plan the evening for your date the way you might in some countries – Danish women are quite happy to make their own contribution to the planning, and she may have some great suggestions. After the concert, in the night air and possibly after a few drinks, you can make your move and see where things go from there. Alcohol and Danish romance are very closely linked.

If she says no – perhaps because she’s booked that night – then try again with another concert or something else you have in common. She’s also got the opening now to ask you to an event, and Danish women are quite good at taking the initiative if they are interested.

After two or at the very most three ‘no’s with no return invitation from her, it’s time to move on to the next pretty lady.

Go out and get drunk, the Danes are somewhat socially constipated, have an obsession about personal space and strangers. This means that unless they are blind drunk they are unlikely to chat with a stranger except if you asked them for help in the street/bus stop for direction and only then in English.

The next best thing is find a common interest volunteer or join a club. There will be some common interests. Failing that – Tinder works – try to get them on Facetime or WhatsApp and agree a date/meetup from there.

A petroleum engineer who cares about the environment… got it.

Haha ? excellent article. the last sentence says it all ?So, what should we do ? only date expats ? stay between expats ? i’ve been in this situation to often, where you end up socializing with expats and eventually dating an american girl in Brazil ?

Im a danish girl and just wanting to let you know that i have been reading around on alot of websides, about dating danish girls and people in general…jesus!we don’t have the best online rumor du we now?

well I have been around alot of both foreing men and danish men.. I have dated Danes and now Im with an irish man. ?

WHAT DO WE DANISH WOMEN WANT:yes we can seem cold.. its true.. but just as you guys have had bad exspiriences with women.. belive me.. we have had bad exspiriences with men are private people and there is a sense of ritual. ?

1. BE YOURSELF2. Don’t silde behind a woman on the dance floor and do the grind and hump thing! (no one likes that)3. when you do talk to girls, make sure they feel safe.. and you arent just talking to them because of their boobs.(and if you are, don’t be a douch about it, she will send you a signal if she wants the D) honest tell her “that you didn’t mean to interupt, but girl you just seem to be having a good time and you have a great smile” (something like that ? make it easy and playful5. Humor is the absolut best way to do it and aknowlegeing that this whole man chasing women is a bit akward. take a joke and make it work!

now thats how me and most of my female friends think. ? hope it could be if she still dosent want you .. she problay has an off day or is the classic danish shy. But there are many more lovely Danish girls out here.(I have been there with both danish and forein men! some like what I do and to some i just aint there type. that dosen’t mean the entire country is cold or just wanting to crap my butt or slide behind me on the dance floor ? STILL A BIG NO)

It’s really strange for me, because I don’t get on with people easily, but after spending just one (!) day in Copenhagen, I felt very comfortable with Danish girls. I’m rather shy and calm, and for my compatriots – rather weird. Overall I don’t get it, yet it was a very pleasant, if short, stay for me – the girls I met were always smiling and very, very nice. ?

In search of a special friend from mid 1974. I was active duty w/United States Navy and part of the NATO Force. Her First Name is Kisten. I did not know her last name. We met in Copenhagen at a club near where my ship was moored. The location was near the Mermaid. We danced until the club closed at which time she invited me to go to the Copenhagen Sheraton where they had an all-night Band. We left the Sheraton at about 5:00 A.M. and took a Taxi to her Parents Residence and the Taxi then carried me to my ship. At 7:00 A.M., Kisten was taking her Parents to Breakfast. At 10:00 A.M. my ship was getting underway for home, Charleston, SC. This was Sunday Morning.

Kisten was a Native of Denmark but in 1974 she was a School Teacher working in Greenland. She was in Copenhagen visiting her Parents. This was Sunday Morning and she would return to Greenland Monday Morning.

My objective is to perhaps correspond with her or just say Hi. I am single but I have no idea what her Marital status is. I would be very discrete with any inquiry. Perhaps you could give me a few tips. My thought was to begin with the Greenland School System.

Kisten’s last words to me were, ” Let us let this beautiful night live in our memories forever” forty years later and the memory lives on.

I’m convinved that her first name must have been “Kirsten” (a Danish name) and not “Kisten” (not a Danish name). Good luck!

Guys, guys, guys…I don’t really think you have to do and go through all of that to just meet a women, come on now…First off, women are more desperate for dating than men are, just be your self, no need to go out of your beautiful country looking for something you haven’t in Denmark aren’t alliens, they are just that, women, normal sweet women that know how to love and appreciate a good man regardless where that man is coming from, or even how attractive he is, just like the women you have in your own you are the type of guy who likes to have a direct aprouch, go for it, be a man, be a respectful man, know who you are and be it, by doing so will put your self on a pedestal , pedestal where everybody wants to get on because you are real, if you have an open hart and smile, sincerely smile to people you will never be short on friends, love or anything you want in gents, women are beautiful indeed, but there are thausands out there, be selective, DO NOT SELL YOUR SELF SHORT, share your life with the persons you really want to be with, YOU MUST BE HAPPY, if are not happy you cannot make anybody go out there and be your self, I won’t tell you how to or what to say to her because at the end of the day you are the one who is going to be with that person not me, so…, Just one thing… Never is where I jump off of the train fun.

Not to be too assuming but being Australian and living in the USA, I found this description of Danish women to be a little disheartening. Europe and especially the north is always received to be such a civilized culture that intimidates US Americans, however, everyone in my city in the USA will give up a seat on the bus for a woman especially if she is elderly or has a stroller. Maybe the USA is not so uncivilized after all. Maybe we shouldn’t glorify Europe so much.

Giving up your seat for women and elderly is so old fashioned. Women are strong and able to stand up, and researchers actually advice people not to give up their seats to elderly on the bus, because elderly today are very fresh and mobile and need to strengthen their bones. And by the way, Danish people stand up for elderly people on the bus too ?

Danish female here. This article was hilarious – and probably true! And the “if alcohol vanished from earth, so would romance in Denmark” is lowkey true indeed.

My 10 years of experience in Denmark tells me that Danes love to talk with strangers and are actually very easy to approach, but it’s the way you approach them that can turn into a rejection immediately. Basically, they’re not into bullshit and “theatre”. If they’re not into you, they don’t waste their time pretending that they are. If you think you can use the “latino” tricks or smartass approaches, then it’s definately game over. Instead, a discrete and humble kind of humor is they way to go ?

I dated a Danish girl and being an American it it just won’t work, although she made Hollywood movie stars look like haggards with her looks (exaggeration, I know). There is a great quote in the John Hickenlooper (Governor of Colorado) autobiography where he states that American men are too competitive for Swedish/Danish women. During our competitive drive, we seek a woman’s approval continuously-subconsciously- and Scandinavian women hate a competitor. That was John’s observation and also mine.

Not buying that argument. I’ve been married for 25 yrs to a Dane. She’s just like any woman from around the world. Respect, honesty, care for family and society. The part about “strangers” is absolutely true even between Danes. The best advise is to befriend a you “one night seekers” it will take more then a day or week, but you could gain friends for life. Once a part of the group you will get to know the individuals and get a chance to date.

5.3.2018 – Hi, GOOD news. We decided to merry! My friend is Danish, I am Dutch. Could you please recommend an informative Danish website which is explaining Danish obligations, including tax (SKAT)?Thank you, kind regards, Stephan.

How about ? It’s the official Danish government website for people coming to Denmark. Much of it seems to be focused on people coming from outside the EU, but perhaps you can find some links that are useful anyway.

I have experienced that the majority of Danish women have no feminism left. Many Danish women have become “men” in womens bodies.

The charm, shyness and gentleness you see in many other women from e.g. south and eastern European countries is completely lost in Danish women, I guess that is why they dress with little or very tight clothes.-If you can’t attract men with good and charming personality then you just have to use primitive/viking ways.

My experience with Danish women is also that they tend to be very easily irritated and have a short temper, for example many Danish women are very quick to break up a relationship because of little things, maybe this is why many Danish men are finding their wife’s outside Denmark, like in Thailand.

Many Danish women also lack fundamental women qualities, like they are not shy around men at all, furthermore they don’t have any modesty either, they can walk around in hotpants (underwear) without feeling any shame. I honestly get completely turned off by their lack of basic female enough I have noticed that if you completely ignore or reject them, they can’t handle it, they then try to get your attention even if they may be a stranger to you.

All in all I have seen to many men burn their fingers badly on Danish women, I therefore try to avoid any contact with them.

Never find a danish woman as your relationship partner. Danish women don’t value loyalty, half of the population were dumped by their parents when they were toddlers, which means they were brought up by unhealthy families and simply don’t know anything about healthy relationship between men and women. They will break up with a tiny little thing, shake off and find another one once they get lonely again. That’s how this country works. Don’t burn your fingers unless you’re looking for one night stands. Trust me, I was there.

I had a great relationship with a Danish girl back in the eighties, we both worked in the west end of London and both drank in the local pub at the top of Carnaby Street. We hit it off fairly quickly and enjoyed each others company. We did eventually part (mainly my fault), but I often think about her now. If she ever sees this I am sure she will recognise who I am. I went to Denmark a few times as she lived in Ballerup which is just outside Copenhagen

The reason I m here is that i have enough of too feminine women in my country Sri Lanka. There is something special about danish women which i liked so much than other european types. The last time i saw that danish girl i m still crazy about her. Can’t imagine such a stunning girl she was. I have to marry one somehow.