Guide to dating the Belgians

Guide to dating the Belgians

Comments15 comments

Looking for love in Belgium? Here are some tips for socialising in the Belgian culture to get you into the Belgian dating game.

Dating someone from a foreign country can be an exciting experience, but it's important to keep in mind that a relationship with a person from another culture can be complex. Different cultures around the world have a different appreciation of the qualities that make someone a desirable mate. What might be considered romantic, attractive or polite in one culture, might not be well received in another.

You may notice differences between the language communities, and as you wouldn't stereotype your own dating traits, nor can you stereotype Belgian dating traits. Thus, here are some general tips for dating Belgians to help you avoid any dating blunders.

Getting started: Tips for socialising with Belgians


Belgians tend to be reserved and conservative, and good manners are key when looking to impress someone.

In Belgium, men are expected to rise when a woman enters the room. They also stand on public transportation until women are seated. This is a sign of politeness and respect. Do not be surprised to get a 'judging look' by people in Belgium; they tend to be very keen on good manners in public places.

When you are invited somewhere, you should accept any drink offered by the host. Don't ask for a drink when you are not offered one. Do not be surprised if partners or husbands and wives are not seated together at dinner, as this is normal for the Belgians. Belgians are thrifty and do not appreciate waste, so finish all the food on your plate, too.

In business meetings, gifts are not to be exchanged. However, when you are invited to someone's home, always bring flowers to the hostess and perhaps some candy for the children, if any. By no means give chrysanthemums, as they symbolise death.

Dating a Belgian

The Belgians are gentle and reserved in nature. It is acceptable for a foreign woman to invite a Belgian man to dinner, and pay the bill. Do not put your hands in your pockets, yawn or use toothpicks in public places. Your feet should never be put on chairs or tables. Keep your hands on the table at all times during a meal, not in your lap.

If you are dating a Belgian, avoid discussing personal matters, or at least at avoid them at the beginning of your acquaintance.

Men and women usually marry in their teens and 20s, and begin their families early. This is why it is possible to find single men and women in their 30s or 40s, as they married young and are now divorced.  

Marrying a Belgian

Married couples often work side-by-side in either business or farming. Instead of divorcing, couples who are in business together may remain legally married in order to protect the business, while maintaining separate households with new partners.

Most families have between two and four children.

It is of course possible to live happily-ever-after with a Belgian; as the Belgians value good manners, if yours are not up to Belgian standards, try changing them to win their hearts or resolve issues.


Teodora Todorova  / Expatica

Find love abroad: Expat datingLooking for love? Interested in making new friends? Register for free at Expatica Date to meet the most eligible inter­nationals in Belgium.



Updated from 2011.

Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.

If you believe any of the information on this page is incorrect or out-of-date, please let us know. Expatica makes every effort to ensure its articles are as comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we're also grateful for any help! (If you want to contact Expatica for any other reason, please follow the instructions on this website's contact page.)


Captcha Note: Characters are case sensitive
The details you provide on this page will not be used to send any unsolicited e-mail, and will not be sold to a third party. Privacy policy .

15 Comments To This Article

  • Mehdreamer posted:

    on 2nd August 2016, 17:17:47 - Reply

    You won't find many mixed couples in Belgium. Maybe few White belgian men/ Foreign female but the opposite is quite rare.

    Belgiuan girls seem to prefer to stick to their own.
  • 50 posted:

    on 13th May 2016, 13:08:23 - Reply

    What ever happened to judging people on an individual basis vs. their nationality? Not every Belgian is the same. Moreover, people confuse "culture" with "lifestyle." Big difference. Just because someone doesn't accept YOUR lifestyle doesn't mean their don't accept your culture. Examples of Belgian culture are Manneke Pis, beer, chocolates, soccer, etc. What you feel comfortable discussing with another or the way you treat another is a PERSONAL choice.

  • Sigrid posted:

    on 24th March 2016, 13:43:59 - Reply

    Dear Cat, I am sorry to hear about all the problems you seemed to have in your relationship with a Belgian. I am also sorry that you are using those experiences to paint a portret of all Belgians that is quite negative, definitely unkind and fortunately all but accurate. I'm not doubting your personal experiences with this one person but I will passionately deny that this description characterizes Belgians.
    Just picture this for one moment: think of how this Belgian person would describe you. Do you think it would be an accurate description of someone from your country? Would you think that description is at least somewhat vindictive? Would you like it?
    If you wouldn't like it, you would know how I feel right now, being Belgian and being depicted in a totally unfair way because of your personal feud with a Belgian.
    And if I may add: isn't it striking how you did go for a relationship with a Belgian anyway? It seems to me he wasn't so bad at some point... :-) What also strikes me is that you blame Belgians for speaking their own language in their own country... You clearly expected everyone to adapt to you and speak (I assume) English. As they would need to do in your country!!! Belgian people are well known for speaking several languages (on average 3: Dutch, French and English) so communicating with them can't be all that hard. I personally speak at least 3 different languages every day in an effort to accommodate all the foreigners in our country, who quite often have not mastered even one foreign language...
    I am a Belgian woman in a relationship with a Greek man for 13 years now and I have not heard any complaints about not being accepted, not receiving unconditional love or having to deal with our Belgian 'inferiority complex', as you describe it! I believe you ought to come back to Belgian for a corrective perspective on this country and it's people!
    I wish you all the happiness in the world, clearly with someone that is not Belgian ;-)
  • cat posted:

    on 12th November 2015, 20:32:33 - Reply

    Please note that what the person said previously- won't find unconditional love as we don't let go of what we have already established and even if love doesn't work out you can still have a healthy relationship and also note the inferior complex of the Belgians in general- put this all together with a catholic patriarchal conditioning and you are going to have issues if you are an outsider getting involved with a divorced Belgian. For one, you will never be loved in the way you should be as the first partner who has the children is always going to take prevalence as they can't let go of what has already been established... This means that you will never receive the unconditional or true love you seek in the divorced Belgian partner because the other or previous partner is always going to be in the pic as well as their kids and families- do not date or get involved with a divorced Belgian unless you can accept all these and accept being secondary. The couple though separated or divorced will still hold on esp when residing in another culture as they have an inferiority complex that will always bond them together as Belgian culture. If you are not Belgian, you will not be accepted unless you conform to Belgian ways as the culture is very hierarchical- they won't change or be sensitive to you or your needs if you are an outsider. Often down-to-earth can be dysfunctional behaviour to some as their are no boundaries in this culture. I also noted that women can be looked-up to for having affairs or flings in their marriages as it appears to be socially acceptable. Men can even stay with their wives or partners not knowing who the child is of the woman- their's or someone else's.

  • What18 posted:

    on 8th November 2015, 18:38:00 - Reply

    It is weird to read it! Really is... But in general I think all cultures have become a lot more similar, so I don't see difficulties in dating foreigners except for the minor hurdle of learning either language. Some people seem to have had bad experiences with one Belgian inhabitant and they tend to put every Belgian in the same boat. That's a bit painful to read. I can say for a fact that Belgians have a lot of pride, but that mostly comes because of a low self-esteem, we have constant need for approval, approval of other countries, other people. Since we are small we want to be recognized and that's why a lot of Belgian people are hardworking and don't want to see that effort go to waste, that's also why in a Belgian relationship work will always be an important part of it, but we aren't unable to seperate love and work from each other. It's true that you can't say "Belgian" like I did, since Wallonia and Flemish part are day and night. But the one thing we all have in common is that we are a friendly bunch. We are quite down to earth people and because of that we are sometimes stiff or distant, we are definitily not the type of people to throw everything away to chase after love and all the uncertainties it brings with it. But that also includes that we are responsible and trustworthy, someone you can build on. Faithfulness to one another is really important, that's why divorces in Belgium will always linger on with both parties and I don't see any problems with that, we aren't the people to hold grudges against each other if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, plain simple. But that's no reason for us to be conceited. You should be able to seperate "what was" from "what is" or "what needs to be done". Not being lovers anymore, doesn't mean you can't have a healthy relationship anymore, even if it's only practical. If you've read all this, you've probably come to the conclusion that a person looking for unconditional love won't have much chance finding it here, since most of us will have a hard time letting go what they already have established.
    I'm almost done and to end this rant I just want to say that there aren't any rules you should follow when it comes to love, just find it out for yourself step by step. The article is exaggerated and you shouldn't lump a whole country in one box. You'll find the same kind of people in every country. I'm certain there will be at least one Belgian person out there that connects in a way no other could. Good luck finding that person and always welcome to come visit Belgium ;)

  • cat posted:

    on 13th September 2015, 23:22:19 - Reply

    I dated a Belgian for a year and he was the most difficult man I had ever been with. Some things resonate in this article but both him and his ex wife did not have good boundaries after their divorce nor during it. Belgian culture has not dealt that much with divorce overall as it is still new there but if you want his or her ex to remain in the pic for a very long time then marry a divorced Belgium. And the kids and ex will always take priority as image is very important to Belgian families even when divorced. I find the culture way too traditional and women's positions very defined and that men have rights that women don't have as I experienced it. I would never date a Belgian again or get involved with one who was divorced with kids as forever in a day that ex Belgian wife is going to remain in the pic and take prevalence over you and so will the kids and his family will also put her first. Exteriorly the culture is patriarchal but interiorly matriarchaI. I found Belgian culture more similar to Italian culture structurally than French culture as I have many friends from France who are not like Belgians at all but for some reasons Belgians like to act like they are French and into French culture. I also found Belgians to be too proud and want to impose their culture onto everyone else. Flemish is also not a pretty sounding language to be frank. They tend to speak in Flemish around you without a care that you cannot understand them- I think they think that is your fault for not being a Belgian. I found this to be rude and disrespectful. My overall experience with Belgian culture being an American was negative and I have no desire to be involved or around Belgian people ever again.

  • Hichal posted:

    on 26th May 2015, 23:40:04 - Reply

    I remember that I was thought not to put my hands in my lap while having dinner. And to keep our elbows next to you (and not on the table).

    Putting your hands in your lap feels like bad etiquette to me, but in real life everybody does it all the time though.
  • Waitwhat posted:

    on 25th March 2015, 16:24:49 - Reply

    As a born and raised Belgian (Flemish) I find this article complete bull.
    Every country likes manners, but this is excessive, this article looks like it was written a century ago. This is ridiculous.
    I yawn in public when I feel the need to yawn and I almost always have my hands in my pockets.
    If you were to write an article about dating a Belgian, at least make it accurate.

  • Sofie posted:

    on 16th December 2014, 17:13:31 - Reply

    Hi,

    Wonderfully bizarre article!

    Some commentary on this article:

    Nobody has ever given up his or her place for me on the bus. Oh wait. Once! Not bad.

    Why would you go on a date and not discuss personal matters? We certainly won't discuss how much we earn!

    > 'Do not be surprised to get a "judging look" by people in Belgium' .
    Living in Liege the judging look is to judge assess and then gossip accordingly. Usually everybody considers everybody else to have ulterior motives.

    For Wallonia: Men are expected to be macho and sexist, in my opinion. . And homephobic insults towards others usually signs of hegemonic masculinity. Trans and homo are usually conflated and demonized due to lack of education and intolerace. Any homosexual friends I had left, and I know lots who did not get jobs because they were deemed too feminine. Men seem to have an idea that women and femininity are inferior, and feminine men are unwanted. Some women seem to think the same!

    I really noticed all of this when I came back recently after living in Netherlands for 10 years. If this is culture shock I hope it'll pass.

    Kind regards, Sofie.

  • ibc24 posted:

    on 11th July 2012, 14:24:33 - Reply

    This article in itself it's quite good. Having said that, good manners and being polite goes beyond borders and culture, I must say, I do appreciate a man opening the door of a car, or any place we go together, for which this has been lost in our culture somehow. So going back to your article, I have lived in Wallonia, Brussels and now in Flanders and I do say they are vast differences in all, I find people in Brussels more open to foreigners for the fact that is a multicultural city, Wallonia is also pleasant as long as you have the ability of speaking french and ones the "ice" is broken you may find very pleasant people, and in Flanders, people are also reserved in the beginning and once you have established a good rapport, you can and may become really good friends, but romantic relashionships are sure difficult, I met my husband in America, He was a man who had seen the world, in travel and professionally, so we clicked immediately and we were together until he passed away, I would say he was my "soul mate" and although we had many times "differences of opinion", we always found our "common ground". So to summarize, I would say that cultural differences can be challenging, but not impossible to start a spark in your heart. If you are looking you may find lasting romance in Belgium.
  • Manfred posted:

    on 10th May 2012, 21:43:56 - Reply

    The biggest mistake in this and most other articles lies in the use of the word "Belgian".
    There is no such thing as a Belgian when it comes to cultural and interpersonal aspects.
    Basically, you have the north and the south. Both of which have their own customs and culture.
    The northern part, Flanders, is much more related to The Netherlands, Germany, The U.K. in terms of history, culture and habits.
    The southern part, Wallonia, tends to be more "southern" and shows more relation to countries as France, Italy and Spain.
    An example is the greeting between men. In Wallonia it is not uncommon for men to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, as it is in other southern european countries.
    In Flanders this will always be seen as "gay" (in the sense of homosexual).
    A Belgian only exists as a nationality, a stamp on a passport, not as a cultural entity.
    As far as customs go when you're invited: don't worry to much about it. Firstly, the world has become a village and especially the "western" world has mostly the same values and customs, no matter where you go.
    Secondly, as a foreigner you will be cut some slack in terms of manners and customs.
  • Fekhar posted:

    on 9th February 2012, 18:05:57 - Reply

    I find strange, the "dont put your hands in your lap", doest it really matter all that ?? any belgians to answer this plz
  • Married2a FlemishGuy posted:

    on 18th January 2012, 19:31:10 - Reply

    I agree with Gauthier! Great fun to read the article, but please also take into account the differences of culture between linguistic groups as well!

    Also, I don't think anyone has ever given up their seat for me on the bus in Brussels?? Am I surrounded by non-Belgians?
  • Gautier posted:

    on 27th November 2011, 21:27:19 - Reply

    Is that an article written in the sixties? Things have changed a bit since then ;-)
    Quite fun to read, being a Belgian...
  • Haf Linger posted:

    on 17th November 2011, 20:20:52 - Reply

    I could not have said it any better!