Learn how to navigate the world of dating in Germany as an expat with our helpful guide to the local dating culture, etiquette, faux pas, and more.
Dating someone from a foreign country can be an exciting experience. However, 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 one culture considers romantic, attractive, or polite, another might not.
This is where learning about the local dating culture will really help you out. Luckily, this helpful guide to dating in Germany does just that by providing the following information:
- An overview of dating in Germany
- How to meet people in Germany
- Dating etiquette in Germany
- Moving into a relationship in Germany
- The role of the family in dating
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An overview of dating in Germany
The dating culture in Germany is similar to other European countries. Interestingly, the number of German-foreign partnerships has more than doubled within the past two decades; according to the website The Local. In fact, there were 1.5 million German-foreign couples living together in 2017, of which 1.2 million were married. That’s good news if you are an expat looking for love in the country.
Another interesting fact is that the average age at which people get married in Germany has steadily increased over the past 27 years. On average, women are 30 years old and men are 33 when they tie the knot. This places Germany at number 8 in the list of European countries in terms of the average age at first marriage. Research also suggests that marriage is becoming more popular in Germany. Indeed, figures from the Federal Statistical Office of Germany show that the total number of marriages increased from 373,655 in 2013 to 416,615 in 2018; a rise of 11.5%.
This might due to the fact that registered partnerships, either for same-sex or heterosexual couples, ceased to be an option in 2017; when same-sex marriage was legalized. Marriage is, therefore, the only form of legal union in Germany. There is also a growing acceptance of LGBTQI+ marriages. In fact, more than 10,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot since it became legal in 2017.
How to meet people in Germany
Meeting new people is relatively easy in Germany and dating practices are similar to other European countries. Teenagers generally begin to socialize with peers at school, within their neighborhood, or through social activities and local clubs. Young adults, however, tend to meet at bars and clubs, while the older generation generally moves within their circles of friends.
Dating within social circles
Unlike some cultures, which are comfortable with the idea of meeting a stranger for an hour or so before arranging a proper date, Germans prefer to take their time. They generally like to meet potential partners through trusted circles, where they can gradually get to know someone before building a relationship. This might explain why online dating was slow to catch on in Germany.
Online dating in Germany
Online dating is gradually catching on and opening people up to a whole new world of dating in Germany. In 2018, for example, one in five Germans were using a dating app or website to meet potential partners. Interestingly, their tendency towards caution and privacy bodes well for online dating. Users are able to carefully get to know someone online first, using filters and facts to guide them. Tinder, OkCupid, and CoffeeMeetsBagel are among the most popular dating apps in Germany.
Meetup groups for singles
Another popular way to meet potential partners is by joining Meetup groups in your local area and attending events for singles. There are numerous Meetup groups throughout Germany that are designed for those who are interested in dating and new relationships. This can be a fun and safe way to meet new people and develop both friendships and relationships. Groups usually cater to specific age groups and sexual preferences too, which allows members to meet like-minded people.
Dating etiquette in Germany
When it comes to dating in Germany, there are no set rules regarding where to go on a date, how long to wait until you call, when to get intimate, and so on. Because Germans generally prefer taking their time to get to know someone, this really depends on the individuals involved.
A typical dating scenario in Germany
As previously mentioned, many Germans prefer to date within their own social circles. In most cases, groups of friends who know each other well over a long period of time will party together. Eventually, people will simply pair off from the group and creates couples.
If a German woman accepts an invitation to meet alone with a man, however, she may not interpret this as a first date or a clear indication of romantic interest. Rather, she might think of it as an opportunity to simply get to know the person better. Just like anywhere else in the Western world, dates might involve going to the cinema, having cozy dinners, meeting up for coffee, or going to a bar.
One important thing to know, however, is that while some cultures date numerous people at the same time before going exclusive, Germans find this offensive. In this sense, you might consider dating in Germany as more meaningful than in some other cultures throughout the world.
Dating behavior in Germany
Every culture has its own dating stereotypes and while it’s always wise to take them with a pinch of salt, there are certain traits that you are bound to come across when dating in Germany.
For starters, Germans value punctuality as an important quality which means that they will never rock up late to a date without a good reason; and in turn expect the same of their partner. Dates also tend to be planned in advance, which means that flippantly suggesting getting together sometime or springing spontaneous plans on them will not be well received.
Another thing to be aware of is that Germans aren’t exactly famous for flirting or flattering. This means that any attempts to compliment them might go straight over their head – or they might not believe you are being sincere. They might not even realize your attempts at flirting with them. And when it comes to conversation, Germans tend to value deeper discussions with a purpose far more than pointless chit chat. Therefore, small talk will not hold their attention.
Honesty is also an important value in German culture, which means that if there is something your date doesn’t like, you will know about it; even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. While many expats find this level of frankness quite liberating when dating in Germany, those who are more easily offended soon learn they have to toughen up if they want to date a German man or woman.
Finally, because gender equality is strong in Germany, customs such as splitting the bill is not a big deal. A German man will not give a woman any special treatment on account of her gender; therefore, he won’t object to her paying her way. That said, chivalry isn’t completely dead and he might still open the door for his date and buy her dinner every once in a while.
Moving into a relationship in Germany
As previously mentioned, the German approach to dating is to take things slow and really invest time in getting to know a person. Because most Germans don’t rush into relationships, it might take weeks or even months of dating before a couple becomes official.
The pace at which a relationship evolves is also down to the individuals. However, generally speaking, couples in Germany usually live together for months or even years before they decide to get married. Traditionally, a man would ask a woman’s father for permission to marry her. Although this is no longer necessary, many Germans continue to do so out of respect.
When couples do eventually tie the knot, there are some pretty quirky wedding traditions and customs that follow. One of these involves the groomsmen kidnapping the bride after the ceremony and taking her to a bar; there, she must wait for the groom to find her. Friends of the bride and groom also get to play pranks on the couple, such as filling their bedroom with balloons or hiding alarm clocks to wake them up at different times.
The role of the family in dating
The family remains fundamentally important to most Germans. This means that you will likely be spending a significant amount of time with your partner’s parents and siblings. That said, attitudes towards having children are slowly changing in Germany.
It is now becoming more common for couples to choose not to have children, or to have children but not get married and rather remain in a de facto relationship. Furthermore, many couples decide to have children later in life because they want to establish themselves professionally and financially first. In fact, women start having children at an average age of 31 in Germany.
Family models are also becoming more diverse. For instance, there is a high proportion of single parents, families with children from previous relationships, and ‘rainbow’ families with same-sex parents. Despite this diversity, the German parenting style remains fairly arbitrary.
Many Germans view the family home as a place to nurture a child’s individuality and aspirations. That said, Germans are generally encouraged to be self-reliant throughout childhood; so that they are prepared to be independent as adults. As a result, most youngsters move out of their parents’ home when they go to university, or as soon as they become financially independent.
Want to know more about family life in Germany? Explore our Family & Pets section and find more articles.