"Expat dating: The Shallow Man’s guide to online dating"

Expat dating: The Shallow Man’s guide to online dating

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Author of the expat book and blog 'The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man', Simon Woolcot shares his humourous guide to online dating for expats.

Some say that the Shallow Man is old, others, when they see my elegantly suited and well-trained physique, prefer to think of me as having matured like a Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanee Burgundy. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Being so mature, the Shallow Man can remember the days when one would actually have to leave one's palace to meet a potential partner for life, or for something shorter. Due to my role as the elder statesmen of Expat affairs, (albeit an unofficial title) the Shallow Man received the following request:

"Shallow Man, I tried some of your dating tips, but really can't be bothered to stroke someone's Lion King hair, or compliment them on their appearance if I don't like how they are dressed, for me, that's a little bit....shallow? Do you have any experience in online dating? Do you recommend it?"

Being as always, Jeeves to the Bertie Wooster of my expat flock, I have carried out some research on online dating and below present my findings. Of course, in order to make sure that the advice I provided was based on real world experiences, I sacrificed myself and actually joined several dating sites – and had a number of dates whose results I shall keep to myself while smiling at my screen. The things I do for my readers!

Expatica online dating
Who’s he trying to impress?


Expat online dating

When you're an expat

The expat herd tend to flock online (don't' say that too quickly) to the Expatica dating site which is the best place found by the Shallow Man not only to meet expats, but open minded locals as well. The Expatica site is incredibly easy to use and has local sites in a number of countries including my present home, the Netherlands. Registering is easier than than finding a kebab shop in Amsterdam East. Simply fill out your name, age, email address, and country of origin. Create a password, that shouldn't be the same name as your pet dog, cat or rat, then you're good to go.

Profile tips

After registering on an online dating site, the first step is usually to create your profile. Having browsed through a number of profile photos the shallow man advises the following.

Profile photos

  • Your lips might be your best feature, but if they take up 87 percent of the space allowed for a picture, this might give the wrong impression.
  • guide to online datingYes you're a romantic chap, most ladies love flowers, however, a photo of you with a bunch of flowers in your hand could make you look like a hitman.
  • You've just returned from the plastic surgeon, and they've done a wonderful job enhancing your breasts. As with the lips, if the breasts take up so much of the profile photo that it's difficult to make out a face, you might want to consider cropping the photo.
  • Beautiful eyes, but that stare scared the cat out of the house and it hasn't been seen since.
  • Great abs old chap, but it might help if we could see more of your face.

For profile photos the Shallow Man suggests having a good friend provide you with a second opinion, as what might look fetching to you, could be alarming for others, or cause them to fetch a bucket.

Describing your perfect match

Be as honest as is reasonable when describing what you are looking for in a compatible match. Just imagine that after dating this person, they might end up sitting next to you on the sofa for the rest of your days. If there are things in a person that you know irritate you, it's best to make sure that you are very clear on the kind of person you are looking to meet. As the old song says, "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and don't mess with Mr in between."

Focus on the activities that you love and would enjoy doing together with someone. For instance, if wasting valuable Playstation time on a Sunday to visit art galleries and museums is your thing, then put that in your match profile. Or, if like the Shallow Man, you're an addicted long distance runner, then your match probably shouldn't be a couch potato.

Example of the ideal match information

Never let it be said that the Shallow Man is too fussy. Being able to read would be useful. My match should know the difference between John Coltrane and John Gotti. Not be the type of woman who has so many plants in her apartment that it could be confused with a greenhouse. My match should not be a stranger to sport, running, gym etc. Enjoy good food and wine and have as little denim in her wardrobe as possible. Visits to the hairdresser on a regular basis also appreciated. If you own a pair of cowboy boots then we won't be compatible. Good quality body lotion, perfume (no fragrances of Beyonce, Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez please) and please no Lady Gaga, One Direction or Miley Cyrus songs in your possession.

First date tips

Having communicated, the next step is where to go for a first date. Always choose to meet somewhere that will be busy and well populated. If you live in Amsterdam IJburg, I'm afraid that you'll have to leave the Island.

Choose a cafe or bar. I would advise against going for dinner on the first date as if it doesn't work out for either of you, you're stuck for the whole evening. A cocktail/drink is always a good idea.

First date location recommendations

Whatever you do, don't take your date to somewhere quiet. You could be in need of inspiration for conversation, best to go to bars with plenty of atmosphere:

  • The Conservatorium Hotel, Tunes Bar – great atmosphere and plenty of exits.
  • MOMO – great if you're into wildlife documentaries; plenty of lions and antelope hunting each other.
  • Palladium – at least if the date doesn't work out you can leave with someone else (if you're wealthy).
  • Bubbles and Wines – good wine.

What not to do:

  • If you're British, don't have that one drink to calm your nerves prior to the date; you know you'll only end up arriving drunk as a skunk.
  • If from Germany, don't criticise your non-German date for arriving two minutes thirty seconds late.
  • If from Russia, please see my advice to the British.
  • If you are from Italy, please try and arrive within an hour of the agreed time.
  • If French, don't intimidate your date by being too well dressed or by choosing the most upmarket place to eat.
  • For the Dutch, please, just for once think about leaving the denim/brown shoes at home.

While on the first date, remember that if either of you is a non-native speaker of the other's language, to speak clearly and at a normal pace. For the British, avoid local colloquialisms such as, "What a blinding place were in, innit?" or, "I'll have some of that, I love the butchers hook of it." You'll only confuse, disturb and potentially alienate your date. Communication is the art of being understood. Relax, be yourself and let human chemistry and/or alcohol take its course.

Buy the book of the The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man on BOL or Amazon, more popular than Julius Caesar with Roman knife makers.


Reprinted with permission of The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man.

The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow ManSome might say he’s a legend in his own mind, others call him a nuisance who should go back to London. Simon is a privileged Expat who came to Amsterdam for a six month assignment and has remained for nine years. He spends his time commenting on various aspects of life in the Netherlands on the Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man blog, which started in August 2013 and has grown within a short time to reach over 2,500 readers per day.



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