Are you ready to find your perfect partner in the United Kingdom? Before jumping into dating in the UK, here’s what you need to know about dating a British man, dating British women, what to expect from dating sites in the UK, and what British people are looking for in a partner.
Getting your head around the dating in the UK culture can really help your love life when moving to the United Kingdom. Let’s face it, dating in a new country can be a difficult and nerve-wracking experience, as things that are commonly seen as polite or romantic in your home country might have the opposite effect on a date in your new homeland.
Indeed, while there are no set rules for dating British people, it’s helpful to get your head around some of the most common customs before you embark on dating in the UK. This guide explains some of the basic etiquette around finding a partner while in the UK and gives you an idea of what to expect from dating a British man, dating British women, and the British dating scene generally.
British customs for dating in the UK
While it might be unfair to stereotype a whole nation, British people are widely renowned for being unfailingly polite. Indeed, if two people bump into each other in the street, you can expect them both to quickly apologise – and in some cases, apologise several times. This politeness doesn’t always translate to vehicles, however – so if you cut across someone in your car, you can expect to draw the ire of even a mild-mannered Brit.
The United Kingdom has a wide range of accents and dialects, so don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t catch every word or if you find that there’s miscommunication now and then – this is perfectly natural. And while regional accents and colloquialisms can be difficult to understand at first, it’s still considerably easier to get to grips with than if you’re dating someone who speaks a totally different language.
Brits are more reserved than some other Western people, so while you might feel your date is giving you the cold shoulder – that’s not necessarily the case. It’s just that public displays of affection aren’t as common here as you might be accustomed to in your home country.
While the late-night club culture in English cities isn’t as crazy as in some countries, their pub culture is unrivalled, as is their tea drinking one.
British people tend to be quite ambitious in terms of their career – but they’re also very traditional in what they frame as success. This means that you can also expect your partner to want to learn about your life, and take a genuine interest in your goals and dreams.
This is partly down to a British psyche that is more ingrained than in some countries. For example, the idea of finding a partner, buying a home and having children is a traditional process that many young people aspire to in the UK – although the so-called ‘millennials’ group are less rooted to these traditions, partly because of the financial strictures placed on them by the British economy.
In the United Kingdom, there are various traditional ways to meet people – be it through friends or work colleagues, in bars or clubs, or via the growing trend of online dating sites in the UK and apps.
Dating customs here aren’t as strict as they might be elsewhere. Initially, people greet with a handshake, although once you know someone well, this could extend to a hug or a kiss on the cheek.
The UK being quite a traditional country extends to dating, too. The burden of asking someone on a date usually falls to the man, and if the man has initiated the date, he’ll usually attempt to pay the bill too, although splitting the cost is becoming more common.
This is especially the case with online dating – where you might be more likely to go for a drink or two on a first date and split the bill, before moving on to a dinner date second time around.
There’s nothing especially different about table manners here, although sharing meals might be less of a cultural trait than in your home country. British people also usually tip well, and some restaurants add service charges of 12.5% on to bills automatically.
Finally, you needn’t get too hung up on what to wear on a first date in the UK, as British people usually choose smart-casual dress and in some cases go straight from work.
British women are a varied bunch, and they’ll be just as likely to enjoy a night at the theatre as one spent dancing the night away or binge-watching the latest series on Netflix.
In this respect, they’re certainly easy to get on with – and they’re part of a culture where courteousness is highly important. This means that while British girls might not all grow up to be the princesses they dream of as a child, they’re sure to be unfailingly polite and well-mannered should you decide to introduce them to your family.
They’re also highly proud of their heritage – whether that’s the craggy cliffs of Scotland or the lazy countryside of Sussex – and while British food might be the butt of some jokes elsewhere in Europe, she’ll want to introduce you to the local delicacy. Don’t worry, it’s not all battered mars bars and fish and chips, there are great cakes and scones too!
Further to this point, your British date will be the best tour guide you can imagine, especially in London, where you might just want to escape the madness of Leicester Square and enjoy a cup of tea off the beaten track somewhere.
British women can be classy – you might have heard of the concept of an English rose – and this means they tend to be quieter and less showy than women elsewhere, so if they do fall for you and are open about it, then you’ll know you are onto a winner.
It’s fair to say the people in the UK sometimes embarrass easily, so they will usually prefer to avoid confrontation and deal with situations quietly, and if possible, gracefully. This can also be a negative, however – as the lack of outward emotions can make it difficult to know where you stand in the early stages of a relationship.
Finally, women here are stylish – although it’s safe to say that most don’t follow the expensive fashions of Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood et al. In truth, there’s style inspiration everywhere in the UK – and a great shopping culture for all budgets – but maybe don’t go to London’s Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon.
British men love sports, and this could take some getting used to if you’re not naturally of the sporting persuasion.
Aside from the national sport of football and the popularity of Rugby (Union in the South, League in the North), you might be more confused by how much British men love cricket and golf – sports that can seem thoroughly confusing and drawn out if you’re new to them.
This doesn’t mean British men are ridiculously serious, though. They love comedies, from famous sitcoms to stand-up comedians, so while they might not be reeling off jokes all night, they have a strong sense of humour – and they’re always up for a debate about music, too.
Professional men in the UK present themselves smartly. Even those who don’t wear suits to work are unlikely to be seen in t-shirts and ripped jeans, as casual blazers, smart jumpers, button-up shirts and formal shoes are more common.
In relationships, you might find British men a touch less needy than some others – and it’s not that they don’t want you to meet their friends. In fact, it’s just common here for men and women to maintain their own friend groups separately from their romantic relationships.
Online dating in the United Kingdom
Online dating is very popular in the UK, especially in larger cities. Location-based dating apps such as Tinder, Happn and Bumble are popular – although these free apps might be seen more as ways of creating an initial connection than more detailed, profile-based dating sites.
Indeed, for people, a little older or those looking for a long-term relationship, more traditional subscription-websites such as Match.com and Lovestruck have lots of subscribers around the UK.