Dating in South Africa

A guide to dating in South Africa

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Before joining one of the dating sites in South Africa, here's what you need to know about dating a South African man or woman. Discover more about the current trends for dating, along with customs that may vary to those you're used to.

Understanding how the culture of dating in South Africa can do wonders for your love life. Embarking on a relationship with someone from another culture can be complex, as each country has different values and beliefs, and this extends to which qualities make someone a desirable partner.

Indeed, gestures that might be considered romantic or polite in your home country could have the opposite effect in South Africa. In this guide, you can learn some basic etiquette around dating when living in South Africa and learn a little about what makes South African men and women tick.

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Dating in South Africa: A new scene

South Africa is a very diverse country, with eleven official languages and a variety of different backgrounds and belief systems. This means that while some cities might at first glance remind you of your home country, large sections of South Africa still have issues surrounding poverty and crime rates.

The simplest way to meet new people when you first arrive in a major South African city is through its local expat community. To help you settle into life in a city such as Johannesburg or Cape Town, you can consider joining groups and clubs where you’ll be able to meet like-minded people from your own country.

While you’re getting used to your new country, you’ll want to adapt to the local customs, as you’ll need to get used to living - and indeed dating – in this beautiful yet highly complicated country.

Dating sites South Africa

Start dating in South Africa

Greetings in South Africa tend to be relatively informal, but the first time you meet a date, it’s polite to shake hands while maintaining eye contact. Once men and women know each other a little better, they tend to replace this with a kiss on the cheek. Greetings in South Africa tend to include an exchange of pleasantries and small talk, and any perceived aloofness might come across as a lack of politeness.

Broadly speaking, when dating in South Africa you’ll meet prospective partners in similar places to where you might at home – at work, through friends and while socialising.

Here, the place you meet can have an impact on someone’s expectations of you. For example,  if you meet someone in a club, you’re more likely to find a partner who is looking for something more short-term, while meeting somewhere like a coffee shop or through friends might offer a more solid base for finding a long-term partner – if that is what you’re looking for.

When preparing for your date, consider dressing smartly – but don’t go to extreme lengths. For example, it’s not necessary to wear heavy make up or choose your fanciest dress. Instead, keep things simple, neat and fairly relaxed.

In such a diverse country, it’s understandable that dating and courtship vary significantly between different groups in South Africa, depending on their cultural and religious backgrounds. Some traditions, however, are universal. For example, should you be lucky enough to meet your ideal man when in South Africa, they’ll traditionally request permission from your father before proposing to you.

Dating in South Africa: Meeting women

Women in South Africa can be sweet and romantic, but they’re certainly no pushovers and can be feisty customers if you get on their bad side.

South African women want their men to be brave and chivalrous, so if you like someone, make it clear you’re taking them out on a date and not just looking to ‘hang out’. Pick a nice restaurant and be courteous by dressing smartly, holding doors and offering your coat.

With this in mind, while South African women are known for their elegance, you’ll need to be able to carry yourself well too – so try not to be too outwardly shy or stand-offish as this can be off-putting.

South Africa has a rich cultural tapestry, and South African women are closely attuned to their local and family traditions. If you want to earn brownie points, then do a little research and be attentive to her stories. Don’t worry too much about local lingo at this point, you’ll get the hang of it in time - especially when it comes to swearing in Afrikaans.

On a similar note, this means family is highly important for women in South Africa – so if you’re lucky enough to meet your partner’s parents then be on your best and most polite behaviour. There is, of course, a flip side to this too – in return, South African women will value the significance of meeting your family when the time is right.

Women in South Africa are fiercely loyal, be it to their partners, their friends – and of course their rugby team. Sport – and Rugby in particular – is a major part of the South African culture, and there’s a good chance your date will know much more about it than you do.

When considering a venue for your date, it might be helpful to consider that while there are some vegetarians in South Africa, women here tend to be meat eaters, and there’s a good chance your date might be able to drink you under the table, too.

Initially, play it safe by choosing a nice restaurant, but don’t get set in your ways after a few dates. South African women love spontaneity, so once you’ve broken the ice, consider a more unusual date location – and above all be decisive and confident about the specifics.

Online dating South Africa

Dating a South African man

To put it very mildly, South African men love sport - especially Rugby and Cricket. Chances are they’ll play sport too – meaning your ideal man in South Africa is likely to be fit, healthy and active.

While sport is a great way for South African men to channel their aggression, you’ll find that in all spheres they are highly protective and aren’t quick to back down in a fight. It would, however, be unfair to suggest men in South Africa are all about aggression because they can be emotional too when there’s just cause.

Whether it’s through playing sports or otherwise, men in South Africa love the outdoors – although their favoured pursuits will depend largely on where they are from in the country. For example, in the Capes, with their stunning nature and excellent climate, men will spend a lot of time outdoors, be that surfing, hiking or walking on the beach.

Braais – or barbecues - are another favoured outdoor pursuit in South Africa, and are widely enjoyed by both sexes. South Africa also boasts a great range of vineyards, so you’ll be sure to find a tipple that goes hand in hand with your meat of choice.

When a South African man takes you on a date, they’ll usually pay the bill – though that doesn’t mean an offer to split it will be seen as rude.

Traditionally, South Africa has a patriarchal culture, which means views on gender roles might not be as progressive as you might be accustomed to in your home country. While outdated mindsets are slowly developing and antiquated views are being left behind, you might find change filters through slowly in such a complicated country.

It’s been suggested that external stresses weigh heavily on South African men. One study showed that South African men have sex less than men in other countries, with work pressures, a struggling economy and the distraction of social media cited as reasons for this.

Online dating in South Africa

If you’re struggling to meet someone through more traditional methods, you might be tempted to try online dating in South Africa. If you’re a young professional looking for a partner, you may find that you’ll be more successful when using online dating in a large city such as Johannesburg or Cape Town.

Let’s take a look at a few of South Africa’s most popular dating sites. First, Afro Introductions, which has over 2.5 million members. With a free account, you can create a profile and write a blurb about your personality, but if you want to use audio or video chat, you’ll need a Gold or Platinum account.

Elsewhere, South African Cupid is one of the oldest dating sites, established in 1999. This site is more focused on long-term relationships. To send or receive messages to standard members you’ll need to have a premium membership. South African Cupid has a secure verification process, cutting down on the possibility of you falling foul of a scam.

As with elsewhere in the world, OKcupid is popular with singles looking for one-off dates or long-term relationships. You can use your Facebook account to sign in, and the QuickMatch function allows you to find possible dates easily.

Alternatively, DatingBuzz is another of South Africa’s older sites, launched in 1997 and then rebranded as an international site in 2002. With a free membership, you can send one-line messages to other users, and there’s the opportunity to pass matches on to your other friends using the Tell a Friend feature.

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