Nine ways to become a truly Swedish man

The Local Sweden
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Nine ways to become a truly Swedish man
Have you been on paternity leave? Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden

You can shop the look at cool Scandinavian fashion stores, or stick around long enough to get your own residency permit. But to really become a Swedish man, The Local reckons you've got to share these nine experiences.


1. Stop offering to buy rounds at the pub
Alcohol is expensive in Sweden and as we've written many times before, this (alongside a deep-rooted desire to avoid being indebted to anyone), means that Swedes rarely buy rounds, especially not for large groups of male mates. If you do, you might be seen as a show-off and it certainly won't guarantee you free beers the next time you head out boozing with Sven or Johan. If you've started feeling entirely comfortable lining up at the bar alongside your friends before handing over six cash cards to the waiter, you've become a true Swede.

Swedish beer. Photo: Björn Tesch/Image Bank Sweden
2. Get naked in a sauna with other men
If you're a straight man born outside of the Nordics, chances are that regular saunas with your friends, colleagues or relatives were not part of your weekly routine before you moved to Sweden. But after a few years here you could find yourself perfectly happy stripping off after a session at the gym, or spending a wintry Sunday afternoon sweating it out with your in-laws after plunging into an ice hole. 

A Swedish sauna. Photo: Helena Wahlman/Image Bank Sweden
3. Split the bill on a date
Swedish men don't have a reputation for being romantic and in a country where gender equality is constantly promoted, offering to pick up the bill on a date is something of a taboo. While we're pretty sure that plenty of Swedish women (and men) still like the idea of being wooed, you know you're becoming Swedish when you don't even consider picking up the tab in case it makes your date feel uncomfortable.

A dinner date in Sweden. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden
4. Take paternity leave, for at least two months
Thanks to Sweden's gender equality drive, parents in Sweden are encouraged to take at least two months of parental leave, although plenty of men choose to take even longer, since couples can split a further 14 months between them, earning up to 80 percent of their salaries, paid for by the Swedish state. In theory, staying at home with your child should not have an impact on your career in Sweden and you can return to the same post without worrying someone else will have filled it. So if you have kids in Sweden, chances are you'll spend a Tuesday morning or twenty having a latte with fellow fathers on parental leave or splashing around with a bunch of toddlers in your local swimming pool.

A father and son enjoying paternity leave in Sweden. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden
5. Stay at home to look after a sick child
Once those kids have arrived, there's something else to look out for, VAB days. VAB stands for Vård av Barn (Care of Children). Parents get VAB time on at least 80 percent of their salary (again, paid for by the state) if their children are sick. If you're a father in Sweden, you're guaranteed to take numerous VAB days, especially if your wife earns more than you.

A Swedish father looking after his child. Photo: Kristin Lidell/Image Bank Sweden
6. Hug your friends...and your boss
Forget the formal handshakes or complicated kisses used to greet people in some countries (or the more simple grunts or raised eyebrows used in others). In Sweden, if you've met someone more than once in an informal setting, you greet them with a hug. Even if they are a man. Éven if they are your boss.

Swedish men hugging during Midsummer celebrations. But this happens more often than you think. Photo: Henrik Trygg/Image Bank Sweden
7. Stop noticing how beautiful Swedish women are
Even if you move to Sweden for a love interest, chances are you'll still notice just how hot all those other Swedes in your new neighbourhood are. If you come here as a singleton, you might even feel like you're in paradise. Yes, we know this is shallow but many a (not entirely scientific) study has suggested that Swedish people are among the world's most beautiful. But once you've been living in the Nordics for a while, you start to get used to it. However, you might start looking at your own gender slightly more often. The Local's foreign-born male journalists remain baffled how Swedish men (especially in Stockholm) manage to look so immaculate even when they're in the DIY store or coaching their son's (or daughter's) football team.

Is this Swedish man gazing at the sun, a Volvo, a beautiful woman or her boyfriend's trendy shirt? Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden
8. Do not offer your seat to a woman on the train
After a few years of being surrounded by strong, independent (and yes beautiful) women, it's entirely possible that even the pregnant ones might no longer push you into male "protector" mode. As mentioned before, Swedes don't like to make others feel uncomfortable. So if a heavily pregnant woman gets on a bus, train or tube carriage chivalry can feel like a bad idea. Why stand up and offer your seat, when dozens of other Swedish men around you are simply staring at their smartphones and the woman in question could feel offended by your approach? Yes, we're cringing as we write this and our foreign mothers would not be proud.

The Stockholm subway. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Image Bank Sweden
9. Leave work at 4pm without feeling guilty
Swedes enjoy some of the shortest working hours in the world and while it's certainly not the case that everyone gets to skip out of the door mid-afternoon, chances are that if you work in Sweden you'll enjoy the odd early-doors finish (at least while your boss is away in his or her Swedish summer house). If you're reading this thinking "hang on a minute, this isn't just a male thing, women in Sweden leave work at 4pm too", then congratulations you really have passed the test. You're a fully fledged gender-aware, sauna-loving, boss-hugging, bill-splitting Swedish man.

Some Swedish workers who (may have) clocked off at 4pm. Photo: Henrik Trygg/Image Bank Sweden


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