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Five reasons to date a Swede (and five reasons not to)

Can't decide whether to date a Swede or a fellow foreigner this Valentine's Day? The Local guides you to the pros and cons of hooking up with a Nordic viking.

Five reasons to date a Swede (and five reasons not to)
Can you find Swede love? Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Five reasons to date a Swede

1) They're beautiful

We know appearance isn't everything, but let's face it, Swedes are the best looking people on earth. Swedish people constantly top the lists of the most attractive people in the world, and why would that not be at least a good starting reason to snag one for yourself? 

2) Gender equality

Gender equality is something the Swedes take seriously. Not only does it extend to nation-wide policies like incredibly generous parental leave, but Swedish men won't be averse to helping out with the cooking and Swedish women don't expect their Valentine's date to pick up the dinner check. The expression may be 'go Dutch', but it should be 'go Swedish'.


Sweden does gender equality on steroids. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

3) Sweden is a brilliant country

Why wouldn't you want to end up in Sweden if the dating turns into a proper relationship, which it often does? It is stunningly beautiful (the nature as well as the people, see above), people are happy, and quality of life is great, with one ranking declaring it the best place in the world for immigrants


When in doubt, go for a Swede. Photo: Tove Freij/imagebank.sweden.se

4) They speak great English

The language of love is universal, but this is nevertheless a wonderful reason to date a Swede. If you're going to shoot for another nationality besides your own, the odds are ever in your favour of being understood if you pick a Swede (just watch out for these). Plus, you don't have to bother learning to say “my place or yours?” in another language.*


Swedes are very international. Photo: Alice Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

*Ska vi gå hem till mig eller dig?

5. … the sex

Swedes are super liberal. The stereotype has to be based on something, right? Swedes are quite comfortable and open about one-night stands, and practice makes perfect, as they say. But be careful: the Swedes don't really date and if you stick around for breakfast in the morning (or fika in the afternoon) it means you are pretty much an item. Get ready to meet your svärföräldrar (in-laws) at their sommarstuga (summer house) next Midsummer's Eve.


Just one of the reasons Swedes are awesome. Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/SCANPIX

Five reasons not to date a Swede

1. You can forget the chatting

Swedes are not the most talkative people in the world. They often speak in syllables – or even sounds. This places a lot more responsibility on you as the foreigner to make the first move. It is not worth waiting for a Swede to ask you out – they won't. But if you take the first step and invite them to, say, a fika, they are almost programmed to accept. No Swede ever could say no to coffee, cake or a Valentine's date.


How do Swedes manage to hook up with each other? Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

2. They're sticklers for rules

If you want a bit of spontaneity in your relationship, you have picked the wrong nationality. Sweden is a country where the buses are on time and your Swedish date expects you to be, too. Don't even think about whisking them away for a surprise mini break – some of them might enjoy the thrill, but you run the risk of ending up with a nervous wreck on your hands. Swedes like to plan, they like to schedule, they like to know what's going on.


If you haven't made a date for Valentine's, it may be too late. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

3. They are difficult to impress

In Sweden, individual success is inappropriate. Don't brag, they don't want to know. Just got a promotion and raise? Nobody cares. Bought an expensive car? Your Swedish date will prefer to take the bus or metro (at least in the city traffic hell that is Stockholm). Subtly impress them instead with understatements, gender equality and by arriving on time.


Proud of your new car? Your Swedish date won't care. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

4. They'll make you eat weird stuff

Swedes love being noticed by foreigners. They will rush to make you try all the country's national and regional delicacies (we use the word 'delicacies' in a liberal sense here). While we agree there are few things better than cinnamon rolls, Swedes also eat some pretty strange stuff, ranging from fermented fish, to pickled herring, to extremely salted liquorice. Want to date a Swede? Make sure you can stomach it. Literally.

5. Sweden's a great place for singles

Love is great, but it can be a hassle. Fed up with trying to decipher the reserved Swedes? Just stay solo. It's the best country for being single, with several laws designed to make it easier for people to enjoy life without a partner. According to this study, one in four Swedes live alone, the highest number in Europe. So in this single paradise (or is it?), nobody will judge you for enjoying Valentine's Day on your own or with a group of friends.


Sweden is just as enjoyable on your own. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

DATING

Top ten expat complaints to their Swedish partners

From ketchup to driving skills, when The Local once asked what expats complain about most to their Swedish partners, the responses were mixed.

Top ten expat complaints to their Swedish partners
Why do you love your tech gadgets more than me? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

1. Ketchup on… well, everything!

Swedes have an obsession with ketchup. They dollop it all over their pasta, their lasagne, their mashed potatoes – you name it. And it's not just a little splodge either, this is a true dousing. Strange, right? I mean, Swedes wouldn't put jam on their meatballs, would they? Oh that's right, they do.


Ketchup line up. Photo: Don Ryan/TT

2. Texting while driving down Vasagatan? No problem.

It's nothing strange to see a Swede talking, or even texting on their phone, while driving. And do you know why? Because for years it was pretty much perfectly legal, although this is beginning to change


Just watch out for red lights! Photo: LM Otero/TT

3. Passive aggressive notes

Swedes tend to avoid conflict, but only of the verbal kind. If you've left a little bit of lint in the laundry room's dryer, or if you've left a mug in the office sink, then you'd better be prepared to face a passive aggressive note the next day. In the picture below a Swede is complaining in very colourful language about garbage disposal etiquette.


'Keep your sh*t in your own apartment!' Photo: Petter Palander/Flickr

4. Too much coffee and no decaf!

The biggest problem is the lack of decaf, some Twitter users suggested when we once asked what rubbed people the wrong way about their Swedish partners the most. In a country where coffee is (probably) consumed more than water, you're in the minority if you prefer yours without caffeine. And if you don't like coffee, then you'd better rectify that immediately. It's easier than saying “No thank you, I don’t drink coffee” and then explaining yourself 14 times a day.


Mmmm… fika time… Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

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5. Tradition over spontaneity, no exceptions!

“You'll be here next Christmas, too, right?” your Swedish mother-in-law will ask as the last present is unwrapped on Christmas Eve (yes, presents are unwrapped on the 24th). Tradition triumphs and spontaneity is dead, that's the fact in Sweden. Expect raised eyebrows if you don't commit early to birthday celebrations, Easter, crayfish parties, and of course, Christmas. You will be there, and you will enjoy it. And we dare you to try to plan a weekend away with friends instead!


A silly Christmas Chihuahua. This is not a Swedish tradition, we just liked the picture. Photo: Mary Altaffer/TT

6. Laundry comes first…

Swedes will sometimes use their laundry time as an excuse. “I'd love to come out with you tonight, but I have a laundry time reserved – I really can't miss it.” In Stockholm, at least, most people live in apartment blocks with a communal laundry in the cellar. Reserving a good laundry time (like a Sunday morning or Tuesday after work) can be treated as the holy grail of weekly achievements.


No time like laundry time! Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

7. ‘Did you really pass your driving test?’

Nescience of road rules is one of the complaints we heard the most. More specifically, people we asked were peeved at the lack of indication when turning corners or using roundabouts. Others moaned that Swedes don't know how manage traffic flows on motorways. One even said Swedes drive just like a Volvo, which, upon checking the online urban dictionary, apparently means the driver is, in short, conservative and ‘boring’. 


No Volvos in this picture! Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

8. “Let me drink!”

A complaint we heard a few times was that Swedes often turn a disapproving eye when it comes to having a casual drink on a school night. “You're having a glass of wine? On a Tuesday?!” This could have something to do with the fact that alcohol is hard to come by in Sweden, as it is only sold in the monopoly chain Systembolaget at certain times of the day, and drinking is an exclusive weekend activity.


How is he holding that wine glass? Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT

9. Too much snus

A quick explanation of snus in case you're unaware: snus is a moist snuff packet (imagine a tobacco teabag the size of a piece of chewing gum) that you wedge between your lip and teeth. Well, maybe you don't, but the Swedes do. A lot. If you think a snus packet sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen one dangling from a Swede's upper lip mid-conversation, or perhaps you've seen a used one in the gutter or in the toilet, spat out and forgotten.


The snus-ing shadow… Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

10. “I can't find a Swede to date… and then complain about…”

Yes, complaints about Swedes aren't just for those dating them, but for those still looking. And meeting new people might be hard, especially if you refuse to use popular dating apps such as Tinder. Then you just have to rely on a classic ‘Hollywood-romance’ meeting, which isn't necessarily easy in a country not exactly known for its open and sociable citizens. Good luck!

READ ALSO: How to never be single again in Sweden


Romance in the moonlight. Photo: Charlie Riedel/TT

This article was first published in 2013 in our old gallery format and was revamped in 2017.

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