Learn how to navigate the world of dating in the Netherlands with our guide to understanding Dutch men and women and the local dating culture.
Contrary to popular belief, not all Dutch men are towering blondies who will make you ‘go Dutch’ and split the bill; or send you a Tikkie for the extra bitterballen you scoffed down during a date. Similarly, not all Dutch women are ball-busting supermodels. However, while it’s always wise to take such cultural stereotypes with a pinch of salt and not generalize an entire nation, no one can deny there are certain traits you are likely to come across when dating in the Netherlands.
Understanding these traits and the mindset of Dutch men and women is key to navigating the local dating pool with ease; especially as an expat. It will also help you avoid any misunderstandings further down the line when you are in a relationship. Luckily, this guide is here to help by providing the following information:
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An overview of dating in the Netherlands
When it comes to dating, the Dutch like to keep things casual and let things progress naturally. And just like anything else in life, they prefer to approach their romantic pursuits with a sense of practicality. This laid-back approach to dating doesn’t mean that Dutch men and women don’t take love and relationships seriously. Far from it. It is more down to the fact that the Dutch can be cautious with letting newcomers in; whether this is a friendship or a romantic partnership. This is an important thing to remember if you are an expat looking to date a local man or woman.
Breaking through the cultural barriers
Many expats claim that the Dutch avoid making real connections with foreigners; making it difficult to get past the first dating hurdle and meet a suitable match. Some also say that once they do make the breakthrough, reaching a serious relationship level can take time. Again, this is not necessarily personal but rather a result of typical Dutch personality traits. As an expat, it is possible to find love with a local, and many foreigners report happy relationships and marriages with Dutch nationals.
Freedom and choice in relationships
Couples living in the Netherlands have more options than most when it comes to official types of living arrangements. Depending on a couple’s preferences, they can get married (huwelijk) or enter into a registered partnership (geregistreerd partnerschap). They can also sign a cohabitation agreement or live together without signing any formal agreement at all. Fortunately, LGBTQI+ couples living in the Netherlands have the same options as their heterosexual counterparts.
This modern and progressive way of living perhaps accounts for the substantial decline in marriages in recent years. According to figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS), 64,400 couples tied the knot in 2017, compared with around 85,000 couples 20 years ago. Registered partnerships are also becoming more popular in the Netherlands. In fact, they now account for 18% of all unions in the country. In 2017 alone, 17,900 couples entered a partnership; a significant increase of 11,000 over the last decade.
How to meet people in the Netherlands
Fortunately, the casual nature of Dutch society means that meeting potential partners is relatively easy. Dating practices are also similar to other European countries. Teenagers generally begin to socialize with peers at school, within their neighborhood, or through social activities and local clubs. Young adults, meanwhile, tend to meet at bars and clubs, through social groups and activities, and via dating apps and websites.