To gather real accounts of the European dating scene, last year we asked around 500 (mostly, but not exclusively, heterosexual) expats living in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland a series of up-close and personal questions about themselves, their relationships and their sex lives.Of course, every relationship is different and how yours develops will depend on who you both are and the chemistry between you.But the rule almost everywhere else in Europe is: don't.In most countries, the man may offer to pay the bill but he wouldn't automatically be offended if the woman suggested splitting the bill, or paying for the drinks or some other aspect of the ‘date', such as cinema or theatre tickets.In places like the Netherlands and Germany, people can be very direct in the way they speak (rather than being over polite and saying things ‘to be nice' that they don't mean to avoid hurting someone's feelings – as is often the way in the UK).So what you say may be taken at face value – and you shouldn't always take to heart what's said to you. In the UK, drinking a vast amount of alcohol can be central in beginning a sexual relationship with someone.In Germany, couples don't start with formal dating either and it's only after a series of informal meetings – walks, dinner, cinema, theatre – that they might start being seen as a ‘couple'.It's also common for couples to keep the fact that they're an item to themselves.
The Spanish have a reputation as romantic and passionate people.When you're going out with someone, don't rush to formalise it with the ‘where are we going with this relationship? Just go with the flow and enjoy what's going on between you.More often, the clue that a relationship is getting serious is if you're invited back home to meet the parents.If a woman shows too much interest too soon, she may scare a man away.
As in France, a game of chase and refusal must take place before any form of ‘date' will materialise.
In Germany and Switzerland, however, punctuality is highly valued so if one of you rolls up late, your date will be off to a bad start.