15 Weird Dating Practices in the Nordic Countries

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It is not without a reason that people associate sexual freedom with Scandinavia and the Nordic countries in general. For a foreigner coming to Scandinavia seeing exposed breasts here and there might come as a shock. To the locals, however, there is nothing wrong with nudity in public. And there is nothing wrong with talking openly about sex either! The people of the Nordic countries (these include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) view sexuality more liberally than they do in any other region. Premarital sex has been customary for centuries. The old Nordic custom called Night Courtship allowing boys to share a bed with girl they are visiting is well documented in chronicles from 1652. The Nordic teens become sexually active at a far younger age than their peers around the world. Unaffected by the puritanical morals, the people of the North have always shown progressive thinking as regards sexual matters. Abortions were made legal 30 years ago, and 20 years ago gay marriages were allowed.

But are they that different when it comes to dating and having sexual intercourse? Well, judge for yourself. Here are 15 facts about the dating and sexual practices in the North of Europe which you might find curious and… probably strange.

The Jante Law Paradigm

If you are a guy on a quest to get some on a Saturday night in club in Oslo, Norway, you must prepare yourself for the stone wall you are about to hit. Although they love flirting (especially if they are sufficiently intoxicated), the Norwegian girls will most probably give you a very distinctive cocky vibe when you try to approach them with or without sexual intentions. This is very much due to the so-called Jante Law (Janteloven)  – a set of cultural rules, which can be summed up in one sentence: “No one is superior to no one.”   In real life situations, this law enables girls to act as no man is anything special. Actually, this is exactly what the first rule of Jante Law reads. The second one goes like, “Don’t think you are as good as us,” the third one, “Don’t think you are smarter than us,” and so on. The egalitarian system and the Jante Law feed on each other to form what is one of the most feminist-friendly societies in the world.

The Sauna Sex Revelation

To many foreigners, having sex in a Finnish sauna is like the Yeti creature – everybody has heard stories about it, but nobody has seen or experienced the real thing. It’s logical – everyone who is not used to the sauna ritual, has thought of having sex in it. Everyone is naked, and there is the heat, the slightly pine-scented steam coming from the stove… I mean, this is how an average porn movie would begin. And yet, the news is not good for these who still wonder if sex in the sauna exists and whether there is a single person who has lived in Finland and hasn’t tried it. The truth is that to the Finns, the sauna is a sacred place for cleanliness and relaxation, which is totally stripped of any sexual connotation. In the past, babies were delivered there because the place was sterilized enough for that purpose. So, no, nobody in Finland would think of using the sauna for sex.

The Questioning Inquisition Foreplay

In Denmark, people in general are not very likely to initiate a conversation with a stranger, especially while sober and during daytime. The Danes are mild-mannered, but reserved. So, if a girl approaches you in a coffee shop and asks if she can take a seat and initiates a conversation, this is the first sign that she is interested in having sex with you (but not IN you, personally!) If the interest happens to be mutual, the girl would start asking a million questions, some of which may sound very annoying and even disturbing to a foreigner. The problem is that Danish women cannot flirt and when they like someone, they’ll want to know everything about them in ten minutes. In return, they will reveal as much information about themselves as possible – their ambitions in life, their fears, what was their favorite subject at school, etc. Yes, it will feel more like a job interview than a normal hookup situation, but you shouldn’t doubt that all this Danish questioning Inquisition will most probably end up with sex. But only if you play your cards right!

The Free Market Contradiction

In Sweden, prostitution is legal. And yet, if you decide to indulge in, let’s say, an hour of transactional sex, you risk to get into serious trouble. Indeed, women (and men, for that matter) are free to sell as much sex as they want. The glitch, however, is that it’s illegal to pay for it. The foreigners find this arrangement absurd and non-functioning. But the authorities and organizations which support the act believe that it is the best solution to many problems. The law is supposed to control the scope of street prostitution, to challenge the widespread stereotypes, and to shift the social shame away from women (because it is mostly women who offer sexual services) and on to men. The law has been copied also in Norway and Iceland.

The statistics shows, however, that the picture hasn’t changed drastically since the introduction of the law 15 years ago. There hasn’t been any decrease in the number of men buying sex. Only more men have been caught doing it.

The Topsy-Turvy Malfunction

The traditional dating routine in most countries worldwide involves the following steps: a man asks a woman he doesn’t know well to go out to dinner and/or movies with him, he picks her up and drops her off afterwards, he makes the decision about where to dine, he pays the bills and hopes for a well-deserved kiss at the end of the evening. In Iceland, however, the stages in this courtship play are in the wrong sequence. The natural course of an Icelandic relationship is: having sex, going to the movies, having kids, moving in together, and perhaps a marriage (but not necessarily). In other words, Icelandic hookup culture is kind of backward compared to the rest of the world. So, it’s totally understandable for one to be in dismay when they first get laid In Iceland and then asked if they fancy a coffee or a drink some time next week.

The Blade Offer Alternative

Many old-fashioned courting customs might have died decades ago, but some are here to stay. Like this weird one they still have in Finland. The tradition goes back to the 19th century, when the girls who had reached a marriageable age would wear an empty pukko knife sheath on their girdle. That was a sign they were eligible. If a guy laid his eyes on a particular girl, he’d either make a knife, or purchase it to put in her sheath. The girl would return the knife to the potential suitor if she wasn’t interested, and keep it if she agreed to marry him.

Nowadays, no Finnish guy will put an effort into making a knife all by himself in order to conquer a girl’s heart; he’d rather buy her a beer, or two. But in some places the tradition persists, although totally updated and almost unrecognizable. Girls will joke about being offered a butter knife by their boyfriends over breakfast as a token of their will to finally tie the knot.

The Exclusiveness Axiom 

The Scandinavians may be very liberal when it comes to sexuality, nudity, etc., but it certainly doesn’t mean that they are sleeping around indiscriminately once they are in a relationship. They date only one person at a time and being promiscuous while in a relationship is quite unacceptable. It’s an interesting fact that when they form a couple, they rarely or never talk about being exclusive, because if both sides are Swedish, they know the rules. In Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, a couple considers their relationship exclusive from the moment they start exchanging bodily fluids on a regular basis. This is also the moment when they begin to refer to each other as kjæreste (Nor), kæreste (Dan), älskling (Swe), which all are translated as “the one who is the dearest to me”. If one of the couple kisses or even flirts with another person, it’s considered cheating.

The Christmas Party Sex Calamity

In Norway, the number of cheating spouses doubles and triples during the Christmas holidays. And the reason? Julebord. It is a banquet organized for the employees where traditional Christmas food and beverages are served. Of course, a lot of alcohol is consumed during those feasts, and the Norwegians, who are notorious for their social shyness in everyday life, suddenly turn into horny satyrs. Who can blame them? When the spirits are high, and you lay your eyes on an attractive colleague, it’s almost an imperative to play around a little. But in most case, things go too far. The results of a recent inquiry show that one of every ten men and women over 45 have had sex with a colleague at the Christmas office party. With the younger, the numbers go even crazier – every fifth between the age of 18 and 24 has been naughty at Julebord.  Shall we take a guess and expect that many shy Norwegians are looking forward to the upcoming Christmas holidays?

The 2-in-1 Obligation

The relationship between a mother and a daughter is not equal for any two women, and it certainly varies a lot across cultures. But if you find yourself in Norway and craving for female companionship, you may come upon some quite extraordinary displays of this relationship. If you are alone in a bar and you catch the eye of an attractive single lady, who too is looking for some action tonight, it’s highly possible that you two leave the bar together. In her home, however,  a surprise could be waiting for you. Shortly, you could be facing the challenge to not only do the girl, but also her mother. It’s becoming quite a popular practice in Norway for young girls to pick up strangers from bars and other public places for the purpose of satisfying both hers and her mother’s needs. Just like in the wild nature, where the lioness goes out hunting for food for the whole pride…

The Bestiality Appreciation

If you want to openly date your pet, you should move to Finland. The absence of legislation against bestiality makes the country the last one in the European Union to institute a legal ban on it. It’s important to note that bestiality does not refer to only hugging and caressing, but to an actual sexual act between person and animal. The present law holds that as long as it cannot be proved that the animal has been treated cruelly or has been in pain during the intercourse, the person is not responsible for any misdeed.

It hasn’t been always that liberal for the animal-lovers though. In 1734, if one was caught having an improper contact with a farm animal, the act was punishable by death. Two centuries later, in the 1970’s, following in the footsteps of other European countries, Finland finally legalized bestiality. Until July this year, it was legal to have sex with a pet also in Denmark. The ban was instituted because of the growing numbers of operating animal brothels around the country.

The Female Empowerment

Icelandic women love sex, love talking about their sex lives, and don’t freak out about public nudity. For them nudity is as normal as having a toast in the morning. The nation’s chilled attitude towards sex is quite notorious. And it is mostly true about women. If a woman is attracted by someone, let’s say in a bar, she is the one who buys the guy a drink or goes over to start a chat. Icelandic women have a high sexual charge and therefore may have quite many partners. This is due to the fact that if one is incapable of satisfying her in bed, she won’t try to “fix” things only because she has feelings for him. A relationship without good sex is predestined to fail. So she’ll just move on to the next partner.

The average age at which Icelanders start having sex is the lowest in the world. Besides, an incredibly high percentage of Icelandic women own sex toys and are likely to bring them to bed even with a partner in it.  Many women in Iceland go for one-night stands. As a result, there are a lot of single mothers (many of whom are in their early 20’s), but this is regarded as pretty normal and not looked down upon.

The Sex Competition Winning Challenge

It’s not that there exists an actual official sex competition among the Nordic nations, but the Danes love to think of themselves as the winners. Their self-confidence is laid on solid foundations. For starters, in order to be well prepared in bed, they do a lot of “research”. Porn is regularly screened on public TV channels in Denmark. A recent survey by YouGov exploring sexual behavior in different nations shows that the Danes watch more X-rated content than any other nation surveyed. That much sexual education inevitably leads to positive results – the Danes are very much willing to experiment in sex. One of their favorite pastime activities is swinging. Actually, they were the initiators of the International Swingers Week, which has taken place annually since 2008.

A third fact that contributes to Danes’ sex fame is that despite being a tiny nation of only 5,5 million, Denmark can proudly brag about having the biggest sperm bank in the world. It’s astonishing how many would-be parents around the world (and not necessarily Caucasian!) fancy the idea of pumping up their future child with some genuine Viking genes.

And last but not least, they have a lot of time to practice their bed techniques – Denmark has one of the shortest working weeks in Europe at an average of just 34 hours.

The 22nd of June Occurrence

As all the other Nordic nations, the Swedes too are very sexually active. Even when single, they don’t let themselves be alone in bed. They usually have three to five KK’s, or knull kompis (f*ck buddy or a friend with benefits). How can you blame them? After all, the long cold winters force the Swedes to stay inside most of the time. And since many of them live far from the cities, how much better could one  entertain oneself, but between the sheets! But they won’t stop even when it gets warmer. And with the summer in the air, it becomes even more pleasant to get into action without all those layers of clothes… The number of sexual intercourses reaches the climax on Midsummer day (the most important holiday in the Swedish calendar along with Christmas). During that day people get pretty ecstatic from dancing around poles resembling a phallus, and that results in noticeably higher birthrate nine months later. It comes as no surprise then that 22nd March is the most preferred day by the Swedes to leave their mommys’ wombs.

The Good Manners Imperative

Whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) between a man and a woman in Finnish culture, it always comes in a package with a lot of politeness and considerateness. In Finland, men still tend to be the ones who’d offer an invitation for dates, although many women are feeling equally comfortable asking someone on a date. When someone is “asked out”, he or she may politely decline, and it is not polite to demand the reason for the refusal.

“Breaking a date” is a big deal for most Finns. If you must absolutely cancel or re-schedule, the polite thing to do is to inform the other person as soon as possible about the change of plans.

The amount of physical contact between the two sexes in Finland depends on the amount of affection the two people have for one another. Holding hands is not necessarily a sign that a boy and a girl are in an intimate relationship. If, however, you want to turn this holding hands into something more serious, you should first… yes, you’ve guessed right!.. ask this friend politely if they will approve, or not.

The Drinking-Like-A-Fish Mayhem 

Day-drinking, home drinking, social drinking, and actually any other known type of drinking is much favored in Sweden and Denmark (not that much in Norway because of the insanely high prices of alcohol). What can take a foreigner by surprise though is that in a mixed company the girls will be doing most of the drinking. If you are that lucky and get yourself a Swedish girlfriend, she’ll most probably be used to consuming on a regular basis wine, vodka, scotch, beer (a lot of it!) and other beverages with alcohol percentage higher than five. Embrace this fact with resignation and go out partying together. Don’t let your man’s pride be hurt if you can’t take any more alcohol while she is still “warming up” with her eighth shot. Swedish girls do know how to hold their alcohol, and you should be grateful that she’ll safely bring you back home if you pass out before her.

The Number-One Dating Prerequisite

Iceland is an isolated island up in the North Atlantic Ocean where the geysers and the volcanoes are more numerous than people. In a country with a population of only 330 000, the family connections are common, which leads singles to seriously check family background before deciding to get married or/and have a child with someone. Most people are descended from a small clan of Celtic and Viking settlers, so pretty much everybody is a distant relative of everybody else on the island. Tracing a person’s lineage, however, is a challenging mission because last names are no indicators of historic family lineage. A person’s last name is the father’s first name, followed by either “son” or “dottir”. Until a couple of years ago, many Icelanders would end up married to a second cousin or having a baby with an uncle, but with the introduction of  IslendingaApp, the citizens now are able to use the national database which traces the lineage  of all the country’s current inhabitants.

The What-To-Do-To-Impress Requirement

To win a Norwegian girl’s heart can be either an arduous or a piece-of-cake job, depending on your willingness to follow three simple rules (which, however, you may not find that simple).

Do not brag about your salary! In fact, if you are able to hold your horses, the best advice you can take is not to brag about anything at all. The Norwegian girls act subconsciously in accordance with the already mentioned Jante Law – they’ll never think you are any better than the others. Success may still impress them but only if it is connected with something you do outside work. But keep in mind you should always drop the information casually.

Go skiing! Seriously, if you can’t ski, you just have to forget about the girl. Norwegians are mad about the great outdoors, they love hiking, climbing and going on cabin tours, but most of all they love skiing. There is even an old saying that all Norwegians are born with ski on their feet. Go figure!

Don’t touch! As a nation of genuinely shy people who’d sit next to someone in a bus only if it is an absolute necessity, too much touching can put them off. If you want to make a good first impression to a girl (and to any Norwegian, for that matter), it’s admissible to give them a hello hug. But the rule is: don’t hang on their shoulders and by any means don’t give them a kiss on the cheek! Rather hug with your chin than your whole body!

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