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A Reflection on Dating Culture

Thoughts & Experiences from Denmark

A couple wanders away from Nyhavn towards City Centre 

Swipe, swipe, swipe.


Text. Talk. Meet.


New place. New face. 

Is it new? Is it something productive? It sometimes feels quite the opposite. Dating culture is weird, gone are the days of speaking to someone on the street. Starting a conversation in public.

Focused. Busy. New task.

Work. Friends. Hobby. Family. 

Our lives have sped up so quickly with technology and the interconnected world we live in. Instant contact. New rules of engagement. What are the rules?

Walking. Scrolling. Eyes down. 

As we move through the streets of our days more and more people talk and laugh about the latest things they have seen or heard on social media, Netflix or Spotify.

Sit. Surrounded but alone.

For me, looking around the world I live in, a fascination takes hold and transcends me to a place full of thought. A simple question but not easily solved. Multiple answers and reasons but devoid of truth. Why is it difficult to meet people? Better yet do we really want to meet new people...

You hear it all the time. "Sorry, I'm really busy. That doesn't work for me." I've used it, you've used it and it's been used against us. Now, I understand people have priorities and obligations. But, when the opportunity arrives to step out of our cozy shell of comfort and lay ourselves out there a little bit many of us, me too, shy away from the challenge and miss some incredible connections. We can chalk it up to many reasons and rationalize ourselves into a hole so deep we forget the original question.

What are we afraid of? Judgement? Rejection? Criticism? Or is it something deeper for us to avoid the new? Have we become focused on the machine of society so long that we have reached a point where few of us seek novel and new adventures out of fear? Do we want to avoid others because of a lack of self worth?

These are thoughts that rip through my mind and crack like lightning and thunder. I take a sip of coffee, scan the tiny, rustic coffee shop. Signs, plants, reused from a lifetime before. A married couple orders and smiles as they carry their Sunday shopping loot. Plastic bags, double arm carry. The smell of coffee floats through the air and softly, perfume slides into the mix. My date has returned with another cup of coffee. Her face beaming with delight, blue eyes sparkle, blonde hair falling and flowing like the Icelandic rivers that cut through the fantasy world of her past. She looks up, we make eye contact. I lean back into the wooden bench and inhale deeply.

"How did we get here?"

She pauses and looks quizzically at me.

"On a date. Isn't it funny that we met on an app and now we are here."

She smiles and nods. She softly says with her Danish accent, "Ya, who would have thought I would be here with a Canadian. But it's cozy."

I nod and agree. Our conversation continues elsewhere and the memory floats away from me as I think about dating culture. How difficult it must be and the crazy stories people share. How both men and women treat each other like objects instead of people. How missed signs lead to missed opportunities and the secrecy that rolls around every question and answer. The present does not exist. Existence is formulated by our past and the pull of the future. Some by the whimsical need to always be moving, feeling trapped in their home land. Others, rooted by family and heritage never take a step across the town line for more than a vacation.

A new city, a new date, a new match. This one is different. Tall, lean, short golden waves bounce too and fro. Here eyes deep and warm like the Mediterranean ocean she's spent time on. A nose ring bringing attention to her eyes like the anchors and stirrups she's become accustomed to. Her voice calm and warm like a sweater on a crisp fall afternoon. She is full of energy and I can feel it, the energy of horses rumbles through her heart, she's comfortable as we stroll onward. She takes the lead and I follow speaking of home. Laughing with her about our similar upbringings worlds a part, a rural Canadian kid living around horses and her surrounded by Icelandic and Fjord ponies. We sit, similar routine. Coffee, conversation, time is up... or is it? 

As we progressed and enjoyed our time we both found something rare. Time stood still. It became this abstract component of life. We sat for hours eagerly awaiting the next comment. And the next shared idea. Honeymoon phase? Maybe.

We strolled away to go back to our lives. The country in me shined through in her, I could see the time she spent around horses tear through her laid back demeanor, hooves and saddles. Her Danish hipster ways projected on to me in a way that does not come off, the music and style started to plant seeds and left me not fighting what she thought to me out of kindness and connection.

New thoughts. New ideas. New interests.

What I have found when dating people is an odd mix of various things thrown together. When there is a real connection we tend to make some time, some way for that person. But, first dates not feeling that spark or deeper connection leads us back to square one. Swiping and hoping to find someone that is more than a pretty face, one who has a personality and qualities that form with our own. In our worlds, we find it hard to date people but why? Why is creating a conversation and being confident in ourselves that we are enough such a foreign and obtuse idea? Asking someone to dance when the mood strikes us. Approaching someone in a social setting and introducing ourselves. We are okay with rejection in every other aspect of our lives except as we date. If anything, the area of rejection here should be valuable to us and open new paths. By removing individuals who have no interest opens more possibilities for those that do. Those we can connect with. It is the time to be our truest self. 

Texts. Phone calls. Voice message. Snapchat.

She uses voice message, how peculiar and wonderful. She's creating a connection and stepping out of the box. Gazing upon her, she already broke that mould a long time a go. Hippy, wanderer, relaxed yet excited. Traditional yet new age. Unique yet the same. The dichotomy she displays grabs ahold of the imagination. She beams, a mixture of the world and her home. We hug, we plan for another date. We talk until we are forced to sleep. The infatuation builds, both used to being foreigners and more the centre of attention. Together we centre our attention around the other. The time is made, the treadmill stops. The need to swipe, hurry, and busy oneself stops.

I look around. Sun shining, dull grey clouds slowly float across the sky. People appear fast but moving slow. Builds jut like crooked teeth from the cobbled and worn streets of the old city.

Dating has become so much more than just asking someone out. We build resumes of all types to try and grasp the attention of others. Sometimes spontaneity drives a good outcome. Being honest and forthright. Setting out expectations as the dates progress lets everyone know where this is or isn't going. Not everything needs to be a guess.

Dating culture is a place for the brave. We need to be open for what is to come as time crawls forward  they say love is a battle field and I suppose it can be if you are on opposing sides at the end of the day. Same side, similar direction. Reduce the tension but conflict will arise it is apart of who we are. We need this conflict to better ourselves and those around us.

Oddly enough, the more people we connect the more we sometimes find ourselves. They bring back ideas, loves or skills we had long forgotten along the path. The dormant seeds of hope and creativity can spring forth like bamboo shoots pushing one from the darkness to the light. Shifting our worldviews and confirming others. 

Sitting, surrounded by buildings on a platform with strangers coming and going I find that we are all solely focused in our world. I, attached to my phone throwing thoughts out the world, while others sit silently with headphones in bundled up against the fall breeze. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Train arrives new faces and new places. Don't get caught focusing on the next thing as you date. Pause. enjoy. Learn and grow.

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A Reflection on Dating Culture
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