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Let's face it, the mention of German men doesn't evoke much passion. Never have I seen a friend break into a dreamy smile en route to Berlin, or wax poetic about some German dreamboat she had just men. German men always seem a bit like German food—you're sure it’s fine, maybe even good, but you don’t consciously seek to experience it.
This past August, I attended a dinner with about eight tall, handsome German guys. It was a great evening of learning all about raves and DJ culture, debating societal responsibilities, and almost signing up for an Ayahuasca ceremony—the stuff East Berlin is made of. The Germans were friendly and hospitable—and yet, as men, they remained a complete mystery, which made me even more determined to decipher them.
Fast-forward two months, a friend generously offered to connect me with a few expats with extensive German dating experience. I was secretly hoping that I would stumble across breakthrough revelations that would point towards a nation of deep thinkers and closeted romantics—after all, this is the country that once gave us Nietzsche and Beethoven! Alas, my findings were slightly different. Without further ado, here are some key things I learned about the Deutsch.
1. Equality and courtesy don't mix.
It all starts from the German education, which states that all people are equal and must be treated as such. This is an excellent concept—that is, until you arrive in Germany and realize that nobody will a hold the door for you, or help you with your suitcase, or perform any small acts of chivalry that enhance the day-to-day (sue me, I’m a shit feminist). Apparently, German women get insulted at such gestures, or something. Personally, I would like to hear that from the pregnant women who routinely have to stand on the U-Bahn!
That said, the romantic realm is no different. You are unlikely to get approached on the street or get courted with gifts and poetry—at least, in the beginning. According to this article, which aggregates experiences of Russian women living in Germany, many subjects show gradual improvements and even start occasionally buying flowers! (Nothing like some good ol' Russian discipline!)
2. If you want ice cream, you have to pay for it.
German men make you split the bill. This has become one of their most emblematic qualities, a disclaimer for stepping into the German Wasser, so to speak. Select testimonies include:
“German guys split the bill on dates and count every penny. If they borrow 1.63 EU from someone, they give back 1.63 EU—no more, no less.”
“My Aussie friend lived with a German boyfriend who would send her monthly invoice for her half of all their common expenses. She was traveling half the month but he still made her split all the grocery costs 50/50.” (What?!)
From the Russians:
"Prepare your wallet and forget that a man will ever pay for you. At best, you will split the bill in half. This includes ice cream and movies... Unless, of course, you come across a German who has already dealt with Russian women and knows what is expected of him." (Ha!)
3. Love is a waiting game.
Apparently, going Deutsch is like playing an infinite, multi-level waiting game. Said levels include:
“German men take a longer time to make a physical move—they like get to know you better first.” (Given that I live in a city where all men want is sex, I’m ready to board a flight to Berlin!)
I love you.
"Their parents, especially their fathers, rarely told them 'Ich habe dich lieb,' (I love you) so they have a hard time saying it to their partners—but it means a lot to them when they do." (I'm currently processing how "Ich habe dich lieb" can possibly sound romantic, which makes me want to postpone my imaginary flight.)
“German men like to date girls for many, many years. Some don’t even want to get married, regardless of whether they want children. ‘For what?,’ they say, ‘We are having a good time, why should we get married?’ They get married very late, usually in their forties. They like to first work, earn a living, become stable in life, and then make a family.” (I’m out.)
4. Families are handled like "small companies."
Everybody knows that Germans are ridiculously efficient, which trickles down to their family dynamics. “Everything in the family is handled like a small company. They have a schedule for who does the dishes, laundry and vacuums and on which day,” says a Deutschland-born friend. Each partner contributes to a shared bank account, although there are different investment models. Some couples do a 50/50 split, while others chip in an equal salary percentage.
While this "by the book" dynamic is not everybody’s cup o' tea, the women in my Russian article can't sing enough praises to German men for their commitment to housework and diapers (understandable, as most Russian guys don’t know Pampers from Tampax!)
5. White sneakers are sacred.
“They really don’t like anybody stepping on their white sneakers,” wrote a friend, which I took as passive-aggressive code for “these guys are OCD as hell.” The Russian article recounts fastidious Germans scrubbing sinks for fun and using special egg cookers and egg peelers to boil 'ein Ei' (egg). (Actually, I don’t know how to boil 'ein Ei,' so they're forgiven.) Oh, apparently they also sit to pee to avoid making a mess (!!!) This seems completely ludicrous, given that the only upside of being a male is NOT having to come in frequent contact with toilet seats.
6. Loyalty trumps temptation.
The vote is unanimous. German men don’t cheat. These four magic words are probably used as a self-soothing lullaby by every woman who has had to use an egg peeler. According to all my sources, German men are rational, loyal and highly trustworthy.
“My husband and I have three children, he's a businessman and works a lot. I can completely relax knowing that my husband has no relationship on the side. He simply doesn't need this...I'm sure that if I were in the same position in Russia, the situation would be completely different. I would be constantly wondering where he is and what he's doing when he isn't home.”
Sounds ideal? Agreed. And yet, there is a pragmatic element here there that I find highly unnerving... See below.
“If a guy is dating a girl for four years and falls in love with someone else, he confronts his girlfriend with this. They have a serious conversation at the kitchen table, over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. The problem is solved strategically rather than emotionally.”
(I SHOULD NEVER STEP FOOT IN THIS COUNTRY. THAT CAKE WOULD END UP IN SOMEBODY’S FACE.)
While the overall German ethos may not seem all that alluring or inspiring, I will say this. In a world filled with adult men who continuously defy logic and fear responsibility like it's some deadly STD, a little rationality does sound kind of appealing. And so, let's conclude with this lovely quote:
“They are caring, reliable, structured, dependable guys with good sense of humor. Capable of building and fixing things, attentive and faithful. Simply pick the right one who reflects your needs and values.. Nationalität ist egal (Nationality doesn't matter.)”