Stockholm, Sweden has been an amazing city not only to visit but also to live in as a foreign exchange student. I understood before my arrival that Sweden worked hard to maintain equality amongst all, no matter your gender or nationality. Coming from California I thought it would be interesting to live in a very democratic Scandinavian county. Even though I was aware of this I never deciphered the extremes in which the Swedes went to sustain this state of equality.
Many exchange students during orientation week, prior to the start of school, claimed their main reason for choosing Sweden was to meet the ‘world-known’ beautiful men and women of Sweden. It is also what I became accustomed to hearing about before my travels abroad–that Sweden is a country full of alluring, tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed models (basically). Yes, these are the people who fill the city of Stockholm. However, in some way or another someone misled the students who were choosing a country based on the idea that they would find an exquisite significant other.
In a country full of so many stunning people why is it so hard to find love? Why are so many Swedes single? This is where the tip for travel comes in–from a woman who has been fully engaged in this society and amongst so many beguiling men. Going back to the equality aspect of the country, Swedish men feel equal to women in every aspect of life. This, ladies, includes the dating scene. Or should I say the non-existent dates that women from other countries especially my own, imagine to exist.
In California, the term ‘wine and dine’ usually sums things up pretty well, which at times I feel to be nice. My father always treated me like his princess so the appeal for another man to do the same seems natural. It’s good to feel like a special lady and to be appreciated. However, in Sweden the men are either way too shy or simply scared of rejection, I think. If a Swedish man looks your way, even three or four times on the train, subway, bar, etc. he most likely will never approach you. This is what the women call ‘typical Swedish.’ Even if you see a man of potential interest to you and give him the green light with a smile or a little wave, he probably will never act on it.
I was told by a number of my girlfriends here in Sweden that the guys feel equal to the women. So this means, they don’t feel like they have to be the ones to approach you. They don’t ask for your phone number or ask you on a date. They feel that if you are interested, then you, as a woman, can and should make the first move. Or perhaps maybe you should be the one to offer to buy him a drink just to get the conversation started. But once this first move is made, the ‘typical Swedish’ guy is usually very sweet and fully engaged.
Yes, it would be an exaggeration to say that all Swedish act this way but there is a lot more truth in this than you may want to believe. The other night I was told, “I had to approach you after I heard you speaking English. I could hear in your accent that you were from the States so I knew you would never approach me.” The men are aware of this act, the act of letting the women make the initial move. They believe that women should be able to start up the conversation just like them. This is equality, right? But how can this be equality when it seems more like reverse role play? Regardless of my newfound judgment about Swedish men, I know that there are always exceptions just like any stereotype.
So ladies before you choose a city to visit and before you set your heart on Sweden simply because of all of its gorgeous men and women, consider everything else that Sweden has to offer. Stockholm, Sweden is one of the most magnificent cities in the world– full of history, architecture, nature and beauty. It’s a place I am so glad to have chosen for my six months abroad. One day, I want to return and hopefully live here for a longer period of time. Just please, do not choose to come to Sweden because of pure desire that you will meet the love of your life. It may be a bit harder than you think. Perhaps consider someplace else, like my next destination, Paris, ‘the city of love’.