Flirting 101 for internationals

How to date a Dutch woman

While there are plenty of couples consisting of a Dutch man and an international woman, the reverse is a little less common. Are Dutch female students really that picky? Or is there another reason they don’t date international men?
By Anne de Vries and Paulien Plat

You’re at the pub having a beer, when you spot a blonde girl across the room. She’s wearing white sneakers, flared trousers, and top with an animal print; she’s the quintessential Dutch girl. Her blue eyes sparkle at you as she’s dancing with her friends. You decide to approach her. ‘Hello beautiful’, you say. Surprised, she turns around, giggling.

A few days later, you meet for a beer at the Concerthuis. You’re having such a good time that, five minutes in, you put your hand on her leg without thinking. You tell her all about what you’re studying and how you ended up in the Netherlands. She listens, and nods. When you say goodbye later, you assume that you’ll be having a second date. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way. ‘Sorry, I’m not feeling it.’ She leaves you standing there, disappointed. 

Expensive vases

Many internationals have caught on to the fact that chatting up Dutch women is difficult. They don’t really respond when someone makes a pass at them, so cheesy opening lines or funky dance moves often end in rejection. ‘Dutch women are like expensive vases in a museum. Great to look at, but you’re not allowed to touch them’, says Benjie Beer from Britain, who just graduated with a master’s degree in journalism.

Cheesy opening lines or funky dance moves often end in rejection

The number of internationals in Groningen has increased over the past few years, but this doesn’t appear to have led to couples consisting of Dutch women and international men. The reverse, a Dutch man dating an international woman, is more common. Why aren’t Dutch women into international men? 

‘Choosing a partner is riskier for women than it is for men’, explains psycho-sexologist Charmaine Borg. That’s because they run the risk of pregnancy and STDs. ‘Unknown factors pose an even greater risk.’ 

Language barrier

This means Dutch women are less likely to fall for international men (or women), since they have a harder time figuring out what’s going on with them. It’s easier to just date a Dutch person. This gives internationals an immediate disadvantage. On top of that, international students will probably end up leaving sooner rather than later. Women are less likely to go out with a dude who’ll end up living on the other side of the world. That’s another disadvantage. 

The final drawback is the language barrier. Unless they date a Belgian, of course. Overheard in the pub: ‘I don’t understand English when I’m drunk.’ The international guy who tried flirting with the Dutch girl who said this was swiftly rejected. But even sober, not being able to speak your native language leave you at a disadvantage. 

The final clincher is the height difference. ‘Men and women in relationships both prefer the man to be the tallest’, says Gert Stulp, assistant professor in evolutionary biology. It just so happens that Dutch people are some of the tallest in the world. ‘Foreign men tend to be shorter than Dutch men, which means Dutch women probably won’t run into any internationals taller than they are.’ 


So how do you snag yourself a Dutch beauty? There’s no need to pay the bill: Dutch girls prefer to, you guessed it, go Dutch. They do like it when their date is courteous, so don’t hesitate to hold the door for them. Being courteous also means restraining your urge to touch them. Not everyone enjoys a hand on their leg when they didn’t ask for it. See how it goes, and maybe try a hand on their arm first. 

Not everyone enjoys a hand on their leg when they didn’t ask for it 

Dutch people also aren’t particularly fond of making out with someone in the middle of the street, with people yelling ‘get a room’ at whoever does so. We’re certainly fond of passion and romance, but PDA is just embarrassing – especially when you’re likely to run into your statistics professor at the Vismarkt. 

Be sure to listen to your date. The ladies will obviously be really interested in your international background and will ask you how you ended up in Groningen. But don’t forget to ask her questions as well; you’re probably just as curious about her as she is about you. Dutch beauties want to be appreciated for who they are, not just for what they are. 

No label

Please keep in mind that today’s Dutch dating culture is fairly complicated, with many different terms to define the status of your relationship. Dutch people don’t like to be tied down: thanks to apps like Tinder and Bumble, a more attractive, more intelligent, and fitter partner is just a left swipe away. It’s easier to not label what your relationship means. 

If your Dutch date still refuses to call you her boyfriend a few months into your relationship, don’t take it personally. It’s not you, dear international, it’s the spirit of the times.

Try to find a short woman. They do exist in the Netherlands

What can you do about the height difference? Since you can’t magically grow six or eight inches, we only have one tip: invest in a pair of platform shoes. They’re super hip these days. If the Elton John look isn’t your thing, try to find a short woman. They do exist in the Netherlands. The authors of this article are 5″2’ and 5”5’ respectively, so not all Dutch women look down on you.

If none of this helps, don’t worry. Everyone gets rejected. It’s all a part of life. Sometimes you just don’t click, and it’s not always because you’re an international. Just keep trying; Groningen is full of independent girls. Maybe you have the charms to melt our Dutch hearts.


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