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Love in Denmark

Love doesn't always conquer all, and it doesn't always win, but it does allow you a larger capacity to accept and empathise with each other. On a more spiritual note, love yourself first the way you wanted to be loved, and love will find you.

Photographs: iStock

Text: Ophelia Wu

Love, where shall we begin? February is a month when love is in the air, a universal theme yet so personal on every level. It's the most beautiful thing and the most powerful thing, for better or worse. So, I asked around and tried to gather some perspectives from Danes, locally born and raised ethnic minorities and internationals living in Denmark on what they think.

First, let me tell you why it may be so hard for some to find love or meet someone decent here in Denmark. According to my Danish friends, the single pool here is highly competitive because many women from rural parts of Denmark or other less international countries move to the capital in search of a higher calibre man. So, internationals, you're not just competing with other internationals but also locals.

After informal social research and drawing from my own experiences, I have gathered some interesting common findings, whether they are single looking for love or partnered with a Dane. From what I gathered, it all boils down to cultural differences as a central theme and a xenophobic undertone for some.

Cultural differences

Even Danes find Danes too shy and distant. They like staying close to their social circle. Without the help of dating apps and alcohol, they find it challenging to meet new people and potential dates. Even the dynamic is fun and flirty at a party (with alcohol, of course), and things might seem optimistic; it would change when they're sober. Danes find internationals easier to date as they are more direct and open about wanting a relationship. They reckon asking someone out is way easier than moving across countries.

While Denmark is a very liberal and diverse country, couples of different races, families and cultural backgrounds also find that cultural differences play a significant part in choosing a partner and approaching relationship milestones. One milestone is meeting the parents. In many cultures, especially in Asia and the Middle East, usually introducing your partner to your parents means you're taking the relationship seriously, and there is a hint of potential marriage down the line. While in Denmark, it is also a typical gesture, but it does not always automatically mean the same.

Gender equality and communication style is also distinctly different. For example, Danes tend to see their partners as equal; there are no unwritten rules of gender responsibilities. But, on the other hand, their trust in their partner's ability to manage something might be considered cold and non-caring in some cultures. So, for example, when they argue, there's usually a calm, open and everything on the table style for Danes, and as my friend would say, in Italy, "it's usually more colourful".

Hidden ideology of stereotypes or even a xenophobic undertone

An open country like Denmark appears very welcoming, but in some ethnic minority communities, that's not always the case. Mixed-race couples are more prone to encounter these unfortunate situations. Once, a Danish friend took his Asian girlfriend, who is raised here, out for dinner; a drunk old Danish man insulted her with the most horrible things at the restaurant, calling her a prostitute.

A Danish girl decided to take her Denmark born and raised, part Middle Eastern boyfriend to meet the parents, paced it out because she is so worried her grandparents won't accept him for the way he looked, because in their belief system, "those group" of boys means trouble. So, even you share the same cultural background, these unforeseen scenarios still happen in the most ordinary daily settings.

Understanding is key

These factors are almost universal, so the more you understand who you're dealing with and what that package entails, the easier you can navigate and eliminate unnecessary misunderstanding. For example, those who moved to a foreign country for a partner is romantic but stressed. They would often struggle to settle into their new life, primarily due to the reasons above. It is so easy to blame the other half for all the frustration, but it takes maturity, compassion and understanding to realise while you're struggling, your partner is also working to help you settle in.

So, whether you're single and ready to mingle or happily (or unhappily) coupled, in many ways, a relationship requires effort and communication. Love is unconditional, but the form of love evolves. Love doesn't always conquer all, and it doesn't always win, but it does allow you a larger capacity to accept and empathise with each other.

On a more spiritual note, love yourself first the way you wanted to be loved, and love will find you.

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