Culture shock: How to love a Dutch person?

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Oops! You’re in a relationship with a Dutch person.

What is it like to have a Dutch boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife?


The foreigners in the video find the characteristic Dutch directness very strange to begin with. Typically, nothing is said that is unnecessary.

They also say that there are no taboos; Dutch people like to talk about anything and share their opinion about it. That also means that you could be the subject of their opinion.

 “You have gained 5 kilos!”

According to someone in the video, this is what her Dutch husband said to her.

The example the woman gives in the video might come over as rude, and not every Dutch man would say something like that, but still, it happened.

Marriage of equals

Going Dutch, which means paying your share of the bill in a restaurant, is seen as typically Dutch. Not because the Dutch are known for being stingy.

It’s more about equality.

Women want to be equal to men. For some this means that paying for yourself is quite normal. Like a student says in the video: “Dutch people are independent.”

How to make a Dutch man happy?

The answer to this question comes in the video. Here someone says that if you want to make a Dutch man happy, everything has to be in order.

The Dutch like everything to be planned and to live by their agenda (diary).

“Even things like buying food. It never feels like a last-minute decision”.

We need a work – life balance!

The Dutch like to work, but their own social and private life is equally important to them. This can be seen in the fact that the Dutch don’t work as many hours compared to other countries.

This also means that you are not expected to work all the time. Working 34 hours a week is considered full time!

Communication and language with a Dutch partner: 4 tips

Here are some tips about communication if you have a Dutch partner.

  1. Learn each other’s language

You both speak different languages as your mother tongue. Don’t stick to your own language, try to understand and learn the language and culture of your partner.

A different kind of bilingual relationship is one where both speak a language which isn’t the mother tongue of either. In these relationships the partners have to find a lingua Franca. This is often the case with foreigners who are not from English speaking countries with Dutch partners. Because the Dutch are pretty good at English, it not a problem for them to communicate in it. And Dutch is not typically a language that people learn in school.

So what is important here is to make an effort!

  1. Learn the language of the country you are in

Let’s take a look at the example of a foreigner coming to the Netherlands and speaking English with their partner. Not only is it good to learn Dutch to communicate with the friends and family of your partner but you also don’t want to be dependent on your partner.

In other words, you don’t want your partner to always be the translator.

  1. Learning a language is important, but keep communicating.

Of course, learning a language is important. But keep in mind that communicating is also very important. And for that, sometimes you have to use the lingua franca or your mother tongue. In some situations, you want to be precise and let the other person know exactly what you think. In that case, let go of learning the language and say what you need to say.

  1. Help each other and have fun with it

You can see learning a new language is a big step, a great challenge or something to look forward to. All of those could be true. But here there’s one big advantage: you have a great teacher. Someone that is around you all the time. You can help, support and motivate each other.

And together you can listen to music and watch movies. A new language opens up a new world. So don’t be afraid and try to explore this much as possible.

Raising a multilingual child: 3 tips

Maybe you’re lucky. You have found a Dutch partner and there are even children! Language might be a difficult part of the upbringing. It brings questions like:

  • What should be his/her mother tongue?
  • Where will we be in 10 years?
  • Who will be around the most?

Here are some tips regarding the raising of a multilingual child

  1. One Parent, One Language

Vitally important is the One Parent, One Language (OPOL) strategy, which means that each person limits himself to speaking one language. So the mother who´s from Spain always speaks Spanish, while the Dutch dad always speaks Dutch.

So it is essential that the parent only speaks their mother tongue with the child. If parents try to speak in a language they don’t know very well, the contact with the child as well as the language level could be negatively affected.

  1. Offer both languages in as many forms as possible

By talking, reading, singing, listening to songs, playing games, reading comic books, watching TV and movies, setting up audio books.

Here you can find my lists of favourite filmssongsbooks. Maybe there is something suitable for your child. 

  1. Don’t be afraid and have fun

At first, bilingual or multilingual children sometimes have slightly more linguistic problems. This is reportedly because they need more self-confidence to speak in one of the languages.

Linguists say, and I support this, that there is no need to worry about this. There is no evidence that the language development of these children is ultimately slower than in children who speak ‘only’ one language.

Funny expressions about men and women and love

Of course, love is a topic in many forms of culture like movies, literature and music. In language there are also many expressions regarding love and relationships.

Here are some funny ones

  • De liefde van een man gaat door de maag.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

This means that you can win a man’s love by cooking great food.

  • liefde is blind.

Love is blind.

When you are in love you can’t see the other person’s faults.

  • Ongelukkig in het spel gelukkig in de liefde

Unlucky in the game is lucky in love.

He who doesn’t win in playing games, is fortunate in love. 

  • Oude liefde roest niet

Old love doesn’t rust.

When you’re in love for a long time, the love doesn’t go away.

  • Alles went behalve een vent.

You get used to everything except a man.

Living with guys is difficult….

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School