Having a Dutch partner: is that possible?! – How to love in Dutch?

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The 14th of February is approaching. This means everything is all about love! For most students, love is the reason for learning Dutch.

What is the secret of a successful relationship with a Dutchman? And what role does the Dutch language play in this?

First the numbers.

How many mixed couples are there in the Netherlands?

There are 265,000 couples living in the Netherlands that consist of a Dutch and a foreign partner. That’s 22,000 more than ten years ago. These are figures published by het CBS. 

Most couples consisting of a Dutch national and someone from abroad are Dutch-Indonesian or Dutch-German. They are more often men who have a foreign partner.

In total there are 4.2 million couples in the Netherlands. 3.3 million of them are married and 800,000 live together.

What is the secret of a successful relationship with a Dutchman?

One secret that is revealed in this video is that you should not expect that Dutch guys are real gentlemen. So don’t expect them to open doors or get your coat.

On the other hand, for the students that are in a relationship with a Dutchman it feels like they can be themselves. They don’t pretend to be something they aren’t and they don’t judge you. 

Or as someone says in the comments:

‘Dutch people are ahead of us. While the rest of the world is aggressively discussing if and how emancipation should be a topic, they’ll just do, “You can open a car door by yourself“ is just right. And it makes dating a lot easier when you don’t have to watch out for making tons of mistakes. Dutch people are just very direct, not impolite or cold-hearted.’

Will you marry me? Let’s wait a couple of years

Especially in the last few years the Dutch are known to marry at a later age or don’t get married at all. According to the CBS (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek) women are on average 31 years old when they give their partner the ‘yes’ word. Men are a little older and on average get married around the age of 34.

As a comparison, in America the average ages are 27 and 29.

And weddings are getting less traditional. They used to be in church, but nowadays there are themes, special locations and the ceremony is done differently..

What do Dutch people think when you are learning Dutch?

They think it is great! Seriously. Dutch people know it’s not the biggest and most important language in the world. Far from it. And although a lot of Dutch people speak English (and a third language) they really appreciate it when you try!

And because they sometimes even feel it an honour that you are learning their humble language, they don’t care about the mistakes. As the girls in the video say, ‘trying is the most important thing for them’.

There is even another consequence to this. When you make mistakes, Dutch guys feel proud that they can correct you. Your incomplete knowledge of Dutch makes them feel better.

The best way to learn Dutch

It’s a bit of a cliché, but having a Dutch partner is the best way of learning a language. And the thing that makes it so effective is that language is all about practice. Just try, make mistakes, learn and try again.

And feeling comfortable is really important. And hopefully this is the case with your partner.

And it’s a fact that changing languages is a very difficult thing to do.

When you are used to speaking English for years, switching to Dutch is really strange. I have heard that some people tried it, but it was too frustrating. They said they weren’t able to communicate at the same level as before.

So what is a good way to learn the language with your Dutch partner?

In the video, one of the foreigners gives a good tip.

Choose one time during the day.

And in that situation, you force yourself to speak Dutch. For example, when you are together in the car? Dutch only. Or making dinner? Dutch.

Choose a moment that occurs regularly, but doesn’t take too long. This way of learning has proven to be quite effective. And this doesn’t need to be a whole lot. Just a few minutes a day only speaking Dutch is enough to make progress.

Important vocabulary: boyfriend and girlfriend in Dutch

How to say girlfriend or boyfriend in Dutch? It’s a bit tricky. Let’s take a look.

First talking about girlfriend and boyfriend. In Dutch it is just:

  • vriend or vriendje
  • vriendin or vriendinnetje

You might know that these are the same words as normal friends. So it depends on the article.

With ‘een’ it’s just a friend

  • een vriendin = just a friend

With ‘mijn’ it’s your boyfriend.

  • Mijn vriend / mijn vriendin – my boyfriend / girlfriend

If you are at a stage before becoming girlfriend or boyfriend. What do you say?

  • We zijn aan het daten.

(We are dating.)

When it’s not so serious, you can say about the other

  • Scharrel
  • Vlam
  • Fling

If you are married you talk about ‘man’ and ‘vrouw’.

More formal is ‘echtgenoot’ and ‘echtgenote’.

If you like to keep it more general you can always say ‘mijn partner’.

  • We zijn getrouwd – We are married
  • We hebben een relatie – We’re in a relationship
  • We zijn samen – We are together
  • We zijn een koppel  – We are together (We are a couple)

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