Disclaimer: Written with a partial knipoog (wink)
Ahh, Dutch women. We all know that Dutch women don’t get depressed. They also have the happiest kids in the world. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with these tall gorgeous happy blonde beauties with flawless biking skills?
A common complaint among fellow expats is how difficult it is for them to actually make friends with Dutch people. Expat forums are filled with questions and concerns on just how to infiltrate the local Dutch circles. Sometimes expat women spend their entire stay in the Netherlands not having any real Dutch female friends.
Being a seasoned expat for the past 6 years now, I’ve gained some valuable insight on how to establish real, genuine friendships with these wonderful women. I’ve also learned a thing ( or two or more) actually about how not to make friends with them. Some of the mistakes I made are long-lasting and quite irreparable.
However, pure luck and a lot of practice has allowed me to forge genuine friendships with these wonderful women. They’ve welcomed me into their country, their homes and into their hearts. My Dutch girl friends even flew all the way to my wedding in San Francisco to celebrate my special day. An invitation to a Dutch bachelorette party and a wedding invitation that includes dinner are signs of a true friendship with a Dutchie.
I’d love to impart my wisdom on other fellow expats on how to make Dutch female friends. I guarantee that it will make your stay in the Netherlands no matter how short, or long a worthwhile experience.
Here are my 7 fool-proof (Dutch approved) tips on making Dutch female friends:
(We were in Ghent celebrating a friend’s bachelorette party. It also coincided with Ghent Day and we had to pretend that we were Belgians. Dutchies were historically not welcomed on that special day.)
1. Doe maar gewoon, hoor!
Just be “normal“. Being cool, calm, and collected goes a long way with making a good first impression among Dutch women. American enthusiasm should be casually put away until you become better friends.
2. Learn the Dutch language
We’re in their country and no matter how obscure Dutch is, making a concerted effort to learn the lingua franca of the Netherlands demonstrates your seriousness of acclimating to the country. You can always make the excuse that everyone speaks English so why bother. However, making an effort to learn their language will be considered endearing and thoughtful to a potential new Dutch friend.
Dutch can be a challenging language to learn, especially since the Dutch are notorious for switching to English to speed up the flow of the conversation, or to practice/show-off their English skills. Be stern. Throw in the words gezellig and lekker for good measure.
3. Develop Ninja Agenda Skills
If a potential new Dutch friend suggests to meet up for coffee, lunch or dinner date, pretend that you are busy for the next month or so. This will give you coolness points. Having an impeccable, precisely planned out life is a character trait that many Dutch women pride themselves in. Look at your calendar, and pick a date that is four weeks away.
Insider tip: Once you’re “in”, randomly calling on Thursday afternoon to meet up for last minute drinks and or/dinner can give you “gezellig” points. Some will welcome the spontaneity as a breath of fresh air.
We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a true genuine friendship with a Dutchie. Give them time to warm up to you and get to know you. It could take months, or even years. However, once you make a Dutch friend, you’ve more than likely made a friend for life.
Insider tip: The Dutch often are part of various circles of friends. If you can somehow crack the sanctity of the inner circle and one of them vouches for you, you are sure to have at least 10 new Dutch friends. This often happens if you fall in love with a wonderful Dutch guy who happens to also have like-minded lovely Dutch female friends.
5. Do Not Over-Share in the Beginning
American women beware. Our idea of keeping it real by divulging in our innermost secrets and insecurities upon feeling a “connection” with a potential Dutch friend can cause her to run to the nearest polder. Your “openness” may be construed as not having the ability to keep secrets. It may also freak her out by being so candid about your feelings. I learned this the hard way.
6. Do Not Complain About The Netherlands, the Dutch Culture or the People.
A common trait of the Dutch is that they are a very vocal lot with very strong opinions that can be considered as “complaining”. You’ll get the seemingly harmless question, “What do you think of this country?”.
Let them do the complaining, politely nod your head and smile. Do not fall victim to their self-deprecating humor about their own country and their country(wo)men. If you are an expat experiencing culture shock, reconsider your readiness with making friends with the locals. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may not end well.
7. Do Not Drop by Unannounced (especially during dinner time)
It is considered quite rude to show up to a Dutch friend’s home unannounced. Unexpected visitors during dinner time may find themselves either being sent away, or made to sit in the living room while dinner is being eaten. The Dutch usually do not embrace spontaneity, especially from someone new in their routine-filled lives. Also, keep in mind that since everything is pretty much carefully planned out, such as the exact grams of meat per person, there is a high probability that there wouldn’t be any food to share anyway. Try not to take it too personally!
Thrown in For Good Measure: “Insider tip” from a friendly random Dutch woman I met at Kurz hair salon:
If you have your heart set on making friends with real Dutch women, go for the home-run and wear three quarter white leggings. Extra bonus points if you wear it with brown boots.
(photos courtesy of Ruth Uitewaal)
P.S. Want to waste more time on the internet? Check out Postpartum Care and What We Can Learn from the Dutch.