18 Jul 2024
Dating in the city: Björn Borg has a lot to answer for
Community Dating Expat Dating Lifestyle

Dating in the city: Björn Borg has a lot to answer for

Stupendous single gal Claire Duffy on dating Swedes, brightly coloured underwear and why the wise words “he’s just not that into you” don’t work when dealing with an aloof viking.


I was happily wandering to my favourite coffee shop to do some work the other day, when I saw him. Promising Eye Contact Guy, the one I tried to give my number to in a mysterious and alluring way until he inexplicably hugged me, then I even more inexplicably nodded at him and ran away. He was just heading into a shop, when he saw me. We had a brief moment of eye contact, a fractionally longer telepathic moment of… “haven’t we… oh wait… yes it’s you… sorry about the nodding” then I, true to form, turned heel and ran away – right into my friend, Flirtatious Actor.

I garbled an explanation as to why I was scuttling around in terror, and Flirtatious Actor sagely advised me to “just walk up to him and press your boobs against him”; leading me to wonder, not for the first time, whether Flirtatious Actor lives in his own private Judd Apatow movie.

It also made me wonder whether that advice would have worked back when I had a little crush on Flirtatious Actor when we first met. He auditioned for me in his underpants. It was my first time casting in Sweden, and we were using a scene from a short film I’d written in which a couple wakes up together for the first time and the guy gets up and gets dressed. Every time I’ve used this scene for castings in London, the male actor has mimed the getting dressed part so I assigned it for this audition without a second thought. However, I’d reckoned without the alacrity with which Swedes whip their kecks off, and spent the day struggling to remain professional (and conscious, frankly) as a succession of Viking sex god actors paraded in front me with no trousers on.

Incidentally, what is it with Swedish men and brightly coloured underpants? Where I come from, men wear black pants, white pants, grey pants, pants that were once white and are now a bit grey, pants that were once black now faded to grey; in Sweden you have to wear sunglasses whenever a boy strips in front of you or risk a migraine.

Björn Borg has a lot to answer for.

Anyway. After we cast Flirtatious Actor, we met for coffee a couple of times, and there was, to my mind, a weeny bit of a spark there. A bit of eye contact held a little too long, an ‘accidental’ touch of the knee or two, he gave me a very sweet and thoughtful gift. But then – nothing. Was this the maddeningly slow and subtle Swedish dating I’d been warned about, or was he just nice and a bit flirty in general and our knees touched because Swedish coffee shop tables tend to be inexplicably too small to accommodate long Swedish legs?

Whether it’s down to shyness or a by product of gender equality, the maddeningly slow and subtle thing here in Sweden does leave a bit to be desired. Recently a Swedish girlfriend told me that a guy had asked for her number. Two years after they met. An ex pat friend suggested a second drink during a first date that appeared to be going well, and was rather put out when the guy responded that he had to go and do laundry. Diagnosing that he clearly wasn’t interested, she deleted his number, and months later heard from a mutual friend that he was gutted she didn’t call.

As for me, my crush on Flirtatious Actor came to an end when, during a chat about romance and relationships, I mentioned that I was interested in ‘someone’ in the hopes that the (admittedly somewhat telepathic) message might get across.

He advised me to make him jealous and helpfully offered to flirt with me in front of the guy I liked. Who was him.

Given that the most talented actor probably can’t stay in character enough to make himself jealous, I decided that it wasn’t meant to be and cheerfully settled into being buddies with him. A kick-ass Swedish woman in training I may be, but walking up to anyone and pressing my boobs against them to signal interest is a bit out of my league for now.

I suspect it may always be.


Claire Duffy


Claire is a writer and filmmaker originally from Scotland who moved to Stockholm in 2011 for no particular reason.  She is fond of snow, pickled things and very tall men, so it’s working out very well so far. 



  • Solan 24 Jun 2013

    Haha, I am SO glad you mentioned the underwear! As an American girl dating in Stockholm…gosh, it does take you by surprise a bit. The short, tight-titted, rainbow-licious underwear in the strangest patterns you’ve ever seen!

  • Anna Lovece 24 Jun 2013

    Swedish men…can’t figure them out !! They can be fun, intellectual, creative…..however vaporous with their free spirit…….and yes it is often difficult to understand if they are just being friendly or have a deeper interest!

    ..the coloured underwear is so true…..red, yellow, blue boxer pants…..definately not boring 😉

    I guess for me being used to a mediteranean culture….it was fun but also brain-racking trying to figure out some of the viking ways……I actullay spent a year and a half with a swedish guy in a long distance relationship……and enjoyed the experience!! 🙂

  • Claire 24 Jun 2013

    Haha I love how the underwear bit is the one that’s struck a chord!!

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