19 Jul 2024
Dating in the City: the man, the myth, the Swede
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Dating in the City: the man, the myth, the Swede

Silent, sullen stoic or beautiful, blonde god? YLC’s dazzling Claire Duffy on the myths surrounding the Swedish male – the good, the bad and the ugly.


I feel it’s my duty to set the record straight on a few matters regarding the mythical Swedish man. For one thing, it’s with a heavy heart that I confirm they don’t all look exactly like Eric off True Blood. Indeed, given the penchant for copious facial hair amongst hipsters round where I live, I see more men that look like long lost Yetis than long lost Skarsgårds.

On the positive side though, I’m happy to report that the idea of Swedes as dour and stoic, treating conversation as though they’ll be charged by the word one day and not possessing a sense of humour between the lot of them, isn’t quite true either.

I learned this before I’d even touched down on Swedish soil. I’m petrified of flying, and was once told it was worthwhile alerting the cabin crew to this when I board. On my very first London-Stockholm SAS flight, I duly caught the attention of a cabin crew dude and let him know I’d be gasping theatrically whenever we hit the merest bump of turbulence, trembling a little, and might cry for the next 2.5 hours. His eyes widened, he grabbed my arm, and whispered desperately, “me too.”

However, this is a good news/bad news myth dispelling session, so I was stunned and appalled recently, to realize that I was on a date with a good old-fashioned chauvinist. Who, confusingly, looked a teensy bit like Eric off True Blood, if you are slightly inebriated, blinded by the sun and have also just blinked out one of your contacts, as I had when I agreed to go for a drink with him. He was tall and blond, that was actually about it.

I was about a thumb’s width into my beer when it started. We’d been talking about arrogance, for some reason, when I made some daft comment about how arrogance doesn’t bother me so much when it’s warranted.

For example, if Brad Pitt is a bit up himself about his looks, I’d figure, ‘fair dos.’

“Yeah, but it’s worse when women are arrogant about their looks.”

Ehh? By what laws of conversation does that comment follow mine? None of which I’m aware, that’s for sure, but given that my chugging-almost-a-full-beer days are long behind me, I knew I was stuck there for a while, so gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“Ehh?” I said, which heralded a rather startling (and long) rant about woman who hang around Stureplan all think they’re hot even when they’re not and expect people (him, I rather suspect) to treat them especially well because they’re hot (even the ones that apparently aren’t really).

As I couldn’t reach to tip my beer over his head, I had little choice but to pretend this was a normal conversation, and pointed out that, “girls who hang around Stureplan” aren’t exactly a reasonably diverse sample group from which to construct a hypothesis damning an entire gender.

Indeed, at the risk of being Stureplanist, I would go as far as to suggest that people who hang around there are likely to have an uncommonly intimate relationship with their mirror.

(And also self- tanner. What is it with Swedish scenesters and dying themselves orange?)

That was the high point of our meeting of the minds. In desperation I finally chugged the last third or so of the beer in a manner that would have done 20 year old me proud and as I high-tailed it out of the bar the inevitable unladylike belch frightened an entire table of people.


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. 


1 Comment

  • Paddy Kelly 29 Aug 2013

    Ah yes those orange tans. I call August “month of the orange ladies”. I think people here never got the memo about their skin getting all wrinkled and turning to leather before 50.

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