14 Jul 2024
Dating in the City: Stockholm’s Bradshaw signing off
Dating Expat Dating Lifestyle

Dating in the City: Stockholm’s Bradshaw signing off

YLC’s fabulous dating guru Claire Duffy on her summer of love, the therapy of column-writing and why it has been awesome to become a kick-ass Swedish woman.


And so we have arrived at the end of my little summer column of lovin’. It has been surreal at times, when complete strangers approached to ask what was happening with the guy I wasn’t allowed to write about (it fizzled out), thank me for blowing the whistle on the technicolor-dream-­underpants situation (someone had to), and on one occasion insist they knew one of the men I wrote about (they didn’t).

It’s been a little bit therapeutic: when I first started, I thought to myself that I wouldn’t be able to write about my great Unrequited Love because it was altogether too serious and tragic ­ – then last week thought ‘meh, it’s actually kind of a funny story…’ Most of all it’s been loads of fun pretending to be Stockholm’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw, albeit less Manolo Blahnik heels and more scruffy Converse trainers my mum tries to throw out every time she visits.

I’ve realized that, terrifying though it may be, I quite like being a kick­ass Swedish woman.

I like feeling free to start a conversation with someone who has caught my eye (“feeling free” and “having the guts to do” being entirely different things, of course) without being trapped by any ridiculous, archaic notions of men liking to do the chasing. I’ve enjoyed feeling in the driver’s seat a little dating­-wise, deciding whether or not to ring after a date rather than sitting by the phone wishing and hoping. When your only option is to wait for the guy to call, if he doesn’t it’s difficult not to feel rejected ­ even if you were hoping he wouldn’t. In Sweden, the ball is in both of our courts: if there is no second date, it is equally because he didn’t call and I didn’t either. Mutual rejection ­- the real gender equality.

While many ex pat women ­(myself included) ­are initially aghast at the lack of dude attention when they move to Sweden.

“It’s like I stepped off the plane and became invisible!” wailed an American friend.

But after this summer I’ve decided that – once you get used to it – it’s most certainly preferable. A little while ago, I joined some Swedish friends for a drink. The group included an American friend of a friend who was visiting Stockholm.

As I was mid-flow on some funny story or another, the American suddenly interrupted me to announce that my nails (painted fire­-engine red) were turning him on.

I was so taken aback, I just smiled awkwardly and tried to pick up where I left off.

“No, I’m sorry,” he continued, digging his grave, “you’re going to have to put your hands down if you expect me to hear anything you’re saying.”

“No, you’re going to have to bloody well listen properly,” I shot back, and the evening didn’t really improve from there.

I’m quite confident that there are plenty of American men more than capable of hearing what a woman is saying regardless of the colour of her nails, but it struck me then how much I appreciated that such irritating objectification is rare in Sweden.

I definitely recommend online dating as a worthwhile option. It’s a giggle, you never know who might just pop into your inbox, and most importantly, it skips over the slow and subtle dance of the seductive Swede that so bewilders us ex pats. I enjoyed my little foray into it, and may well give it another whirl in the future, though for now, was finding it a bit time-­intensive (after accidentally sending a ‘flirt’ to a guy I’d already dropped contact with because he was a bit odd, I seriously considered starting up an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of them all), and, for me, a little bit clinical. Cynical though I may be, I believe in something amazing appearing organically in my life when I least expect it, and instinctively I sense it won’t involve an Excel spreadsheet.

A few columns ago I quoted Greta Garbo as Queen Christina, explaining to her Chancellor that she wouldn’t die an old maid but a bachelor, and I think that sums me up for the time being. I may or may not die a bachelor, but, for now, I’m rather enjoying living as one…

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.



  • Anna 2 Sep 2013

    Nooooooo! I’ve relied on these columns ALL summer!

    • Farrah Gillani 2 Sep 2013

      Oh, Anna, I know! We will miss Claire’s fab insights into the crazy dating world of Stockholm! She’s one hell of a writer 🙂

  • Candice 2 Sep 2013

    Don’t underestimate the power of Excel spreadsheets when weighing up pros and cons of men!

  • Len Villasenor 2 Sep 2013

    You have quite a package of hubris to think you, your writing and your overtly simplistic depictions of Stockholm have somehow garnered you the ability to entitle yourself “a Carrie Bradshaw of Stockholm.” I have found your writing to be similar to this recipe: One part contrite, two cups of insecurity, four gallons of True Entitled B%tch Emulsion, a smattering of useless information, and a pinch of humorless dust. Stir randomly, observe formation of caustic bubbles. Set in glass bottles and put in wooden oak caskets to age. Hopefully a couple decades will improve your selection of words, opinions and worth as a writer…Don’t hold your breath. Taste takes time.

    • Rachael 2 Sep 2013

      I wonder who it is with the hubris here? If you don’t like it – don’t read it! Simple.

  • Helen 2 Sep 2013

    I so enjoy your columns Claire – giving us an insight to online dating and swedish men! I find your writing refreshing, quirky and interesting – you are truly a worthy writer now – I look forward to the decades ahead of more to come!

  • Len 2 Sep 2013

    So funny! Keep writing and don’t change a thing! I thoroughly enjoy reading them!!

  • Frida 2 Sep 2013

    A spreadsheet – great idea! I might take your advice if I try it again! mmmmm….. I might try painting my nails red next time! Look forward to the next instalment!

  • Hugh 2 Sep 2013

    Hey Claire – more great writing! Nice to see it from another point of view – ie. female!

  • Martha 3 Sep 2013

    I cannot imagine not reading about the funny Swedish dating life anymore! Great writing but it is sad to hear you are taking a break…what about a follow up on how to seduce a Viking man.

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