Mind if I flirt with your boyfriend? Making sense of the Danish flirt

I tossed it up for three weeks debating whether do this post or not, based on an article I read that stated ’90 percent of Danes don’t consider it cheating to flirt with another person when they’ve got a girlfriend or boyfriend’.

 But I have decided to do it for the following reasons…and the following reasons only:

  •  the level of interest I had in this was very high from both guys and girls hence I owe it to my fans
  • A fellow foreign intern at my work place is intrigued by this phenomenon and wanted answers
  • I haven’t written a blog on men for over a year now
  • Finally (and this was the straw that broke the camels back) a Danish guy I went out with recently asked if I was doing “research on him for my blog”. Maybe I was…he’ll never know…

So here goes- I will seek to satisfy my fans, my fellow intern, and ‘that guy’ as I endeavour to provide some answers to the following questions:

How do different nationalities approach flirting?

Some like it hot and some like it not

There are those countries we all know well, the ones where the flirt is obvious, overt and palpable. They are the men with the greasy slicked back hair, wearing Versace, riding scooters and they seem to hail form France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

A little too much

A little too much

Then there are those nationalities where the flirt is rather discreet….Perhaps the middle east countries, or maybe Greenland- lets be honest though it’s hard to find anyone wearing a full body snow suit for nine months of the year a turn on (except if you’re Fie Lander- you will always rock the snow suit).

Then there’s Denmark – Compared to other countries such as my own people here are fairly overt, but they still keep their cards very close to their chest. They put it out there, not enough that you feel like running a mile…but enough that there’s a sparkle in the air, a little magic, a freedom in their actions that say’s ‘you’re a member of the opposite gender and therefore I will enjoy that, appreciate that and feel free to flirt to whatever degree I deem appropriate despite the fact you have a partner or if I just like you as a friend’.

Without sounding like the lead character in Chris Brown’s new music video ‘International Love(r)’ there are a few nationalities I could draw on for comparison here.

New Zealanders

Need I say more

My fellow countrymen, a good land of solid men and women…who intend to keep it that way. Most schools in New Zealand are single sex and in a huge generalised statement we aren’t typically friends with members of the same sex. The opposite sex are for flirting with, having fun with, and having as partner but they’re not really for making friends with.

Compared to Denmark, the flirt in New Zealand is extremely primitive, and almost non-existent. Yes people are witty, can do the touchy feely thing if they try, the extended eye contact etc. all the usual tricks. But it is directed at one person and one person only = the object of your affection. Contrary to Denmark it’s NOT directed at a bunch of people and certainly not at your friends.

Flirting could include but is not limited to any of the following:

  • ‘you look nice’ Simple and to the point (nothing specific though)
  •  If they ask you out they are keen- period. No they don’t just want to ‘make friends’ (this goes for BOTH girls and guys)
  • The old classic ‘lets practice rugby tackles’. It’s close, it’s intimate, it’s playful and it’s useful. And who said rugby wasn’t the ‘beautiful game?’



If you asked an Aussie if flirting with another while having a partner is cheating I bet 99% would say no. Twice now I’ve lied to Aussie guys and told them I had a boyfriend so they would stop flirting/hitting on me. BOTH of them said ‘so what?’. ( okay so maybe two isn’t a good number to go off but you get my point)

The Aussie blokes are (bless them and I don’t just say this because I’m Kiwi) cocky, confident and good looking…and they know it. Nearly every encounter with an Aussie involves some kind of flirting.

I play Netball here in Denmark, and true fact, every time a new Aussie guy comes along they do their usual ‘I think I’m pretty cool, so I’ll flirt with you in a way that you know that right from the beginning, while also trying to feel more masculine in a sport that’s clearly for females’. It doesn’t work.

Picked the wrong sport buddy


Need I say more…the root of the word ‘flirt’ actually comes from the French work ‘flitious’. Jokes. But it probably could have.

oh la la

oh la la

They are forward here. Both girls and guy know how to turn on the charm and heck don’t affairs run rampant here! Did you know that in the national public phone directories, only the first 4 digits of someone’s phone number are recorded incase someone finds someone’s phone number lying around,  thinks it may be their partners secret lover and goes to look up their number. Now that’s what I call game on!


Fun, fun, fun is their approach to flirting. With their self depreciating humour these guys are natural flirts, plus the accent goes a long way. Personally I think the Danish accent is just as sweet but who isn’t a sucker for the Cederic Diggory voice. I can only speak for the women here, but I would say that the men here take chivalry to a whole new level.

I would generalise though and say that while these men and women may be great flirters, like Kiwi’s, their flirtations are directed at the objects of their affection. Hey, it takes a lot of work to find humorous statements that convey a teasing touch with a slight ‘Ricky Gervais ’ approach all the time so why waste it on friends??

Most British men quote ‘David Brent’ when trying to chat up a girl


The Swiss take a rather sweet approach to flirting. They know they look good, I mean who wouldn’t with a mix of French and Italian blood, so they don’t feel the need to ‘try too hard’. While slightly shy they can turn on the flirt in a charming and sophisticated way. I couldn’t say for sure if they would consider it cheating to flirt with someone while having a partner. I would say yes. They are still conservative though- heck they only gave women the vote in the 60’s!

Teach me how to ski??


The poor Germans, most of the time they attempt to flirt only after drinking eight bottles of Becks and it doesn’t come off so well. They were never destined to do well in these stakes though- their German accent was never going to take them very far. They’re into the ‘if I am touchy-feely enough she will get the message’. The only message you really get is ‘a message from a (beer) bottle’.

the accents were the icing on the cake sadly

the accents were the icing on the cake sadly


American’s do it like the movies. They are chivalrous, playful, and interested in the object of their affection. They exude more confidence than other nationalities (who wouldn’t when your from “the best country in the world”) which makes their flirting abilities stronger and more natural than other countries.

“Wanna come to a drive in movie with me after we finish kicking it with this song?”

And then there’s the Danes…

In response to the question asked:

‘Do you consider it cheating to flirt with other people when you have a partner?’

With regard to the Danes I would say this is 100% true. I’m not being mean, I can just see this…I’ve experienced this…and I think I know why.

At the risk of revealing too much and offending many friends here I will proceed carefully with the following statements.

The Danes like to flirt, they’re pretty good at it and they enjoy it. Perhaps they just know the great health benefits which contributes to their  ranking as the ‘happiest people on earth’.

– Science has shown that flirting at the workplace helps workers remain happy amidst all the stress, and increases office camaraderie (now who said that office flings were a bad idea?)

If my co-worker looked like this not much work would get done

– Flirting reminds us that we are still attractive. A well placed, sincere compliment, especially from a stranger, boosts our self esteem, which some studies show increases our brain functions.

– In an informal poll conducted by Yahoo, 50 percent of respondents said they felt “young and sexy” when flirting and 37 percent said they were in a better mood after flirting, like a “natural high” possibly caused by a surge in hormones. (The Danish poll showed that 100% of respondents felt like that…that’s not actually true but I made a balanced judgement).

Where’s the line?

The things that my friends here in relationships do with other people would NOT be tolerated back home… they would border on cheating. But this got me thinking, maybe I’m just looking at isolated examples or maybe we’re extremely conservative back home or maybe and most logically it’s just a ‘cultural difference’.

The following is what I have experienced here and back home it would nearly constitute as cheating (or seriously inappropriate)

  • Hanging out with someone from the opposite sex one on one for extended periods of time, whether it be an old friend or a new one.
  • Extremely affectionate words of affection
  • Touching – often and not just when drunk
  • Sharing a bed
  • The ‘friend- spoon’

The friendly spoon

So am I to conclude from this that all the Danes are ‘cheating’ …or do they merely just have an extremely high threshold for what is considered ‘flirting’. What I may consider ‘flirting’ may just be ‘friendly banter’ to the Danes, merely just them saying ‘lets make the most of the fact we’re different sexes and enjoy it’.  As an Austrian friend of mine said to me once “I like that in Denmark you can flirt freely and just enjoy it without anything attached to it”.

A young age?

Perhaps the flirtation here is encouraged from a young age though. This week Lotte (the mother of the family I au pair for) said to her two boys (aged 5 and 6) that this week they could only bring girls home from school to play with.

Um. What?

My mother would have been a little worried if I bought him boys at age 5. Plus boys had ‘cooties’ back then…why would I want their ‘cooties’ on my Barbie doll??

Due to the fact there are no single sex schools here, all the girls and boys are forced to interact throughout their teenage years so from ages 13-20 they can perfect the art of ‘flirting’.  They also make great “friends” with each other. So perhaps it’s only natural to continue to treat their friends in a flirtatious way once they get girlfriends and boyfriends?

Friends with benefits…sorry I mean friends with flirts

This flirting with your friends’ thing here is bizarre. It took a while to get used to I must admit. For a little kiwi girl coming from a culture where ‘friends are friends’ and ‘lovers are lovers’ into this culture where ‘anything goes’ was extremely confusing. No wonder the statistic is probably true – it’s because flirting is part of the national psyche.

May I make one comment here though…at the risk of annoying some people.

Christian men are probably worse than non-Christian men at the ‘flirt with my friends’ thing.

It’s as if they’re too scared to actually date women or just hook up with them (for fear of being promiscuous or because she may not be “the one”) so instead they just flirt with all their friends of the opposite sex…and end up confusing and hurting their friends and themselves while becoming extremely emotionally promiscuous.

Should we study the bible together...or just each other?

Should we study the bible together…or just each other?

(I can feel the angry emails flooding in now)

I actually trust non-Christian guys more in some way – at least they call a spade a spade and if they’re flirting with you they’re usually after something more (even if it is just a one night stand) instead of a plutonic but ‘flirtatious’ friendship.

 So what’s better?

I could go on…but at the risk of ranting I’ll leave it there. So I’m left wondering, what way is best? Is the NZ approach of conservative inter-sex relations preferable over a relaxed flirty engagement with the opposite sex? Both have their advantages. The Danish way encourages people to make the most of their sex and enjoy it but it does cause a little confusion and the trust between a boyfriend and girlfriend’s fidelity may be slightly eroded. However the New Zealand approach is chivalrous, straight forward and while not as “fun” it keeps the trust factor in tact. A tough one. I enjoy the Danish way better, but for the sake of my conscience I’ll choose the Kiwi way this time.

I’ll be at Ørsted øl bar on Saturday night if anyone would like to come and prove/disprove my theories…oh now there’s a flirty line for you…seems the Danish culture is rubbing off.


4 thoughts on “Mind if I flirt with your boyfriend? Making sense of the Danish flirt

  1. Haha I loved this article! I’m an American Girl who just recently entered a relationship with a wonderful Danish man, almost twice my age, and its refreshing to see someone categorize their views on the culture of flirting.
    I am a true flirt, I must admit. But my intentions are almost always pure, I flirt to make the other person feel good and get in communication, and I always deal with what comes up if it goes inappropriate. But it rarely ever does. Its like a really fun understanding that this is just a little game, and one that is harmless in nature. or instance, when we first started knowing each other my boyfriend told me without me asking, “I never sleep with other people. I may flirt and deal with what comes up, but I wont take it ever further.” That made me feel solid in my trust for him, not only because its a lovely and straightforward sentence but because I didn’t have to “set any ground rules”, which is not fun.

    I love our communication, we are very flirty with each other, lighthearted, and playful, while still letting our true intentions be known. he is mine, and I am his, period. But he will make funny comments about ‘sexy girls” and such, and It doesn’t bother me at all. he appreciates a girls beauty, and lets me know, without being crude or ever offensive. Ive never had that! The trick with us is we talk about EVERYTHING and are very honest and straightforward with each other, no secrets.
    So for me, as an American girl, I ADORE the Danish free flirt style..it keeps things hot in the bedroom, too. 🙂

  2. As a dane, I think that this is quite funny to read. (In a good way) Mostley because I started to think about how true the stuff you write is. I have never thought about how much we flirt, because it is a natural part of the day. But now that you point it out, it is so true, that I couldn’t stop laughing.
    But I have to say, that their is a big difference compared to where in Denmark you live. I personally live in Jutland, where flirting is on an whole other level. 😀

  3. I have experienced that the majority of Danish women have no feminism left. Many Danish women have become “men” in womens bodies. I experience Danish women as overly dominating and wanna be completely independent from men.

    The charm, shyness and gentleness you see in many other women from e.g. south and eastern European countries is completely lost in Danish women, I guess that is why they dress with little or very tight clothes. -If you can’t attract men with good and charming personality then you just have to use primitive/viking ways.

    My experience with Danish women is also that they tend to be very easily irritated and have a short temper, for example many Danish women are very quick to break up a relationship because of little things, maybe this is why many Danish men are finding their wife’s outside Denmark, like in Thailand.

    Many Danish women also lack fundamental women qualities, like they are not shy around men at all, furthermore they don’t have any modesty either, they can walk around in hotpants (underwear) without feeling any shame. I honestly get completely turned off by their lack of basic female qualities. Funny enough I have noticed that if you completely ignore or reject them, they can’t handle it, they then try to get your attention even if they may be a stranger to you.

    All in all I have seen to many men burn their fingers badly on Danish women, I therefore try to avoid any contact with them.

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