Dating Abroad? Here's What To Expect On Sex And Dating Customs In These 15 Countries

    In Brazil, it can be normal to kiss someone on the lips within five minutes of meeting them.

    Two years ago, I went to Amsterdam for my birthday, and I immediately knew I had to stop by the infamous Red Light District and Sex Museum nearby. The more I saw, the more I admired The Netherlands’ legalization of sex work and progressive attitude toward sex.

    Luckily, I’ve embarked on a journey full of cultural learning, with the help of Marina Iakovleva, creator of Dating Beyond Borders — a Youtube channel that focuses on highlighting the cultural differences that come into play while dating people from other countries. As an avid traveler, Marina is also no stranger to living in different cities across the globe. She has lived in Moscow, Canada, and Portugal and worked abroad in Latin America. Her lived experiences with connecting with people around the world prompted her to create content on international dating and focus on the Dating Beyond Borders channel full time.

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    Dating Beyond Borders Youtube Channel / Via

    Without further ado, here’s a rundown of what I’ve discovered about cultural influences on sex and dating (with the help of Marina!).

    PS: This list is likely not all-encompassing, so feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below as well!

    1. What counts as “PDA” in many parts of the world is not only normal in Brazil, but almost expected.

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    Dating Beyond Borders YouTube Channel / Via

    In Brazil, it wouldn’t be weird to kiss somebody on the lips less than five minutes after striking up a conversation with them. Why? As Marina explains, “Kissing right away is such an aspect of the culture that if you hold back that means you’re not that interested in someone. Men, if you don’t make a move on a woman during the first date, she will think you’re not that into her. Of course, read her body language — if she’s not into you, you will feel it.”

    2. In Chile, as well as many Latin American countries, the park is the go-to spot for a steamy makeout session.

    A stock image of Santiago, Chile

    3. The skill of seduction is so imperative in Argentina that there's an actual word for it: Chamuyo.

    4. In Portugal, Spain, and Italy, it is common for adults to still live with their parents until they meet a long-term partner and eventually move into their own place.

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    Dating Beyond Borders Youtube channel / Via

    These countries have a strong family-oriented culture, so it’s typical for family members to rely on each other for support. When people do eventually move out of their parents’ home, they generally choose to live close to their family and meet up regularly. So, if you marry someone from a family-oriented culture like Portugal, Spain, and Italy, you can expect to spend a significant amount of time with your in-laws.

    5. Booze is an essential part of the dating culture in the United Kingdom.

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    Drinking culture and dating culture go hand in hand in the UK. For a first date, a pub is an ideal spot. Also, if you want to impress a Brit, find out what their favorite watering hole is. The more you brush up on your pub etiquette, the closer you'll be to scoring a snog by the end of the date.

    6. In Germany, there’s a strong sense of equality when dating, so prepare to split the bill during a dinner date.

    7. The Netherlands has arguably the most effective sexuality education curriculum in the world.

    An image of Amsterdam

    8. Iceland's casual sex culture is among the most liberal in the world.

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    Dating Beyond Borders YouTube channel / Via

    Iceland is arguably the most sexually liberated country on Earth. Instead of the typical “three-date rule” that is common in the US, Iceland’s casual sex culture has more of an approach where you sleep with a person first and then decide whether or not you want to socially or romantically engage with them afterward. This parallels with Iceland’s strong sense of gender equality, where the women typically aren’t likely to be shamed or pathologized when showing the same amount of interest in sex as men.   

    9. In Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, a casual and laid-back approach to dating is key.

    10. There’s no specific dating protocol in France.

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    Dating Beyond Borders / Via

    The French aren’t fixated on a formal interview style of dating where you ask each other, “What do you do for a living?” and, “What are your intentions?” Instead, the French tend to stay away from labels and would rather go with the flow to see what happens. However, once you’ve exchanged a kiss, it’s typically expected of you to be exclusive. Perhaps that’s why romance takes a bit more time to develop in France.  

    11. In Nigeria, there is more of a focus on traditional gender roles, where the man takes the lead.

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    “As a man, you must dress the part, pick up the tab, open the door, and overall treat her like a lady. Your status is important, so showing you are able to provide and take care of her is important. Also, avoid saying anything negative about religion; Nigerians are usually religious, so praying and going to church every Sunday is a must. Respect their love of religion,” Marina mentions.  

    12. In China, it’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to set their children up on blind dates with suitable matches they’ve found.

    Aerial view of Shanghai, China

    13. In Japan, courtesy, extravagant planning, and confessions of love are crucial to the dating process.

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    “Japanese women love it when a man is a gentleman, plans the date, and takes her out to a nice place on the first date, so please don’t take her on a spontaneous walk in the park instead!” Marina states.

    Also, it isn’t uncommon for a declaration of love to happen before a relationship even begins. Japan has a love-confessing culture known as “kokuhaku,” which means “confession.” You may go out with someone a few times, but your relationship hasn't technically started until this love confession, aka kokuhaku, occurs.   

    14. The dating scene in Australia is progressive, so there are no formal rules for who can approach whom.

    Skyline of Sydney, Australia

    15. Canada is thought to be one of the world’s most LGBTQ+ friendly countries.

    Toronto skyline

    Obviously, everyone is different, so there is no way to accurately detail every individual's thoughts, perspectives, and experiences related to sex and relationships. However, these cultural generalizations can still help to recognize various customs and practices to be aware of should you embark on an international romance.