Valentine’s day is not a big deal, the bread needs to be fresh and lots of kissing… with relatives. These and more are the things to deal with when falling in love with a Belgian man.
Kissing… the relatives
A relationship with a Belgian guy needs to be quite settled before you meet his parents. But even though it takes a long time before you meet the (future) in-laws, you will need to kiss them many times when you do. Like 3 times on the cheeks when you first arrive and again when you leave. That’s 6 times for one parent, 12 for 2, and then add siblings, grannies, aunties, cousins etc.
But the meeting itself is informal, cosy and not a big deal.
Sunday = in-laws
Prepare to have many of your Sundays dedicated to looooong three-course lunches/dinners with bubbly and appetizers … and your in-laws.
Okay, so a Belgian man is rather introvert, humble and prefers to brush off problems rather than talk openly about them. And he really doesn’t want to upset anyone, hurt your feelings or make a scene. So instead of talking and reacting, a Belgian guy will go silent before he yells.
Forget about a special Valentine’s day, but expect presents on 6th December
Valentine’s Day in Belgium is considered something imported, so it tends to be ignored rather than celebrated. So ladies, do not expect lavish dinners and big chocolate boxes. However, you can expect something on the 6th of December when Sint Niklaas (St. Nicholas) comes to town with his little black helper Zwarte Piet.
Diamonds are NOT a girl’s best friend
No lavish dinners for Valentine’s, and also no bling bling big diamond rings for engagements and weddings. Belgians prefer the hands of their fiancées and wives to have a low profile.
This is despite the fact that nearby Antwerp is considered the diamond capital of the world. Curious to know why? It has a long history of export and import of diamonds, and the Diamond Office checking the quality of diamonds before shipping them further. You can read more about the diamond history of Antwerp here.
Bread from the bakery
I will never forget my boyfriend’s face when I brought home a bag of industrial sliced toast. It was a mixture of surprise and disgust. And I learned quickly that the only right place to get bread is from the local bakery. And koffie koekjes and croissants are a must for a lazy weekend brunch. Which is something you can easily get used to …
But dating a Belgian guy is not all hard work and no play. Besides sweet brunches that they spoil us with, they have other redeeming qualities too:
Oh, are they handsome …
Just look at Matthias Schoenaerts reaching international acclaim after acting in Bullhead (IMDB link). And didn’t Jean Claude Van Damme take over the action world with: “being 6 foot tall and full of muscles”?
While the average Belgian men we are dating might not be Matthias or Jean Claude, they do tend to be tall, sporty, fair and easy on the eye.
… and nice, polite, intelligent, social, curious about the world
Not only do they look good, they are also nice and smart too! And super polite. They are very social and can small talk anyone under the table, because they are always up to date with current affairs, culture, religion, history etc. etc. They are also curious about the world, and their fluency in many languages makes it easy for them to travel (and you to travel with them if languages are not your thing).
This list was possible thanks to the input from the Ghent Expat Ladies Friendship Group on Facebook. Do you have more experiences about dating a Belgian? Please share!
About the author:
Jenny is originally from Finland and moved to Ghent in 2009. Now she works as self-employed organising events, supporting businesses with marketing and helping people starting their own businesses by being a community manager of Entrepreneurs Anonymous & co-organiser of Freelance Business Day. Find out more and connect with her on LinkedIn.