In the first months of my life in Norway, my entire social life was limited to my colleagues and the cashiers in supermarkets who asked me if I wanted a “pose” (yes, a bag). Moving to Norway only for work meant I had neither friends nor family in this country to begin with. I quickly realised I would have to make some effort to build a social life outside of my workplace (and supermarket): my colleagues, however very nice, ran out of the office every day at 4pm to reach the barnehage on time, so there weren’t going to be beers and chats and come-over-for-dinner-tomorrow here. So one tries out ways to meet people, like skiing classes, joining a band, or online dating. Not necessarily to find the love of your life, but just to get to know people (yes, who also happened to be of the opposite sex). So I created a profile on, i.e. a free Norwegian dating website where everyone has or once had a profile.

I thought, naively, that online dating is like seduction. It is about seeing if there is attraction in a simple way (HA!) and being honest (HAHA!). First of all seduction in Norway is not simple at all for foreigners (see on this topic a previous blogpost: The Norwegian “Art” of Seduction). So, as you can imagine, neither is online dating. I would say it follows rules which are even more obscure than regular flirting in a bar, all in a language that I didn’t understand. Because in a bar you can get away with speaking English, not on where everything is in Norwegian, including the dozens of preliminary questions everyone needs to answer to activate their profile. (Google Translate helps, to some extent. Then it just confused me).

The first thing you need to know about Norwegian online dating is that there are passions you absolutely need to have if you want men/women to be interested in you. First, you need to love something called “friluftsliv”. It means that you needs to be “outdoorsy”. To illustrate your love of being outdoors, you absolutely need one or several pictures of you in a magnificent, natural and wild landscape. It can show you swimming in a majestic fjord or standing on top of a mountain showing that you had to hike a pretty steep way to get there.
Second important interest: you need to be sporty. You thought it would be enough to like being outside having a nice little walk. No no no. You need to like extreme stuff like going to the gym every day. Don’t put pictures of you sweating in spinning class (unclassy) but do put a picture of you rafting down a crazy river in Thailand, or cycling up some road in South of France with a beautiful view of the sea behind you (nice tan is a must have here).

Then, you need to be kind of the same as everybody else but a bit different. Different…yet not too different. Confident yet not show off. It gets really tricky here. I don’t know whether it’s because of Janteloven and all that “you are not better than anyone else” education, but everyone writes the same things over and over again. I don’t think it’s because people are boring, just that they don’t want to seem to eccentric or too confident. Okay, some ARE boring.
So you end up with having to read this kind of sentence so many times your eyes hurt: “I like to stay at home, but sometimes I go out with friends. I also like going to cafes.” Oh wow, just like the rest of the 500.000 people living in this city.
Also, roughly 99% of the people online write that they love going to “gå på tur”, “gå på ski” and “på hyttetur” (hiking, skiing and going on cabin trips). Optionally taking weektrips to some place in gokk with neither electricity nor hot water. Sometimes men even write that the girl should be the “type” that pees in a bush without complaining. Seriously? Is that a criteria? It seems to me that all Norwegian girls have been raised to pee in the dark behind a hytte by -20 degrees with reindeers and polar bears watching, so I am sure it’s not a hard criteria to meet (for other foreign girls…maybe a bit different). Oh and she also has to be the type who can put on heels and look awesome and sexy to impress his friends, oh and also confident and sweet. Man, what a job to be a girl.

honesty on the internet

How to pull this off with dignity? I don’t have a cabin, don’t know how to ski, I had never entered a gym before moving to Norway because I am lazy, and I have (rectification: had) no pictures of me sitting on the top of a mountain, or rowing a boat in the Lofoten islands. Oh and by the way, I don’t speak Norwegian and I have no friends in this country. Do you want to be my friend? This doesn’t sound confident, or sexy or even a little attractive. Conclusion: I had nothing to sell on the Norwegian market of love.

So I thought! I was wrong, because having a vagina opens a lot of doors in the online dating of many countries of this world, including in Norway. So I did get some attention, mostly from men who were old and bold and living in Finnmark. I had a hard time figuring out what we had in common, for example Sugar_Daddy54 who sent me the picture of a little dog dressed in a pink tutu saying “Du er søt!” (You are sweet!). Herregud. Or this other guy who spent all his time customizing his car and doing bodybuilding, and who wrote to me “We have nothing in common but opposites attract right ;-)”.
I know, they are trying, and this is all quite sad because they don’t seem to have met or talked to a woman in a long long time. But on the bright side they are very dedicated to writing to you every single day and they have a profession that can come in handy like plumber or electrician.

You would think young hip urban men would be easier to connect to…but some get very specific, looking for a life companion, or should I say, a female person to appear on the pictures of the perfect family life they have imagined for themselves. “So, do you want children soon?” asks Per-Christian the second time we meet. “Because, you know, I’m 35, need to build a family and stuff. So if you’re not in I don’t want to waste my time”. Mmmh can I give you my answer after dessert or will I have wasted too much of your time already? was I tempted to ask him. I think I preferred the guy with his pink tutu-dog asking me out. At least he was being a gentleman.
Others make you feel like you’re in a job interview. It seems like they have a check list where you gain or lose points each time you open your mouth. Watch out! If you are not sweet, sporty and confident you might not get called for the second round. And if you can’t pee in the bush with class and dignity, you’re OUT!

In the end, did I meet someone? No. Got too tired of the mind games with men who date 5 girls at the same time and know all the tricks in the book. I survived 5 weeks on the website and figured going out was a more fun and less time consuming way to meet people. Did I make friends? Yes one actually, but he will probably ignore me after reading this (Per Christian, if you’re out there…).
So, in light of this very lousy experience, my advice to everyone is, as Oscar Wilde said, “be yourself, everyone else is taken”. And get off your screen damn it, and go meet someone in real life. If Norwegians were really that outdoorsy they wouldn’t need to sit on their bum in front of a computer to meet someone.


A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book

61 thoughts on “Surviving

  1. jajaja I Really I prefer to read you ! instead of “waste time” talking with someone sporty sitting in front of the computer !

  2. Trist but true! On dating sites it wil be difficult to take some one out! Better just go in the street or bar and try 10 times to 10 different girls! You have 1 chance to have a nice discussion and become friends.

  3. Omg. This point nailed it to the point! It is exact replica of my sukker experience! Super scary. I could not agree more with you, frog. But hey, if you need a gal’s company sometime, i’m out there, on the same boat:)

      1. Not anymore. I hope to meet like minded people through social contacts. What scares me most is that you have absolutelly no idea about these people. They could be ‘anyone’ or ‘anything’ they want. There is no reference point except what they choose to tell themselves. So, my current stake is to meet nice individuals through common friends or hobby classes.

  4. Really funny! But I am not quite sure that going to the gym twice a week qualifies as an extreme way of living;-))) yep, finding friends seems to be such a big deal even in London where people don’t even pretend to be nice and actually, are quite honest about being up their own ars*s… East London is just overflowing with pretentiousness (obviously, it doesn’t apply to everyone) but don’t get discouraged… I often think that at no stage in my life I have been so unsuccessful at making new friends but then I start thinking about my amazing circle of friends spread around the world and I tell myself… f*ck it! ;-))) I am fabulous! ;-)))

  5. haha, I really enjoy your blog posts, and I recognise myself. I also feel lost in this country sometimes, and I’m norwegian 🙂

  6. Really well written and pretty similar to my experience of And that was after my opinion pretty boring stuff.
    You shouldn’t blame yourself, it’s just that you are not norwegian. I’m Nordic (from Finland), sporty, can pee in middle of a wolf flock, love cross country skiing, but though living in Norway for 19 years I’m still not norwegian enough.
    It is rude to say that norwegians want and dream to live boring life that is exactly the same life that the man next door lives, but it’s just the way it is. I know because I did live that way for 10 years.
    Life is just a wonderful ride, so give it a go and rock on 🙂

  7. Bravo! I had the same experience on sukker! Same old meaningless (boring?) “conversations” with guys from Northern Norway who haven’t talked to a girl in a long long time! But at least you lade a friend! That’s more than I can say 😉
    If you’re looking a friend who’s not a guy, envoie moi un email 😉

  8. This was completely relateable and totally funny – thank you! Had similar experiences on , not so much on Sukker. I met my currently boyfriend on Sukker ca. a year ago and last weekend we had a row talking about all of our “expåeriences”. Men have it just as bad….

  9. Hi, thanks for making this nice blog! I’ve read several of your posts about your Norwegian experiences, and they are both fun and interesting (and make me think about how we Norwegians act when meeting foreigners).
    I am not on Sukker because I already have a girlfriend, but if you would like to have some company for going climbing, to concerts or general socializing, please let me know (by replying or sending me an email). It’s always nice to make new friends! 🙂

  10. Hahahah! I’m laughing out loud.
    And yeah, btw, the pee-pee thing (together with skiing) is a knowledge we learn on ski trips with 20 layers of heavy clothes and no toilet for miles around. As we say in norwegian: “naken kvinne lærer å spinne” – a naked women will learn how to spin (make clothes).

  11. Fabulous! You are so funny 🙂 And it is so spot on! Norw. dating is hard and strange… Therefore I have only dated latinos which is much more simple and straightforward and natural 😉 Hope you are happy and have friends now. Continue writing!

  12. I love the way you write!
    Your blog is really funny, I’m gonna start following you so please keep up the fun stuff on here! 🙂

  13. If you’re looking for friends and not dates, give the CouchSurfing website a try! It’s wonderful for just finding someone to hang out with, and most cities have regular events where anybody can come, chat and hang out. There will usually be beer. 🙂

  14. Hey, super blog 😉 I am Swedish and have lived in Norway for almost 13 years BUT i do know how hard it is to make friends here. If you still want to get to know more people give me a shout. I live about 1 hour north of Oslo and I drink wine, cook gourmet food and discuss film noir with the same ease as I pee in the bushes and ski in the Fjellen 😉 // Camilla

  15. “First, you need to love something called “friluftsliv”. It means that you needs to be “outdoorsy”. To illustrate your love of being outdoors, you absolutely need one or several pictures of you in a magnificent, natural and wild landscape. It can show you swimming in a majestic fjord or standing on top of a mountain showing that you had to hike a pretty steep way to get there.”

    Ok so, I have a nasty cold, and reading this made me giggle so bad it developed into a full on cough attack that nearly imploded my lungs. You literally almost killed me!

    Also, you absolutely nailed my own experience on, and; as it happens – norwegians in general. Well done miss frog!

  16. Not necessarily. There are infact norwegians who don’t see themselves as a person who loves “friluftsliv”. We don’t like climbing mountains, and taking summit selfies of ourselves. Some of us are “pavement junkies”, we love the city, and we hate everything about winter sports (ski, skates and so on). So be as you are, an be well. I’m 31, and I’ve probably done cross country or skiing for that matter the last time of my life. Lots of norwegians put in clichés in their description on i.e., and those kind of profiles don’t say much of them as a person.

      1. I can’t speak for others, but I think that I’m pretty anonymous and invisible, not a person you would notice passing you by. You wouldn’t meet me on a café, since I don’t go to cafées. And I don’t live in the centre of Oslo either. So basically, I guess it’s all about luck, right place, right time.

  17. Although a stereotype, your description of the scene is quite accurate. I was on for a while, and must say that women are just as tricky to get in touch with. As a man, seems like you’re automatically a weird sexually freaky loser until the opposite can be established. Oh unless that is a six-pack under your shirt in the picture…
    Better to go out with a friend to a bar/cafe and ask if you can share the table with someone. Not a typical Norwegian thing to do, so it puts them off a bit. Then we can start talking 🙂

    (Not going back to sukker)

  18. Haha, don’t worry, I think most people have difficulties with (Norwegians included). And dating sites in general don’t work very well, even in France. Have you seen this TED talk about how a woman turned around all the criteria that dating sites make you fill out and decided her OWN criteria ( Of course, she ended up finding the man of her life, getting married and pregnant in just some months after it, so the principle of dating sites is good, it’s just not efficent 😉 When it comes to Norwegian socializing, I admit it is difficult, unfortunately. I think the best way to get to know people is through friends and signing up for activities. On the other hand, what I like with Norwegians (this is my of course my personal opinion) is that you can really count on your friends (which hasn’t always been the case for me in the south of France).

  19. Currently on & I’m seriously considering changing my intro to something like “If you are looking for Ken, I suggest Toys ‘R’ Us! You’ll find him in isle number 6, section D, shelf 3 …… “!! 😀

      1. One would have thought there was a fun loving person out there but I did start off with that one and never have I been more ignored and/or more often than not blocked for just writing “Hi ….. ” to someone!! We can’t blame the website for this that or the other, it’s what we do ourselves there that makes it good or bad 😉

  20. Your blog is really funny. I’ve been reading it all evening.How a foreigner look at us norwegians is really interesting. And sukker is horrible – have tried it, had som horrible dates and never again.

  21. Hello “Lou”, Yes it is funny I have tried Sukker last year and for men it is quite similar women are all “opptatt av kroppen” and hytteturs and all the rest (I have never seen one that advertises peeing behind the bush surrounded by polar bears though) these are positive things as such but makes the profile browsing boring :). oh and yeah you can find this comment as well : the picture tells many things but in the end it is “kjemi som teller”, yeah duuuuuh!
    And about making friends in Norway, of course it is possible but it takes more time and some of the explanation is logic :
    – they have been here long before you (or me for that matter) came to Norway, so they have their family, friends, and social circle in general from long time and their habits as well. That is true for every kind of expat/erasmus experience you just arrive in a country where people already have a social circle.
    – Norwegians are like oranges (hard skin but once passed it is soft and easy) and most foreigners (I myself am from Belgium) are like peach (easy to bite and get in but then hard to get through the core).
    So the best is to participate in social activities to meet them (sportive/music/wine tasting/church/..) or start with the colleagues if possible.

    I have been living 7 years here so I do not learn much by reading your posts, I am Belgian so I have a good understanding of how you can feel/experience the differences between France and Norway but I definitely like them and they might be more beneficial to the locals to see how we see them in a funny and yet real way :).

  22. Hi, interesting subjective impression. Fact is that people experience Sukker very different. Over 100.000 found their partner there and if you ask strangers on the street, 68% of the webdating couples are from Sukker.
    It’s much about the looks unfortuneately and some recieve lots of messages. Not surprisingly they can sort out the best. Just like anywhere else, especially when going out.
    Blaming the people on Sukker, or the service it self, backfire, so the best is to learn from those who succseed. Being your selv is a keyfactor, and the knowledge that success often dont come over night, even on dating sites. Patience and being smart pays of.

    If you look for the one special for you, take the time it requires to find him/her and give your self the stamina to get there 🙂

  23. Like so many before me, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog! I lasted on myself about two days…but it simply became too overwhelming! Have been living here for four years and met some lovely people through my work, but they have just become the “network” which one needs, so 2014 has thus far been a campaign year for me to get out there and meet people. It is a bit frightening how many people I meet (incl. Norwegians who move to Oslo as adults, for example) who feel the same way! And yet, it is still flummoxing somehow….

  24. Prøvde sukker for en del år tilbake – det var forferdelig. Etter tredje daten dro jeg hjem, logget av og har aldri prøvd siden! Du skriver utrolig morsomt om oss nordmenn:-)

  25. thank you I love your blog , after been for 15 years in Norway I have still the dilemma how I can make friends in this country. I had exactly the same experience with net dating in Norway, after creating a profile I got more than thousand profile visitor and hundreds of mail, and as you say since I cant pee outside with -20 degree I am still alone 🙂

  26. I love love love your blog! I live in USA and met several Scandinavians. Your blog is exactly what I was thinking. Don’t ever stop writing! Your style is amazing!

  27. Hahaha!!! (In an honest way)
    I can be your friend, too; since I experience the same things :-)))

  28. AMAZING!

    Where was this blog, when my Norwegian boyfriend left me for “not being able to pee in the wilderness, not being sporty enough and climbing mountains”? I am a southerner woman, so Norwegian-Mediterranean is a pretty weird combo. I felt that I wasn’t enough “cool” for not having some sporty-hobby like he did, that he loved to talk about (surfing!). I thought he was so special, unique and beautiful, and I suffered a lot after our break up, only to realize now that he is a “basic norwegian bitch” (further in the text BNB)

    This particular part of your text “You would think young hip urban men would be easier to connect to…but some get very specific, looking for a life companion, or should I say, a female person to appear on the pictures of the perfect family life they have imagined for themselves. “So, do you want children soon?” is the kind of life I was supposed to have with my BNB and I finally thought that I was normal and was going to be normal, like all the normal basic people who seem to have normal basic lives with their families and ski and beach trips… and after months of crying for him leaving me, his fiery and passionate southern girl, I realized that a I don’t want no BNB life! I also want somebody like me, some spontaneous guy with fire in his eyes, and not a cold-ass Viking, no matter how beautiful he is! (they r fuckin hot).

    What made me comment here is this sentence ” It seems to me that all Norwegian girls have been raised to pee in the dark behind a hytte by -20 degrees with reindeers and polar bears watching, so I am sure it’s not a hard criteria to meet”, because I just came back from a winter -25 degrees trip, where I had to pee and what not, behind the house, because the toilet was broken. Funny how your behind won’t freeze in the -25 degrees, so really, not a big deal, trust me!

    I wonder, if me and my ex would have met now, would he love me for filling up his criteria of being able to shit in -25 degrees? <3

  29. Your blog is hilarious. And explains a lot of what happened with me and this male Norwegian friend I had a major crush on. We used used to meet pretty regularly but I got tired of being the one giving all the hints and concluded I’d been friend zoned. I moved on and started dating someone else. To my chagrin, he completely stonewalled me after I mentioned a boyfriend. I had no idea what hit me, to be honest! Anyway, guy I’m dating now (met on Tinder) is also Norwegian but really sweet and romantic (he tries). But still very essentially Norwegian, from your description! Great blog posts. Write more, please!

  30. I have learned more about my fellow countrymen from reading these types of blogs than from actually living in this country! Perhaps it is because I’m not outdoorsy, sporty, tan or conformist, nor do I sleep with a woman before I’ve gotten to know her. I also had no idea until it was far too late that you have to participate in certain activities to make friends or get to know your neighbors. By Norwegian standards, I am thus a weirdo. I have actually had much more success in my friendships and love life with people from other countries. Perhaps this is because I’m more a citizen of the Internet than anything else.

    1. Good for you Thor! Congratulations on being your own man. But……….
      shhhhh……….. don’t let them know the programming failed. They might send the Scandinavian police after you. lol

  31. This is an old post, but I really enjoyed it! I moved to Oslo last September, and just like you have tried out Sukker to meet people, as my collegues are sweet but not very social. It is a crazy crazy world out there!

  32. More I read Your blog the more I think I’m perfect for Norway, I actually ride bike and workout everyday and have great tan lol and I’m not kind of person that would be a total show off like most guys are, they act like cocks.. glad to see in Norway that’s not appreciated.

  33. Hi,my name is George, and i have 1 day experience with this website, after i saw a movie i decide to speak with a norvegian girl, after that i type in Google ”chat norway” i found,ahh very well ,after that i look at this website and create a profile and in the final step i receive a page with the message:send this code/sms ….. to number +472210,ok after that long waiting no answer , no activation , nothing.Hmm weird , i sent message to and they answer this:Hei
    We are a norwegian dating site and one therefor need to have a norwegian phone number to register.
    You will find other international dating sites in the internet.
    Have a nice day!
    Med vennlig hilsen,
    Inger i

    What is this? i say in my mind,Area 51 ,no foreigner allowed, i do not eat norway womens, so my dream is lost , no acces , just that annoying sms send notifiy window, weird. 😉

  34. Chere Lorelou;

    Has noone informed you that not all friluftsliv is friluftsliv? When you see “Glad i skog og mark” it does not mean glad i skog og mark. Rather it is a code expression for the SMers. Think of all the fun you’ve been missing…

    1. Ha ha, you explained it: “a code expression for the SMers”. What is a “SMers” ?

  35. As a French living in Denmark omg I relate sooooo much to this!!! it gave me tears in my eyes…and I also laughed. So glad you could find the “happy” spin on the story 😀 (Sadly I can´t anymore)

  36. I came across this blog while googling stuff about Norway since I am going for an audition there soon (am a musician). Hilarious and good potential insight for me! I’m already married so off the market but it reminds me a little of my okcupid experiences in Holland, with the main differences being not a lack of forthcoming-ness but more a list of strange requests (“I am polyamorous but want a stable partner who won’t cheat” “I’m looking for romance but would also appreciate if you’re up for a threesome with me, my girlfriend and possibly my pet dragon”…last one is a slight exaggeration but you get the gist.)

    Please keep blogging and keep the info coming! Merci infiniment from a Anglo-French girl who understands the schizophrenic nature of living in a conflicting anglo-saxon/latin vibe, that’s my family!

  37. This is so spot on. I am here on a holiday to see family and try to put myself out there again. Tried Tinder hopefully to make conversation then maybe meet up. Guess I am in the wrong country or in the wrong app. won’t be trying sukker as per your suggestions then!
    I guess I won’t keep looking and wait for it to find me! goodluck on that!

  38. I was going through a lot of info what i found in google about men in Norway. And while i was reading this post, i havent laughed so hard in long times…

    My experience on dating site was quite similar yours – but like a bonus – i get new type of “norwegian men try to get know me” thing – called dick pics ( or even in worst cases – swining dick videos). I have been on different sites, but so much like in Norway – i havent get anywhere. The total time, when i was running my dating profile was 2,5months. I could say that – there was hard times and good times. Honestly, the most hard timesi had when i was opening (about 1,5month) recieved messages which made me make big eyes and think – does really norwegian men are normal??!? But after i change my attitude to that – i have most wonderful collection of dick pics ever in my life i could get. For short moment – it made me laugh a lot – actually every day, when i opened my profile in dating app. But in longer time – it was not funny anymore – cause i have seen a lot. So i deleted my profile – but THE DATING app experience will ever stay in my mind.

    p.s. i actually met just one guy on dating app and then in real life, but our connection didnt work out. Cause i start to recieve his dick pics throuhg whatsapp too soon after deleting my profile…

  39. Enjoyed reading this, very funny! I’m a norwegian man, born and raised in Norway, but I never heard of before I read about in your blog. You can say I don’t go out much. I don’t understand the “code”, or “game”, of how to contact women in a bar. I’ve never learned it – or rather, no one has teached it to me. Since I have Asperger I’m dependent on gathering theoretical knowledge before practice. And I don’t understand much body language. Unspoken codes and social games seems impossible to learn. Also, the “meat market” in such places put me off. I prefer to make friends with someone before maybe going any further.

    Being a gentleman is much easier, because it’s a set of rules I can learn – hold the car door open for her, pull out her chair, never walk behind her in stairs, don’t talk about yourself all the time but be more interested in her, give her compliments, flowers, etc. Besides, such things come more natural to me. I love the female sex and so it’s only natural for me to show her interest and attention.

    Don’t give up, it’s a nice person for you out there, somewhere! 🙂

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