During the days I spent in Germany so far, it did not take me much effort to find out that Germans can be quite demanding, both to themselves and to others. Wondering how much that affects their personal relations, I am asking young Hamburgers today: what should your perfect partner be like?
Germans are greatly attached to reliability and this idea extends to relationships. Most of the people I talk to want their partner to be like a best friend, although none of that automatically implies that couples share friends or even spend a great deal of time together. Beside reliability, independence seems high in demand, too. German couples preferably consist of two entities with some overlapping parts. Another much-requested or even required feature: well-organisedness.
`I want a real man, no sissies please`
Jann (27) already found his perfect partner. `My girlfriend is very similar to myself. We share most of our hobbies and we like the same music. I also like how our sense of humour is similar. I like it when we are in company with others and when one of us can make a small joke that nobody finds worth laughing, except the two of us. I also want to have the same day and night rhythm as my partner so that we can get up and go to bed at the same times. I also find it important that a girl can see into the future. She has to use today to prepare for tomorrow, rather than just living each day as it comes. I don`t like girls who cannot take care of themselves: who drink too much or smoke too much. She is allowed little personal tics though, I think that`s quite cute. Most of all, I want her to make me not care about having to give up doing what I would do if I were single.`
Lisa (25) also found her perfect partner. `He makes me feel like being at home. Even if we had a very small house with nothing to live from, I think he could still give me this feeling. I also like when men are civilised: when they open doors or help me into my coat and all that. I have been together with my boyfriend for some time now, so he doesn`t need to do it all the time. But when we organise to go out, he still does it and I enjoy it lots. I guess I`m different from my mum, who was my age during this feminist wave. She would feel offended if a man treated her with too much courtesy. I don`t, I just enjoy it as a privilege of being a woman.`
`I think women my age look for men with whom they can have children, or they will at least look for somebody who has a similar vision of the future. I am not sure whether German partners are more demanding than others. There`s this saying: what little Hans didn`t learn, big Hans will never learn: it doesn`t make sense to try and change a partner to make him or her fit you more`, Lisa says.
Katty (23) thinks that her current boyfriend matches 80% with her idea of a perfect partner. She then describes her wish list as follows: `He has to be happy with himself, culturally opened, interested in the world, self confident, creative but also well-organised. I like to get a small compliment in the morning, but not the same one over and over again. The one for this morning was that my earrings fitted well with the rest of my clothes. That was a nice start of the day. I don`t like men who are addicted to Saturday soccer, especially because my current relationship is a weekend-one. Anyway, the guy should be intelligent, have his own life and allowing me to have my own. He shouldn`t be too nerdy, preferably spontaneous and his definitely not allowed to live with his parents. That is about the biggest turn-off there is.`
I am happy with my current boyfriend, although I think we both work too much. I appreciate it when people are good at separating work and leisure. I do think we separate them well, but there is so much work to do that there is only little time left to enjoy together.`
L?der (24) likes girls with brown hair, even though his current girlfriend is blond. `I like dark hair combined with blue eyes. I also pay a great deal of attention to a girl`s hands and her teeth. Apart from taking hard drugs or cheating on me, I don`t have any problems with what she does or wants to do. One thing I don`t like though is if girls keep talking about the same thing over and over again. No whining please.`
Julia (22) is looking for a partner who will also be her best friend. `But I don`t think perfect partners exist. You need to arrange yourself to make it work, it can`t be perfect just like that.`
Majke (19) recently broke up with her boyfriend. She is now looking for a new one. She is eager to find a handsome guy with blond, curly hair and a beard, if possible with green eyes. `He has to be creative when it comes to sex and not just kiss me on the mouth. He should be humourous and I appreciate when he doesn`t take himself too serious. He is not allowed to like World of Warcraft! I don`t like men who are chaotic. The perfect boyfriend does not need to bring me lots of presents, but I would be happy to receive his compliments. I also would like him to remember details, like where we first met, the names of my friends and all that.`
Julia (32) looks for a man her age plus or minus 5 years. `I would like him to look sportive, not a bodybuilder but a healthy person. He has to have a regular job with a decent company, or maybe run his own company. I am successful at work, so I would like him to perform well too. Men always feel better when they can outperform others. I don`t want to be a barrier to that. My perfect partner should also like Hamburg, because I am going to move there soon. I worked in the South of Germany for a while. I`m now changing jobs which means that I`ll work out of Hamburg.`
Julia explains that many people in Hamburg stay single because they expect that they people they get to know will only be interested in spending a day or a night together, and nothing more than that. `Sometimes, both expect the other to think that, so they simply overlook the possibility of being together.`
Michael (27) thinks the same is true in the gay scene. `People give up at the first try because they think the other person is in it just for the fun. Then they take the fun because it`s better than nothing, but they still end up disappointed. Michael describes his perfect partner as male, but without excluding the possibilities to go out with girls either. `I believe that every person has key persons in his or her life. People with whom you have a sparkle. To me, it`s the sparkle that counts, much more than the gender of the person. Excluding the possibility of same sex relations would greatly limit me. It would mean that I cannot express a part of myself, which in turn means that a part of me would just die. Forcing your love life is worse than living in a prison`, Michael explains, `I want my partner to be intelligent, humourous and active. He should care about his appearance, and be independent.`
Gero (25) thinks that many Germans are so attached to their independence, that they will keep postponing the moment to get into serious relations. `They like to travel or be free. Up until a certain point. In Germany, there is barely any pressure on people to get married at young age ? or to get married at all, like there is in many other countries. It`s a bit strange that it`s especially the big cities that have so many singles. It`s in the big cities where the opportunities for meeting somebody should be better than anywhere else. But Hamburg has lots of singles and I think that most of them are rather unhappy about it.`
Gero is looking for a small, slim, cute girl with black hair. `She doesn`t need to be German. I prefer Latin or Asian. I traveled a lot, and the nicest girls I met were all non-German. I am not very tall myself, and all German women are simply too tall for me, and also too superficial by the way. Girls from other countries smile lots more than German ones. Sometimes when you smile to a girl in Germany, she`ll react as if you offended her. They only get better at being friendly by the time they had too many drinks.
Anissa (22) is looking for a man who cares. `He needs to care about himself and about his family. He doesn`t need to be rich. I want him to have a big heart, but one that only has room for me. I want somebody active, not a couch potato. He has to have studied and he should be interested in foreign cultures. I want a southern type: dark hair and dark eyes.`
`I don`t think I will find myself a German partner, because German guys are not very interested in foreign cultures and they don`t care about family values. I sometimes think they don`t care about anybody at all. I am from Afghanistan and one of the requirements for a perfect partner would be that he can understand and appreciate my background.`
Gabi (27, photo) comes up with a profile that also sounds un-German to me. `I want a tall guy with dark hair and smiling wrinkles around his eyes. I like small scars and skin details. I don`t want a skinny person. He also has to be able to cook, repair bikes and repair cars. I want a real guy, no sissies, but one who cares for his family.` It`s especially the last part that makes me wonder, because I haven`t heard any German person say anything similar throughout the entire day. The mystery gets solved by the question whether Gabi`s perfect partner should be German. She replies: `No, ideally he`d be Polish. I am actually Polish myself, even though I have lived in Germany ever since I was three years old.`
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