Connecting to the Dutch

Living in Europe | Access to the culture of the host country/language courses | Netherlands

You might find it difficult to make friends in the Netherlands. There is nothing wrong with you, if this happens. In fact, this is very normal. The Dutch make friendships slowly and selectively but, once made, these are generally for life. Something which you should keep in mind when trying to settle in, is that the Dutch keep a strict separation between their work and private life balance. They are unlikely to invite you to come over for a drink or dinner. Also it is not common for them to stay at work after workhours if they have a family at home.

Useful tips to get to know people:

  • Don't wait for them to invite you, instead invite them. Many people like to be invited and are likely to take you up on an invitation, for example for a dinner.
  • Make an appointment to go and see someone. As strange as it may sound, the Dutch generally have their lives very tightly organised. They shall not often have the room to act spontaneously on a suggestion to have a drink. If you want to visit them, make sure you either have an appointment, or call them in advance. Remember, even with their best friends they will have to make an appointment to see each other. That is just the way it works.
  • Where you might be used to the idea that everyone is welcome to join for dinner, do not expect this from your Dutch host/friend/colleague. The Dutch generally socialize at times when they do not have dinner. Dinner is a time traditionally reserved for the family only.
  • If you have just moved to a new house, make an effort to say hello to your closer neighbours. They will surely appreciate you ringing their doorbell and saying hello. (make sure you don't drop by during dinner time, as this is a time traditionally reserved for the family only)