Dutch Men Who Live with Their Parents

I don’t know who you are, but someone came to this blog looking for information on Dutch men who live with their parents.

Stop. Turn around. And go. You do NOT want to be with a Dutchman who lives with his parents. There are certain cultures in this world where people live with their parents until marriage and beyond. The Netherlands is NOT one of them!!! The boy has mother issues. (I don’t care if he’s 42, if he still lives with his parents, he’s a boy.)

The boy needs a mother and if you for some reason ends up cohabitating with him, he will expect you to be his mother, even if you have a job outside the home and are the sexiest little number to grace the land of cheese and tulip. And let me tell you, even if you are the most fab cook in the world and have won Top Chef three seasons running, your cooking will never be as good as his mothers.

“Oh, but I like him,” you say. Yeah, good. He’s human so he probably has some redeeming qualities. And perhaps you’re alone in a foreign country so you’re feeling a bit insecure. But you’re not his mother. And after you get over your initial loneliness and insecurities, you will meet a man who treats you for the fine young thing you are.

“But he has a reason…” What? He can’t do his own laundry? He just came back to Cloggie Land after rebuilding the dams of New Orleans and can’t find a new dam to rebuild and pay his rent? Uhm, no. The Dutch area very do-it-yourself kind of people. Go check out your nearest Doe-Het-Zelf or Gamma store for evidence.

The Dutch are not known for being the terribly most romantic people. But they are independant and reliable and will help you build that closet from Ikea. These skills might be lacking if all the closets in his house were built by his Dad in 1984.

So no. Do not date Dutch men who live with their parents. There are a lot of other hot, nice Dutch men out there who have their own place.

Dating advice: Dutch men and Russian women

A Russian friend of mine in Moscow (we met while we were both living in NYC) is dating a Dutchman who is also living in Moscow. She asked me for some in insights on the Dutch character so she could try to decipher some of the cultural differences she is experiencing. Now, of course, I don’t know much about Russian dating life — all I know is what I’ve read on the internet to try and decipher the cultural differences the Ukrainian and I were first experiencing. So I’ve kept is pretty one-sided to the Dutch.

——–

Hi [redacted],

I am sorry I did not reply earlier. My time in the Netherlands was bittersweet and I was not prepared to think about it.

What happened with the Dutch boyfriend? Well…we had an appointment to look at a house to buy, and 2 days before the appointment, the Dutchman came to my house to tell me he had changed his mind and thought I should return to the States.

The Dutch government makes it very difficult for a foreign partner to settle in the Netherlands. My cousin went through the process (she lives in the Den Haag) — though finally escaped the worst of it as she’s actually married to a Frenchman rather than a Dutchman.

Anyway, my ex-boyfriend aside, in addition to their absolute handsomeness, Dutchmen tend to be extremely reliable and honest. They are highly unlikely to cheat on their partner. If you are with a Dutchman for a month, there is a high chance you will be with him for years, if not decades. If you are with him for a bit of time, you might find his family considering you their daugther-in-law as the Dutch often do not get married. They will meet, move in together soon afterwards, buy a house together, have some babies and maybe only then consider marriage. They don’t play a lot of games in a romance (unlike American courtship/dating). If you are with someone you are with someone.

The Dutch also don’t go in for a lot of drama. In some ways, I found this refreshing. But in other ways, it was difficult. Sometimes you need to have a good fight about something to clear the air and get your views heard. I find that Dutch people often shut down emotionally. For as honest and direct as they are in the simple day-to-day, they don’t handle confrontation well.

Dutchmen also aren’t particularly known for being romantic. It is true, they split the costs for seemingly everything and they are more likely to help you build a closet from Ikea than to buy you flowers or jewely. My boss’s wife of 20 years told me that if I wanted flowers or jewelry, I’d have to buy them myself, no Dutchman would buy them for me.

But!! I have to say, if your boyfriend is adequately Russified, then you might get the best of both worlds. If you can get the reliability and solidness of a Dutchman combined with the flowers and tokens of affection and romance as you would with a Russian, you definitely have a keeper!!! 🙂

I do want to know more about how things are going with your man. I find the Dutch people who live abroad tend to be extremely cool, Unfortunately for me, I was living in Rotterdam surrounded by people who thought that moving 6 km away from their parents was a big token of independence. Not all Dutch people are like that.

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*I would take this out of letter form, but I am busy, busy…..

Green Card Arrived!!!

Last week, the Ukraian received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security stating “Welcome to the United States of America — your greencard will arrive shortly.”

Yesterday, the Greencard arrived! 🙂 Yay!

I kept thinking that once the card itself arrived, I would kick it into high gear and organize a big green card party complete with a DJ and everything green. But now we are almost to the U.S. holiday season. We have Halloween celebrations to attend this weekend. On the next weekend, Russian/German friends of ours are hosting a post-election party, and then we we are going to the Midwest to see my sister’s new baby and my brother’s family. And then it’s Thanksgiving and then can we really throw a green card party in the midst of the Christmas and Hannukah festivities?

And, also in December, the Ukrainian will graduate with his MBA in Finance. It will be another something wonderful to celebrate — perhaps making the green card celebration feel sooooo last month.

I know I promised some of you that I’d write up the greencard interview itself. I’m sorry I haven’t, although I’ve made a start. To be truthful, it was not the most pleasant experience and it really hurts my head to relive it.

But I will say this:  from our experience (and that of a few others we know) it seems that the U.S. Government is really tough when you are trying to gain entrance to the country, but once you’re in, the government is actually super nice — it’s been a much more positive experience for the Ukrainian than I had living in the Netherlands.

*Disclaimer. I know that the guantanamo and other situations do not reflect so well on the U.S. government. Hence the use of the words “in general”.

Russian men bring you flowers

From 2005 – 2006, I lived in the Netherlands and had a fairly serious Dutch boyfriend. One night, in February 2006 just before Valentine’s Day, my boss invited me and my boyfriend over for a weeknight dinner, prepared by his lovely wife girlfriend-of-18-years. Midway through the meal, the conversation migrated from American vs. Dutch traditions of Valentine’s Day presents to American vs. Dutch traditions of romantic presents for your beloved in general. I made the observation that Dutch men do not seem to bother with flowers and jewelry for their wives and girlfriends.

“That is true,” said the boss’s wife. “If you want flowers, you have to buy your own.”

“That’s boring,” I replied. “Where’s the charm?! The chivalry?! The romance?!”

“Dutch men are just never going to give you romance, ” the wife girlfriend declared. “In 18 years that we have been together, I have never once received flowers or jewelry from him.” These final few words were delivered with a very pointed look at my boss.

“I gave you flowers once,” my then-boyfriend interjected, looking smug, as if he had won some sort of Dutch-I’m-so-chivalrous contest.

“Yeah, once. For Christmas. That’s it, so it doesn’t really count,” I replied. He wasn’t going to get off so easily for being lazy in the romance department.

Hei, ja! I gave you earrings once! Those red ones!” my boss exclaimed in victory, looking at his wife girlfriend as he leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head, smug as well. He could be redeemed!!

“Earrings? Earrings?” the wife turned my boss.  “No, those were red pimples for my ears! Tiny red pimples! They were the most divorce-worthy present you could give me!”

Not being able to bear a lifetime without flowers, chivalry and romance, I left the Dutchman a mere 7 weeks later (ok, maybe there were a few other reasons too — but they would’ve been more bearable with a little romance to take the edge off). Barely a year passed before I met the Ukrainian. A man with exquisite taste in jewelry, and a regular deliverer of flowers to our kitchen table. He always does it at a moment when I’m not looking, so that even though the flowers are a regular appearance, they are always a surprising appearance, thus keeping the romance alive!

Last Saturday, after the exquisitely painful experience at the vet where we agonized over just how many unnecessary tests and procedures could we deprive our dogs of, we went to Trader Joe’s on 9th and Bryant. We did our shopping, came to the checkout line, and suddenly I remember that I had forgotten to buy the dogs their weekly treats of SoftAndChewyPeanutButterYumYumTreatsForDogs. I stepped just 7 feet away from the cart, turned around, and studied the shelves until I found the box I was looking for. I turned back around, spied out cart, and saw the gorgeous pink flowers filling the cart’s child seat.

It was romance-at-the-grocery-store. Proof that being good towards your wife can be the smallest gesture of love in the most mundane moment. No special occasion needed.

X-years ago, a meme

I read Sandier Pastures — a blog written by a Filipino woman living and working with her husband and young daughter in Dubai. Today, she blogged this meme and I am following suit.

15 years ago — I was 18 and in my first month of studying at the University of Chicago. Coming from such a small town in rural Iowa, I found the institution to be very intimidating. I was the coxswain on the women’s crew team (though I quit after gaining quite a lot of weight. 😦 ). My roommate was from Queens, New York. Her family had moved to New York from China when she was a child due to the fact that she was child #2, a clear violation of China’s one-child laws. In October 1993 (15 years ago), I was reading Adam Smith’s The Wealth Of Nations and Homer’s Illiad. I also studied Physics and Calculus. I did not own a computer, so I frequently could be found in Harper library’s computer lab until 3 a.m., trying to write 3-page papers. I really felt as if I had nothing to say about either texts. (It would not be long until I began to wonder how I would fit all that I had to say in only 20 pages.)

10 years ago — I had just started working my first “professional” job as a software engineer. My office was located on Chicago’s North Side across from Cabrini Green. The firm consisted of the owner, the secretary, myself and one other engineer. I had to answer sales calls as much as I had to write code. The job paid $27k per year. My food budget was limited to $5/day. I worked on the weekends at The Gap on Wabash Avenue across the street from Marshall Fields to supplement my income and be able to buy new clothes. I lived in a carriage house behind a decrepit mansion in Chicago’s North Kenwood neighborhood with 2 roommates. As soon as the autumn came, mice invaded the house.

5 years ago — I’d just left NYC after living there for 4 1/2 year to return to Chicago. I began studying at the Catholic Theological Union for a Master’s in Theology for Inter-religious dialogue between Catholics and Muslims. I was also telecommuting from Chicago into NYC and Dallas for my engineering job. I lived on W. Warner Ave. on Chicago’s North Side with a super-cool roomate that I met on Craig’s List. My dogs, Sophie and Anna came with me from New York. I felt very satisfied and content with the world and my place in it. I was reading Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology. Despite my happiness, I felt very broke as I was still paying off my student loans from undergrad and was now paying my graduate tuition.  So, a few months later, I accepted a job transfer to San Franciso and left grad school.

3 years ago — I just moved from San Francisco to Haarlem, the Netherlands. I was working in Rotterdam. I was suffering a broken heart over the Bulgarian. I was still involved with someone else back in San Francisco. And I was falling in love with the Dutchman. I was having all sorts of problems with my legal paperwork with the Dutch authorities and general problems fitting in at my new job. My commute between Haarlem and Rotterdam was 1 1/2 hours long on a good day. I had no friends — just my 2 dogs that I had dragged with me. I also did not have telephone service or internet at home. I was lonely. I was reading Reading Lolita in Tehran: a Memoir in Books on the train back and forth between Rotterdam and Haarlem, grateful that I was even given the opportunity to live my life so much on my own — clearly the women in the book did not have that chance.

1 year ago — The Ukrainian had just moved in. We were spending a lot of time making multiple trips to Ikea to purchase a bed and other needs for our apartment. My sister and her husband had just come to visit. We held a massive party complete with a DJ to celebrate our living together. I was planning my 3 week trip to SE Asia, so I was reading travel websites rather than books. I also went to NYC for a week on a business trip. Felt like I had “come so far” from rural Iowa while in a business meeting at MTV headquarters. I felt very optimistic about my career. Still had no idea that the Ukrainian and I would soon be getting engaged, let alone married. And after that, I would leave MTV.

Yesterday — I walked with a friend from Noe Valley to Fort Mason to meet up with other friends to watch the Blue Angels. Afterwards, I walked to Union Square to meet up with the Ukrainian so we could go home together. While I had been relaxing in the sun with fighter jets doing tricks over my head, the Ukrainian had been studying. We browsed the shops of Union Square and found some things we liked for “the future” but nothing “for now”. We took BART back to 24th St. where he treated me to a “Let’s celebrate trying to make a baby!!” dinner at We Be Sushi on Valencia St.

Today — I regretted not eating raw fish at We Be Sushi last night as I received confirmation that we’re not yet successful in making our baby. I’m only slightly disappointed as we are just beginning our tries and I am not so young anymore. I spent the morning booking the Ukrainian and mine’s tickets to Iowa in November so that we can meet my sister’s new baby that was just born 2 weeks ago. In the early afternoon, we took our babies dogs around the Castro and to Dolores Park. I opted out of the festivities that were going on in Portrero and spent the rest of the afternoon at home catching up with friends on the E. Coast. Now, I’m testing some code for work for tomorrow.

Tomorrow — It’s Monday. Not much to say about that. I hope to either walk or ride my bike to work to enjoy this weather. And I also hope to wrap up this non-enjoyable project I’ve been on. Perhaps I will finish a blog entry I started  week ago. But I have not much to complain about as I am truly grateful I have a good job given these uncertain economic times. I will most likely be reading the NYTimes, keeping an eye on the Dow.

Once upon a time, I was a foreigner too

Not so very long ago — in the days before I met the Ukrainian — I spent almost a year living and working in the Netherlands. My arrival there seemed almost an act of God (though few of the Dutch I met believed in any deity). Like my meeting with the Ukrainian, I found the posting for the Dutch job on Craig’s List. As I already had plans to holiday in W. Europe to visit my cousin, I applied for the position almost as a lark. To my surpise and astonishment, I got the job and found myself moving to the Netherlands barely more than 3 months later.

I was optimistic about the move and the new position. I was excited about leaving urban and corporate America for the smaller Dutch cities. Having grown up in Iowa — but having left the state as a teenager — I found the tall, blonde Dutch people, the flat land, and the fields of cows and flowers to be comforting. I felt at home on my visit. Why should my move there be different?

What I was not prepared for was being incapable of performing some of the simplest daily tasks on my own. Everything from package delivery to garbage take-out was all done just a little bit differently and in a foreign language. My cousin tried to help a bit when I first arrived, but she had her own problems to deal with and could not be available for a needy foreign cousin. My employer was of some help with charting the course of getting my legal documents in order so that I could get paid and pay taxes. And I had one female colleague — one who had championed my cause to be hired by the company — who went above and beyond trying to help me adjust to life in a foreign country.

But it was not enough. There were too many calls to be made in Dutch, letters to be translated, grocery store aisles to be deciphered…and on and on…that I did not even know how to begin to set up my life for something so basic as a phone line or cellphone. So, for much of the first 2 months of my presence in the Netherlands, I lived without cable, tv, phone, or internet. The nights were extremely lonely. I would take the train back from Rotterdam (where I worked) to Haarlem (where I first lived) — an hour and a half journey door-to-door, come home, walk my dogs, and then just sit there on my sofa staring at the ceiling. I wondered, what had I gotten myself into? I had no communications with *anyone* outside of my office (or the emails I would furtively try to catch up on at work).

And then came my hero du jour. A male colleague at my office took notice of my plight and made it his mission to save me. At first, I just thought he was a really nice guy. Who on earth would go so far out of his way to help somebody? He arranged phone, internet, and mobile service for me. Later, he found a house closer to the office so that I would not have such a long commute. He introduced me to his friends so that I would not be lonely. At first, I did not think of any ulterior motive in his actions — after all, I had left someone back in the States who had bought a plane ticket to come visit me.

But soon, my gratitude for all his help turned into a crush. The Dutch male colleague looked like a classic Iowa farmboy:  tall, blonde and brawny (Iowa was mostly settled by Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians, so it shouldn’t have been that surprising). If I squinted a little, he almost looked like my dad. As my crush grew, I began to suspect that the feelings were returned. I called things off with the man back in San Francisco and soon got together with the Dutchman.

At first, we seemed in love. But it was an unbalanced love confused with need. He was my hero and I could not function without him. If the heater was broken, I would have to stay home from work and have the repairman use my cellphone to call the Dutchman at work to translate everything being said in my house. If I was sick, the Dutchman had to call the doctor. If I had questions about my energy bill, the Dutchman would have to call the energy company. The dependency was frustrating because it seriously tipped the balance of power in the relationship. I often felt like a small child with no control over my life.

Clearly, the relationship with the Dutchman in the Netherlands did not last as I am married now to a Ukrainian in San Francisco. But I am grateful for the experience. There is a risk that the same disbalance of power could happen in our relationship. There are so many things I know about how to be a good American that have nothing to do with citizenship or patriotism but more with how to reroute a UPS package, rent a car, find a dog-sitter on Craigslist, or the etiquette involved in paying a restaurant bill. It’s a challenging balance to find. At one level, you want to help. On another, you want the person to be independent and figure it out themselves, but magically getting it right on the first try. Sometimes, the easiest way, is to let someone else explain.

We have a good balance. The Ukrainian has adapted to American culture far faster and better than I ever did to the Dutch way of life. There are still occasional moments, when I am surprised by something he doesn’t know. But there are becoming some moment when he seems to know “the system” better than I.

One day, maybe, he will know it all better than I do. Either way, we will be in Kiev at some point and I will become lost once again.