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SEX

Looking for love? Here’s how to date the Swiss

When it comes to dating in Switzerland, online forums are full of expats crying out for tips on meeting the ‘reserved’, ‘conservative’ or ‘unapproachable’ Swiss. Looking for answers, The Local’s Emily Rose Mawson uncovers some quirks of the Swiss dating scene.

Looking for love? Here's how to date the Swiss
File photo: Depositphotos/Ruslan117

You need to make more effort than you think

With the rise of dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, many of us expect instant hook-ups. But this ‘no effort’ mentality is a mistake when it comes to dating the Swiss. Speaking to The Local, Trea Tijmens, owner of dating, matchmaking and date coaching service SuccessMatch, says it takes effort to meet the Swiss – and even longer to engage in a trusting relationship. “If love doesn’t happen instantly, we are disappointed and are out of there,” the dating expert says, emphasizing that investing time pays dividends. She may be right: Swiss government figures in 2015 revealed that 35 percent of marriages were between a Swiss and a foreigner.

The Swiss need plenty of encouragement

Search dating on any Swiss expat forum, and you find a slew of women moaning that men don’t approach them. Take German expat Lena*, a leggy blonde: she noticed that since moving to Zurich, she has not been hit on much in bars. “I mainly get approached by Spanish guys,” she admits, adding that she thinks Swiss men must be too arrogant or too scared to speak to women. But as Swiss Marc* reveals, “we behave the way we do because of the numerous rejections we have received from Swiss women.” Tijmens’ top tip? Women should make themselves more approachable by, for example, smiling and saying ‘hello’. “This gives the man the green light to speak to you. But do not take away his lines by asking him out. He should do that,” she warns.

It doesn’t pay off to label yourself an ‘expat’

Think being an expat will make you sound exotic? Wrong. There are around two million expats in Switzerland from all over the world, but the Swiss are on their home turf: they have friendships they established as children, making it hard for foreigners to build relationships with them. Exacerbating the problem is the temporal nature of expats. Swiss people may not be keen on making an effort when they know you are likely to move on in the near future, explains Tijmens. She says: “Labelling yourself as an expat when you want to date locals is not always helpful. Just say, you live here now.”

Sharing the cost of a date is normal

If elsewhere men pay on dates, this is not always the case in Switzerland. Alice*, a French expat in Zurich, reveals that although her Swiss boyfriend paid on their first date, he expected costs to be split 50/50 after that. It is not a question of being stingy, however; it is about equality. “I advise men to pay on a first date,” says ‘flirt coach’ Thomas Peter, who runs how-to courses in flirting in Zurich or by telephone or email. “Later on couples usually want to split the costs – especially older couples,” he says, adding that surprisingly “Among young people there is still a tendency for girls to expect their date to pay.”

Blending commitment and independence is expected…

Soon after he started dating a Swiss, Frenchman Martin* realized he was expected to keep his distance. “She would suggest meeting up only every two weeks, even though we didn’t live far from each other,” he says. “I had to offer full commitment, but be prepared to have and offer a lot of independence too.”  

 …so be clear when dating several people simultaneously

While dating a few people at the same time is common in some countries, particularly America, it is not customary in Switzerland. But you usually need to date around to find the right match. So what to do? Tijmens advises keeping each date to lunch or dinner – “absolutely no intimacy while you are dating several people,” she warns. “And do not lie about the fact you are going on different dates. Tell your date you have just started dating and have committed to give yourself at least three months before entering a new relationship. As long as you have obeyed the ‘no intimacy’ rule, there should be no hurt feelings when you decide on the one you want to build a relationship with.”  

There are no rules about when to have sex

The Swiss enjoy 10 percent more orgasms than their international counterparts, according to femininleben.ch, But how many dates should you go on before you have sex in Switzerland? There’s no specific etiquette on this in Switzerland, says Tijmens. “If you are only interested in sex or a one night stand, then the answer is one,” she says. “If you would like to find a nice partner, then I suggest you date long enough to see whether your date has the qualities that you need in order to be fulfilled in a long-term relationship before you become intimate.” Flirt coach Peter agrees, saying that as long as both parties are happy, there is no Swiss-specific rule about whether you sleep together on the first date or after 20.

*names have been changed

A version of this article was published in 2016.

 

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HEALTH

IN PICTURES: 7 of the French government’s sexiest public health adverts

An advertising campaign aimed at convincing young people to get the Covid vaccine has attracted international attention, but it’s not the first time that French authorities have sexed up their public health messaging.

IN PICTURES: 7 of the French government's sexiest public health adverts
Image: AIDES.

It’s an international cliché that France is the land of l’amour – or at least the land of le sexe – and that reputation does seem to be justified, given how often French public health bodies have turned to sex in an attempt to get their message across.

From the suggestive to the downright scandalous, here are seven examples of health campaigns which relied on that oh so French fondness for romance.

Get vaccinated, get laid

The Covid campaign in question was created by regional health authorities in the southern Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region.

The poster which has got people hot under the collar features two very attractive and very French-looking people kissing, seemingly in the back of a cab after a night on the town. “Yes, the vaccine can have desirable effects,” it says.

The campaign has proved so popular that it will soon be expanded.

Promoting road safety

Earlier this year, the French Road Safety Delegation released a video ahead of Valentine’s Day, which showed a couple sharing an intimate moment in the bedroom.

The full 30-second video featured the slogan, “Life is better than one last drink for the road”.

Another image of two people kissing, seemingly without clothes, included the line, “Life, love. On the road, don’t forget what truly matters.”

Fight against HIV/AIDS

While the link between road safety and sex isn’t immediately obvious, less surprising are the references to intimacy in the health ministry’s HIV awareness campaign from 2016.

Each of the different posters shows two men embracing. Straplines include, “With a lover, with a friend, with a stranger. Situations vary, and so do the protective measures.”

The posters shocked conservative sensibilities, and several right-wing mayors asked for them to be taken down in their towns. 

HIV awareness campaign

Just a few days after the controversy over the ministry’s posters ignited, the non-profit AIDES launched its own campaign, and it didn’t hold back.

The posters showed scuba instructors, piano teachers and parachutists, all of them naked alongside their students. The slogan: “People undergoing treatment for HIV have a lot of things to pass onto us. But the AIDS virus isn’t one.”

“Even if we’ve been spreading this information since 2008, we realise that a lot of people don’t know that antiviral treatments prevent spreading,” head of AIDES Aurélien Beaucamp told France Info.

“People are still afraid of those who are HIV-positive.” 

Government-mandated pornography

It’s common for sexualised advertising campaigns to be labelled pornographic by critics, but in 1998, the French government went a step further and created actual pornography.

READ ALSO Language of love – 15 of the best romantic French phrases

The health ministry commissioned TV station Canal Plus to create five short erotic films to encourage the use of condoms and prevent the spread of HIV. The campaign featured up-and-coming directors such as Cedric Klapisch and Gaspar Noé.

“The only possible way to look at, to get people to protect themselves, is to show, show everything, show simply and without creating an obsession of the sexual act and the act of wearing a condom,” Klapisch said, according to an Associated Press story published at the time. 

You didn’t really think we’d include images of this one, did you? (OK, here’s a link for those who are curious).

A controversial anti-smoking campaign

https://twitter.com/MarketainmentSE/status/212863393143586817

It’s time to forget what we said about romance, because there is nothing romantic about this 2010 campaign from the Droits des Non-Fumeurs (Non-smokers’ rights) association and the BDDP & Fils communications agency.

The campaign featured several images of young people with a cigarette in their mouths, looking up at an adult man who rested his hand on their heads. The cigarette appeared to be coming out of the man’s trousers.

The slogan said, “Smoking means being a slave to tobacco”. The association said the sexual imagery was meant to get the attention of young people who were desensitised to traditional anti-smoking messages, but the posters caused outrage, with members of the government publicly criticising the choice of imagery.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ love

On the other end of the spectrum is this very romantic video from the national health agency Santé Publique France. It was released on May 17th 2021, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and was part of a campaign against anti-LGBT discrimination and violence. It is set to Jean-Claude Pascal’s Nous les amoureux

Showing a diverse range of couples kissing, holding hands, and healing each other’s wounds, the video ends on the word play: “In the face of intolerance, it’s up to us to make the difference.”

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