Hard Shells and Soft fillings: finding friends and partners in Finland
As you may know, the Finns are not exactly masters in social relations, on the contrary, their reputation as people rather closed and reluctant to human contact if not necessary, precedes them. But it is also true that stereotypically (but of course the exceptions always exist) if you make friends with a Finn you have made a friend for life who will always be loyal and supportive to you, therefore in a certain sense the effort necessary to break their hard and thick armor is well rewarded by the unconditional love they are able to give you.
Notoriously the country I come from, Italy, is extremely different: people have no problem interacting with you and starting stale conversations, far-fetched even just because they were bored - like queuing at the post office or waiting for an event - the reality of the matter of course is that it depends. My hometown, Milan, has the reputation in the "bel paese" of being populated by cold, distant people, who only think about earning and are not interested in family; a central element of Italian rural culture, especially in the south.
Consequently, even for a purely personal matter, considering my rather reluctant character to communicate as an end in itself with strangers, I did not have such a cultural shock. Perhaps also because - but it is my impression - when Finns realize that you are not their fellow countryman they treat you with a kindness that was unexpected for me, and they never seem bothered by having to communicate in a language that is not theirs, although they speak English really well.
All this, however, does not change the fact that Finns are culturally people who care a lot about their own personal space and hardly grant entry, especially if you are a stranger.
You should consider that space as a wall because interacting with strangers is a no go.
Consequently, the obvious difficulty in making friends or having romantic acquaintances comes into play, how to overcome this problem?
Let's make a tiny parenthesis that I think applies to all genders: if you approach someone, at a bar for example, it will be very much appreciated - especially if you are a guy who approach girls - because it is rather difficult for guys to take the first step (especially if they are sober, if they are not all these rules become null and void), so basically you have no competition.
But you must always keep in mind what I said a little while ago about contact with strangers.
Furthermore, another flaw of the Finns is that they are not good at chatting at all, there is a famous local saying that says "the word is silver and silence is gold".
In fact, the episodes in which I monopolized the conversation as a hospitalization form of talkative were not rare (I apologize to all my Finnish acquaintances who despite themselves dealing with me) while the person in front of me did not utter a word.
But be careful, it does not mean that they are not interested in what you are saying, they simply usually prefer to communicate only what has a function, without too many words and therefore going straight to the point. Therefore it comes naturally to me to ask myself how they get to know each other in depth, it’s a mystery that I will reveal over time.
Let's go back to the question I posed earlier: how do you solve the problem? Generation Z and millennials have certainly already figured out where I'm heading but for those who haven't gotten there, it's very simple: dating apps.
Applications like Tinder are a godsend for the shyness of Finns, it allows you to put a "barrier" between them and the fear of rejection or performance anxiety that real life spits in your face without many compliments.
This applies both to finding partners (with everything including that, but this would require a separate discussion) but also - as in my case - to meet new people and make friends, if you approach them by saying very simply "I just moved, I'm looking for new people and places to hangout" IF you get an answer the first thing you are usually asked is " why did you move to Finland?" and not in a positive way.
After that in my experience people are very prone to superficial knowledge which results in a drink and then it will be what it will be.
On the other hand, one thing that surprised me was to discover that Badoo is way more used than Tinder in Finland, which in Italy has the reputation of being a dating app used for the majority by middle-aged men.
Whatever solution you choose, these types of software are a great way to approach people and not have those first moments of total discomfort on both sides.
Finally, I wanted to make a note for people like me who come from an unequal country like Finland, where women are very well represented and are extremely independent. Many of the girls I've known since I've been here are living on their own, for some time, also due to a much more present welfare factor than in other European countries.
In other words, there is no concept of gallantry, in which the man, for example, pays for dinner or offers things in general. Indeed, based on my experience - probably more because I’m a foreigner rather than a male - it was the girls I went out with who offered me a drink for example.
In short, if you do not like independent women, Finland is not exactly the country for you, for everyone else it is enough to learn to be comfortable with silence even in company, and you will see that both making friends and finding partners will not be an odyssey.