Getting Danish Friends
– it is a process, not a magic fix.
Many Danes are still friends with people they go far back with; they might have friends from their primary school, high school or from their junior football team and scout patrols back when they were 10.
Even though they might not tell you, many Danes think forming new friendships as grown-ups is just as complicated as you might find it. This is because we are primarily used to forming friendships in certain ways.
It’s worth remembering that Danes often distinguish between FRIENDS, who are understood to be the few you’re really close to, and then friends/acquaintances/classmates/colleagues, who are the people whom they know and are social with, but don’t hang out with just the two of them/don’t plan things exclusively with.
The Danish word for friends “venner” tends to be used in a more exclusive way than the English term, and you might even hear a Dane say, “yeah, we hang out and it’s fun, but we’re not venner (yet)” about people they know.
This does not mean that the person doesn’t appreciate hanging out with you, but that they aren’t close enough to qualify you as one of their exclusive venner.
So how to befriend the Danes?
– Like a Dane…
Most Danish students have met their friends through school, work, volunteering, sports and hobbies.
Even though they have met through a common activity, it is however rare to consider yourself friends right from the start. You do that activity “alongside” each other for a time; probably chatting casually and realizing you click and have fun together.
Maybe that leads to casual socialising, which still relates to the thing you do together, talking while biking home from sports, eating lunch together at school etc.
Then you go on to do something social – but not just the two of you, since you are still “getting to know each other”. These social things can be a party for your class, a trip for the sports club or with your hobby, a dinner for the entire volunteer crew.
These are good ways to be social while still in the safe context of what you do “together”, which will make the Dane feel like the friendship is developing naturally and not something that they are being trapped into.
If alcohol is involved, that might speed up the process (sad but true), but it’s not a necessity.
After this social activity (or several of these), you can safely ask to do something social together that is separate from the activity which you initially met doing.
A word of warning though: Danes rarely say, “let’s have coffee” to people that they aren’t already good friends with. Having coffee in a café is often used as a way to catch up with people you already know.
However; if you feel like having coffee with your new friend, try to invite them – they might very well say yes if they feel like they know you from your common activity.
Now you are entering the “good friends” territory and it’s perfectly normal to do things together without having to make up excuses to justify being around them.