Dos and Don’ts: Dating in the Czech Republic

Expats.cz gives you some advice on romance, Czech style

We’re going to start by assuming that you are on a date; helping you get one may be a bit beyond our expertise. Suffice to say, the days of simply flashing a foreign passport and expecting to charm someone are probably over – if it ever were that simple.

The First Date

So you’re about to meet Ms./Mr. Right for the first time. What do you do? Except in very rare circumstances, a kiss, usually a peck on the cheek, is not only the norm, it’s expected. Offering on your hand will make it seem a bit too business-like. Perhaps, not the mood you want to create.

For special occasions, flowers are the sine qua non of gifts for a date. As with any occasion other than a funeral, an odd number is required. An even number is only for the deceased. Roses are a classic. Tulips are popular, too. Any thought you put in is going to be appreciated and florists seem to carry a great range. Don’t go overboard; one flower may be enough. According to Ladislav Špaček, a Czech etiquette expert, even a small gift is acceptable.

Who Pays?

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On the subject of paying, asking around and checking out forums on the Internet suggests that things are not so clear. Taking this one website as a small sample it seems that people have a range of answers. But, and it’s a big but, the conventional wisdom is that men should pay and it is expected.

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Equally expected are other types of courtesies such as taking coats and opening doors. When opening doors it is important to remember one habit which is curiously different here is that when entering a restaurant, a man goes through the door first. Women leave first. Again Mr.  Špaček offer some clarification. “If opening a door outward, a man opens it stands between [the door and the woman] and turns towards the woman or even goes first. More important than manners is the woman’s comfort.” (Translated from this chat page on Čt 24.)

Something More

So you’ve made it through the early stages. You’ve negotiated your way through any cultural differences, you have a lot in common, heck, you don’t even mind his or her parents. You might be thinking about popping the question.

In the Czech Republic, it is expected that the man will ask. Female friends and colleagues have told me that across social groups women will wait for the man, usually dropping hints along the way without asking themselves.

The engagement ring is the traditional diamond. Once a guy has proposed, he is then expected to tell the woman’s parents over dinner. In the past this was very much like asking for permission. Today, it is more a semi-formal way of telling them, usually over dinner at the parents’ home.

We might not be able to help you find true love, but we hope we’ve at least smoothed the path somewhat.


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