Brits and dating: 10 things you should know

Brits at pub
Photo credit: VisitBritain/ Andrew Pickett

Imagine: you’re leaving class and thinking about how all you’ll be doing that evening is ordering a take-away and indulging in slightly depressing romantic comedies. You get home, get a cup of tea or wine, and then decide to ask one of your single friends to come keep you company. The two of you get chatting about your past short-lived romances.

You find yourself blurting out that you want a British partner; the accent really does it for you. You haven’t managed to bag one yet but you want to know how dating a Brit might differ from dating someone back home.

If you’re pining after a lovely Brit, then keep reading to find out about some cultural quirks you might come across.

We may be more reserved than others

Culturally, Brits are known for being more reserved than some other nationalities. We often avoid openly sharing our emotions in fear of being seen as weak. This doesn’t mean that Brits don’t feel strong emotions, but rather we are trained early on to be more self-contained.

Brits also like to keep their displays of affection private. For example, North American people tend to hug and kiss people in public, whereas Brits like to do their cuddling and romancing behind closed doors.

Football or rugby game on = whole day at the pub

For many Brits, especially British men, football and/or rugby are everything. And unless you’ve got tickets to a game, watching sport is best done at the pub with friends. When dating a Brit expect to spend entire days wasted blissfully at these watering holes. Your first date may even be at the local pub watching their beloved team play.

Don’t fake a British accent

It might be funny to occasionally mimic a British accent as a joke, but trust us when we say Brits don’t find it cute or funny when people try to adopt a permanent British accent. So, just be yourself and introduce your crush to your culture, language and colloquialisms.

British date
Photo credit: VisitBritain/ Rod Edwards

Pants mean underwear, not trousers

This is a constant source of confusion between Brits and some non-Brits. In the UK, pants are the same as underpants, knickers, panties, boxers and briefs; in other English-speaking countries, pants are what the British call trousers. During romantic interactions this can get things a little mixed up.

Dating lingo is different

Knowing some dating lingo will definitely help you snare the “apple of your eye”. So, here’s a list to get you started:

  • Bae: A person’s boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Cuffing season: Finding a partner to cuddle up to during the colder months
  • Ghosting: Suddenly stopping all communication with someone you’ve been chatting to or seeing romantically
  • Bird: Slang meaning girl, usually used by guys to introduce their girlfriend
  • Shag: To have a sexual interaction with someone
  • Chat up: To talk flirtatiously to someone
  • IRL: Meaning when you finally go on an actual date rather than flirt online
  • Monkeying: Describes a serial dater
  • Snog: To kiss for an extended period of time

Sarcasm is our forte

Brits’ take on humour may be really confusing at first to non-Brits. We employ a lot of passive-aggressive comments that can be easily misunderstood if our sarcasm isn’t picked up on. For example, when Brits say “that’s nice,” we often really mean “that’s not interesting to me at all.” And when we say “hilarious,” in a cheeky tone, we often mean “that’s really not funny.”

If you date a Brit, they will most likely have a dry and sarcastic sense of humour. They may mimic you at times or make fun of you, but really they’re just having a laugh so don’t take any of it to heart.

A pub is a totally acceptable and desirable date spot

In the UK, you can find hip gastropubs, traditional pubs, themed pubs or really any kind of pub you fancy because Brits spend a lot of time in them. Don’t be offended if a love interest wants to meet up at one for your first date.

Equally, if you want to impress a Brit, find out what their favourite watering hole is. Brush up on pub etiquette and we promise you’ll be that much closer to scoring a snog at the end of the night.

Online dating is big

It’s super common for us Brits to meet dates and future partners on apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. This is especially the case in bigger cities. Considering online dating is a big part of the dating scene in the UK, it can be a great way to find that perfect British beau you’ve got your heart set on.

Not all Brits sound like Hugh Grant or Keira Knightley

Brace yourselves: Not all Brits sound like the actors Huge Grant and Keira Knightley, who speak in what’s known as the Queen’s English. This accent is from the South of England and is not common; in fact there are over 50 regional accents in the UK. So, don’t offend a potential love interest by asking them why they don’t have the British accent that you’ve heard in the movies you’ve watched.

Sunday roasts are non-negotiable

The Sunday roast is a deeply held culinary tradition in the UK. It entails getting together with friends or family to eat roasted meat, roast potato and accompaniments like roast carrots, parsnips, cauliflower cheese, Brussel sprouts, Yorkshire pudding and gravy.

For many of us Brits, whether or not this happens on a Sunday is not open for discussion. A survey of 60,000 people even suggested that roast dinners are the second most loved thing across the nation. Do not suggest to your future partner that Sunday roasts be replaced by something else. It could end badly.