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To gather real accounts of the European dating scene, last year we asked around 500 (mostly, but not exclusively, heterosexual) expats living in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland a series of up-close and personal questions about themselves, their relationships and their sex lives.Of course, every relationship is different and how yours develops will depend on who you both are and the chemistry between you.If you like each other, you'll probably find a way to make it work, regardless of any cultural variations.

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A French man or Spaniard might tell you he loves you after only a few weeks but don't panic: It usually just means ‘I really like you'.

Women can say it back to a man with the same meaning – it doesn't mean you should be moving in together or planning a wedding any time soon.

In Germany, couples don't start with formal dating either and it's only after a series of informal meetings – walks, dinner, cinema, theatre – that they might start being seen as a ‘couple'.

It's also common for couples to keep the fact that they're an item to themselves.

If you really aren't interested, then be very clear and tell him politely but firmly (the hints that might work back home, won't work here).

The Spanish have a reputation as romantic and passionate people.

In most European countries, rather than going on specific ‘dates' as you might in the US, getting to know someone romantically is far more casual: "Walks in the afternoon/evening which may be followed by an informal drink at a café or a bite to eat at lunchtime", or "meeting up in a group with friends" is not uncommon, says some European expats.

In the Netherlands you might take a walk or go on a bike ride.

In Europe, getting to know someone romantically is fairly laid back.

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