Flirting in Berlin: Boot Camp for Singles


Valentine’s Day – the romantic movies, the perfectly cute couple across the street, the expectations! They all put us poor singles of Berlin to shame. No, we have not found the love of our life yet to buy flowers or a nice dinner. No Mr. or Ms. Right. In fact, we haven’t even found Mr. or Ms. Right Now! No love of the moment or fling for the weekend or anything that even resembles a date. And if we should find somebody to go out with, the dating dilemma transforms us into nervous wrecks.

But who is to blame? You want to point your finger at Berlin or at Tinder or at the neo-liberal capitalistic society in which we all live. But it isn’t so easy, is it? Let’s follow my wild speculations after the jump and maybe we find some tips for our next flirting moves.

photo: Nadine Elfenbein

I had a little surgery this week. It was not one of those big life-threatening things, but still quite a troublesome annoyance. Before the procedure, I was tense because the doctors told me that I will suffer from enormous pain afterwards and will have to use very strong painkillers to deal with it. After the surgery, I fearfully anticipated the pain. I waited and waited and waited. But nothing happened! The doctor had even given me several self-help brochures that could help me cope. But the pain never came. My theory for that? I have to be thankful for Berlin.

Being single in Berlin for a couple of years and having all kinds of funny/awkward/abusive dating experiences, it’s like no pain can actually get to me. If love is a battlefield, Berlin is a boot camp. So be it – I am quite happy that I am so numb (metaphorically speaking) that I feel no pain from my surgery. But should it be this way? I guess not…

My advice for this Valentine’s Day? The boot camp rule “no pain no gain” is indeed also applicable to our bloody single hearts. Maybe we should try to step out of our comfort zones, put down our defense mechanisms we work so hard to maintain, and actually let something hit us once in while. Because it is in the small margins of openness and vulnerability where we are able to be surprised by a nice gesture or a charming date. We must be open, even if it might hurt.

A friend just told me about how she was at a party and felt like all the men around her were zombies. Clearly this post-apocalyptic scenario that she imagined was the result of her fears and defense mechanisms wanting her to stay away from everybody, like for her self-protection. (Or maybe the guys at this particular party were so high that they actually were like zombies.) But still: trying to avoid all this disappointment will cause further frustration.

So, I have a little social experiment for you to try out:

Next time you feel like your love life is going in circles, try to think about the most unconventional solution to your problem. By ‘unconventional’ I mean seriously outside the box, crazy, unrepeatable and maybe even a little embarrassing. For instance, if you have a hard time meeting new people, imagine riding down Warschauer Straße on a bike covered in multi-colored balloons. You could give out the balloons to all the cute strangers running up to you until they’re all gone and on each balloon you will have attached your number. Somehow cute, but somehow a little embarrassing, right? Well, I’m not telling you that you have to do it, but you get the idea! You simply have to imagine this crazy solution as your last resort, write it down and put it in an envelope as your secret weapon. Every time you are feeling desperate about your specific love problem, try to imagine if you would be ready to carry out this “final solution.” You will see that having a secret last resort will encourage you to be stronger in your everyday life, more courageous, and more open to any kind of possible encounter. Be open to the possibilities!

I hope this little column was helpful to you and maybe you want to check out my other flirting tips.  And if not you might just check out our party guide for tonight and dance until the next Valentine’s Day 😉

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