For more than a shag

Dr. Dot dishes up some no-nonsense advice about how to find true love in unromantic Berlin.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Dot

It’s no secret that it’s insanely easy to get sex in Berlin. Love, on the other hand, is more difficult to find (and keep). This playground of a city makes it easy to stray, play and shag around pretty much anytime and anywhere: you can buy sex, rent it or – if you are charming enough – have an abundance of it for free. But what if you crave love? Well, there is no one place to go to to find it: you just need to decide what kind of partner you want and act accordingly.

If you want something long-lasting and solid that’s maybe heading toward breeding and cohabitation, then hanging out in dance clubs at 4am hoping to meet someone you can tame is probably a waste of time. If you want a sober partner, then avoid growing roots at your local pub. If you are sporty, join a yoga class or a volleyball club to have your pick of fit, suntanned babes (there are also softball, tennis and football teams, boating clubs, skate nights in spring and summer etc, all of which are perfect for getting to know someone without having to scream over loud music or noisy crowds).

If you are a party person, then getting your grind on in the clubs can eventually lead to dating, but remember – if someone is seeking something serious and longterm, they don’t usually go to a club to find it. Clubs are more for fun, a quick fix – a place to dance, drink and maybe get your leg over. Still, it would be unfair to say there is no chance of finding love in a bar. I met a wonderful man (dependable, hard-working, generous, clean, loyal) at the Irish pub in the Europa Center in 1993, and then years later another great one (also hard-working, polite, dependable, generous, caring, non-smoking – can you believe that?) at another (now-defunct) Irish-themed bar. So there are diamonds in the rough, even in pubs – and especially in Irish ones.

In Berlin, language can help narrow down the search for this ‘love thing’. If you do not speak German and you plan on staying here, German courses are a good way to meet people. All those awkward learning rituals endear people to one another and give you something to talk about: there’s common ground, straightaway. If your German is gut genug, take a cooking class or chat up people while grocery shopping. The Kaiser’s supermarket on Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg is a well known pick-up spot: people go there to cruise and shop simultaneously. So – looking good while running errands can lead to a date. Also, many of Berlin’s English bookshops (like East of Eden in Friedrichshain) host comedy shows and readings and other assorted happenings – all great for mingling. If you do speak German well, then your options are endless. For example, the very popular “Fisch sucht Fahrrad” bimonthly singles party at the Postbahnhof has been going on since I moved here in 1989 , but it really only works for Deutsch speakers.

If you simply cannot speak German and have given up any hope of learning, you can still comb local ads on ToyTown Germany, Connect Berlin, Craigslist… or right here at EXBERLINER. In fact, your fave English mag will soon be launching a new singles page/event called Meet Market – hooking up with another English speaker will become a piece of cake! You can even place English personal ads in German magazines; someone is bound to understand you and your ad will stand out in a sea of German ads. In 1998, I placed an English ad in Zitty for an American girlfriend of mine. It’s how she met her husband/baby daddy and they’ve been married ever since!

The beauty of placing ads is that you can be extremely specific about your dream lover, much more so than if you go to a bar. Be very detailed about your likes and dislikes, like, “Seeking non-smoking female under 30 who is ready to commit. Blonde hair preferred. Send me a picture if you want a reply.” or “Irish man wanted for longterm relationship. Smoking/drinking ok; drugs not ok. I prefer a generous, funny man. Your picture gets mine.” There’s no point in beating around the bush. Spit it right out and you will see you’ve nothing to lose.

Getting a part-time job bartending or waitressing is a surefire way to meet people and, of course, workplace love is very common. Fresh breath and a tidy, healthy appearance always help: there’s nothing worse than a foul odor emanating from a person’s mouth. Still single? That could be why. If you’re a student or living on a low budget, the nearest laundromat is ideal – lots of time to chat and no loud music, all in a (usually) smoke free environment. The Waschsalon on Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg is a very popular place to hang out, flirt and hook up while you wash up. But gold diggers take note: if you’re looking to fall for a Sugar Mama or Sugar Daddy, it won’t happen here.

Going out alone is, in my opinion, the best way to meet people. If you’re always in a clique of friends, the chances of someone having the nerve to come up to you are low. It may feel safe and familiar to always be with your gang, but venturing out on your own forces you to mix with people. Just keep a smile on your face and people will be drawn to you, if only because they’re wondering if you’re crazy or drunk. Really – it’s a good way to start a conversation. I often go out alone and I meet lots of cool people every time. Flying solo increases your confidence, so wash that shy right out of your hair: grow some balls and speak to someone you don’t know. Sex is nice, but sexing up the one you love is pure bliss. Take a chance. It’s worth it.