Tips for Dating in the UK as an Expat

You don’t need to look up official stats to know that the UK is one of the top destinations for American expats. Speaking the same language is enticing enough. But other lifestyle and cultural similarities make a permanent or semi-permanent trip across the pond an enticing proposition.

Even though there’s quite a bit of overlap in how Americans and Brits live, there are still some subtle distinctions to be on top of, especially if you’re single. That’s why we’ve put together a little guide, sharing some top tips for dating in the UK as an expat.

Couple standing in an archway

Differences of Dating in the US

You can’t deny that there’s a general vibe to dating in the US, despite people’s differing tastes and approaches.

In some ways, things are more rigid and uptight in the US. Appearance matters a lot – or those countless plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills would be finding another line of work. And there are some unwritten rules like men tend to pay, you need to go on “x” number of dates before sex, and in-person meetups usually take a backseat to texts or video chats, at least for a few weeks.

These dating expectations seem to apply whether you’re 20 or 70, although some millennials try to buck the norm.

The UK Approach to Dating – What to Expect

One of the best ways to describe dating in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland is it’s more laid back. Even though daytime dates aren’t popular, the rest of the “rules” are more relaxed.

Instead of preparing a first date persona, singles have more of a “what you see is what you get” approach. Yes, appearances still matter, but not nearly to the extent in the US. Women don’t default to “I’ll have a side salad and diet Coke,” they eat, drink (sometimes a lot!), and are more comfortable being themselves.

Singles in the UK tend to have more realistic expectations about the flaws that everyone has – even if you do your best to try to hide them. 

Dating Offline

Even though dating apps are incredibly popular, Brits switch gears to in-person meetings much faster than Americans. A meetup for drinks between the two of you will be on the table pretty darn fast. And you’ll find that your potential partner is probably not interested in a group outing for your first date.

Dating in the UK as an American Expat

When you move to the UK, you’ll find that you can throw a few things you’ve become accustomed to, like an obsessive focus on your appearance, formal date nights, and rules regarding sex, out the window.

Of course, you need to be comfortable with any decision you make, especially in your early days in a new country. But we’ve got a few tips for dating in the UK as an expat that’ll mentally prepare you for what you can expect, so you don’t feel like a fish out of water.

Tips for Single Expats Dating in the UK

Before you even set your sights on dating in London or elsewhere in the UK, prepare for the process to be slightly different. When you’re ready for things to throw you off guard, you’ll handle it better. So, here are a few of our top tips for expat dating in the UK.

1. You won’t be online for long

As we mentioned, singles in the UK love to use dating apps. However, they don’t stick with them for long when they find someone they’re interested in meeting. Instead of weeks or months of getting to know someone remotely, you might schedule a proper in-person date within days.

2. Always carry cash

Regardless of who initiated the get-together, be aware that you might split the bill. For a country steeped in tradition, the financial side of dating is quite progressive.

3. A friend group could be your ticket to a partner

Just as in the US, UK singles use dating apps like Bumble. However, when it comes to bumping into someone you’d like to date, you’re better off meeting someone in person through a friend group. And don’t be surprised if others in the party have dated each other at some point.

4. Two is the magic number

Unlike in the US, where some first dates start as double-dates, Brits prefer to be one-on-one, at least at the beginning. This is an area where you need to exercise discretion, though. In our tips for safe online dating in the UK, we recommend group get-togethers when you first meet someone.

5. Nighttime is the right time

How often have you met up with a new person at your local Starbucks or for a lunchtime date where you know there’s a time limit? Americans are A-OK with daytime get-togethers, but, in the UK, nighttime is the right time for dating. So, if you suggest a quick meet and greet at Costa Coffee, you might experience some uncomfortable silence.

6. Drinks are always on the table

Dating in the UK typically involves more alcohol consumption. You obviously don’t need to chug down five pints. But be aware that it’s not unusual or socially unacceptable for Brits to drink more than some Americans.

7. Number One Tip for Expats Dating in the UK

Knowing what to expect as an American expat is undoubtedly helpful when navigating the dating waters in the UK. However, our most important tip is to throw out all the others if you feel uneasy about any of them.

Safety is the number one priority. So, who cares if you suggest a daytime get-together or call it a night after your date has had five too many? If it’s meant to be… you know the saying.

Advantages of Being a Single Expat in Britain

More than half of the over 16 population in England and Wales is single. So, there’s plenty of fish in the sea when you’re ready to cast a line. You should end up with an extensive list of prospects on any of the popular dating apps.

You’ll find that just as Americans are attracted to a beautiful British accent, it works in reverse, too. So, you already have that going for you. But the most significant advantage of dating in the UK as an expat is being yourself!

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Author: Healthy Framework Team

The Healthy Framework team has a combined 50+ years of experience in the online dating industry. Collectively, the team has reviewed over 300 dating apps and is known as one of the leaders in the relationship advice and information space. The team's work has been featured on Zoosk, Tinder, The Economist, People Magazine, Parade, Women's Health, Her Campus, Fox, and more.