Besides the black wardrobe, mild substance addiction and ever-present mental voice that implores you to ‘just be more open-minded’ as you lock eyes with someone sipping an apfelschorle while they get a blowjob in a club bathroom, the ultimate Berlin accessory is the Berlin Boyfriend™.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably picked up your very own Berlin boyfriend. Yay! Congrats. Here are some questions you can ask him to bring you closer together.
- Firstly, it’s important to suss out if he’s a real Berliner. You know, from Berlin. Inside that ring, baby. This will allow you to subtly undermine him when he introduces himself as ‘from Berlin’ at the myriad dinner parties you will attend together.
To discern if he’s a born ‘n bred Berliner or a Frankfurter fraud in Adidas clothing, ask him if he owns a three-piece suit. Seriously. Boys from Berlin adhere to a strictly casual dress code. If he turns up to the opera in a dress shoes, he ain’t no Berliner.
- Ask him to wait with you for 3 hours in the queue for Roamers/that new Austro-Liberian brunch spot in Mitte/some pop-up selling conceptual monochrome matcha tea lattes. Enjoying avocado toast in a café that looks like it was assembled from the International Bourgeoisie section of Ikea is indeed one of life’s great pleasures. Your Berlin paramour will be more than happy to spend his Sunday morning waiting with you. It will give him the opportunity to explore more of his home city, as well as the (very justifiable) reasons for his rising rent!
- Ask him what the difference is between ‘meinen’ and ‘meinem’. You’ve been in Berlin for four years. Now you’ve had some time to settle, you should probably learn some German. Look no further than your Berlin boyfriend, aka your living, breathing dictionary. Like all Germans, your Berlin boyfriend is a naturally gifted language teacher. If you find yourself stumbling over the cases, simply ask, ‘why?’ He will gladly explain the nuances of ‘meinen’, ‘meinem’, ‘meine’ and ‘meines’.
- Demand an explanation for the German language’s ingrained sexism. As sentient human beings residing in the balmy midst of a post-feminist 21st century, most of us are blind to gender. Unfortunately, Germans are not. Auf Deutsch, power tools possess the male article der, while kitchen equipment is mostly die! Call your Berlin boyfriend out for continuing to support such divisive language.
- Direct all questions and comments about the mechanisms of Berlin bureaucracy at him. I’m sure that you’re familiar with the fine details of your home country’s immigration and fiscal policies (‘Flat whites are tax deductible!’). By virtue of being born here, your Berlin boyfriend has an encyclopaedic level of knowledge on bureaucratic issues. For example, getting an appointment at the Burgeramt, if the German state can force you to pay Church Tax by checking if you attended high school Religious Education classes, and what those eighteen syllable words on your pay cheque mean.
(However, it’s important to note that this rule only applies if your Deutsche darling is over 30. Younger Berliners are usually enrolled as fake students to avoid income tax and get a free u-bahn pass, so their knowledge may be limited.)
- Ask him to impersonate you at flat viewings. In Berlin, beautiful alt bau flats are plentiful and renters are king. Some say the city is a utopia for mobile young people who travel with entire kitchens. While it’s pretty simple to find a flat in Berlin, get an edge over your competitors by getting your boyfriend to impersonate you at viewings. It doesn’t matter if you’re a different height, gender or ethnicity to your Berlin boyfriend. As long as he’s there speaking German, you’ve got a foot in the door.
See, dating in Berlin needn’t be a minefield. In fact, courting your new bae requires almost no cultural sensitivity whatsoever. With these tips you’re sure to enter a solid, open and loving relationship with your Berlin boyfriend. Prost!
Note: This was published in print in October 2017’s edition of The Chop, a Berlin-based magazine.