As well as writing more than a dozen books on love and relationships, including the acclaimed “The Dream Prince Trap – covering the danger of searching for the perfect partner” – Hegmann is also a relationship counsellor for singles and couples.
We asked him about the most important things to look out for for expats dipping a toe into the German dating waters.
1. Don't get hung up on cultural differences
Most of the people in this picture are looking for something similar in a relationship. Europe at night photo: Shutterstock
Your experience of dating is not going to be wildly different from one country to another — especially in Europe.
“There isn't a huge difference among European countries, although the cliché is that northern countries are more pragmatic and the southern countries more romantic,” Hegmann said.
That's not to say that there aren't a few intercultural differences.
A 2008 survey of European singles for dating website Parship found that Germans tended to be the most experienced with serious relationships, uninterested in marriage and pessimistic about finding a new partner soon.
2. If what you're doing isn't working, change it!
If you're standing like this for long periods in public, it might be what's putting people off. Woman thinking photo: Shutterstock
“If you're looking for love for three or four years, or you never had a relationship lasting longer than six months, then probably you're doing something – maybe not wrong, but maybe not right for you,” Hegmann says.
“It's all about finding structures and new ways to break those barriers.”
One of the things you might be doing wrong is simply not talking to the people you'd like to get to know.
“Most singles say, I'm single because I'm too shy and waiting for the other side to make the first move,” Hegmann said.
“Be tough and make that first move! They'll be grateful and honour the fact that you took a risk.”
In the study, 36 percent of German men said that shyness had had a role in keeping them single – much higher than the EU average of 27 percent.
3. Don't worry about technology stealing your love away
But you might have grounds to be a bit worried if your girlfriend is in love with her computer. Woman blowing kisses photo: Shutterstock
“Dating is getting a bit different now because we are online 24/7,” Hegmann said.
“Some people think that's dangerous, I think it's a good thing – I would be really worried if we couldn't also find love online.
Hegmann agrees that there's a stereotype that access to online dating makes people less likely to work through their problems or settle on any one person, but argues that it's false.
“Most normal people will find that this is wrong after about five or six months.
“People who tend to seek another partner after six weeks instead of working things out with the person they just met, will do this in real life also.”
4. Don't wait for Valentine's Day to do something special
Picnics are a quick and easy option for making it look like you've made a big effort. Couple at a picnic photo: Shutterstock
Although Valentine's Day is less widely observed in Germany than the US or UK, it's infiltrating the popular imagination, just as in other European countries.
“German men are rather suspicious, they think it's a conspiracy of florists and jewellers,” Hegmann said.
On the other hand, he cited a recent study showing that 30 percent of women would like a present on the day.
However, it shouldn't be the one and only day of the year when you make an effort.
“If you think, well, I have one day in the year when I have to be nice to my partner, then your relationship is already damaged,” Hegmann said.
“See it as a chance to spend the day with your spouse together and have a great time, a kind of holiday for your relationship. It's up to you what you make of it.”
5. Don't expect your partner to be your whole world
“I told you Dave, my yoga class is ME TIME!” Couple doing yoga photo: Shutterstock
We're constantly assailed by images of supposedly perfect relationships – from celebrity couples frolicking on the beach in the tabloids, to soulmates bonding for life in books and movies.
“There's this fantasy about finding a partner for everything, for ever and ever,” Hegmann says.
“The expectations are too great and no-one is able to fulfil them. That's not what a relationship is about.”
Instead, Hegmann suggests, learn to recognise that nobody is perfect – and that you need to find a relationship that works for your life stage.
“You won't find love in your forties the same way you found love at 25,” he says.
“A lot of people try to stay young and be part of the crowd – this isn't going to work, and it didn't work out the first time!”
6. Everyone is looking for the same thing
Fortunately, not everyone is looking for someone exactly the same height as them. Couple walking photo: Shutterstock.
The Parship study showed that Germans prize honesty, loyalty, good conversation, openness and humour above all else in a partner.
That broadly matched what their fellow EU citizens said they were looking for.
“In the end, everyone needs love and is looking for love,” is Hegmann's conclusion.
But he does offer a few conclusions on singles from the survey that might give you a headstart in Germany:
Single men love very organized women.
Single women aren't looking for someone to protect them.
Both men and women hold grudges – so don't mess them around!
That goes just as much for point four – German couples rarely experience affairs.
- Many are turned off by too much emotion too soon — crying on a shoulder is something that should be worked toward.
Now get out there – and don't be shy!