How to make friends in Sweden?

Read more in "The Swedish Toolkit"

In many cultures

Friendships are built by giving and receiving

You are offered something

You are invited for some food

Or for a drink

You then owe something back

It is your turn to invite or prepare a small gift

Relationships evolve around that idea of giving and receiving

Of contributing and owing

You create social bounds in that way

In Sweden

It does not work like this

Swedes like to be independent

They do not like to owe anything to anyone

Nor have anyone owing them something

They want to be free

To have an exit door

Instead they build friendships and relationships around what I call "Framed Activities"

They sign up for a group

An organisation

A sport club

Anything which has a purpose

You then socialize within that organised group

You can be part of several groups

There is a social bubble forming around these groups

But these bubbles never mix

For months or years

You will be doing something practical with the other members of a group

Without owing anyone anything

You are just both part of the group

You do not need to invite anyone to anything

You do not need to take the "risk" that someone would refuse your invitation

You are just part of the same group

Where meetings are organised and you socialize within the group

After months or year

When they feel very secure

Then maybe will Swedes propose to meet outside that secure framework of an activity

You will know that you have made a Swedish Friend

When you are invited outside the group activity without all the other members


"The Swedes" and "Working with Swedes" present many of the unknown social rules in Sweden

By Julien S. Bourrelle

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