Expat Life: The Unfriendly Dutch

by missfootloose on August 25, 2012 · 100 comments

in life abroad, Netherlands, The Dutch

Dutch peopleI’m upset, dear reader. In the last few months I’ve come across several posts and articles about how unfriendly, rude and blunt the Dutch are. Blunt, I get. We are a down-to-earth, direct lot. But rude? Unfriendly? This judgment was offered up mostly considering behavior in social and public situations such as in shops and restaurants. People in shops are not friendly? Waiters are rude? All the time? Everywhere?

I was discombobulated, dear reader, shocked! But then I am Dutch and we never see ourselves the way foreigners do, do we? Then again, I’ve not actually lived in the Netherlands for years, so I’m practically a foreigner myself, so why had I never noticed? In all the years of coming and going while visiting, why had I never been aware the country is awash in rudeness and unfriendliness? Yes, of course, on occasion I’d meet an unpleasant Dutch specimen, like you find them in every country. But in Holland unpleasantness is the prevailing attitude?

Stuff Dutch People Like is a site I enjoy reading because it shows off the quirky things about my country, even if rather over the top at times, but then a good laugh is a good laugh. The No. 31 Keeping It Real is the particular post that generated a storm of comments, more than 100 so far, many of them complaining about the awfulness of the Dutch. I needed a sedative after reading them all.

Well, since it so happened that I was spending two weeks in Holland in July, I decided to pay attention and see what happened. We spent time in Amsterdam, in a couple of small towns up north, and in a village setting as well. We ate over half our meals in restaurants and had numerous cups of coffee and drinks in cafés, bars, and so forth. We had a rental car but also used public transportation (train, tram, bus and ferry).

Friesland Dokkum

Small town in the Netherlands

Needless to say, I was very nervous about this experiment. What if I discovered I had been wrong and my people were a tribe of uncivil, ill-mannered jerks? Trust me, it took a lot of coffee and a lot of wine to fortify me for this research. And guess what?

We were met with courtesy and friendliness everywhere, I kid you not.

We chatted with friendly waitresses and waiters, talked to fun shop attendants and owners. We did this either with me talking Dutch, or with me posing as an American, which I can do real good, since I actually am one (naturalized, if not born).

After paying for our consumptions, we were invariable wished “nog een fijne dag” or a variant of it, which corresponds with “have a nice day.”

My man and I would look at each other and say, sheesh, I wonder why Dutch people are so unfriendly. It was becoming a joke.

Sneek terras

Terras in the town of Sneek

When asking a shop assistant for something in an Albert Heijn supermarket one day, the person walked me all the way over to the other side to show me where to find what I was looking for. In another store I couldn’t find what I needed and they gave me directions to a place where I could, and did it with a smile. All behavior apparently not normal according to what I had been reading. I visited two different government offices and dealt with civil servant clerks, a species much maligned in many countries. Both times the service was friendly and efficient.

I was getting really confused. Where were all these rude and unfriendly people I’d been reading about? Much as we tried, we couldn’t find anyone unhelpful or unfriendly, whether I spoke Dutch or my husband spoke English. Whether right in Amsterdam, in other towns or in the country. We moved around a lot this trip, showing our American daughters around and visiting family and old friends.

On one of our last days there I had some business in a tax office in the town of Leeuwarden in the north. We parked our rental car, a black monster of a Volvo which we had to get at the Amsterdam airport in order to fit in the luggage of four people. Normally we get a small or medium size car to match our humble personalities, but this was all they had on offer that would fit all the stuff.

I had an appointment at 9 in the morning. After some initial paperwork, all done with a friendly civil servant clerk (really), I needed to wait a bit more. My prince and I sat in the waiting area, along with several women.

A young man came striding in from the outside, glanced around and approached the two of us while holding out his phone showing a picture.

“Is this your car?” he asked in Dutch.

Indeed it was, a big black tank of a Volvo.

“The motor is running and it is unlocked,” he said. He had parked right next to it, he told us, and had noticed. He’d turned off the engine, and had gone in search of us.

My man jumped to his feet. We were both flabbergasted. How had that happened?

The Volvo had a key system we’d never seen before, where the key is a square thing you place in a slot and then you push a button above it to either start or stop the engine. We’d been in a bit of a hurry, and my man had taken the key but not pushed the button, and why it was not locked, who knows.

We thanked the guy profusely and my mate rushed out the door to lock the car.

“How did you find us?” I asked the man, and he explained it was his guess we were here in this office, and as he entered the waiting room he’d glanced around to see who might be the likely owner of the Volvo.

And this is where it gets interesting, dear reader, because he picked me. He gestured at the other women sitting on the other side of the room. All four of them wore sturdy sandals or walking shoes, practical Dutch foot wear. I’d worn the same sort of shoes for days as we’d cruised through Amsterdam. But not today. I was wearing strappy, low-heeled sandals adorned with a few playful sparkles, exposing my sexy blue toenails.

The man glanced down at my feet. “I saw your shoes, and I thought, that has to be the Volvo people.”

“It’s only a rental,” I said, somehow feeling I didn’t deserve to be profiled as a Volvo person.

We laughed, and as he turned to leave, I thanked him again for taking the time to find us.

My mate came back into the waiting and sat down next to me. “I just can’t imagine why the Dutch are so rude and unfriendly,” he said.

* * *

What is your opinion of the Dutch? Or what surprises you about what foreigners say about your people?

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{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen August 25, 2012 at 3:48 am

Love the Dutch! Of course my husband is Dutch so I’m biased 🙂
Have never come across a rude person during all my visits to the Netherlands. Maybe indifferent service sometimes but never overtly rude…

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NorwayCan September 13, 2017 at 8:02 pm

We have spent 5 days in Amsterdam after travelling Norway and Scotland and I have to say that folks here are very aloof and yes, by my standards rude. For example, they come across as aloof as they do not make any eye contact to establish a warm connection between themselves and others. When you ask them a question their responses are terse offering no more than the bare minimum. I liken this to a lack of emotional generosity. In terms of rude, I will give an example of two shop keepers, one at a chocolate shop and the other a wine store. In the chocolate shop I was interested in purchasing dark chocolate with dark fruit for the antioxidant value of rezveratrol. My first query was whether the chocolates contained oil or cocoa butter and soya lecithin. The woman at the counter was dismissive of my question and then admitted she did not know whether they did or not before walking off. I waited a few more moments then asked about the ingredients of 2 chocolates and specifically whether they were dark chocolate. This woman’s reaction was so bizarre, she became hauty confirming that one was dark chocolate and the other was white and dark. What was rude was her tone and body language because there was no way to tell by looking at the exterior whether they had white, milk, or dark chocolate at the centers so her arrogant reaction made no sense and after her snotty response she walked away from me, turning her back to me, until I just gave up and left the store. The second shop keep I asked if he had a particular wine, he said he didn’t and so, I elaborated that this particular wine was an organic Chilean red and stated the varietal so he could maybe offer something else but he didn’t and he just looked down and ignored me.

I am Canadian and on the West Coast shop keeps are very helpful by answering questions about their products, especially those you put in your mouth, and are demonstrative about helping you find an alternative if they don’t have the exact product.

For folks accustomed to making eye contact, smiling and chatting Amsterdam residents fall short. A smile is met with a stoney face any type of conversation is not welcomed. So yeah, my overall impression is that the Dutch are pretty socially inept and rude.

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missfootloose October 2, 2017 at 12:28 pm

I am always surprised to read stories like yours because so many people have the opposite experiences. I wonder why. Are they just coincidences, or is it a matter of chemistry? I have friends who have lived, worked, traveled in the Netherlands for years, experiencing only the odd occasional unpleasant encounter, which is normal in any country or culture. Generalizations are dangerous.

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Maria August 25, 2012 at 4:30 am

I’ve only been to the Netherlands twice (Breda and Amsterdam) but I can honestly say I’ve never encountered rudeness. Lots of helpful people, as I recall. I’ll be there next week, though (Gouda and The Hague), so I’ll let you know if that changes.
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Chubby Chatterbox August 25, 2012 at 4:49 am

I admit I’ve experienced rudeness in Europe on several occasions, but I can honestly say I have yet to encounter a rude Dutch person.

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Ruth @ FacetiousFarang August 25, 2012 at 5:18 am

I’m surprised to hear that the Dutch are considered rude, but maybe I am biased, as my father is Dutch. My purely anecdotal experience with both his family in the Netherlands and the Dutch more generally are that they are a blunt, down-to-earth lot, but I would hardly call this rude.

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Louise August 25, 2012 at 6:53 am

Sorry to disappoint you again but I was there around the same as me
And I feel the same way as everyone else, but not to say that some people were really nice ie the folks at the hotel, a couple of people in two shops, but over all i feel the same way. I don’t think it’s so much armsterdam but Europeans are really rude, unfriendly and full of themselves, plus I don’t think they like ” tourists” too much, forgetting how much we help their economy.
One thing I noticed though, that no matter how busy an area, shops, malls, or parks, there is never a line in the pubic bathrooms. Why is that, of course there were some exceptions , but over all I was pleasantly surprised.
To answer your question, I think like me they can smell their own kind. I am from Haiti and people who visit there always say how nice they are and i often wonder if they are really talking about my people, so we have it in reserve. Go figure!
Love your blog always

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Canedolia August 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

Tourists who describe people in the countries they visit as rude often don’t understand what is considered to be polite in that country. Here in France, for example, people are being polite when they call you Madame and address you as “vous”. Big smiles and using first names would be considered inappropriate.

Likewise, tourists may attract rude/indifferent treatment by making etiquette li
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Canedolia August 25, 2012 at 8:37 am

Tourists who describe people in the countries they visit as rude often don’t understand what is considered to be polite in that country. Here in France, for example, people are being polite when they call you Madame and address you as “vous”. Big smiles and using first names would be considered inappropriate. From what you say, being direct and businesslike is polite for the Dutch and perhaps indirect-style politeness is seen as hypocritical.

Likewise, tourists may attract rude/indifferent treatment by making etiquette mistakes themselves, such as the classic one in France of forgetting to say “Bonjour”. People’s responses to that kind of thing are largely instinctive and the instinct is hard to turn off.

I don’t believe whole nations can be rude, only individuals within them. People who visit countries and decide that everyone is rude should ask themselves what they themselves might be doing wrong.
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guyana gyal August 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I agree with you, Canedolia: “I don’t believe whole nations can be rude, only individuals within them.”
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maggie myklebust August 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

After living three years in the Netherlands, I have nothing but GOOD to say about the Dutch. I was always greeted kindly buy people in shops, neighbors and doctors…
If I had to complain about anything, it would be about the people on bicycles, who seem to own the roads. I never knew where they were coming from and always nervous I’d hit one.
I now live in Norway and people say they too are unfriendly. They really aren’t, they’re just a little reserved.

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Joanna Darcy August 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

This is a blog I can relate to. My lens happens to be French by marriage and American South by birth & rearing. Over the years I’ve had many relations with Dutch people. I never found them to be rude. They are polite. They are very practical and helpful. The least attractive thing about of the Dutch (as I’ve known them) is a tendency to be cheap.

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marja August 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm

The dutch rude? What the… 😉 I hear that here sometines as well lol
I think the problem most of the time is that according to NZ people Dutch people are “confrontational” In my words “direct” Some people call that rude. I am direct at times but people here learned to accept that as they know it has nothing to do with rudeness.
So you were in Holland in July…..me too
So you went to Amsterdam in that time….me too
Maybe we passed each other lol

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missfootloose August 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

So you didn’t find any rude people in Holland, either? I hope you had a great time, and too bad we didn’t know we were both there at the same time. We could have met somewhere and had a cup of coffee and appeltaart. Next time!

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Joburg Expat August 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Perhaps they meant the Germans when talking about Dutch? Cause they can be rude (and Yes I’m allowed to say that being German myself). Like you, I sOmetimes pose as an American and invariably the service is more friendly. Don’t laugh, but I truly think it is the German language that’s to blame. Much harder to be rude in English. I haven’t been to Holland much so I can’t say, but I’ve come across tons of Dutch as they tend to be prolific travelers and I’ve always found them to be an outgoing and gregarious bunch, easy to joke with and friendly.
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Ana O August 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I’ve never to Holland but I’ve met Dutch people who were extremely nice. Yes, they can be blunt and direct but that’s not rude.

I think there are rude individuals everywhere but one can’t label a whole country or culture because of them! In many cases, tourists are rude to locals and locals are rude back. Unfortunately, it’s them who get labelled as “rude”.
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Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living August 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Another story that transports me back to Europe. You ask:
“Where were all these rude and unfriendly people I’d been reading about?”
Are they the ones we hear about in Paris perhaps?
When I return to Europe every summer, I think the people are becoming friendlier. The lady selling me a train ticket in Iver, Buckinghamshire, actually walked out of her booth to find me on the platform; she wanted to give me a train schedule for my trips to London and Reading. I thought that was so sweet of her.
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colin May 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Ok , but that was in England . Of course not all the English are friendly but they are brought up to be polite and don’t argue the toss with customers . It also has to be said that the customers are also generally politer than in the Netherlands so the silly discussions that occur in Dutch in shops and restaurants about who did what wrong etc) , are much rarer there. As are the endless discussions at the check out . With a huge line of people behind them, people here will debate for ages about whether something is on special offer and about whether the change they received was correct. And not waiting your turn is also a good old Dutch custom . People shamelessly jump the queue here and are rarely reprimanded by the personal . If you were then to say something you’d get everyone in the shop against you , especially in they heard a foreign accent.

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ladyfi August 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Great story. I think people mix up blunt for rude.
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Barbara August 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

An American (Latina) friend and I (American and white) spent a day and a half in Amsterdam on our way to Africa a few years ago. I really enjoyed Amsterdam because of how friendly and helpful all the locals were to us–although in the center of Amsterdam it seemed that many of the locals were recent immigrants from developing countries. And I’ve found generally, that people in many developing countries are friendly. In many passes through Schiopol (sp?) Airport, I’ve always found the Dutch employees to be so friendly and helpful. And when I fly on KLM out of Amsterdam, I always notice the Dutch passengers seem to be really happy to be off on vacation and radiating good will. I agree with the other commenter who said maybe they’re confusing Dutch for Germans! They can be pretty crabby!
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Carolyn August 26, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hello Karin,
My Dutch hubby and I talk about this all the time, especially the customer service. We agree that the culture of customer service in Holland is just not the same as in America. American waiters live on their tips. American merchants also know that, in most cases, what they’re selling can be bought somewhere else, so the only thing that separates them from the competition is superior customer service. Dutch customer service is starting to go in that direction. I don’t think the Dutch are rude, unfriendly, etc. They’re not as warm as Italians or Americans but they have other qualities!
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Turkey's For Life August 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Wow, I’m genuinely shocked and amazed. I didn’t think people felt this way about the Dutch. Mind you, I naively thought the Brits were well thought of until we moved abroad. 😉 We know lots of Dutch people who holiday in Turkey and we sit with them all the time. Only a personal opinion but we always have a fab time and we always comment about how great the Dutch are. Well, any country that has great darts players is good in our book!! 🙂 We’re definitely members of the Dutch fan club.
Julia
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Mara August 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I must admit that at times I will not acknowledge that I am Dutch if I see how they behave in other countries. Fortunately I have quite a strong British accent!

They also say the same thing of French police, but I have not had any problem at all. Perhaps because I speak French?
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Carlitos August 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Hmmm. I live here in NL and travel frequently around Europe. My experience is that Dutch people abroad are perceived as bad as Brits (my apologies if I offend anyone) in that they are bossy, rude, vociferous, demanding, cheap, and overall rude and annoying. As for here in NL is concerned, it’s how small personal space around oneself is as well as a lack of etiquette/manners that strikes me the most.

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Jina September 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Um,I’m Italian and the vast majority of people here don’t think of neither if the Dutch nor the Brits. We find them polite and reserved and fun loving. Perhaps on the party islands like Ibiza is where you get the rude ones? Oersonay the country I find the most dislike for across Europe is France. I do find them abrasive and snooty.

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Carlitos December 12, 2012 at 5:43 am

I have witnessed their behavior first hand everywhere in Europe: Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, to name a few. And of course not in “party places” but main stream tourist attractions/places. Just ask hotel or restaurant owners/bartenders etc. Of course they are not the vast majority of people in any given country. It’s the people who provide services to tourists that suffer the most.

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Hello September 7, 2012 at 4:53 am

My boyfriend and I both have grown up in the United states and he studied in france last year and I had the fortune of going to visit him a few times. We visited Bruges, Belguim and he told me it was mostly Dutch. I felt that everyone there was absolutely pleasent, as well as everywhere else I have visited in Europe. I had heard before I went that people were rude in such and such place, but I think that comes with an attitude that you bring with and not learning about cultures before you go. My boyfriend knew everything since he was born there and went frequently, and he tried to teach me as much as he could so we were respectful to everyone. Everyone would hope visitors would be the same in their home town but many people do not take the time to do so. It is a sad thing.

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missfootloose September 7, 2012 at 7:06 am

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Yes, you are very right: In most cases you get what you give in terms of attitude and behavior. I have noticed that the world over. Keep traveling!

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Maria September 10, 2012 at 5:35 am

I told you I’d report back after my trip to The Netherlands, so here I am. I was a bit worried that maybe things had changed drastically since I was there last, but as usual, the Dutch were wonderful — kind, helpful, and polite. A full account (plus photos and video) is on my blog. NL rocks!
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missfootloose September 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

Maria, I loved your post, of course 😉 I’m glad your experiences with the Dutch were positive and I’m thinking, like you, that foreigners simply misinterpret Dutch behavior. And as is the case most anywhere, you usually receive what you give/express yourself in terms of behavior.

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edj September 11, 2012 at 8:12 am

Have never been to the Netherlands (although my father’s family came from there–I’m actually 1/2 Dutch!) but I also have never heard that they were rude. I’ve heard quite the opposite, in fact. Glad to hear that your experiences proved me right 🙂
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julochka September 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

i suspect they mixed up the dutch and the danes. 🙂 this is an easy mistake, as both languages sound like a throat disease when spoken. 🙂 but also because i was once asked by an enterprise rental car customer service woman (in the US) whether i would be leaving the netherlands with the car i had just arranged to pick up in copenhagen.
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missfootloose September 20, 2012 at 11:32 am

Yeah, those Danes, those Dutch. I was once asked (for official reasons) that since I was Dutch, if I claimed Danish citizenship. I expect it is easy for Americans to get all those little countries “up there” confused. It took me a while before I had all the states in the US more or less in the right place on my mental map. Not sure I know all the capitals . . .

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~T~ October 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm

this is very interesting and so are the comments. I think all commenters are right. It is a complicated matter. It’s not the best thing to judge another culture of communication negatively right away. As Carolyn commented, the rudeness factor is often compared to the service in America and if you do that, then it feels that everyone is rude. I lived in Brussels, Belgium for a while and I was comparing everything to America and soon I realized that was the wrong thing to do if I want any good relations. Being an anthropologist at heart, I knew that every culture has its own communication etiquette. A clash of two different cultures may seem explosive when people are traveling both for the traveler and for the ‘locals’. While the world is getting smaller and smaller for people, we should not judge unless someone is literally assaulting you.
Thank goodness for wine and vodka and other sedatives! 🙂
~T~
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jean yves October 15, 2012 at 2:58 am

i have been living in NL for a few years now, and i can say that the dutch are very friendly people in general, but being friends with them is nearly impossible(which is very different than just being friendly!) because they just don’t care about foreigners, even if you speak dutch you still be a foreigner.

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Sharm December 3, 2012 at 4:12 am

I love the Dutch folk! Been loads in Holland (South), and can confidently say, the people there are polite and nice. Perfect Customer service, compared to the sour faced service by the Sour faced Belgians (they can learn loads from the Dutch on excellent customer service). Most Dutch are rather brash and straightforward(lacking the sharp, witty Asian sense of humour) and they won’t start chatting wt you if they don’t know you at a bar/cafe (like the Asians would), but they are still good, nice people. Heard, the Dutch in the North are kinda snobish and a little strange, but don’t know them personally, so can’t comment. Think I’ll stick wt the Southeners! Viva Den Bosch, Uden, Boukel!!

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missfootloose December 6, 2012 at 7:31 am

Sharm,thanks for your response. Although, let me tell you I am a “Northerner” from Friesland, and I think you ought to go up there and check us out ;). I think you’ve been brainwashed by those Southerners! Glad you’re enjoying my country and its people!

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Ex-ex-par December 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I lived in Holland for about 12 years. My dutch husband and I came to the USA in 2009. I’m sorry but yes, the service in resturaunts and cafes in Holland is absolutely horrible. How can you NOT notice your server never asking if the meal is to your liking, if they can get you anything. Or how about when you’d like another glass of wine and the server avoids your eye…. The Dutch are not rude per say … but you willingly accept a horrible level of service.
I found this also in shops there, supermarkets the post office.

I miss my bike, I miss the beauty of the city of Amsterdam, I miss the flowers, European art and love of culture. But I don’t miss the service. I don’t miss what passed for service in Holland at all.

The people aren’t rude but they aren’t exactly warm either. I made friends from all over the globe there… oddly other than my husband …they aren’t dutch. He sees it… first night he was a visitor here he was just amazed at the service during dinner.

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Papy December 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Well, I am an expat in the Netherlands. I think ppl are mixing 2 things together. What generated this argument is about the survey that ranked the Netherlands as least unfriendly to expats. Now that does not directly imply that the Dutch are rude ppl. But if the Dutch are not rude, it doesn’t mean that the survey is not true. For me I am very convinced that the Dutch are not rude on a general note but the form of the society is unfriendly to expats (that is the argument). The Dutch has to loosen up a little bit, they have to understand that they may see foreigners in some high offices if the case demands. I am an I.T professional and I can see how many Dutch people that are meeting me for the 1st time in the office where I work are surprised and uncomfortable when they see me there. My job is very technical and I know that they have no choice bcos they can’t do it. I work there as an external consultant from a firm that is owned by a foreigner like me. I wouldn’t have gotten the job if the company was Dutch owned. I know this because I have a colleague who is also in I.T and have not been able to find a job despite the need for I.T professionals from all levels in the Netherlands and his skills. They are always telling him that his Dutch is not good enough. This guy has a diploma of NT2 PROGRAMMA II the highest level of Dutch an expat can attain in this country. If they wont employ my friend because his dutch is not good enough, why am I doing the same job, in a dutch energy company without even any knowledge of Dutch, well I got the job from a non dutch company. The fact is that the Dutch people are very paranoid of foreigners. They are not bothered when they meet u on the street or when u do some low level job, but as soon as they see u at some higher level of profession, then they begin to feel like hu! “this is strange”
This Dutch attitude would back fire in a matter of decades, because the only group of foreigners that are exiting the Netherlands the most are expats. While the group of ppl trhat are staying are mostly asylum seekers that can’t add any significant value to their economy. The Dutch population is declining due to low fertility rate of approx 1.3, which is impossible to reverse and that implies that the Dutch population would continue to diminish. What smart countries are doing is to replenish their population through immigration but not just “any-how-immigration” but economic immigration (skilled immigration). That is the model Canada has approached. But unfortunately, the Dutch don’t have this foresight, they still want to keep their Dutchiness to themselves and shot foreigners out but in reality, this is not sustainable. It might be disastrously late for the country by the time they would realize it.
In conclusion, I don’t have problem with Dutch ppl on individual note and a lot of expats shouldn’t also have problem with them bcos they are not so rude and impolite, I think those who say they are rude are probably just angry and frustrated with the system and just want to voice their frustration in a way. EXPATS don’t see the Dutch system as one where they can chase their dream and grow their career. Many public telephone services don’t speak dutch. I always have to ask my friend to call on my behalf cos he speaks dutch. Is that not crazy? are they not aware that there are foreigners living in this country? It goes on and on.

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Carlitos December 12, 2012 at 5:48 am

Yep – witnessed and experienced myself that attitude (in the workplace) myself. However, I disagree with your comment about “the frustration with the system”. Compared to other countries the Dutch need a good dose of social etiquette and better taste for clothing. 😉

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ym January 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

While not Dutch, My wife is Belgian from the north that speaks Dutch, so they share some traits w/the Dutch… She and her family are also very direct with their words.
An American may say, “that’s an interesting idea, I understand where you are coming from, but have you considered how it could cause a problem?” but she would say, “your idea is stupid,” coldly and bluntly! We argue over my being offended by her words (or others being offended by her words) and she will say Americans use too many words and don’t say what they really want to say. Ouch. True to some extent, but also not a very civil approach.

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Ex-ex-par January 10, 2013 at 10:13 am

I hate to be so blunt as to sound Dutch… but please tell your wife with all due respect that calling the ideas of others “stupid” is rude all over the globe. It’s very good way to find yourself marginalized. I suspect she’d very much dislike being fed a cookie of her own dough!

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kaab January 13, 2013 at 9:38 am

I’ve lived in several countries through profession and education but Netherlands would be one of the worst. People are unfriendly and rude. I saw it after living there about 7years. I felt so unwelcomed and had to leave. I returned to the Hague after almost 10years and I was surprised to see that nothing has changed. I took a tram to Scheveningen where my hotel was and the driver won’t accept my 50eur note and had to get down. I waited for the next tram and again a very unfriendly driver ask me to go to the bank to change to smaller notes. The following day another tram driver reluctantly gave me a ticket because he wasn’t happy with my small coins adding up to 3euro. Directness is not the absence of being nice. You can take a taxi in Dublin and a driver would engage in a nice chat until you get to where you going. Not in Netherlands. People are just cold. It is a shame.

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missfootloose January 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Kaab, I am appalled at reading your experiences! I wonder why there is such a diversity of opinion.

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Ex-ex-par January 20, 2013 at 9:53 am

miss footloose … when I was a tourist the service still stunk but people were very, very, friendly…. of course … tourists have pockets full of money… if they are American they tip nicely … the people you primarily deal with as a tourist LIVE FROM TOURISTS.
Two weeks vacation does not an expat make. You have tourists mixing with those who lived as expats, here. My expat experience was nothing like my treatment as a tourist. ❤🌹

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missfootloose January 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm

You are right: Being an expat is a whole different experience than being a tourist!

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Mirka April 20, 2013 at 10:27 am

I like the Dutch! Well I’ve been to Amsterdam and while at Schiphol Airport I’ve had people saying good morning to me even when I was not looking at them.

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missfootloose April 21, 2013 at 6:08 am

I’m glad you found the Dutch friendly!

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VS May 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

I am Greek and I have studied the Dutch language and currently I live in Belgium. I am fed up with the rude, blunt and uncivilised people who always call the service, they don’t know what the service is for and they are rude if they don’t hear that you are a native speaker. I am tired with the Dutch people at restaurants and shops in Holland asking “how do you come for holidays here? Do you have the money to afford it? Aren’t you supposed to bleed and have crisis? Direct does not mean rude and uncivilised. The Flemish people are much more friendly and calm. Are they pretending? Maybe yes, but who cares. Better that than the overwhelming rudeness of their northern neighbors. And simply…if you are not happy with the EU, get out of it. The first who will celebrate will be me!

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missfootloose May 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Ouch! And ouch, again. Certainly the Dutch people you came across were not my friends and family!

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VS May 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Apparently you are the exception

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Stefanie May 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hey I’m Dutch so I try to make it clear for u all we aren’t very nice when Dutch people talk to Dutch people. And in stores and stuff work people who are lazy and rude we hate this too. If you go to Amsterdam there are not a lot Dutch people but a lot from other country’s, and I live in a village where everybudy know each other everybudy says goodmorning and yesterday I lost my phone a guy I haven’t spoken to in a year brought it back :). Everybudy I know is for the EU here and I try to stay nice and friendly and Not pretend to. And ofcourse everybudy here is nice to tourist with money problems with that?

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jixiang May 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I haven’t really been to Holland, but I have lived with and interacted with many Dutch people where I live.

I also feel they can be quite rude, but I can see how a Dutch person wouldn’t notice it.

It’s not about waiters not wishing you a nice day or people not saying thank you. It’s about this way the Dutch have of being very opinionated in a rather agressive manner. It’s fine to have opinions on stuff, I do too, but there are ways and ways of expressing them. Many Dutch people I have met have this way of expressing it in a blunt, almost angry-sounding fashion when they disagree with you.

In general they tend to be very direct and to tell you exactly what they think, even when maybe it’s not the right situation to do so. Of course directness doesn’t have to mean rudeness, but there is a point where one thing becomes the other, and some Dutch people don’t seem to know where the line lies.

Then again, I have met some Dutch people who absolutely don’t fit in with this generalization, so it does depend on the person, however I think Dutch culture in general does rather encourage this kind of behaviour.

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missfootloose May 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Since we Dutch use this directness among ourselves, many of us are not aware how it is perceived by foreigners. And yes, there is a line between directness and rudeness, and it is certainly recognized in Holland. However, where that line is may be judged to be in different places by different people. Sigh. I’m tempted to say, “just be nice”, but then we have to figure out what “nice” means ;). Many Dutch find Americans “fake” because they are so “nice.” Oh, well….

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colin May 22, 2013 at 10:35 am

The reason why they might perceive “niceness ” as being fake is because their own personalities are so unpleasant: hard , unfriendly having no empathy for anyone else’s problems . It is therefore beyond their understanding that there are other people in the world who are not cynical and self-centred. I am not a North American but if I had to choose between affable , easy-going, or truculent , self obsessed and bitchy, I know which I would rather have . Sometimes people’s lives cross for only a few minutes so why not make those few minutes pleasant? Constantly bleating on about sincerity , fake , phony is just an excuse for covering up their own lack of ” niceness”

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Jayne March 19, 2014 at 8:53 am

I really have to agree with you, Colin. I am not North American either. Far from it. But I still have a general HUMAN radar for empathy. I don’t use many words when I speak, but I prefer for the few words I speak to build other people up rather than tear their sense of value and their inherent equality with myself – just as people – just for the sake of it. Somewhere along the way, the Dutch as a whole, missed this Memo.

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colin shaw May 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I have lived in Holland most of my life but I’m still amazed at how rude the Dutch people are. Directness could be considered a virtue but the Dutch give their negative opinions without being asked ( gratuitously). Furthermore , the people are passively aggressive, walking , cycling driving towards you at high speed causing you to jump or veer to the side . They cycle walk drive directly across your path when they could easily go behind . When they see that you startled they have an ironic smile on their face. This is not a friendly trait!
There are endless discussions in shops and it always ends up with the same conclusion that you ( the customer ) are at fault . The idea that the customer is king is a joke in the Netherlands . Everything here is your own fault even if you are the victim of crime .” You should have had a larger chain on your bike ” or even ” you shouldn’t have bought a brand new car ,that’s asking for problems ” The Dutch are not supportive!
They complain constantly about other nationalities and have opinions based on encounters during their own boozy vacations in the Med.
If I were to tell my work colleagues what I think about their country they would not like it but I don’t because I was raised to be polite and do not give my gratuitous opinions with could be hurtful and serve no purpose. However , having lived here for more than 30 years I am entitled to an opinion .

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missfootloose May 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

You sound very unhappy! And you’ve lived with this for thirty years?
missfootloose recently posted..Living Abroad: Reptiles You May MeetMy Profile

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colin May 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Hi Karin, Of course I have a life here which I am perfectly satisfied with and do not think about the aforementioned things all the time, certainly not! However, hardly a day goes by here without something unpleasant happening: Thefts , Aggression ,Destruction of property . Crazy drivers trying to knock you down even on the sidewalk. I would have loved to return to Dubai where I was working in the 80’s but serious health issues prevented me from doing so. I also have most of my friends here.
When I saw your blog I couldn’t contain myself and had to speak my mind which you invited the public to do. As a Dutchwoman yourself, I’m sure you can appreciate my brutal candour . I mean it is the honest opinion of expats that you are after, isn’t it? And that is what you have got As you have noticed ,I do not beat about the bush . By the way , I am for the outside world fully integrated into this society even though it sometimes makes my head spin. I’ve lived in both Amsterdam and the Hague . I currently reside in Amsterdam.

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Neville (visitor from Downunder) June 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

It is sad to say, but I have also found the Dutch to be one of the most unfriendly people that I have come across during my travels around Europe. There have been a very few exceptions to this, which is sad, as these people were very nice to us while we travelled in our motorhome.

The feeling that you get while touring this pretty country, is that you are invading it and that they don’t really want visitors here. Our feelings now are that we can’t wait to leave here and go to a country that welcomes visitors.

People of the Netherlands need to be far more willing to come visitors into their country and who are willing to spend money here as long as they are made welcome.

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missfootloose June 30, 2013 at 2:05 am

I am sorry you feel this way, but I’m wondering if you are not misreading the Dutch in your case. The Dutch have been used to visitors, immigrants and tourists since the dawn of time. They are so used to foreigners that they are not “special” in any way, so they may not seem to treat you as special or interesting, as is the case in many other countries not used to foreigners. On top of that, the Dutch are a pragmatic, no-nonsense lot, which may be misinterpreted as unfriendly. I hope this helps!

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Kat M August 13, 2013 at 10:16 am

Hi, I googled why are the Dutch so unfriendly, and this came up! We moved here for a better life than iin the UK. My husband is Dutch but we lived in the UK for 15 years. Here is better for the kids, safer, can play outside, more equal society. However I live in the suburb of Breda and without my club on international friends I would be without any contact at all! I find the mothers here very unfriendly at the school gates. My Dutch was minimal when we first came here, I tried to start conversation but not one mother came over to me when I first came; my Dutch is now better, and still not one mother comes to talk to me. I spent my first year trying to start conversations, and now my second year I have decided not to bother. I have lots of english speaking friends, but not one Dutch one. I am not sure that will ever change. They are just not interested in getting to know someone new. It is such a shame, being open to new people and cultures can only enhance ones life, the more people you are friendly to, the better you feel surely?? It is even more a shame because I think their country is great…

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missfootloose August 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I am so sorry to know that you are having such a negative experience making friends with Dutch women. I find it very strange, really. Do the other expats you have befriended the same experience? What about your husband’s family and friends? I certainly agree with you that being open to new people and cultures broadens the mind and makes for a more interesting life.

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sebastien August 23, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Totally unfriendly !! everywhere, shop, etc..
First country with this situation,

UNFRIENDLY

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missfootloose August 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

I am sorry for you! Others do have a lovely time. Cultural misinterpretations?

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Kristine October 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I think it really depends on the people. Some dutch are friendly, some aren’t, and in big cities like Amsterdam and The Hague there’re lots of foreigners living and working. Some dutch are also warm and gezellig, but I have to admit that they’re not really that warm or open of friendship especially with foreigners. It’s simply superficial and if you can’t get along with them then they won’t befriend you. However it also depends on where they’re from. At least in my case, the ‘city’ dutch are somehow more openminded than the ‘village’ dutch, who seem not to care much about what’s going on outside their small towns. Other than that, dutch are nice people but a bit of cold in friendliness level.

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Kristine October 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Ohh to add, I’m also expat living in NL for over 5 years now, dutch husband, and speak fluent dutch. I really agree with comment regarding befriending with dutch. I too don’t have dutch friends, but have lots of expats friends, who apparently have the same opinion as mine that dutch people don’t befriend foreigners.

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Reg January 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

Good morning. I am an Australian living in Sydney and have never been to the Netherlands. My reason for visiting your lovely website is to try and understand why, in my many years of working and socializing with them, Dutch men are so extraordinarily obnoxious and Dutch women, the complete opposite. I notice that in most of the inputs above there is no gender differentiation which quite surprises me.

I have seen a Dutch man being introduced to a lady at a school committee, slowly run his eyes from the top of her head to her feet then mumble a cursive grunt. But far their most obnoxious habit is the statements they issue with the expectation that what they say will be accepted with-out question. Nothing is negotiable. I’ve had several Dutch friends in Australia but the final summation was always that they were not to be trusted.

So either the women are trying to compensate for the men or they’re looking for someone better. 🙂

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missfootloose January 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

That Dutch man you described was inexcusably obnoxious by any Dutch standard of decent behavior. Unfortunately obnoxious people are everywhere and the Dutch have their share. Maybe the worst ones got chased out and ended up in Australia! I grew up with three brothers and none of them fit your description, thank the gods!

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JF March 15, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Hello, 1st I would like to say that i appreciated your article…

Well i came few months ago to the Netherlands (not Amsterdam) for work as a scientific researcher in the university (I’m a PhD holder in chemistry) and i can say that people in the street, shops etc where very friendly and for this point i totally agree with you and disagree with people who said the opposite. Beside, i generally don’t consider a single experience as a “rule” so if I’ll meet some one who’s “not nice” i don’t say that all the society is like this.

But i agree that creating a friendship with dutch people seems very complicated, even with work colleagues or neighbors. So the links which i created for the moment are exclusively (and unfortunately) with other foreign people, which is a pity since i would love to communicate with dutch people to understand their country, habits and society from them and not through documentaries, forums, books… and also to tell them about mine too. I mean the only girl which i was able to talk with (a very beautiful blond woman) wasn’t even dutch 😀

Moreover, i saw that the dutch people ( a sample of around 50 people) don’t open a door (not even a small one) for someone to get into their “social matrix”, something which i was able to accomplish when i was living in other European countries … So is it a bad coincidence or a reality… I don’t know 🙂

But what i can say that for someone like me who always like to discuss with people and talk it’s kind of a “not comfortable” situation
since I’m spending a lot of time on Skype to discuss/talk with friends who are like few hundred, thousands km away from me :O)

So we will see how things will be after few more months, because it’s not the image which i had in my mind before coming here.

We will see…
Best regards! ;op

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missfootloose March 19, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I like your attitude and hope you will find you’ll make friends with Dutch people after a while. I think often you “get” what you “give” so keep trying. It is true that Dutch people do not do a lot of their entertaining at home and don’t invite new acquaintances to their houses as easily as some other nationalities, but they love to go out and have a coffee or a drink and sit on a terrace! Good luck.

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Sandie March 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

I think the great misunderstanding is due to cultural differences. For instance, I am a Singaporean married to a Dutch man. Being very direct in my own culture, I found it easy to communicate with the Dutch and am also readily accepted in their circle. Conversely, now that we are both living in Canada, we are taken aback by the extreme friendliness of the North Americans. Although it’s nice to have smiley people asking you “how are you?” everywhere you go, we feel that it comes across as superficial because none of them are really interested in knowing how you really are. To me, I feel that: “If you’re not genuinely interested to know me, please don’t talk to me.” I guess that’s why some people find the Dutch unfriendly because from my personal experience, the Dutch will talk to you only if they are really interested to know you.

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Jayne March 19, 2014 at 8:36 am

Where in The Netherlands do all you rich, upper-class, White people who are commenting that the Dutch are not rude, they are only direct, live? I am a Black (race) Highly-skilled immigrant who moved to The Netherlands on a Dutch-sponsored talent recruitment scheme, and have lived here for half a decade. I have 3 masters degrees and the NT2 Certificate in Dutch, and I have also lived in more than 5 other countries, 3 of which were not majority-English-speaking countries (English is my first language); and I have never met a breed of more snobbish, entitled, RUDE and XENOPHOBIC people as the Dutch. I do not claim a single social benefit from the Dutch government and in addition to taxation, I am a law-abiding, generally quiet and open-minded female living and working in The Hague. Yet, since the day I arrived here, I have been greeted with the worst kind of prejudice, inhospitality and cruelty known in Europe. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and I have made a few true, genuine and kind Dutch friends, but by-and-large the Dutch are a close-minded, unteachable, argumentative, passive-aggressive and really mean-spirited people. There is a distinct difference between directness (a trait, the lack thereof which I do not admire in White people of predominantly Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Celtic origin might I add), bluntness (which I personally view as a class issue rather than a nationalistic issue) and flat out rudeness. I am talking about not waiting for people to get off of the train before insisting on entering oneself, not honoring fellow commuters on public transport by having a LOUD conversation on one’s mobile telephone in the “STILTE” section of the train, feeling obligated to offer one’s unasked for opinion concerning personal matters such as money, unkind and ignorant assumptions and COMMENTS about other cultural groups and races and the likes. The etiquette (or absence of such) in traffic, as well as the number of times the “controle” on trams have had to ask passengers to give way to pregnant women is evidence enough that the Dutch are selfish and inconsiderate people. I gave up expecting any assistance in the Albert Heijn years ago. I have never been able to eat in a cafe without having to beg the person to permit me to pay them! I alter my movements aware that the public transportation service is not only inefficient, but that no apology or explanation will ever be offered for delays. I can boast that I live in the only country on earth where, no matter what the situation, the customer must always be wrong! I have learnt how to respond to a hundred different variations of the word “foreigner” which is a pseudonym for ‘unwanted’ and did not know, before arriving in the Netherlands, that no matter how fluently I speak in Dutch, how many vowels are in my last name and how many olie bollen I eat, I will NEVER ever be aloud to call myself Dutch. It is a high and royal title reserved only for White people whose last name starts with ‘van de’. Please do not concoct ridiculous and unjustifiable excuses by insinuating that when a politician comes on national television and insults a whole entire religion (of which 5% of his countrymen are adherents), this is being “direct” and not “rude”! If you really want to know about Dutch people, they are also largely unsympathetic and grossly unwilling to imagine themselves into other peoples’ positions or adopt alternative perspectives. Each and every year in this country I have to endure mindless debates about how “Blackface” and the blatantly racist ‘Zwarte Piet’ imagery is everything but outdated and culturally insensitive. Anyone who hasn’t experienced Dutch “rudeness” must be willfully ignorant or a culturally privileged (please look that up) White person. There simply cannot be any other explanation. Rude. Rude. Rude. The Dutch are Xenophobic and Rude. That really is all there is to it.

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missfootloose March 19, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I am sorry you are having such a bad experience living in the Hague. Why do you think other foreigners have such totally different experiences? I just don’t understand. What do your Dutch friends think about your negative experiences?

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Kirsty April 18, 2014 at 5:08 am

I loathe the Netherlands. Moving there was a huge mistake and I regret it but the situation is now very difficult to change in the short terms so I must suffer all the experiences that Jayne has talked about. The Dutch manner is cold, arrogant, lacking in empathy or any social niceties that turn a transactional/chance encounter into something pleasant. In fact I find myself having my days ruined by encounters in shops, with rudeness in the streets and in my Dutch colleagues who are unbending and inflexible, irrespective of the illogic of their actions. I find myself depressed by it at a profound level and cannot wait to leave. I have one good Dutch friend who I met in Asia. I thought his rudeness was entertaining in that context but when it is the whole society it is too much. People who only visit the country in the short term have no idea.

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missfootloose April 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm

I am sorry you are so unhappy in my birth country. I wonder why other expats have such different experiences. What do you think?

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anthocan February 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Hi Miss Foot Loose,
It’s a nice article. First of all it seems obvious to me that you’ve chosen to write an article about the subject after discovering how many hits and how many comments it already had on many other blogs and sites (SEO-strategic subject). The the question is: if dutch are really that friendly, why does so many people search for the keywords “unfriendly dutch” and related short and long term keywords? Why are all articles and posts related to this subject that hot? (I would appreciate your opinion about this)

Maybe because they are all desperate and depressed after living in isolation in NL and at some point decide to search in google in order to check if they are insane or if they are still normal. At the moment that they (I include myself) find out that there are countless of articles, posts, comments and complaints regarding how unfriendly expats are, they realize they are totally normal and therefor not alone in this situation. As soon as I realized that, I completely stopped being friendly to dutch people (I also speak fluent dutch) and started focusing on expats. Funny enough, as I’m not interested in making friends with the dutch I behave in a way that feels awful to myself (totally unfriendly and rude, and sometimes really mean) Since I behave that way I realize dutch people like me more, take me more seriously, I feel more respected!

Last but not least. You say that you never experienced this while visiting the Netherlands. I invite you to make your skin a bit darker (it doesn’t have to be black, a latino tone would be enough), then wear brown contact lenses, write a super professional CV (university degree, 4 languages including dutch, 10+ years experience) and send hundreds of resumes out to see what happens.
Also, don’t call yourself “Karen van der Zee” but “Juana Gonzalez” and when speaking on the phone (or in an interview if you come that far), I invite you to speak grammatically perfect dutch but a with soft foreign accent of your choice (spanish, french, german, whatever)

With the same darker skin, eyes, name and accent try to find an apartment and try to make friends with the dutch. While doing all that be REALLY friendly, I mean invite people for dinner to your place, offer them help with whatever you realize they might need, try to start a friendly small talk with a shop owner (of course when the store is empty and quite, no customers are waiting, nobody is being hurt by a friendly small talk, right?) and all those things that very friendly people do.

After doing all that for at least 6 months, I invite to write a new blog post and share your experience. Or even better, you could make videos of all those situations and start a video blog sharing your experience on a daily basis. Some kind of reality show.
Cobering that subject, your articles and your videos should have a very high viral potential. I’m sure they will be shared and liked like crazy, and the last question is, why do you think that SEO technically speaking the subject is that hot? Because nobody searches for it? Because it’s not true?

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anthocan February 6, 2015 at 5:24 pm

My comment was probably too direct.
I thought dutch people like being direct and honest.

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marja February 7, 2015 at 1:46 am

Dear anthocan
I am a dutch and an expat In my guest country it took me quite a while to integrate, learn new ways and get the sort of job I was used to in my home country. I think many others have the same experience as they give the good jobs first to their own people. I don’t blame them We all accept, learn new ways of being and get on with it. Maybe it is the same in my home country. I don’t know but what I know is I lived there and there are a lot of nice people as well. I think there are nice and not so nice people everywhere.
I hope things will work out better for you in the futute. Take care and Arohanui !

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Mario February 12, 2015 at 11:39 am

Great comment, Anthocan. And you were lucky that it was published. These people minds are ruled by money. Hearts are cold….Souls empty.

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anthocan February 22, 2015 at 5:02 pm

@ missfootloose – where are you? What do you think about all this?
@ marja – thanks for the politically correct answer!! Very funny! 🙂
@ Mario – All comments here will get published probably because of what I said: SEO purpose. That’s the whole point of this article in this blog. I wonder why missfootloose doesn’t reply. She would probably love to be rude with me (as most dutch people do when you think differently or confront them with facts that are tabu in NL) but she wont… it would only prove my point. She wont let that happen! Will she? Maybe this comment does get deleted now??? 😮
I had a very interesting “close encounter of the dutch kind” yesterday. More of same. Can’t wait to leave this country! Sad people, very sad(ist) people.

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missfootloose February 23, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Anthocan, oh, I’ll play your game 😉 Where am I? I am living long-term as a serial expat in my 8th foreign country. I am very experienced in adapting to new situations and life styles and living as a foreigner in other countries for years at a time. In all of the countries I have lived in I have had positive experiences and enjoyed learning the local culture, some of the language and the local people. All countries were very different, but I enjoyed each one for their own character. What I have learned, in my personal experience, is that you get back what you give out. I must be a very nice, polite, culturally-sensitive Dutch person 😉

Allow me to quote from three of a number of other responders who appear to have a similar experience and understanding:

“I think the great misunderstanding is due to cultural differences. For instance, I am a Singaporean married to a Dutch man. Being very direct in my own culture, I found it easy to communicate with the Dutch and am also readily accepted in their circle.”

”After living three years in the Netherlands, I have nothing but GOOD to say about the Dutch. I was always greeted kindly buy people in shops, neighbors and doctors…”

“I don’t believe whole nations can be rude, only individuals within them. People who visit countries and decide that everyone is rude should ask themselves what they themselves might be doing wrong.”

Enough said.

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Phil February 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm

I find a lot of the Dutch that I meet in various parts of Europe to be cold, aloof people with a touch of superciliousness or arrogance – especially the women, who often appear to simply not give a sh*t – but not all, there are always exceptions. The men are better in general. But for sheer rudeness, nobody beats French tourists, especially Parisians. Germans on the other hand are often quite friendly, at least superficially.

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Francois September 2, 2016 at 3:11 am

I’m assuming your Germanic yourself, since that is a typical comment from your people.

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Colm March 3, 2015 at 3:16 pm

I’m very surprised at all the negative comments about Dutch people. I’d say they rank well above the European average in terms of friendliness. I agree with the contributor who says the women are generally much nicer than the men. I also agree that their queuing etiquette leaves a lot to be desired, and they are very, very aggressive cyclists – the cycle lanes are a joke, and might as well not exist. They’re also a bit jobsworthy – for instance the cops there make a big deal about jay-walking across empty streets – weird given the lawlessness of the cycling culture there. Generally though I found the people extremely warm, charming, helpful and humorous. One thing that did surprise me was the amount of bad language. A surprise, because a long time ago I once heard a Dutch guy chatting to a barmaid on an Irish ferry – to whom he remarked “Every Irish person I meet, three words, one of them is Fuck”. Which may or may not be true, but, sadly, in my experience, the Dutch don’t seem too far behind in the cussing stakes.

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missfootloose March 3, 2015 at 5:48 pm

You must be a nice, open person to experience the Dutch people to be “extremely warm, charming, helpful and humorous.” Usually you get back what you give out in terms of attitude when you live in a foreign country, and I know whereof I speak as I have lived in a number of foreign countries. The cussing you mentioned may be done by immature people wanting to be cool. I hear very little cussing in my (extended) family and among my Dutch friends in Holland. Which is not to say they have a few expletives ready when they hit themselves on the fingers with a hammer 😉

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Colm March 4, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for your very nice reply Miss Footloose – more proof of Dutch charm! In fairness I may have misconstrued a certain word I heard a lot in NL, that sounds very like the English F word – but may not be the equivalent.

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missfootloose March 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Ah! The word you probably heard is “verrek” which is pronounced fuhrek or f’rek which is not the equivalent of the 4-letter f-word in English. It is very often used as an expression of irritation, disappointment, etc., like shoot! heck! in English. It’s not quite as strong as “damn” which would be “verdomme.” Anyway, “verrek” is in the dictionary, and although it is a casual, common word, it’s not considered a “cuss” word. I think 😉

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Sso May 7, 2017 at 12:42 am

We are expats living in Delft. My 12 years old daughter constantly complains that Dutch kids swear all the time, both in Dutch and English. To be clear that she got in VWO secondary school, as they call it “the cream top”, only after 6 months in group 8 basic school. My Dutch neighbor had party in the back yard on weekend from noon until 11:30pm. My children couldn’t fall asleep with excessive noise. Mhusband went outside asking them to quiet down a little as our 4 years old kept waking up. The first word came out of the man’s mouth is F…

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missfootloose August 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Swearing teenagers and nasty neighbors are to be found in every country, but that does not mean they are the norm.

Colm March 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Thanks for the clarification! Sounds a bit like the Irish “feck” – which some folk mistake for a hibernicized form of the F-word expletive. Keep up the excellent work.

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marcus kuhn April 9, 2016 at 8:33 pm

i am expat in netherlands and ive lived all over the world ..so far i find the dutch the most arrogant rude and small minded intolerant people i have encountered..you make rules about rules about rules and have no tolerance for individuality..you hate on each other by province and you have no culture ..in a few words i cant stand dutch people after a year and a half living with you word up

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missfootloose May 17, 2016 at 8:56 am

Sounds like you’d better move again, or become more culturally sensitive and creative in your interpretations. Carrying around that kind of hate is not good for your mental health.

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Stellar May 11, 2016 at 1:48 am

I have spent a good portion of the last seven years in The Netherlands, as my soon-to-be husband is Dutch and living here. I always found the people very pleasant and friendly. Interestingly, it wasn’t until I was permitted to stay here longer and started slowly building a life of my own in the past year that I began to feel like a complete outsider.

When I’m with my fiancé, people tend to be much friendlier with me. When I’m on my own, I sometimes encounter friendly people, but more often than not, I get a cold reception.

As an example, I go to a gym down the street, and it’s quite a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The ladies working the counter are always cheerful when greeting people who come in, and often chat with them. The trainers are friendly and always walking around to check on people and ask how their workouts are going. I’m the exception here. The women at the desk don’t say hi to me. When I say hello, I get a weak half-smile or nothing. The trainers avoid me. One trainer speaks English very well, as he was the person assigned to me for my free training lesson. I used to at least feel comfortable enough to ask him questions if needed, and to say hello, until he began completely avoiding me, and generally being cold if I did attempt to ask a question. Today, I thought I would try a more positive attitude. I walked in and said hello to the woman at the counter. No response. Went in and said hello to the trainer. He took that oppportunity to ask me if I had brought a towel with me, and told me it was a thing that everyone does and to start bringing one (I was using the disinfectant spray and paper towels to clean all equipment I use, which I’ve never seen anyone else use, oddly enough…at my gym in the US, that’s what we always did, and I guess it was just habit). I apologized and that ended the conversation. I felt so embarrassed, I called my fiancé and asked him to please bring me a towel. The moment he walked in with it, the trainers all smiled and greeted him and thanked him. Nothing to me. He then ordered a drink from the lady at the counter, who enthusiastically chatted with him. In that moment, it was a reminder of what happens so often now, as I try to start a life in this very small village. It just all piled up at once. I felt tears welling in my eyes, so I ended my workout early and left with my fiancé.

Yes, i need to learn Dutch. I began to feel discouraged when people misunderstood me and laughed at my Dutch because of my American accent. So I stopped. I know I need to work harder, but having employees in stores say to me “can you just tell me in English? I can’t understand you” shook my confidence.

I also had a bus driver yell at me in front of a whole bus full of people. I had asked if the bus was stopping at a certain stop, expecting a yes or no. He started saying a response in Dutch, and I apologized and said I couldn’t understand. He then yelled at me for not knowing Dutch, and I apologized and got off the bus, completely humiliated.

Anyway, I know some truly kind Dutch people through my very warm and nice fiancé…but outside of those people, I don’t feel very welcome here. And I’m not sure if learning the language will really solve the issue completely. A friend of my fiance’s who was an ex-pat told me years ago that I had to learn to accept I would never really fit in here, and that the Dutch would never truly accept me. I didn’t take it seriously at the time. She has since moved to a different country. I’m starting to worry that she may have been right.

I will say, when we are in bigger cities, it feels much more diverse, and people I’ve encountered, even on my own, seem much more welcoming and friendly with me. Especially in Utrecht. So maybe living in a bigger city, or closer at least, would help.

Right now, I’m trying to battle through the loneliness and depression, and hope that in time, things will get better. I am trying to focus on the kind, friendly people, but feeling like an outsider is hard.

So, I can definitely see both sides of the story. I was the occasional visitor for years, tagging along with my boyfriend, and finding the Dutch to be rather pleasant and friendly. Now, as I begin to live life here, I am getting a very different vibe, made even harder for me when I see how friendly people are with my fiancé in contrast to their annoyance with me.

Oh, and on the topic of rudeness, the one time a lady at the desk talked to me at the gym (I don’t see her in there anymore), her response to me saying I moved here for my fiancé was “wow, you gave up your whole life just for some guy! Ha! I hope my daughter never does something as ridiculous as that!” I just laughed it off, as I knew it wasn’t meant to be mean…but yeah, it stung!!

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missfootloose May 17, 2016 at 8:48 am

I am appalled. What does your fiancé say about how they treat you at the gym? Not even acknowledging a greeting? Maybe these people are embarrassed because they don’t speak English and resent you for making them feel that way? After all, many people in Holland are very comfortable speaking English.

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Samantha July 3, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Dutch are cold, unfriendly and extremely rude. The are not direct, they talk behind your back without saying anything in your face. They are direct with each other but fully exclude foreigners while the country is filled with foreigners which due to the close nature of the culture have to form they own separate groups. The system is fully closed and they laugh at you if you want to enter it, Dutch have little patience even for their own language. This is the worst country anyone could ever choose to stay in longer than 3 days maximum. The Dutch are exactly like their weather. With the Dutch only a Dutch has a chance of acceptance and that is also difficult.

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missfootloose July 14, 2016 at 7:03 am

I know that in the Netherlands, as in any other place, there are communities where people are “closed” and cliquish. These are the exceptions. It sounds like you may have landed in one of these, and I am sorry because it will skew your impression of the country and the people as a whole. In most other cases anywhere, people usually receive what they give in terms of attitude, character and personality.

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Jojo July 29, 2016 at 11:09 pm

I really enjoyed the few times I’ve been to Amsterdam. I’ve found the Dutch to be clear and mostly helpful. However, on several occasions there I encountered smart asses who talked to me like I was an idiot, at the airport and at my hotel.

I also worked with Dutch people overseas. They were a mixed bunch. Like other people have experienced I found them somewhat reticent. A bit like the English. Nice enough when you get to know then, but quiet in the beginning.

What I often noticed dealing with Dutch people was, how they talked to you as if they were answering a question you’d asked. It seemed like they were a little condescending. I noticed the same thing happening to a friend of mine who married a Dutch woman. When sharing experiences and anecdotes he acted amazed if I didn’t know about some place he’d been to. I gave up speaking to him after about the fourth time this happened.

In my opinion, the Dutch are good people (with great achievements), but have a tendency to infantilize those that don’t share their same knowledge. That can be irritating to people with a little more tact.

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An expat February 3, 2017 at 9:33 pm

I’ve moved to the Netherlands a few years ago. It started positive. Cute cities, people are nice and friendly, positive first encounters in Gemeente IND.

But then almost from the day #1 strange things started to arise, especially with service companies:
– internet, you have to wait for around 4 weeks (sic!) to get an internet in this country. I’ve also asked a few different questions via contact forms to get more information on tariffs and services provided. Still no answers.
– plumbers, two guys came to fix a small issue and ripped us off for almost 400 euros (because they were two hence x2). And guy on a phone had said before that it would be below 100.
– locksmith. Locked ourselves outside an apartment. Called a local locksmith, explained a problem, he said it would be starting from 20 euro, but he cannot say how much because it depends on a door. A locksmith arrived, looked at the door and said it was 2 minutes of work, but it would cost 240 euro. What?! That’s crazy, no way I’m paying 240 for 2 min of work. Then we handed me a prepared bill for 40 euro for arriving. Really? That’s how it works here?
– other services. It happened a few times that we made an appointment for something, but a worker did not arrive without a notice. My wife spent time looking for companies, then had to stay at home waiting for them and nobody comes…
– arrogance of stuff in restaurants was already discussed extensively above.

In these 2 years here I made lots of friends, but only one of them was Dutch (as a joke we’ve been saying for a long time that he is not a true Dutchman). And this despite the fact that I do sports with lots of Dutch people. They are all nice, friendly and fun. Beer after sports and that’s where it stops.

My wife tried to integrate into Dutch life since the day one. She started with extensive language courses. She organized a book club for Dutch retirees in a local club. They were reading books in Dutch and later discussed them. It was positive experience and she met very interesting people there.

Finally she learned Dutch and got a job in a Dutch company. Oh and then things went south. Nobody in the office was kind enough to pro-actively help her to integrate. Her direct boss was poorly behaving, over-pushing. If a question was asked, the boss usually replied “and what do you think yourself?” It might get annoying, I can see it. She did not really feel welcomed there. Everybody says that Dutch are direct? But the thing that they like much more than being direct is to gossip behind backs of colleagues. In one year she did not make any friend there. And it all ended with a contract not being extended. They said that she did not fit into their community.

To summarize an average Dutch person:
– Dutch don’t like non-conformist behavior and foreigners usually fall under this category. No matter how good you mastered Dutch and their culture.
– Dutch are selfish, arrogant and impolite. You cannot justify saying rude things by claiming that you are direct.

Despite all these, we also had lots of positive experience here. There are many good things and warm people in the Netherlands. But I can definitely see why the Netherlands can be considered unfriendly and cold.

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