Mobility of Intimate Relationships in Online Dating Apps

Online dating applications facilitate interpersonal connections between individuals, enabling them to pursue various motivations, such as seeking sexual encounters, romantic relationships, emotional intimacy, or other forms of interpersonal connections.

Many women and men feel ambiguity regarding the opportunities associated with online dating apps. They frequently do not know exactly what they hope to gain from using a dating app. They might anticipate a connection that develops into a committed monogamous relationship, but these relationships can change over time and are flexible. Users can meet for sex, become friends, or friends with benefits, and possibly form a couple before deciding to become friends again without engaging in sexual activity with one another.

Andrea Newerla, a researcher from Paris Lodron University Salzburg in Salzburg, Austria, and Jenny van Hooff, a researcher from Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, analyzed the dating app user experience in Germany and the United Kingdom.

They conducted an in-depth analysis of interviews with online app users in the United Kingdom (van Hooff, 2020) and Germany (Newerla, 2021), and their findings were quite intriguing. Researchers performed a thematic analysis on the data collected from both cultural samples.

In a previous article, I described the summary of their research findings about the ambiguities and opportunities men and women experience using dating apps.

In this article, we’ll look into the users’ perceptions of the mobility of intimate relationships.

Experiences of Mobility in Intimate Relationships

For many users, dating practices are marked by ambivalence as the potentialities and possibilities afforded by dating apps emerge as spaces for new forms of intimacy. Normativities are challenged, and spaces are opened up for forms of love and desire that cannot be subsumed under the ideal of the romantic or partnership model in their pursuit and realization of these potentials.

Friendships formed through dating apps, as previously stated, are an important experience for some of our participants. And the descriptions clearly show that these relationships, which were initially defined by sexual attraction, are malleable and can evolve into new forms of intimacy.

Matteo, a 34-year-old man, for example, began using dating apps in 2015. His main goal was to find a romantic partner:

‘I was not as sex-positive as I am now, and society was not at the point we are now. So the main goal was to find a partner’.

Matteo found himself in new cities more frequently as a result of geographical changes, and apps assisted him in meeting new people. He was open to casual sex at this point, but not to the possibility of a romantic relationship if the person was ‘right for him’. As he describes in his relationship with Beate, he developed a variety of ways to be intimate with people in Berlin, blurring the boundaries of friendship and couplehood:

‘It was only sexual, but there was a connection with Beate. She was a person that I was liking. When we started to play [sexually], I realized that I really enjoy this, the motion of playfulness and connection when it’s in consent. It’s clear what we are there for. (…) and from this moment on me and Beate started to have a sex relationship which also developed something more complex. I also developed feelings for Beate that were not immediately mutual (…) Beate was not interested in a relationship that was more romantic, but I was. But we found a common ground and we have been experimental quite a lot.’

(Matteo, M 34, German study).

Beate eventually fell in love with someone else, and Matteo became friends with her. ‘We are still in a good connection,’ Matteo says of this development. It was unclear at the time of the interview whether Beate’s new relationship is open to additional sex partners. Matteo describes the possibility of him and Beate sharing this level of sexual intimacy again. However, Matteo says in the interview that it could remain a platonic friendship without sexual physicality. It’s clear that he sees this intimate relationship as a process, that he’s open to its evolution because he likes Beate and wants to see how their relationship develops in the future.

Here Is How Rob Describes his Relationships on Dating Apps

Rob, who has used dating apps on and off since Tinder debuted in 2012, explained how the connections made on apps evolve and develop based on the circumstances:

‘Being on Tinder you can have a few girls that you’re messaging or seeing or whatever, and it’s actually good because you know you’re not going to get married, because you live in different cities, or you’re too different, but you still have this connection, when you’re bored you can chat, or sext, and there’s no expectation. I don’t know how you’d define it, but I’ve had a few of those kind of relationships, and they’re good because you’re both on the same page’.

(Rob, M 34, UK study).

Rob describes a liminal relationship that maintains an emotional and sexual connection but will not develop into a committed couple relationship. These relationships defy traditional heteronormative conventions, but they are meaningful to participants and are not time-limited. While these types of relationships are often portrayed negatively in popular culture as ‘breadcrumbing’ (sporadic contact with no follow-through), for Rob, they are meaningful ties that do not fit into normative understandings of relationships.

Here Is How Mona Experiences her Relationships on Dating Apps

Mona can easily organize various dates based on her immediate needs thanks to the variety of relationship forms available on dating apps. This is sometimes casual sex, but she prefers it when a relationship develops. Some dates have become friendships. There was no sexual contact in these cases, but they enjoyed each other’s company. However, these friendships are also physical: one friend, for example, comes over on a regular basis to cuddle and watch Netflix. She does not prioritize romantic relationships and emphasizes the importance of friendships throughout the interview:

‘It doesn’t have to be the romantic partner you wake up next to, it has to be a person you just get along with. (…) This realisation that I don’t have to expect a partner to fulfil all my needs, but that friendships are also a relationship that also fulfils needs like a romantic relationship, that was then for me like: bam. I communicate much more openly about this with my friends and also with the partners I am currently seeing.’

(Mona, F 33, German study)

Mona was dating four people at the time, all of whom she met through dating apps. Here, the apps have assisted her in finding people who think and live similarly to her, as they are all interested in multiple relationships, identify as polyamorous, and have openly communicated their relationship status through the apps. Their experiences have allowed them to communicate more openly about their own needs.

Here Is How Alex Explains her Relationships on Dating Apps

People came up with creative ways to use dating apps. Sexual relationships turned into friendships or, in Alex’s case, a professional network. Even though he hasn’t found the long-term relationship he was looking for through dating apps, his experiences show how relationships can change:

‘A long period on Tinder would be six plus dates, usually it doesn’t go anywhere. Usually relationships are sexual. I’d always chat to multiple people at once and occasionally see multiple partners at once. Most encounters have been enjoyable and interesting, some I’m still friends with, one is now our company solicitor, but most I don’t speak to.’

(Alex, M 29, UK study)

Alex is a marketer, and his professional and personal networks frequently cross and overlap. He describes it positively, saying that sexual encounters evolve as dates take on new roles in his life. The normative categorization of romantic and sexual relationships does not apply to Alex’s experience with dating apps, and the normative hierarchy of intimacy does not currently apply to his personal relationships. Alex also emphasizes the importance of transitioning into and out of different relationship forms as key moments of communication and connection in and of themselves.

The Chivalrous Poetry of German Minstrels

The cultural concept of chivalry describes the social norms that medieval knights were expected to uphold in their interactions with women. These ideals of chivalry and standards of chivalrous conduct gave rise to a new romantic culture. Historians frequently refer to courtly love as the cradle of romantic ideals (Karandashev, 2017).

During that time, chivalric ideals and courtly love became popular in many European countries, including Spain, France, and Germany.

All over Europe, the fascinating chivalry tales of the Middle Ages popularized courtly love. Stories like Don Quixote’s from Spain and Ulrich von Lichtenstein’s from Germany were among them. These tales depicted noble chivalry and the beauty of courtly love. Other examples of poetry, songs, and folklore of medieval European societies also made important contributions to the history of romantic ideas of love. Some of these were the poems about knights by the German minnesinger and the Provencal troubadours. These examples demonstrate how the history and psychology of love in these countries were similar in some ways while being different in others. Here, I take a quick look at what Henry Finck (1887/2019) says about the chivalrous poetry of German minnesingers.

Who Were the German Minstrels

The German wandering minstrels, like their French counterparts, the troubadours, belonged primarily to the aristocracy. They gave their addresses primarily to married women. In both cases, of the German minstrels and French troubadours, the rigid chaperonage of the young was a reason. Since men were not allowed to make love properly, they did it improperly. However, the Minnesingers, at least in verse, were less amorous than the Troubadours. However, the minnesingers, at least in verse, were less amorous than the troubadours.

What German Minstrel Songs Were About

As American music historian Louis Elson (1900/2015) commented in his History of German Song:

“The Troubadour praised the eyes, the hair, the lips, the form of his chosen one; the Minnesinger praised the sweetness, the grace, the modesty, the tenderness of the entire sex. The one was concrete, the other abstract.”

However, abstractness is not a desirable quality in poetry, the essence of which is concrete imagery. As a result, with a few exceptions, the German Minnesingers are not poets on par with their French counterparts. Friedrich Schiller, a German poet of the 18th century, was very critical of these early writers. Schiller once remarked to a friend,

“If the sparrows on the roof ever undertake to write, or to issue an almanac of love and friendship,” he once remarked to a friend, “I would wager ten to one it would be just like these songs of love.”

“What a dearth of concepts in these songs! A garden, a tree, a hedge, a forest, and a sweetheart are just a few of the things that can be found in a sparrow’s head. Then there are fragrant flowers, mellow fruits, twigs on which a bird sits in the sunshine and sings, and spring comes and winter goes, and nothing remains but ennui.”

This criticism of Schiller, however, was too broad. There were notable exceptions to these sparrow-poets. One of them was Johannes Hadlaub, a Minnesinger of the 14th century. As Wilhelm Scherer, a German historian of literature, described him in his History of German Literature,

“He introduces human figures into his descriptions of scenery, and shows us, for example, in the summer, a group of beautiful ladies walking in an orchard, and blushing with womanly modesty when gazed at by young men.”

Then, Wilhelm Scherer compared the challenges of love to those of hardworking men such as charcoal-burners and carters.

“Hadlaub tells us more of his personal experiences than any other Minnesinger. Even as a child, we learn, he had loved a little girl, who, however, would have nothing to say to him, but continually flouted him, to his great distress. Once she bit his hand, but her bite, he says, was so tender, womanly, and gentle, that he was sorry the feeling of it passed away so soon. Another time, being urged to give him a keepsake, she threw her needle-case at him, and he seized it with sweet eagerness, but it was taken from him and returned to her, and she was made to give it him in a friendly manner. In later years his pains still remained unrewarded; when his lady perceived him, she would get up and go away. Once, he tells us, he saw her fondling and kissing a child, and when she had gone he drew the child towards him and embraced it as she had embraced it, and kissed it in the place where she had kissed it.”

How Minstrel Songs Changed Over Time

The differences between the earlier and later Minnesongs indicate a gradual change in the social and amorous position of women. As Professor Scherer observes in the early poems, “The social supremacy of the noble woman is not yet recognized, and the man woos with proud self-respect.”…

Another rejects a woman who desired his love… A fourth brags about his victories. He claims that “Women are as easily tamed as falcons.” In another song, a woman describes how she tamed a falcon, but he flew away and now wears different chains. …

“In the later Minnesongs it is the women who are proud, and the men who must languish.”

The German folk songs that came after the periods of Minnesotan music show an even more striking change.

“The women of these popular love-songs are not mostly married women; they are, as a rule, young maidens” [at last, pure Romantic Love!] “who are not only praised but also turned to ridicule and blamed. The woes of love do not here arise from the capricious coyness of the fair one, but are called forth by parting, jealousy, or faithlessness. Feeling is stronger than in the Minnesong, and seeks accordingly for stronger modes of expression.”

As Henry Finck (1887/2019) commented in his book, the first appearance of true romantic love in these folk songs was no mere coincidence. Some gifted people from the lower classes composed those folk songs. Among them, chaperonage, as the archenemy of love, was less strict than in the upper classes.

The Spanish and German Medieval Stories of Militant Chivalry

The concept of chivalry usually refers to chivalrous codes of behavior that knights and gentlemen of medieval Europe should demonstrate in their social interactions. In the time period of about 1170 to 1220 CE, knights created the social rules of the chivalric code of conduct.

The word “chivalry” came from the Old French word “chevalerie,” which means “horse soldiery.” Initially, it referred to the men who rode horses. But later it denoted the ideals of a knight.

Medieval literature popularized chivalric ideals, which later shifted their meaning to noble social and moral qualities. The aristocracy and noble people of medieval France, Spain, and Germany widely accepted such chivalrous norms of behavior. Chivalry has become an essential feature of the courtly love art (Karandashev, 2017).

According to Henry Finck, chivalry practice was much less refined than its literary representation.

Many historians have praised the moral virtues of chivalry. However, some knightly behaviors appeared to be less than morally virtuous. It is true that the knights took a solemn oath promising to defend widows, orphans, and ladies. They also showed respect for and deference to them. Nevertheless, they treated women harshly when they invaded cities or stormed castles. Henry Finck defined this kind of chivalry as militant chivalry (Finck, 1887/2019).

Let us read his writings. Chivalry militant was most common in Spain, Southern France, and Germany. The warm climate and friendly nature of those countries provided ideal conditions for wandering knights in search of adventure. Here are two examples of medieval chivalry and the art of love. One is the story of the Spanish Don Quixote, and another is the story of the German Ulrich von Lichtenstein.

The Spanish Images of Chivalry

For example, it appears that the medieval knights of Spain were wandering around the country, interfering in every quarrel.

In the literary genre, Cervantes presented a lifelike picture of knight-errantry in Don Quixote. His intention was to make fun, not so much of chivalry as of trashy contemporaneous romances of chivalry. However, he could not avoid depicting the comic side of chivalry itself. It was indeed “difficile satiram non scribere.”

Each knight had his own Dulcinea, whom he may not have seen. Nevertheless, he fights all these battles for her honor and love. And whenever he meets another knight, he immediately challenges him to admit that his Dulcinea, whom he has never seen, is the most beautiful lady in the world.

The other knight repeats the challenge on behalf of his Dulcinea. Therefore, he fights the battle through the inexorable logic of superior strength, intended to prove the superior beauty of his chosen lady-love. The victor celebrates victory and sends the defeated knight as a prisoner to the victor’s mistress with a love message.

The German Images of Chivalry

When medieval German knights came into close contact with French knights, the Germans adopted the idea and the fantastic aspect of chivalry from the French. And they pursued the code of chivalry with great diligence. As the 19th-century German cultural historian Johannes Scherr noted,

“Spain has imagined a Don Quixote, but Germany has really produced one.”

(cited in Finck, 1887/2019,p. 100).

His name was Ulrich von Lichtenstein. He was born in the year 1200.

“From his boyhood, Herr Ulrich’s thoughts were directed towards woman-worship, and as a youth he chose a high-born and, be it well understood, a married lady as his patroness, in whose service he infused method into his knightly madness. The circumstance that meanwhile he himself gets married does not abate his folly. He greedily drinks water in which his patroness has washed herself; he has an operation performed on his thick double underlip, because she informs him that it is not inviting for kisses; he amputates one of his fingers which had become stiff in an encounter, and sends it to his mistress as a proof of his capacity of endurance for her sake. Masked as Frau Venus, he wanders about the country and engages in encounters, in this costume, in honour of his mistress; at her command he goes among the lepers and eats with them from one bowl…. The most remarkable circumstance, however, is that Ulrich’s own spouse, while her husband and master masquerades about the land as a knight in his beloved’s service, remains aside in his castle, and is only mentioned (in his poetic autobiography) whenever he returns home, tired and dilapidated, to be restored by her nursing.”

Johannes Scherr, cited in Finck, 1887/2019, p. 100.

When a German knight chose a Dulcinea, he adopted and wore her colors. He was now her love-servant and stood in the same relationship to his mistress as a vassal to his master. As Scherr continues his writing,

“The beloved gave her lover a love-token—a girdle or veil, a ribbon, or even a sleeve of her dress; this token he fastened to his helmet or shield, and great was the lady’s pride if he brought it back to her from battle thoroughly cut and hewn to pieces. Thus (in Parzival) Gawan had fastened on his shield a sleeve of the beautiful Olibet, and when he returned it to her, torn and speared, “Da ward des Mägdlein’s Freude gross; ihr blanker Arm war noch bloss, darüber schob sie ihn zuhand.”

Johannes Scherr, cited in Finck, 1887/2019, p. 100.

Chivalry Love Across Cultures

Here I presented two cultural examples of chivalry. However, romantic ideas of chivalry and courtly love similar to European conduct of love evolved in South Asia and Japan during 900–1200 CE. American historian William M. Reddy (2012) explored the depiction of courtly love and of the emerging ideal of chivalry in twelfth-century romances.

Several Fascinating Facts about Emotional Experiences in Religious Cultures

Religious cultures teach their followers about various aspects of the world and life. Religious teachings also educate people about the human mind, emotions, and behavior, among other important things in their lives.

So, believers’ emotional experiences, expressions, and even their overall emotional well-being have always been heavily influenced by the religious cultures and communities in which they were raised and lived (e.g., Saroglou, 2010; 2011; Tsai et al., 2013; for a review, see Karandashev, 2021a).

Desirable and Undesirable Emotions in Religious Cultures

Cross-cultural researchers explored the desirability of happiness, pride, love, gratitude, and jealousy; and sadness, shame, guilt, and anger. Some emotions are of special interest to us in this context. Researchers discovered that Christians more often than Buddhists and Muslims prefer to experience love ideally. At the same time, Christians tend to experience love in real life more frequently than people of the other two religious groups.

On the other hand, Muslims tend to consider sadness and shame more normative in daily life compared to Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. Muslims also tend to experience these two emotions more frequently in their real lives than Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus.

Another interesting finding is that Buddhists experience fewer dips or peaks in any emotion in comparison with the emotional experiences of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus. Buddhism teaches people that life is full of suffering, sorrow, and grief. And to achieve the state of “enlightenment” is the best way to end this suffering in our daily lives (Kim-Prieto & Diener, 2009; Smith, 1991).

What Religion Tells Us About Gratitude in Life

According to many religious cultural norms and practices, experiences and expressions of gratitude are possibly the most valuable elements of a person’s daily emotional life.

A cross-cultural study found that religious people tend to have a grateful attitude in their lives. This is how they perceive themselves and how their peers perceive them. Religiously spiritual people feel more thankful in their daily dispositions and moods than others.

For instance, Christians believe that expressions of thankful joy, gratitude, and love toward God are indications of people’s sincere emotional experiences. (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002; McCullough et al., 2002). From a small study of Catholic priests and nuns, it was found that gratitude and love are the two feelings that people have toward God the most (Samuels & Lester, 1985).

The religious cultures of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam also greatly praise the values of emotional gratitude. For them, it is among the important and desired emotional attitudes for people to live a good life (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000; Kim-Prieto & Diener, 2009).

What Religion Tells Us About Forgiveness in Life

Religious culture also teaches people about other desirable prosocial emotions. For example, people who are religious place a higher value on being forgiving than people who are not religious (Rokeach, 1973). It is important for us to keep in mind that the concept of forgiveness might have different connotations depending on the religious culture (Cohen et al., 2006).

What Religion Tells Us about Values of Negative and Positive Emotions in Life

Cultural attitudes toward experience and expression of guilt and anxiety vary within Christianity. It would appear that those who adhere to Catholicism are more motivated by emotions of guilt and anxiety than those who follow Protestantism (Hutchin­son, Patock-Peckham, Cheong, & Nagoshi, 1998).

When compared to Catholics in Europe, Protestants in the United States of America have more emotionally positive personality traits, such as high extraversion and low neuroticism. They feel less discomfort encountering new challenges, and they are more open to new experiences in their lives. This is in contrast to Catholics in Europe (Saroglou, 2010).

Here are the three summaries of other interesting findings: Dispositional attributions are more common among Protestants than Catholics in situations they encounter and emotions they experience. They are more likely to attribute their experiences to their own internal and personal qualities than to external circumstances (Li et al., 2012). This can explain why, in the case of marital divorce, Protestants experience fewer and less extensive negative emotional effects than Catholics (Clark & Lelkes, 2005).

Protestants in Germany experience deeper and more frequent trust in other people in various circumstances of life than Catholics. And both Protestants and Catholics have more trust in others than non-religious people (Traunmiiller, 2011). Christians and Buddhists are similar in some respects, while they are different in others. People who identify themselves with Christian or Buddhist religious culture value the positive emotions of low arousal and intensity. In addition, there are some religious and cultural differences. Christians are more inclined than Buddhists to support high-arousal positive states. Christians are also less likely than Buddhists to support low arousal positive states (Tsai, Miao, Seppala, 2007).

What Are the Main World Cultures?

What are the main cultures of the world? How global are they? And how diverse are they? These are among the key questions that cross-cultural researchers may ask.

The West-East dichotomy has been a classification of the world cultures well-known by scholars during recent centuries. Western and Eastern cultures should be construed as global cultures, presumably. However, Western culture has been exemplified by the United States, Canada, and a few western European nations, such as England, the Netherlands, Germany, and France. In contrast, Eastern cultures have been typified by China and Japan. These two global cultural regions differed in a number of general cultural dimensions.

Probably the most well-known cultural distinction between the West and the East is the contrast between individualistic Western societies and collectivistic Eastern ones. At the very least, this is the framework that researchers most often use to study different cultures.

How Do Global World Cultures Form?

Regional and global cultures like Western and Eastern ones are usually formed by historical cultural influences of neighboring societies, cultural regional domination of some societies or by expansive migration. The countries of China and Japan, for example, are culturally similar in some respects. In the same way, the cultures of the Netherlands and Germany are more culturally similar to each other than to France, while France is more similar to Spain.

Thus, due to geographical and historical traditions and religious and political influences, national cultures share similarities with those of other adjacent countries. Certain geographical locations may differ greatly in a variety of cultural elements. One source of these cultural distinctions is the transmission of ancient philosophical concepts to new generations. In recent years, many researchers have studied and thought about the differences between Western and Eastern cultures, whose mental and cultural perspectives are very different in many ways.

West-East Scholarly Comparison

Cultural and cross-cultural studies have actively investigated these worldwide distinctions empirically. By comparing the United States, the Netherlands, and occasionally other European nations as representatives of Western culture to Japan and China as representatives of Eastern culture, researchers have discovered a number of fascinating cultural differences between these two global cultures.

As a cultural framework for explanation, they typically referred to individuality and collectivism, or related social concepts.

The questions in this regard, however, have remained unresolved. Is the USA or England sufficiently exemplary of all so-called Western countries? Is Japan or China sufficiently prototypical of other so-called Eastern countries?

What does the West mean? What does the East mean? There are many differences between the cultures of East Asia and South Asia, as well as between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe. For example, many West European countries have very different ways of life in many ways.

A Cultural Variety of the World Regions

In the last few decades, scholars have started to look into the different cultures of the world in more depth. For example, Shalom Schwartz (2014) found eight transnational cultural regions based on the values the countries share. They are English-speaking, West European, East Central and Baltic European, Orthodox East European, Latin American, South Asian, Confucian-influenced, and African and Middle Eastern.

Each of these transnational zones is distinguished by a distinct cultural value pattern. However, eight cultural regions do not fit within the expected locations.

Is Western Culture Really Individualistic?

Studies of the last decades have revealed that the West-East division of culture is not quite accurate in several regards (Karandashev, 2021a). There is a great cultural difference between different “Western cultures” and between different “Eastern cultures.”

As Schwartz (2014) noted, it is not entirely valid to describe Western civilization as individualistic. The complex analysis of cultural orientations has shown that people in the West have a lot of differences.

For example, the cultural samples from the USA and Western Europe showed significant variations in six of the cultural value orientations. Mastery, embeddedness, and hierarchy are more prevalent in the US. Intellectual autonomy, equality, and harmony, on the other hand, are more prevalent in Western European countries (Schwartz & Ros, 1995).

The Transnational Cultural Regions Based on their Geographical Proximity

According to the recent comprehensive analysis of cultural orientations, the transnational cultural regions are based on geographical proximity (Schwartz, 2014). Their cultural similarities can be explained by the transmission of values, norms, and practices across international borders. Additionally, language, history, religion, and other cultural variables also had an impact.

What Makes American, French, and German Communication Styles Unique?

People from the Western cultures of the United States, France, and Germany have many common values, yet they are different in their communication styles, interpersonal interaction, and emotionality.

Western and Eastern Cultures

Scholars who study cultures and compare them have spent a long time looking at Western and Eastern societies as two very different types of cultures. This kind of cultural difference was easy to understand and explain in terms of philosophical, social, and psychological aspects of culture. These differences really make sense.

The concepts of Western and Eastern cultures are largely exemplified by European and North American countries as “western”, and Japan, China, and India as examples of Eastern cultures. The Western cultures are mostly defined as individualistic, while the Eastern cultures are characterized as collectivistic. All other countries presumably belong to one of these global cultural groups.

Diversity of Western and Eastern Cultures

In recent years, researchers have looked more closely at the cultural differences between societies around the world, going beyond the traditional East-West divide. Researchers have been able to make a more diverse cultural classification of world societies because they looked at many different cultural factors and dimensions (Karandashev, 2021a).

Studies have shown that Eastern and Western societies are more diverse than they were originally deemed. Researchers have found that dividing the world into East and West is too simple and doesn’t show how different the countries are.

Cross-cultural research has revealed a diversity in how people in different “Western” and “Eastern” cultures experience and express their emotions (Karandashev, 2021a).

Western Cultural Diversity of Interpersonal Communication and Emotional Styles

Many cultural and cross-cultural studies have found that the “Western” cultures of interpersonal communication and emotionality are quite different in such countries as Canada, the United States of America, France, Germany, Ireland, and the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

The North American Culture of Communication in the United States

Several Western European cultures are very different from North American cultures in the United States. Even though they are all presumably Western cultures, their communication styles differ in several ways.

People in North America, as a low-contact culture, tend to keep a spatial distance, maintain slightly indirect body orientations, and avoid frequent touching during interpersonal conversation. In this regard, they are significantly different from people in high-contact cultures,

Americans are known around the world for being loud, talkative, direct, and assertive. When interacting, they prefer to maintain social distance. Nevertheless, they are chatty, polite, and expressive both verbally and nonverbally.

North Americans are self-expressive. Social standards encourage emotional openness. Unrestrained emotional self-expression is believed to improve understanding and exhibit empathy in interaction. People feel self-expression is good and improves relationships. This explains why Americans are so outspoken and expressive.

Many Americans appreciate happy things and struggle with unpleasant emotions. They’re friendly. They strive to be positive and discourage their communicators from experiencing and expressing negative emotions. Their favorite sayings are “Take it easy” and “It’ll be okay.”

Americans prefer “small talk” to meaningful dialogue or serious conversation. They enjoy jokes and humor when talking with each other. They strive to ease tensions in interactions and challenging situations. Americans tend to be overly expressive in both positive and negative emotions. They like to brag and appreciate the feeling of pride in many things.

The French Culture of Communication

French people express their emotions openly and intensely. They may express their displeasure and anger, as well as their affection and love, in public at times. They enjoy vigorously defending their points of view in conversations.

The French have an emotional culture that tends to act on impulse. The French do things in a very emotional way. They can be very happy and interesting. Still, the French get angry sometimes. The French communication style can be described as straightforward, indirect, and eloquent. Every meeting starts with a general conversation. The French people don’t worry about phony friendliness and insincere sociability. They enjoy small talks and dialogues.

The German Culture of Communication

Germans frequently behave and communicate more conventionally. They are direct, serious, and grounded. They favor adopting traditional attire, manners, and fashion.

The Germans are serious in their verbal expressions. Germans do not like small talk and idle conversations. They are generally introverted and reserved. They don’t like talking to strangers or people at social gatherings. Germans are usually polite and don’t raise their voices when they talk.

Germans are typically straightforward and direct in their verbal expression. They usually include detailed information and explanations in their messages. They prefer to present their messages with well-organized and logical information supported by facts, examples, and figures. They like to summarize all of the major points at the end of their communication messages.

6 Distinctive Features of the German Style of Communication

Western European societies have some similarities in cultural characteristics. This is why they belong to so-called Western cultures. However, they differ from the North American Western culture of the United States. For example, their cultural values of individualism are fairly different (Karandashev, 2021a). The communication styles of interpersonal relationships also vary among Western societies.

In another article, I described and summarized some features of the American communication style. In particular, Americans are direct in their messages, assertive, talkative, verbally and nonverbally expressive. As individualists, they prefer to keep social distance in interpersonal relations but are chatty, friendly, and polite.

In another article, I described the 9 main features of the French style of interpersonal communication in comparison with American and German communication styles. People of different western European cultures also differ from each other in the way they interact and communicate in their relationships.

The neighboring countries of western Europe develop their own cultures of communication, interpersonal relationships, and expressive styles (Karandashev, 2021a).

Let us talk about the German expressive style of communication.

Germans Are Conformists in Communication

Germans tend to be more conformist in their behavior and communication compared, for example, with North American and French people. The Germans are frank, serious, and realistic. They prefer a conservative approach in dress, fashion, and manners.

Germans Are Persistent and Serious in their Communication

The Germans are persistent and stubborn in pursuing their goals. They are serious in their verbal expressions. In this regard, they are drastically different from Americans in their expressive style. The Germans dislike small talk and social chit-chat. They are reserved and not open to casual acquaintances or strangers. They do not “make conversation” at social gatherings. Well-mannered Germans do not raise their voices in conversation (Hall and Hall, 1990).

Germans Are Straight, Direct, Detailed, and Well-Organized in their Messages

Germans, in their verbal expressions, are typically straightforward in what they are saying. They are direct and detailed in their messages.

Germans have a low-context culture of communication in the same way as North Americans and some other western European cultures. In this regard, they are quite different from high-context cultures, such as southern and eastern Europeans, Arabs, and Latin Americans.

The people of the German low-context culture usually provide in their messages much more information and explanations than people in high-context cultures. They like to present information logically. The orderly outlining of facts, examples, and figures ensures the credibility of their messages. At the end of their communicative messages, they like to summarize all the major points. They believe it is very important in addition to everything else that has already been explained earlier (Hall and Hall, 1990).

Linguistic Features of German Verbal Communication

The German language is straight and literal in several aspects of semantics and grammar. German is more literal than English. Many English words bear various meanings depending on the context of communication. German words are usually precise and have exact meanings.

The German culture of verbal communication reflects certain grammatical and lexical features of the German language. For example, the verb frequently comes at the end of a German sentence. Therefore, it takes a while for a listener to fully understand what a German speaker is going to say until the end of the speech (Hall and Hall, 1990).

German Values of Respect and Understanding

In interpersonal interaction, Germans may look serious and arrogant. Sometimes, they may have an unapproachable appearance. However, they have a deep need to be understood and respected.

They appreciate respect more than admiration, even though they still have a need to be liked. The emotions that people experience can be intense. But they prefer not to show many emotions in their facial and bodily expressions. Their experience of mood is frequently pessimistic and melancholic.

German Friendship

German people tend to develop deep relationships and friendships in pursuit of true understanding. In such relationships, they like to talk about their private feelings and problems.

Germans believe that most American friendships are superficial in their relationships and conversations.

In private conversations with close friends, they appreciate discussing the philosophical issues and meanings of life.