Valentines special – The German-American friendship, sometimes more than just platonic

Story By Paul Hughes
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

For many in Europe, the word romance instantly transports you to visions of a fairytale walk through the streets of Prague, a stolen kiss under the Eiffel Tower, or a gentle glide down a Venetian canal cuddled with your mate.

However, closer to home, no one tells you what an aphrodisiac the gray skies of Germany can be! How one can easily find love strolling the brutal architecture of the great German cities of Stuttgart and Berlin, driving over 100mph on the Autobahn, and catching the eye of that cute girl or boy as you clumsily brush the brezel crumbs off your lips.

For this Valentine’s Day, we wanted to find out what it’s like to go head over heels in Germany. We interviewed couples who intertwined under the ‘schwarz, rot und gold‘ flag of our host nation and how they coped with it. So grab a Maß of beer and join us (and them) in shouting ‘PROST’ at the top of your lungs as you learn how to fall in love in Germany.

People such as Tara and Jens, who had their own meet-cute right here in Stuttgart, at Charlottenplatz:

Tara and Jens outside of Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart

Where were you both born?
I (Tara) was born in Miami, Florida. My husband, Jens, was born in Stuttgart, Germany.

Where did you meet?
At the Charlottenplatz train station on Silvester (New Years Eve) in 2015, after the downtown fireworks. Jens and I were both separated from our friends at the train station and as I was pretty new to the area, I looked totally lost. As I was staring up at the train maps, Jens asked me if I needed help. Jens then “helped me” – out to a drink at a place called Sophie’s.

What and where was your first date?
We couldn’t wait to meet again and on Jan 5th, we went out to a couple of places in Stuttgart Mitte.

What do you remember most about that date?
We had a great time, but we had to deal with a bit of a language barrier. I did not speak any German, and Jens did not speak much English. Google translate was quite helpful to us at the beginning of our relationship! After a couple of hours, we ran into some of Jen’s friends and all ended up all hanging out together and having a great time.

What are your favorite things to do together?
Everything. We love to travel,  bike, cook, and play board and card games together.

Germany or America, where do you prefer to live?
I prefer to live in Germany and Jens has never actually lived outside of Germany.

What’s one culture clash you noticed and how was dating in Germany different?
Dating was very different for us both and one big hurdle was working through the language barrier – it forced us to take our time to properly communicate, to never use sarcasm and to think about how to clearly explain ourselves. It’s not a problem now because Jen’s has learned more English, and I have learned some German.  

Kim and Michael met in Stuttgart, in what is now the “traditional way” – through technology.

Kim and Michael outside of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Where were you both born?
I (Kim) was born in Neckarsulm, Germany, and Michael was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Where did you meet?
We met on an online dating app, which is pretty common nowadays!

What and where was your first date?
We had our first date at a Shisha Bar in Sindelfingen, on a cold December day in 2017. Neither of us were smokers, but as we were not from the area, no one had a good place to meet! Apparently I wasn’t very talkative at first, probably because I was too amazed by him, but when we started talking, he noticed my British English accent (I taught in London for some time) and he thought I might be British, but Michael also remembers trying to figure out if I maybe was Russian, or Swedish, because I had platinum blonde hair! 

What do you remember most about that date?
I fell for him at first sight, I was impressed by everything he had experienced in the Army. He told me stories of Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti and he was (and still is) a handsome guy.  At that time, I didn’t even know there were five bases in Stuttgart, and I had never even been to the US. So dating an American, especially an American soldier, was a whole new world for me. When we left, we had our first kiss with the snow falling around us, it was very romantic and I was completely smitten. 

What are your favorite things to do together?
We both like traveling and have been to Paris, Rome, Berlin, Prague, London and more. We like exploring and wherever we go we often try beers at local craft breweries. Obviously, no comparison to German beer, though. Other than that, we enjoy relaxing at home with a glass of red wine, self-cooked Italian food and watching Netflix.

Germany or America, where do you prefer to live?
I think for both of us it is Germany. There is much more history and culture to explore, not only in Germany, but also in the countries surrounding it. I also miss an actual city center where we can just walk around, go shopping, have lunch in a nice restaurant or meet for a coffee. In the US, everything is far away and you have to drive everywhere. Michael thought I was crazy when I told him I wanted to take public transport to town. As a German, it is totally fine to take the bus or the train to get somewhere if you do not have a car. 

What’s one culture clash you noticed, and how is dating in Germany different?
In Germany you usually date someone two or three times and then decide if you want to start a relationship. Apparently in the US, you can date for a year or so and even date different people at a time. That seems crazy to me! We talked about this at an early stage and it was important to me that he committed to a relationship. Luckily, he did and we have been together ever since!

There are people even right in our office who have met their partners on the garrison, including Angelika and Juan: 

Juan and Geli in New Jersey in 2010

Where were you both born?
Juan in Paterson, New Jersey and I (Angelika) was born in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt.

Where did you meet?
At the Kelley Club on Kelley barracks, we were introduced by a mutual friend.

Where was your first date?
We went back again to the Kelley Club!

What do you remember most about that date?
Juan taught me how to dance Salsa, and after a couple of drinks the dancing turned out just fine!

What are your favorite things to do together? … other than dancing Salsa
Swimming and singing together – we even sang “Up where we belong” at a wedding together.

Germany or America, where did you prefer to live?
We have only ever lived in Germany, we love it here! 

As you are from different cultures, what’s one culture clash you noticed?
Hahaha I could write a book… Juan can have that Spanish passion in debates and I believe he is more protective than most German men. And, in true German style I can get on his nerves, because I always need my calendar to plan and organize, while he is more spontaneous.

Some Americans have been in Germany so long, that meeting and dating another American is like starting all over again:

Liana, Paul and their son Marcel in 2018

Where were you both born?
Paul was born in St Paul, Minnesota.  I (Liana) was born in Meriden, Connecticut.

Where did you meet?
A hockey tournament at Ice World Stuttgart in 2007. Paul was refereeing the tournament and I was actually playing in that tournament. I was here in Stuttgart on six month voluntary orders with the Naval Reserve, whereas Paul came to Germany with the Army in 1984 and stayed here when he left the Army.

What and where was your first date?
I invited Paul to the Patch Barracks 4th of July celebration in 2007.

What do you remember most about that date?
What I remember the most was that Paul actually showed up! I was so happy that he had and was watching him integrate with American culture again as he had been in Germany for 24 years by that point. Paul was very happy to be around Americans and to be able to “practice his English” as he had been speaking solely German for almost 20 years. 

What are your favorite things to do together?
We still play Ice Hockey together, we travel, and love to eat awesome food.

Germany or America where do you prefer to live?
Germany, although it’s becoming hard to find employment there for both of us now.

How was dating in Germany different?
Paul had to do most of the talking for us on dates, because I didn’t speak enough German to do so, including when we got married in Germany!

And sometimes just the chance someone might take you on the Autobahn can be enough to make you fall in love:

Felix and Kelyan in Munich wearing traditional German dress shortly after they met.

Where were you both born?
Felix – My husband Kelyan was born in northern Florida. I was born right here in Stuttgart.

Where did you meet?
In Stuttgart where he was stationed this past year, we actually met on Tinder. I remember seeing Kelyan for the very first time, walking toward me in the lobby of the hotel he was staying at, and my first thought being, “he’s handsome.”

What and where was your first date?
We drove his brand new (manual) car onto the US base at the airport, so he could actually learn how to drive it! It was a lot of fun!

What do you remember most about that date?
Needless to say, it was exciting getting signed on to base for the first time and Kelyan remembers feeling relief about how well I spoke English, since he had just moved to a foreign country.

What are your favorite things to do together?
We share a love of hiking and being out in nature. I’ve always been an avid hiker and mountaineer and now Kelyan likes it too. I’m glad I got to introduce him to that.

Germany or America, where did you prefer to live?
I haven’t really lived in the states so far, but I’m very excited to move there when I get my green card. I love what I’ve seen of the US so far though. Kelyan loved all the history and things to see in Germany and Europe. He would definitely live here again, but can’t say he likes it better than the US.

If you are from different cultures, what’s one culture clash you noticed, if you are not, how was dating in Germany different?
As an American, Germans can appear very direct and sometimes a little emotionless, especially when compared to Americans who are very open and bubbly people. It was interesting meeting each other in the middle, without being overbearing to each other. Now that we have been married for a while, I still think that the hardest things for us are the unconscious things that you grow up with in different cultures. But that is what makes this relationship special.

Thanks for reading the story of some of the wonderful couples that met here in Germany, if you have a story of your own, please comment on our facebook post, we would love to celebrate YOUR love this valentine’s day.

Editor’s Note: We are seeing increasing numbers of romance scams targeting our host nation. Many of these scammers pretend to be associated with the US military and even provide fake ID cards containing photos of actual military members. A common scam includes; needing money, sometimes to reportedly get out of a country, or to get out of the military – never send money to someone you haven’t met.

If you fear you have been a victim of scam, you need to contact host nation police. For information on how to protect yourself from this kind of scam visit this link. In German.