‘Building Ikea furniture’: The best things about dating a Swede

We asked The Local's readers to tell us what their favourite things about dating a Swede are, and here are some of their responses.

'Building Ikea furniture': The best things about dating a Swede
Some people appreciated their Swede's love of the outdoors or attitude to 'vardagsmotion'. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Gender equality

Swedish society is egalitarian, with both partners expected to work and take equal responsibility for running the household. Many of our respondents – both male and female – mentioned different aspects of gender equality as being their favourite thing about dating their Swede.

“They don’t believe women belong in the kitchen,” Vicky wrote.

“The mentality: it’s OK for men to be the main cook at home,” Alex said. “It’s OK that women can be breadwinners in the family.”

“Gender equality!” Elena wrote. “I am Italian, he is Swedish.”

“I love that too,” Karen added, “but he wants to put ketchup on my homemade spaghetti sauce!”

Despite their habit of putting ketchup on spaghetti, many people also praised Swedes for “cooking so well”.

Swedish gender equality can also be seen in the habit of splitting a bill 50/50 in a restaurant, something a lot of men commenting on our post were pleased about.

“As a straight man… splitting the bill!” Lachlan said. “That doesn’t happen in the USA!”

A number of respondents also praised Swedish men for being “masculine but not macho”, or being “masculine but not toxic”, with one person saying they “become great dads”.

Learning Swedish (or getting citizenship)

This may be an obvious point, but dating a Swede is a great way to improve your Swedish.

“If your partner is a Swede then you are using a cheat code to learn Swedish faster than all of us SFI-noobs,” Taha said.

According to John, the best thing about dating a Swede is simply “an EU passport”.

Living with a Swedish partner does make it easier to get Swedish citizenship by shortening the period of time needed to qualify – although we should point out here that you still need to fulfil other requirements in order to get Swedish citizenship.

Swedish culture

Many people responding to our question mentioned various aspects of Swedish culture as positives when dating a Swede.

One of these was Scott, who said Sweden has a “fantastic culture to be welcomed in”, with “humble, pleasant and generally honest people”.

Other aspects of Swedish culture that were greatly appreciated by partners of Swedes included, unsurprisingly, Swedish exports like Abba, Ikea and Volvo.

“They know all the lyrics to every Abba song,” Jim wrote, with Lee adding that “they’re not ashamed about it, that’s the key”.

“They can assemble Ikea furniture without a manual,” Mike said, with Bella adding that the best thing is their ability to “translate all the names of the items from Ikea!”

Mahmoud said that Swedes “come with a Volvo by default”, and Keely thought the best thing was “being introduced to Marabou [a chocolate brand], of course”.

David wrote that his favourite thing about dating a Swede is “separate duvets”. People sharing a bed in Sweden will usually each have their own duvet, rather than sharing a double duvet.

Derick said he appreciated the fact that you “always get the last slice of cake” most. Swedes will do whatever they can to avoid taking the last piece of cake on a plate, instead cutting it up in to smaller and smaller pieces until only a tiny sliver is left.

Calm and rational

Loren, who has been in Sweden for three years, said that, dating a Swede, there is “no drama and no pretensions, what you see is what you get”, and Imra Lundberg from northern Sweden said that Swedes in that area are “usually very calm, don’t get stressed easily and know how to party without going to the pub”.

Gabriela added that it is “easy to have deep, interesting and smart conversations” with them, and Tim, from London, living in Stockholm, said that his partner is “open minded and non-judgemental”.

One woman married to a Swede said that being with her spouse is great because of their “reliability and respect for my autonomy,” and that they are “not loud, arrogant, or disrespectful”.

Amanda from the USA praised her partner’s accent, and the fact that “he seems to almost always remain calm, even during arguments”.

Joanna, also from the USA, living in Skåne, wrote that her Swede “is willing to communicate with me when we are in a stressful situation. We find solutions together rather than trying to ‘win'”.

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How this researcher in Luleå played a role in India’s moon landing

By the time Avijit Banerjee watched India's Chandrayaan-3 land on the south pole of the moon from his home in the far north of Sweden, he was no longer involved. But the landing algorithm he developed played a key role in the mission's success.

How this researcher in Luleå played a role in India's moon landing

Banerjee developed the algorithm for a guidance and autopilot system for a soft landing on the moon as part of his PhD at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, working closely with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

In the end, there wasn’t enough time to properly test the algorithm so it could be used in the unsuccessful Chandrayaan-2, which crashed in 2019 due to a software error. But it became an important part of Chandrayaan-3, which on August 23rd this year became the first human vehicle to land on the moon’s southern pole. 

“It was just a movie to us. We were watching it and enjoying the show,” Banerjee tells The Local, remembering the atmosphere among his colleagues – from India, Sweden, and elsewhere – at Luleå Technological University, on the day of the landing.

“But yes, I was deeply involved in that development process as part of my PhD. It was a giant collaboration in industry and academia, in collaboration with ISRO, and and the Indian Institute of Science, in the space department, where I did my PhD.”

Banerjee got his postdoc in Luleå only a few months after defending his PhD and jumped at the chance to work in the space robotics group led by Professor George Nikolakopoulos, which he describes as a “fantastic” team.  

“It’s not just an opportunity for me, it’s a privilege to be part of this team at LTU. So I took this opportunity to work in space robotics, which is a new frontier in space.”

It was the job that lured him to a part of Sweden where there are only three to four hours of daylight in winter, temperatures average -10C, and the surrounding waters turn to ice, particularly as his wife, who he met at the Indian Institute of Science, also managed to get a position at LTU. 

But he has found it easy to leave the pleasant Bangalore climate behind. 

“I find myself contented to be in such a nice place where there are much fewer people and more exposure to nature,” he says. “It’s the best place for a scientist you can possibly imagine. I find myself very comfortable. It is very close to nature, the people are very nice, and I have the exact opportunity that I was looking for. So it’s a perfect match.” 

He doesn’t even find the weather too difficult to handle. 

“Even though I’ve already been exposed to extreme cold weather by day, it is not that extremely cold inside the rooms. I mean, they are all heated,” he says. “And if you look at the nature, it is not that monotonous: when it comes to winter, it all gets white and when it comes to summer, it’s very colourful, and now autumn is even more colourful. So I find that this is very nice.” 

Not that he has taken up any of the outdoor sports, like cross-country skiing or hunting that are popular with locals. 

“I’m not really a sportsman. I’m a bit lazy,” he jokes. “But in my spare time, I visit some nearby lakeside areas. I walk around the place. There are many seating arrangements, and I sit there and enjoy the serenity, the beauty of nature there. That’s my favourite time.” 

He concedes that his Swedish is, as yet “not good at all” and only at a “very, very preliminary stage”. 

“But I will work to develop it, of course. There is a university course, which I got registered for, but I haven’t formally passed it yet, so I need to put a little more effort in. There are many other things to do, but of course, being here, I should know the language.” 

There are currently about 150 Indians living in and around Luleå, making it less than a tenth of the size of other Indian communities in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, or Helsingborg. But he feels he can see enough of his countrymen to feel attached to his roots. 

“We are global citizens. It’s not as if we are coming here to make an Indian community, we come here to do our research, to do our work. But in the meantime we meet together to get connected to our roots.”

Most of the Indians are connected to the university, but there are also people working in the local mining and metals industry, entrepreneurs with their own businesses, and more besides, who join together to celebrate local festivals and to hold other events. 

“For the Independence Day of India, we gathered together and had some food we prepared,” he says. “In India we celebrate for ten days at Dussehra for the deity of the holy mother. But here we will gather together for one evening to celebrate among ourselves.”


While the university put out a press release reporting Banerjee’s role in Chandrayaan-3, he is no longer working with the India’s space agency, working more closely with NASA and ESA in his current projects. 

He sees the soft landing of the project’s Vikram lander and the dispatch of the autonomous Pragyan rover onto this unexplored part of the moon as a milestone for humanity, rather than something only India should celebrate. 

“It is indeed a significant success: not only for India, it is a success for the entire space community that we have the capability to autonomously land on another celestial planet, other than earth,” he says.

“It’s not only the moon. We can extend the capability that we have to Mars and then Venus and other planets, maybe other solar systems. It will happen one day. Our home is not within earth only. Humanity will extend beyond that.” 

He is currently working with ESA on a machine learning algorithm that can enable constellations of satellites to work together to optimise their positioning, avoid collisions and react if one of their number is destroyed, and with NASA on another landing algorithm. 

He is also working on a project that will enable an autonomous vehicle landed on the moon or another planet to seek out the source of any substance it detects, and also on robotics systems to enable autonomous vehicles to explore caves. 

“Cave areas are very important in space because those are like time capsules. They contain information that has been untouched for millions and millions of years, unaffected by any wind gust or any asteroids or meteorites, so they can help us find the source of universe, how it formed, how that life came about.”

He has one more year of his postdoc left, and doesn’t yet know if he and his wife will stay in subarctic Sweden or move on elsewhere. But, if he was given another position, he says he’d be happy to stay in Northern Sweden for the long term.   

“I like this place, so if that happened, I’d be happy. But I cannot predict my future. I’d be happy to spend my life here if I got an opportunity.”