Dating In Sydney: Important Rules You Need To Know

A local's guide to hooking up in the city of sun, sand and abysmal nightlife.

Photo Credit: @jadetunchy @lachiebrycki

Touched down in Sydney and want to shack up with a beach babe? Or maybe you crave an inner-city rave partner. Either way: before you get your budgie-smugglers in a twist, forget trying to seduce anyone with shrimp on a barbie; if you want to make waves in the city of gun barrel views (and killer bills), you need to follow the rules of a local sexpert.

To that end: D’Marge called sexologist, relationship expert host of the podcast Sex & Life and Sydney local, Nikki Goldstein, to learn about her top tips for tourists looking to find love in the world’s third most liveable city, which also happens to be one of the trickiest locales in the world to find a (quality) date.

With nightlife a constant source of controversy, a spread-out population and eye-watering cocktail prices, it’s little wonder many Sydney-siders spend more time tucked up in bed swiping than they do dancing on tabletops. There are also – despite its reputation for ‘having no culture’ – a few lifestyle quirks that you will need to get a grip of before taking a Sydneysider for a spin.

So: whether you’re a Spanish surfer, a British backpacker, an American arts student or a Melbourne hipster up for the weekend, here’s what you need to know before hooking up in Sydney.

Anti-social is the new social

In a world where we’re constantly told to get off our phones and revert to actually talking to people face-to-face, Nikki says the secret to securing dates is actually in our hands. “I would say get on apps, Sydney is a metropolitan city but also an app city.”

She says using dating apps is particularly useful if you find yourself solo in Sydney, “If you don’t have mutual friends it’s always really good to have a good profile on an app – let me stress the word good profile because you need to project yourself how you really are.” Ergo, remove any gym selfies right away.

Get cultured

Like most cities, Sydney has a diverse arts and culture scene. Nikki says the multitude of events are an ideal place to meet that special someone: “Look at going to something you’re interested in – whether it’s a music festival, a wine festival or a French food festival. We are a city of free events and a lot of entertainment.”

“Not only do you have the opportunity to explore the city, but also meet someone who has a common area of interest.”

Try meeting people during the day

The idea of going up to someone in a bar can be daunting for the modern man. Traditional pickup lines are becoming a thing of the past, with women wanting a guy with a certain je ne sais quoi. To this extent, Nikki says, “Take the opportunity to meet someone with similar interests to make it easier to start a conversation.”

“Instead of walking up to someone in a bar, try a group paddleboarding class (if you’re a water person), where you can make a cheeky comment,” Nikki tells us.

“Or at a festival, when you’re lining up at the bar you can talk to a girl about the music, it takes the stress away and makes it easier to meet someone without using the standard stock pickup lines.”

Monogamy isn’t assumed in the early stages of dating

While you may be used to exclusivity where you’re from, Sydney is very open when it comes to modern dating. As Nikki tells us, “You have to assume the person you are talking to online or starting to date is either dating or talking to other people online.”

If it’s a monogamous relationship you’re after rather than a casual fling, it’s fine, but Nikki says, “You actually need to address it because if not, it will be assumed that just because you go on a date, it won’t then mean they’re off the market. If you want to take things further after the second, third, fourth or even fifth encounter then you have to talk about it.”

“If not, you might get a shock when one goes, ‘hang on, I thought we were both seeing other people.'”

Expand your search radius

You’ll learn quickly about Sydney’s lockout laws when you first arrive, with many Sydneysiders telling you the nightlife scene isn’t what it once was. The laws have certainly affected the going out culture of the city, so Nikki says to take this into account when searching for a mate.

“You used to be able to go out to a bar and pick up, but a combination of lockout laws and nightlife districts being spread out have meant we’re not so much of an in-person dating city anymore.”

“That’s why I always say you’ve got to be on the apps or looking at going somewhere with that commonality because I’m not convinced that nightlife these days is what it used to be,” Nikki adds.

Don’t dismiss a quiet night in

So you’ve matched with a few people on dating apps; what next? Nikki says Sydney’s prices are causing more people to stay in. “When you’re in your late 20s or early 30s, you’re more conscious of money so getting an Uber or taxi and travelling halfway around the city and then paying for drinks is hard to do on a regular basis. Especially when you’re paying rent or a mortgage.”

Our advice? Don’t immediately assume he or she’ll be seduced by a fancy restaurant or bar; invite them over for a homecooked meal and a bottle of wine. Or if you know of a house party, nab a plus one: the extra crowd will help relieve the pressure of one-on-one chat.

Tackling the Sydney dating scene can be tricky for the uninitiated, but now you’ve had our help, we’re confident you can strut your stuff during your stay. If all else fails, you can always lie to friends when you get back home.

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