Karim knows he’s a pretty good looking guy. With his 19 years, he’s curious to know more about the local women in town. One day, he’s walking by a terrace full of people, and a young, blond woman looks him in the eye and smiles at him.
Karim: my heart jumped when she smiled and I realized that she may be interested to get to know me. So I returned to the terrace and sat down next to her to start a conversation. However, her smile was gone, she seemed angry and told me to leave! I don’t understand, why did she smile in the first place, is she playing with me?
Lady on the terrace: I was enjoying a coffee and some sun on a terrace, while a young man walked by. I liked his jacket, it looked like the one a good friend of mine also wears. So I smiled at him, but then he came over and just sat down at my table! I felt a bit threatened and told him to leave. It wasn’t my intention to be rude, but I want to feel free to smile at people if I want to, without having any intentions.
There’s no way of knowing why a young woman smiles at a young man. Maybe he is good looking, maybe she wanted to welcome refugees to Luxembourg or maybe she just likes his shoes. Who knows. It is important to note that Luxembourgish and also most of the other foreign women in Luxembourg can have eye contact and exchange a smile, without creating any expectations from men. Both a woman and a man are free to pull themselves out of a conversation or a relationship at any time.
What are possible solutions?
Karim could understand that the smile and eye contact of the young lady do not mean much. He might have walked on, or chosen to sit further away on the terrace and see if the lady contacts him again. He might also have asked to join before sitting down. In order for Karim to get to know Luxembourgish (or from most other countries living in Luxembourg) women, he would need to offer his friendship first, without having any expectations and often these contacts are easier at sport clubs or with friends from friends, than just in public spaces.
Luxembourg is a country with low Power distance (PDI -). In addition a lot of foreigners in Luxembourg come from countries with low scores on Masculinity (MAS-) such as the Nordic countries or The Netherlands. The high value of egalitarianism, combined with a few feminist waves in the last century, has created more or less equal relationships between the sexes in Luxembourg. Women and men feel they largely have the same rights and both males and females make their own decisions in the field of relationships, sexuality and marriage. The males in the family (father, brothers or others) will not easily get involved if a woman contacts other men. If parents really disagree with the choice of their child (male or female), they will argue and put pressure, but they cannot forbid.