Luxembourg can be a lonely place. With more than half of its population coming from elsewhere you might think there are not many links between us. Wrong! Let's not forget about the things that keep us all going: success, acceptance, and most importantly, love!

In this brand-new series, RTL Today sheds some light on the aspects of life that are hardly ever publicly addressed in the Grand Duchy. What makes Luxembourg a special place to fall in love? What is the first impression that people have of me, and how can I potentially influence that? What are typical mistakes when going on a date?

Claudia Neumeister is a psychologist and for 20 years she has worked as a head hunter for companies including Microsoft and Amazon. Two years ago, she founded a successful dating platform in Luxembourg. In Live.Love.Luxembourg! she shares her most important experiences as a “matchmaker” and equips us with the secret weapons to succeed.

Be careful: single or not, dating or not, you might see yourself in a completely different light ; -).

Part One: Love and stereotypes and Luxembourg

In my work, I ask my clients for their preferences regarding their dream partner. One of the questions I ask is about nationality and clients can range their preferences from “No go” to “must have” on a five-point scale.

I am often surprised by the answers. Depending on the client’s own nationality, there are often distinct restrictions on the nationality a dream partner should or should not have. When I probe deeper in a one-to-one conversation, I am confronted with stereotypical answers about the character and behaviour that members of a certain nation are assumed to possess. I also see similar stereotypes when it comes to professions, fields of study, family status, and of course age. Being governed by stereotypes is not a question of education, most of my clients are University-educated. Nor is it a question of a limited geographical experience, as most of my clients are expatriates. In dating, stereotypes are the biggest limiting factor. Why is it so hard to overcome them?

How your brain may stop you from finding “The One” How many Germans does it take to change a lightbulb?

One. We are efficient and don’t have humour.

This tongue-in-cheek example of “Germanness” is just one example of how stereotypes can govern how we think about the world (and ourselves) and how they can affect our decision-making.

Every day, our brains have to compute vast amounts of information. To make this task easier, our biases help us in our decision-making by sorting this information into mental pigeon holes. Thus, stereotypes are born. While most of us recognise that we can fall prey to bias, we almost never think we are biased in the current moment! Biases exert their influence outside of our conscious awareness.

'If you have a brain, you are biased' (Dr David Rock)

We all have biases. In some ways, they are very helpful and adaptive, allowing us to use previous knowledge in making new decisions. When our Neanderthal ancestors saw a sabre tooth tiger, they just KNEW that this was bad news and that they’d better avoid that tiger, if they didn’t want to end up as dinner. So, stereotypes are embedded into our brains, and they produce behaviours designed to protect us. That’s the great news. At the same time, they can be unhelpful, keeping us from considering a broad range of options, or blinding us to fresh information.

The good news is that we can recognize and change our biases if they are not helpful.

Recognizing your biases is the first step. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) which Harvard University developed may help you: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ .

Then ask yourself: are the characteristics and behaviours I attribute to a certain nation (or age, gender, profession, field of study, family status) really true? Or do they stem from an experience I had with one individual? Or perhaps my fear of the unknown?

Which are the stereotypes associated with my own nationality? How do I conform to these stereotypes?

If you live in, and have never left, the country you are born in, then it’s quite natural – and possibly affordable – to have a preference for a partner coming from your own country, region, or even village.

In Luxembourg however, we live in a multinational society. More than 50% of the people living and working here have not been born in this country and came here to work (some even enjoy the experience so much that they have decided to stay). On top of that, the population is quite small. As a consequence, if you decide to not even consider to meet someone who does not conform to your choice of preferences, the choice remains quite small. If you are biased against certain men and women because of the way you THINK they could behave, you are narrowing your choice unnecessarily.

In his book “The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases”, the scientific journalist Shankar Vedantam puts it beautifully: “Extraordinary people are not extraordinary because they are invulnerable to unconscious biases. They are extraordinary because they choose to do something about it.”
By recognizing and changing your biases you broaden your view and develop your personality.

Surprise yourself! You may even be rewarded with a loving partner you would otherwise not have even considered before.

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Claudia Neumeister
Luxdates.LU