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In places like the Netherlands and Germany, people can be very direct in the way they speak (rather than being over polite and saying things ‘to be nice' that they don't mean to avoid hurting someone's feelings – as is often the way in the UK).

So what you say may be taken at face value – and you shouldn't always take to heart what's said to you. In the UK, drinking a vast amount of alcohol can be central in beginning a sexual relationship with someone.

If a woman shows too much interest too soon, she may scare a man away.

As in France, a game of chase and refusal must take place before any form of ‘date' will materialise.

If you're interested in someone, maintain eye contact – if you aren't, don't.

If you say ‘no' to an invitation, he may well think you're playing hard to get and will probably persist.

For example, in the UK, a woman might kiss one or more men when she's out in a club or bar (or vice versa) but it wouldn't necessarily mean anything or lead to a relationship of any kind.

In Germany and Switzerland, however, punctuality is highly valued so if one of you rolls up late, your date will be off to a bad start.

French and Spanish men may seem a little OTT, showering a woman with compliments. It doesn't mean he's (necessarily) a creep, as paying a compliment is a form of acknowledgement rather than flattery in those countries.

A French man or Spaniard might tell you he loves you after only a few weeks but don't panic: It usually just means ‘I really like you'.

Women can say it back to a man with the same meaning – it doesn't mean you should be moving in together or planning a wedding any time soon.

To gather real accounts of the European dating scene, last year we asked around 500 (mostly, but not exclusively, heterosexual) expats living in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland a series of up-close and personal questions about themselves, their relationships and their sex lives.

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