Dating customs and traditions in Turkey

If you have ever been to Turkey, you know how charming men there are. Hot and handsome, they are able to win over the heart of any girl. But living in a culture stuck between Oriental traditions and European reality, they are not always easy to understand. Neither are Turkish women. For many foreigners, it takes time to get acquainted with the local customs and traditions but it’s worth it!
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If you came here to read about Turkish dating traditions, you probably have a reason to be interested in it. Be it a Turkish man who you fall in love with or a Turkish woman who you are dreaming of, in any case, you need to know more about the culture of dating which exists in this country nowadays. Let’s discuss the most important things about having a relationship with a person from Turkey.

Dating in Turkey

a beautiful Turkish couple on their wedding day

Even though Turkey is a country that slowly moves towards modern tendencies in personal life, it is still much more conservative than European people are used to. In bigger cities like Istanbul men and women are not influenced by Oriental culture as much and have more freedom. But if you go away from central cities, you will see how the treatment of relationships changes.

In smaller, less touristic cities dating culture doesn’t exist at all. Families have still been created according to thousand-year-old traditions, where arranged marriages are common and men go through weird rituals to prove to their parents-in-law they are worthy of marrying this or that woman. And it is still the older generation who makes a final verdict about a marriage.

Dating around is not very much appreciated.

But regardless of the place, following Western culture is severely judged. It is impossible for a woman to have sex before marriage otherwise it will be a shame for all her family. Dating around is not very much appreciated as well, and even though men have much more freedom in that department, it is not the best idea to date without having serious intentions. It is expected that dating will lead to marriage and there is nothing good in cases when it doesn’t happen.

Dating a Turkish man

For those women who are not of Turkish origin, local men seem especially sweet and charming. There are certain traits that they possess and which, in contrast to European men, makes them so lovable. However, everything is not so bright. We made a list of the most important things to consider while dating Turkish men:

  1. Their charm. The reason Turkish guys feel so charming is because of the way they treat women. Meeting a man in Turkey you can be sure you will drown in the most sophisticated compliments. They know what to say to a girl to make her heart melt. Turkish men also understand it costs a lot to court a girl, so they are ready to bring you flowers to every date and make generous presents. The most romantic dates, big gestures and everything European men would consider over the top: if this is what you want, Turkish men are the right choice for you;
  2. Family first. And by that, we mean the family that raised a Turkish man as a child. The opinion of parents and close relatives puts a lot of pressure on women in Turkey, but men here suffer from this not less. It is often a struggle for Turkish men to present their girlfriend who comes from another country to the family as she might not be welcome. Many parents in Turkey dream of seeing their sons marry a Turkish woman and when these expectations don’t meet with reality, they can be disappointed. But recent information shows that more and more Turkish adults are getting used to foreigners taking the place of their daughter-in-law;
  3. Things are fast. Another thing that shocks European women in Turkey are men who are ready to make a proposal as soon as they get approval from the side of their family. In Western culture, we are used to relationships that develop over the years no matter how fast your significant other brought you to a family dinner. Here in Turkey people dream about establishing their own unit of society and don’t want to postpone the engagement for too long;
  4. Traditional approach. One thing women should definitely be aware of is the value of traditions that Turkish men have in abundance. They are brought up with the belief that men and women all have their own place in the family and should play the necessary role depending on the gender. So while marrying a Turkish guy, be ready that he will ask you to leave the job and devote yourself to family and household. If you are sure you are in love and want to keep the relationship going, it is important to have a conversation about your responsibilities and be ready to find a compromise.
a Turkish couple posing together in the national dressing

Dating Turkish women

As much as European women like Turkish men, the same regards to European men in relation to Turkish women. A lady with Oriental background has great chances to make a man fall in love with her. And if for men of Western origin it might be a little bit hard to get permission to marry a Turkish girl, as her parents might not understand this at first, all effort will be worth it and here is why:

  1. Turkish women are smart. Even though they are brought up with the intention to become household keepers and mothers, they get a very good education which makes them interesting interlocutors. They are aware of political issues going on worldwide, can discuss culture and art, and share their opinion on scientific matters. Apart from constantly broadening their perspectives, Turkish women put a lot of effort into their education to become good specialists in the selected area, so if you are not sure about a subject of discussion better give up or you will feel ignorant;
  2. Turkish women are beautiful. They like to take care of their appearance and definitely know how to do it. Even though their looks might seem a little too modest for European taste this is what gives Turkish women a pinch of mystery and makes them even more attractive. They love good makeup and are ready to spend long hours in front of the mirror to make their significant other happy with how they look;
  3. Turkish women are caring. In contrast with European ladies who always mind their own business and only pay a little attention to their boyfriend when they have free time, Turkish girls know how important caring about a partner is. She will hug and kiss you when you meet, listen to your problems and bring a bowl of soup for dinner after you return from work. But the thing she expects is the care and attention in return, so be sure to appreciate and thank her for everything she does and be as charming and romantic as you can;
  4. Turkish women know how to cook. And Turkish cuisine is delicious. After you try traditional local dishes you would sacrifice all the gold in the world to keep having such meals day by day. Turkish cuisine is not only extremely tasty but also variable, so you will never get bored of the same dishes. In general traditional Turkish dishes can be called a love potion every Turkish woman is capable of cooking.

Engagement in Turkey

It is as clear as day that Turkish dating has a strong intention of leading to marriage. And there are multiple traditions that are connected to marriage and weddings. But before we talk about those, let's discuss what happens when a couple decides to become a family.

If a groom and bride’s parents come to an agreement, they throw a party to celebrate the engagement.

First of all, the man has the responsibility to ask his girlfriend’s parents for a blessing. The family has a discussion and decides if a guy is worthy of their beautiful daughter. While a man is asking for a woman's hand, she is cooking a traditional cup of coffee. If a groom and bride’s parents come to an agreement, they throw a party to celebrate the engagement.

Turkish marriage

Bigger cities have stepped away from a traditional wedding ceremony. It is now more similar to European culture. White wedding dress for a bride, black suit for a groom, multiple guests such as family relations and friends and of course, delicious food to celebrate the first day together. People eat, dance traditional dances and play wedding games: everybody has fun on a wedding day.

The marriage in Turkey is not confirmed without a legal procedure. A municipal officer should be present to approve the marriage. This procedure is often conducted several days before the actual celebration.

While all over the world it is common to have a wedding day at the end of a week and the most common day is Saturday, in Turkey, there are two possible options to conduct a wedding. It usually lasts three days and either starts on Tuesday while ending on Thursday or goes on from Friday to Sunday.

Wedding preparations

wedding rituals in turkey

As with any important event, a Turkish wedding needs a lot of preparation to be held before the celebration itself happens. It all starts by inviting guests. And, like in any Oriental country, this includes multiple guests. Inviting all the members of the family is not even discussed, but friends and neighbours are welcome to the ceremony too. The more the merrier is definitely a statement about Turkish weddings.

Each bride has her own trousseau. Her family puts a lot of effort into collecting the things which will become a part of it and finally preparing it to be a part of a wedding.

Each bride has her own trousseau. Her family puts a lot of effort into collecting the things which will become a part of it and finally preparing them to be a part of a wedding. Nowadays trousseau is no longer a sign of a woman’s value, but a traditional part of a wedding ceremony.

At the same time, the groom's family works hard by preparing wedding presents for the bride. There are three types of presents: those which are given before, during and after a ceremony. Each of these gifts is carefully chosen and include both traditional and useful items.

Henna evening

Women of all ages, both friends and relatives, are invited to the bride’s house to spend this night with her.

One of the most popular wedding traditions in Turkey is henna evening. It is an analogue to bachelorette parties every European woman knows of. This is the final night a girl spends in her parent’s house and everything's made to create a special atmosphere. Women of all ages, both friends and relatives, are invited to the bride's house to spend this night with her.

Even though this ceremony is connected to a sad occasion: the bride's relatives say goodbye to her and lead her to a new life with a husband - it is celebrated fantastically. Groom’s family brings henna to the bride's house in a silver or copper vessel. The person who brings henna is also chosen wisely: this woman should have both her parents alive and shouldn’t have gone through a divorce.

When everybody gathers, traditional songs and dances start. The bride’s head gets covered with a veil and she joins guests in their celebration. During the ceremony her feet and hands are dyed with henna: traditional patterns and words are painted on the body.

Sometimes it is thought to be a female tradition to spend a night before the wedding together with the closest women. But grooms also have a similar party conducted by their male friends and relatives.

The wedding ceremony

a beautiful Turkish bride in traditional clothing

There are several obligatory steps which wedding ceremony in Turkey consists of:

  • In the morning of the wedding day the groom and groomsmen place a Turkish flag in front of a bridegroom’s house after they return from noon prayer. Then they depart to finally meet a bride;
  • In front of the bride's house there is a man, who is her family member. He guards the door and will only let the groom inside after he is given some money;
  • After a legal ceremony, if one takes place on the same day as the celebration, newlyweds try to step on each other’s feet. If it feels strange to you, just remember that it is a replacement for biting a loaf of bread in European traditions: whoever steps on their partner’s foot first gets the dominance in the family;
  • A traditional way to congratulate newly married happens at the end of the evening when a cake is cut. Both partners have ribbons placed around their necks. Each guest is supposed to approach them and pin a coin onto the ribbon. This will be a sign of their wealth and prosperity as a couple.
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