Relationships in Estonia are tricky. As much as I love the country that was my home for more than four years, that’s the conclusion I’ve reached. And I’m going to tell you why. So, if you’re looking for a subjective approach, questionable stats,  a dodgy interpretation, and lots of stereotypes, you’ve landed on the right place.

Let’s get started.

1) Guys don’t stay for the ride

If you’re hoping to find the man of your dreams (or just a man) you’re in for a long wait. I don’t want to sound discouraging, but none of my Estonian girl friends were happy with their marriage/partner. I say “were” because ALL of them are divorced, separeted and pursuing new relationships with more hot-blooded nationalities.

But what’s wrong with these guys, you might ask? Well, they’re just too slow (a word you’ll hear very often when talking about Estonians.) Too slow to do or feel anything. How come? We can only assume it has to do with the fact that there aren’t enough men in Estonia.

An interesting stat says there are 119 women for every 100 men and that number is rising to 130 women in the capital city, Tallinn. For men,  It’s almost like going to the supermarket and getting promotions for everything they want, because the market needs to stay competitive.

Ok, maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration, still, it makes sense. Guys don’t bother to make “the perfect purchase”. They grab the discounted offer and if that doesn’t work out they throw it away for another.

2) There’s no family culture

At least not in the traditional way. Research links the rising number of unofficial marriages and high divorce rates to the countries where societies have not been traditionally religious. This is where Estonia ticks the box.

In this little country, the divorce rate is one of the highest in Europe. Marriage is not a value, it’s a failure.

3) There’s no successful family model

Let’s get teary. Do you still remember how great it was when you were a kid? All those lovely Christmas holidays where all family gathers together. My mom and dad always take one week in advance to prepare all delicious foods while everyone around them gets excited.

If you have a similar picture in your mind then you’re lucky. In Estonia, kids grow up in mono-parental families and likely go through one divorce, at least. In fact, figures show that in Tallinn alone 80% of high school students are living in single parent families. Their experience with the concept of “family” is likely very different than mine.

One in five Estonian families is made up of a single mother and her children. This means kids grow up surrounded by friends that come from single-parent families. Many have witnessed fights and carry on their parents’ grief, buried somewhere inside. Many carry it all the way through their life.

Ok, I might be a little overdramatic here, but you get my point. From what I’ve seen in my 4+ years of living in Estonia, they’re not the best at “familying.”

4) People give in easily

Now let’s go back to my favorite topic. Religion. This is a tricky word. I’m not sure if this is because Estonians are scared of it or simply because they don’t give a hack. In every Estonian’s head “religion” means “manipulation,” definitely not sexy. Given their history with Religion who’s going to blame them (I am!)

Relationships_with_Estonians

As someone growing up in an orthodox society, I feel the lack of spirituality in the Estonian mentality. I grew up with priests teaching us funny prayers everyone loved (like My Little Angel). Our local priest, also our class teacher, would invite us to church and we’d (10-year-olds) leave him notes on pieces of paper, scattered all over the church.

We were curious and imaginative and he never discouraged this behavior. Instead, he’d build our trust in ourselves and prepared our minds to explore different possibilities: a hidden universe with magical angelic beings (and some sad stories of people being the subject of multiple injustices aka the Bible.)

Upon analyzing my thought process as an adult, I can’t help thinking what a great defense mechanism this has been for me. It taught me that no matter the situation, or how bad life hits you, there’s always a place of hope that never fails you.

That’s why we don’t quit, we don’t get shattered to pieces (as hard as others), that’s why we recover from hard times. That’s why we stay in a relationship and not hit the door, that’s why we fix our toys instead of throwing them away.

I just can’t imagine how other people do it! That’s right, they declare themselves as “the least religious country in the world”, they drink the pain away and say bye-bye to life (Estonia stands out for the high number of alcohol-related deaths: 21.4 percent of all casualties.) They change the people who can’t fix their problems for them (Estonia made it on top 10 most divorced nations.)

Welcome to Estonia, where the strong-minded live!

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6 Comments

  1. Since this pushed more buttons than expected here are words from someone in a supposedly doomed Estonian marriage.

    1) Sure, there are fuckboys everywhere who want the perks of a relationship without the commitment. My personal experience (since personal experience seems to count as evidence to the author) is the reverse. Aside from a few rough starts in my teens my boyfriends have been VERY committed. All Estonians. Definitely not slow or unfeeling.

    2) I find it curious how the author automatically equates non-married relationships to falling apart bullshit. They don’t even elaborate. Not being married is enough for them to prove the point that the relationship is doomed somehow? There are plenty of happy families in Estonia who never get married. That doesn’t make them any less happy or the couple any less committed to each other.

    3) Equates divorces to damaged children. I say, if there isn’t love between the parents in the family, the kids will be so much more damaged by people staying together just because they’re supposed to. Their family model will be of unhappy people living together and fighting. A single parent family can definitely be happier than a double parent one and a lot healthier for the children’s emotional health. I don’t even get how the holiday example is supposed to prove anything. As a child of divorce I remember very happy Christmases with my sister, mother, grandmother and her 3rd husband (They were very happy together until his death, and I definitely considered him my grandpa). Why does there have to be more people to have Proper Christmas Spirit™?

    3a) Estonia has a long tradition of having a less prosecuting and judgy attitude towards single mothers than a lot of (especially religious) countries, this goes back centuries and has been remarked upon by historians and chronicles before. This will definitely seem weird to someone from a culture where having a child out of wedlock carries a lot of stigma, but it’s a subjective value judgement, not an objective one.

    4) So religion = hope = not giving up. Hope can be very damaging. False hope that an abusive person will change. False hope that things will work out even though there are no feelings for each other. Atheism also takes more mental strength and intellect because it requires you to override the religious instinct. BTW, I can cherry pick examples too. The author’s religious country (Romania) is way ahead of Estonia when it comes to alcohol consumption per capita, 5th vs 37th. Some very religious countries also like to drink a lot, like Poland (14th), Moldova (2nd), Portugal (11th) or Croatia (20th). Portugal while being very religious also has the 2nd highest divorce to marriage ratio in the world, ahead of Estonia (7th). Hm. How does religiousness help again?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_alcohol_consumption_per_capita
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_demography

    • Hi Iris, thanks for leaving your comment. I really appreciate your elaborate point of view. As I mentioned in the introduction of the article, this is a soft read, based on common stereotypes and it was never intended as a “serious” or “ultimate” opinion. As you pointed out, ideas might not necessarily follow a solid logic. If you are the type of reader who’s looking for an accurate illustration of reality, than this article will fail on many aspects. Nevertheless, it still reflects my personal opinion and experience with Estonians to some levels. Take care.

  2. Raimond Soon Reply

    After just accidentally finding my way here as an estonian I must say… I see the world differently than you do.

    point 1. I tried years and years and years to find a person that would think and be like I am will be. It took me lots of short-lived loves but half of the time the unmatch came from the other side. I dont think Estonians are any different from other people trying to find love.
    point 2. There I bring out an example : Traditions change and in the soviet times gays were taken to assylums and killed for being gay. The traditions have changed and we have come so far to have a new law letting gay people live together for tax purposes aswell.
    point 3. If by truly you mean that people who havent had a happy childhood by reasons of living in a one-parent-family then you can be mistaken. Met some nice people who have gotten a closeness I can only dream of and thus they are more accepting of taking new people in their lives as their family.

    point 4. On religion and alcohol-related theme I must have a word and say that there are more people dying in the world of diabetes with direct relations to sugar that does not even come close to the statistics of alcohol.

    • Hey Raimond,
      Thanks for stopping by. I agree, my ideas are intentionally exagerated, the statistics are superficial and for sure you’ll find so many gaps in this post. But that was not my idea. My idea was to show a reality that (although ten times heightened) still exists. I used to work with impaired children, and I was simply shocked by the fact that so many of them came from troubled families. I lived in the social field and here you see all the exceptions and difficult cases. And whereas to my other beliefs, they are my own and I’m not expecting people to agree with me. Thanks again!

  3. Bringer of light Reply

    So perhaps we should praise god of chaos the bringer of light, Kek the frogheaded accient god.
    Just for lols.

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