Book Review: Dating in Berlin – Tales of Modern Love and Relationships

A refreshing online dating manifesto that smashes our fairy-tale expectations of love and primes us to recognize red flags and narcissists.

“I’m not everyone’s shot of whisky. But I hope you have learned something from it, and from my mistakes.”

Lulu Johnson

Do we need another book on how to manage the trials and tribulations of online dating? Probably not. Thank goodness Dating in Berlin isn’t one of those books. In providing readers with the essential “emotional education” on love and relationships, Dating in Berlin brings a refreshing approach to the tired subject of online dating.

While we can easily pour through all the self-help blogs and Instagram reels about how to hustle on Bumble, it’s another intimate feat entirely to lay bare one’s personal dating history so we can learn to recognize unrealistic and toxic behavior.

Meet Lulu Johnson, an Irish woman in her early thirties who has been living in Berlin for almost a decade. Her mission? To date and dish in one of the world’s youngest — and most available — cities.

By “young,” I’m not describing the city itself, but the people living in it. Often dubbed the “Peter Pan City,” the Berlin in Johnson’s book is a place that embodies a youthful mentality. From the “I never left college!” party scene to the “never-ending pool of singles,” Berlin can feel like an oasis where one can never age or grow up unless it’s come time to leave.

A city of “lost boys” trying to find themselves also makes it difficult to find a steady relationship, as Johnson regales in Dating in Berlin. Between chapters of tried and true dating advice for a more lust-oriented online dating world, Johnson gives us a sweeping tour of the dreamboat, fairytale-esque men of her red flag nightmares. From the love-bombing Mr. “Charm Your Pants Off” to the sneaky “Prince of Snakes” and the ride-or-die “Rhinestone Cowboy,” Johnson immerses us in the perspective of someone who has fallen for their narcissistic tricks — and doesn’t want anyone else to do the same.

What pivots Dating in Berlin from memoir to self-help is Johnson’s brief listicle chapters of best tips, tricks, and dating practices for the novice or inexperienced social butterfly. While I read and was interested in this book as a resource to identify harmful narcissists in social situations, I believe someone new to the dating scene — online or otherwise — would benefit from this book. Dating in Berlin provides worldly advice from a hyper-infused dating setting for getting your love on, checking in on your friends, and establishing a spectrum of healthy relationships.

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery, a book-sharing platform where book reviewers gain early access to new titles in independent publishing. If you want to become a reviewer, apply here.