Relationships in Colombia are hostile to the well educated, intelligent women (and dare I say men too?) of more developed nations. Nothing new to an educated, intelligent Colombian woman either – although they seem to bear it better. You might want to prepare yourself for this by banging your head against the wall – followed by a fortifying shot of aguardiente.
Relationships in Colombia
You’re traveling or living abroad. One day, someone will cross your path who sees you, the real you and you will fall madly in love with them. Or was it just the alcohol talking? And despite language and culture barriers, you go for it! Because life is an adventure. And life abroad can be lonely. You don’t consider whether you will understand their sense of humor, and they yours. Right now all you see is the intensity of this moment. The passion. The feeling. The sense of finding someone special.
And maybe, just maybe – you will find your Media Naranja, or that perfect relationship situation. (Hat-tip, to the reader who corrected my understanding on this one)
My relationship with Jaime, my husband, is strong. But, that doesn’t mean a day doesn’t occasionally come along where I am pulling my hair out and wondering if its strong enough. And its always the little things:
- Religious beliefs and approach to the meaning of life.
- Attitudes and culture norms which affect hygiene and personal care.
- The food they desire/eat. The food they don’t desire and refuse to eat.
- Sense of humor, and understanding how to interpret an expression or gesture.
- The in-laws. Google the term “Hijo Bom Brillo.” And then run away from this type.
- The language barrier, or being unable to express feelings coherently in the second language.
This is a pretty small list of the little things, but you will notice that many of them are even present in your home culture too. And, more often than not, they drive us crazy! That’s my list. Let’s see what others have to say…
The International Community Weighs in on the Debate
Cultural norms, family issues and more. I spoke to other foreign residents of Colombia, and here’s what they had to say about the joys and challenges of their cross-cultural relationships…
“Colombian men are in love after 3 days, North Americans are in love after 3 years. Take my advice and run away screaming!
– Bev, Canada
Perspective #1: Mollee’s Experience
Likes: Latin men are way more expressive and passionate. They generally treat their women like a queen…which is nice if you are someone (maybe a middle child) who loves attention
Also I think communication is a big deal in every relationship, and being in one with a second language really forces me
to plan what I say before I say it, which is not always the case when I am speaking English.
Dislikes: Long distance is hard, green cards are expensive, and everything takes time. Sometimes I think about how
easy people have it who are from the same country!
Its also difficult when I’m with his friends and almost all jokes are lost on me.
Mollee, Age 26, USA
Perspective #2: Dales’ Experience
Perspective #4: Jorn’s Experience
Accept and respect each others roots, they do not go away, and there is no winner.
- Your partner does not speak our language
- your partner does not understand our religion
- your partner is so different and eat strange things
- your partner needs to work
- your partners family is strange
- why do you have to live so far away?
Jorn, Age 58, Denmark
Perspective #5: Angela’s Experience
“What I do love about Colombians in particular is their open heartedness, their uninhibited displays of love and affection. Men in North America are just not as open… a little more cold-hearted I’ve found.
Perspective #6: Martha’s Experience
Relationships are hard. Even with people from a culture that we DO understand. They require massive amounts of time, effort and communication. The pay-off of dating a Colombian is beautiful children, a completely different experience and maybe even your soul mate.
Dating a Colombian can feel controlling or restrictive. The cultural norms here do not accept or appreciate women who have guy friends. Women are not allowed to go have a beer or meal with a guy who isn’t their boyfriend/husband…unless they are the mistress or doing business. Even businesses can draw a lot of fear and jealousy from the spouse. This is a very typical situation.
Unfortunately, most relationships which are cross-cultural, will become apathetic or dissolve. Men in Colombia aren’t even considered men unless they have 2-3 girlfriends, within their own social circles. Their jokes are even more sexist than some Americans I have met. Think about this for a minute. That Machismo permeates everything. I have seen women in Colombia sacrifice their dignity and intelligence to find a guy willing to marry them, then they will jealously guard him – even as they look the other way regarding “la moza,” or the mistress. This is insane… I even had this guy from Bogota explain to me how he loves his wife and kids so much, but when he isn’t in the same city – he will take love where he finds it.
But, look at me – and to be fair, I am quite happy with my husband, most of the time. So am I a hypocrite? Absolutely.
Colombians can be very caring, responsible and hard workers. As lovers, they can be passionate and full of creativity. And they are beautiful people.
Know yourself. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Be willing to compromise, and then compromise some more.
Erin, Age 32, USA
For every horror story – I’m sure – there is a story of success where the guy and girl ride off into the sunset. I have seen many men who love and cherish their wives and vice-versa. There are plenty of cross-cultural relationships which endure. And my hat is off to them.
Cross-cultural dating and Relationships in Colombia, aren’t for the weak of heart.
Truly, it can be a bigger challenge than dating in your own country/culture, especially once the “new” wears off. Even worse, if you hit that culture or communication barrier. If you allow that conflict to grow, it could even ruin your Relationships in Colombia.
Once the new wears off, reality comes into sharp focus.
And, it won’t always feel good. In fact, it can even make us question our life or travels abroad.
Now that you understand a bit more about Relationships in Colombia. Check out my article about Sex in Colombia. But you have to read the whole thing to understand my message – peruse if you dare: Sex in Colombia