Colombian Dating Culture is somewhere between total exhilaration and a complete shitshow. In other words, it is a roller coaster not meant for the weak of heart. The one thing I have learned over the last few years, is that sometimes the hardest part is taking the time to really get to know the person you think you might be interested in. But, it’s worth it.
But, there are rules…and YOU are the one who will lose by not knowing and understanding. Do your own homework! Or, keep reading!
Colombian Dating Culture
This experience is related to men from the Eje Cafetero, or Colombian Coffee Zone, of Colombia. Some of the men had connections or roots in el Choco, some were from Pereira, Some were from Caldas. All were Paisa.
I have gone out with men from good Manizales families, and even a man from a pueblo of el Choco. It’s important to remember that the war and peace impacts how men and women from these areas think and act. Their past traumas, their challenges and their struggles in life have shaped them into the people they are today.
In this article, I won’t try to break that down Colombian Dating Culture too much…I am not a psychologist. But, I will tell you about some things I have learned that might help foreign residents and visitors understand the locals.
#1 | Caer bien en la bolsa de la suegra.
It means, fall well in the pocket of the mother-in-law. In Colombian culture, men have a lot of respect for their mothers. It could even be said that mothers are often the driving force behind family culture in many respects. One man explained to me that his Machismo was taught to him by his own mother.
Don’t be surprised if the man you are interested in, or who is interested in you, takes you to meet his mother on the first or second date, or even asks about your mother. Hopefully you will caer bien en la bolsa de la suegra, otherwise he might not call you to go out on another date. Try not to let it bother you, just be attentive/polite, and see what happens.
#2 | A good girl is not easy.
This is one of the greatest contradictions in Colombian Dating Culture, especially when it comes to gringos. Within Colombian culture, it is common and even expected for a “good girl” to avoid sleeping with a man she likes until she has known him for a minimum of 2-3 months.
When it comes to gringos both men and women seem to feel like all Americans (et. al) are more promiscuous. To the point that even “good girls” might break their own rules in order to get some action and experience with a foreigner. But don’t be too surprised if you meet a really nice girl and she says “no.” If you really want to win her, you must be patient.
As a woman – it is pretty much the same. A man of quality who is respectful, will take his time with you. The men of the lower classes, typically will not. This is also a way to figure out if a Colombian is after you for your money or not. If they are willing to sleep with you without waiting…maybe they only expect to use you. Put your standards high and don’t be afraid to say “Que pena, yo no soy ese tipo” (Sorry, I’m not that type), and then put your walking boots on.
#3 | Do not date mafiosos, narcos, carteleros etc.
Of all the dating mistakes you can make in Colombia. Don’t make this one! It may be impossible to find someone who doesn’t have a Mafioso, guerrilla or cartel member somewhere in the family…it happens to almost everyone. But, if you are seeing a man or woman and you happen to discover that they are directly involved with a cartel, guerrilla or mafia – try to put some distance between you and them as fast as possible.
In the US, mafiosos break your legs. In Mexico, they will kill you and make you suffer and die slowly. In Colombia, they will kill the person you love, and leave you to feel the torment of it for the rest.of.your.life. You could end up being that person. Staying alive is much better than being killed by the henchman of your “true love’s” boss man. Don’t do it.
#4 | Understand Machista culture
What is a machista? The Free Dictionary defines it as “A strong or exaggerated sense of traditional masculinity placing great value on physical courage, virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness.”
For many of us, we have accepted the concept of Machista, and try to tolerate it in varying degrees of severity. I think there is a type of woman who is ok with it, perhaps. The worst machista will be very jealous and possessive of a woman. He will often try to control her, maybe beat on her and definitely want keep her barefoot in the kitchen.
The best machista will open doors, buy you dinner and treat you like his princess – but you must realize that if he does choose to care for you in this way, he may expect certain things in return.
Either way, do not expect your feminist ideals to overcome what his mother taught him. And yes, the blame typically falls on homophobic Catholic guilt-tripping mothers, versus the fathers. In many Colombian families, fathers are either nonexistent, or relatively uninvolved with child raising. I spent 4 years with one. Over time it got progressively suffocating.
#5 | Let him pay, or you will pay for-ever
This is a tricky one. I have no doubt the criticisms will come pouring in, but thats ok, I really don’t care. Money. The green goodness we all need and want in our lives. I will tell you my story and then you can decide if you agree or not.
When I got with my ex, I had a good job and financial freedom (mostly). We split the bill or I paid if he was too broke and I wanted to go out anyway. Which was ok, until it wasn’t. Fast forward a few years. My good paying job(s) went away. The business I pushed him to start began to grow and give bigger dividends. Finally, he was earning on a similar level to where I was in the beginning of our relationship. I started another website: PereiraCityGuide.com after reaching my limit with a gal in Canada who wanted to LOWER my pay.
My first year was both good and bad. I managed to make enough in the beginning to get it off the ground. When that momentum wound down, I was left with an empty bank account and piggy bank. At my lowest point, I didn’t even have enough pesos to catch a bus.
The response from my ex, who was now earning a decent income: “Let’s sell your bike so you can pay your half of the rent.” I’m pretty sure that was the point where my love for him began to die a long slow death. I ate at home, cooked meals, hustled for clients, of which many tried to out-maneuver me and even became blatantly absent and refused to pay me.
It was a learning process. The most painful part of all was that my ex wasn’t willing to crack his savings open in order to help me out. He wouldn’t even take me out on a date once in a while. Did I mention that 4 years later all the new things (cell phone, computer, bike helmet etc) I had at the beginning were worn out? He hadn’t replaced even one thing?
With my current relationship, I let him open doors, I do not offer to pay and if he is broke, then we don’t see each other as much. The nurturing side of me is screaming at me to jump in and help. The hurt little girl who knows her worth is saying “Fuck that, I am worth more than “halvesies.” Especially if I bring him dance students, I expect at the very least, that he pays my return bus ticket, lunch and transport when I am up there.
I would much rather be a princess, than a bank account. Keeping my nails manicured and my hair nice is expensive, especially compared to the cost of a mens haircut or shoe polish. He had better be ready to pay for our dates, at least most of the time. If he can’t, he can be lonely and I won’t lose my polish because I am jumping in and offering to help out.
#6 | It is considered taboo to date other foreigners.
This is a giant catch-22. Firstly, most foreign men/women are totally into meeting a Colombian and having that deliciously exotic experience of dating someone from another culture. I have found very few exceptions who said, “I prefer women from the first world.” Secondly, the Colombians and even other foreign residents will actually get pissy with you because you aren’t actually doing anything to help them gain permanence. Exception: one-night stands.
No one has ever told me directly that this is not allowed. It is more of a general feeling. I gotta admit, there is some logic there. If you do meet another expat and you both fall deeply in love, then go for it. It’s a free world and you are the one to decide. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out either. It is what it is and we are all working to find permanence here. Honestly, I prefer Colombian men. I just can’t resist them and their poetic romanticism.
Obviously this is a totally subjective perspective. It is based on real experience. I do not allow men to use me for sex, too often. I might date a machista, if he treats me right. Remember, despite the generalizations I made in this article, we are all so unique that you really have to take it one day at a time.
The best advice I can give is to “go slow, love yourself, and run if you start seeing too many red flags.” Otherwise, enjoy the passion and beauty of what are considered to be some of the happiest people on earth. Good luck!