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Dating in Paradise: The Women’s Perspective (Part 3 of 4)

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I must admit, writing this Series has been a bit of an emotional test for me. For whatever reason, some people have been very offended that I tell them what to do in dating, or pretend to be some expert in dating. Neither one of these is accurate in the end. I just want to make sure that people who are looking for a real connection know the pitfalls of being in another culture and trying to date. I’ve talked about the men’s experiences here, now it’s time to talk about the women’s perspective on dating. 

One thing I’ve noticed is that there is a large-scale difference between the male expats that come to Medellin and their female counterparts. There are far less female expats that stay long term here, defined by me as someone that stays more than 6 months. The common thread remains similar though. They are coming here in search of a love they can’t find at home. Some come here for a vacation and meet someone, fall in love and don’t leave. However, this is less common with women expats than it is for male expats.

In the last one I had three stories, but in this one I only want to spotlight one because it is very heavy and I wanted to give it all of the attention, as this young lady’s story needs to be told. I’ll dive into that one later, but I wanted to give a little higher level insight on what experiences the ladies have experienced here.

The first thing that is very telling is that the ladies have all said that the experience of dating here is not too much different than anywhere else in the world. The same things you experience in other countries are the same as here. The most common thing I heard was that they felt like they heard more of what they wanted to hear to get into their pants. That is something that they feel is a part of the struggle of dating here. Another common thing is that there are very different cultural gender norms here than where they come from. They stated that Colombia is a very “Machista” (chauvinistic) culture, and the gap between what’s acceptable for men and women are very different. 

Moving in together

One of the women interviewed told me that everything was great until she moved in with her boyfriend here. He is a Colombian man and before moving in together, they had a relationship that flowed easily, with limited conflict. Once they moved in together, she stated that his expectations shifted to her slotting into a traditional feminine role, doing all domestic duties, as well as working her remote job full time. His justification was that she was already doing it at her apartment, and can do that in their shared space, since she was home and he worked outside of the home. When they moved into their new apartment, she realized that he did not clean up after himself, cook, or do any domestic task other than personal hygiene. His expectations were that since he had a girlfriend who lives with him, it’s her job to clean the house and he was to be the breadwinner, even though she has a lucrative full time job that pays much more than his salary. 

This continued for a while until she became fed up with his lack of help in the house, and asked him to leave. When I asked her what she felt when he left the apartment, she told me that she felt peace, and she was able to live in the way she wanted. In the later part of their relationship, he became more secretive about his whereabouts and started going out with his friends more and more, to the point where it became him spending every Friday and Saturday night out with friends. Conversely, if she went out with friends to do anything, he would become intensely jealous and expect to search her phone, and even went as far as to smell her underwear to see if she had sex with another man. Things that she loved about this man early in their relationship had become issues once they moved in together. 

This was a common thread, that many local men are very jealous, and can be intense to a woman who is not accustomed to this. 

Becoming The Exotic

When many of us move here, we are the exotic ones. If it’s how we look, how we talk, how we dress, there is a cultural difference that we bring that the locals aren’t used to, which makes us alluring to them. One of the things that I heard many times was that this often turned into the ladies being fetishized. For many, especially American women, this is the first time they feel fetishized, and it’s quite uncomfortable. Since the United States is a melting pot of cultures, there are generally people of many cultures, and this isn’t as pronounced. Here, there is one dominant culture and that leads to it being a little homogenous. When someone else comes into this culture that is different, they stand out. 

While the attention is very nice at first, oftentimes the women become tired of the attention. Especially if it revolves around their physical appearance, as it feels very reductive to the women who come here. While the attention is fun initially, they don’t enjoy being the center of that attention after a while. There is little to do to change this. The other very common thread is that the women who expressed this to me stated that the thing they did experience because of this is that the people they dated put on the act of being what they wanted, and said many sweet things just to accomplish their mission. While this is far from a Colombian only thing, they said it’s more exaggerated here. 

Being On An Island

Another thing I was told which really surprised me was that a few of the women expressed the feeling of feeling isolated to a point. This was especially true of the women who are over 35. They expressed that they have expectations especially in a relationship, and if their dealbreakers aren’t met, they would rather stay single and cultivate a solid group of friends. While this serves you well in many other parts of the world, here it can be lonely if you are in a new place trying to discover yourself and how you fit into this culture and world. Oftentimes trying to navigate a completely different lifestyle as well. 

One of the ladies summed it up very well – they feel like the locals don’t seem to be looking for the relationship she wanted, and the visitors aren’t here looking for her. This is how many feel in the US as it is, and there you have the comfort of being in your culture, so you can imagine how isolating that feels. This is something that most don’t think about before moving to another country and culture, so it’s something to think about. 

TRIGGER WARNING – The following account contains many strong themes, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised on this. 

Sarah

I want to start by saying that hearing Sarah’s story shook me to the core. It’s the extreme of situations and I debated on putting it in this article. However, I wanted to include this so people know her story. For obvious reasons, the exact details have been changed to protect the identities of all involved.

It started 7 years ago, Sarah was a bubbly high school junior in Florida, living her life as teenagers do in Florida. She was looking forward to getting her drivers license and had been working on the prom committee for the prom later in the month. Her younger brother showed a lot of aptitude in soccer, and her parents noticed his talent, love and dedication to the sport and hired a trainer to help him develop his skills so he can improve into high school and beyond if he wanted. Juan Camilo, a 28 year old former semi-pro soccer player from Medellin was hired to be his personal coach and was at the house often, running drills with her brother, helping him with nutrition and watching video in strategy sessions. Sarah’s parents became very relaxed with him around and started letting him come and go as needed to help with this. 

Sarah being an attractive young woman, caught the attention of Juan Camilo, and he caught hers as well. After a while, they started seeing each other away from her parent’s view. It started innocently, he took her to try Colombian food, coffee, took her swimming, etc. She said it made her feel special that an older man had interest in her. She felt mature and grown up. They started having a sexual relationship after a few weeks of their clandestine meetups. She said the attention he gave her made her less interested in the things she wanted before. Her personality changed as well as her grades slipped steeply due to the time she was spending with Juan Camilo. She saw him at the house with her brother and then would make up lies to spend time with him outside of that. 

Eventually Sarah’s parents found out about their relationship, and were collecting evidence to call the police because Sarah was only 16 years old, and Juan Camilo being an adult was unacceptable to them. They also felt an extra layer of betrayal and guilt because they brought him into the home and trusted him. Sarah was upset by this and upon learning her parents’ plan, warned Juan Camilo. He knew he was facing jail time for his actions, and quickly went back to Colombia to avoid prosecution. Sarah’s parents were advised by the local police that the only thing that they could do was to file the report and issue a warrant for his arrest, since he is a Colombian citizen and was visiting the US on a tourist visa, they couldn’t do much to extradite him, especially since Sarah was not willing to help by providing testimony. The only thing they could do is to issue a warrant and cancel his visa. If he tried to legally return to the US, he would be apprehended. 

They began monitoring Sarah’s communications and it became impossible for her to communicate with Juan Camilo. Juan Camilo was not deterred by this. He had a friend in the US purchase a prepaid phone, which he would pay for and deliver to Sarah at school. She now had unfettered access to him. They communicated on Whatsapp, deleting the conversations daily and he was in the phone as another name just in case her parents found the phone. She hid this for the next year and a half. Communicating with him daily. They began planning a life together in Colombia, where he had been working and saving to get an apartment for them to start their happily ever after. Sarah had also been saving money, which she told her parents was for an apartment and tuition. Meanwhile she was making plans to leave the country. When she turned 18, she applied for her passport secretly, and when it finally came in, she bought her ticket to reunite with Juan Camilo and not have to sneak around any longer.

She left a note for her parents and snuck to the airport, and flew to Colombia. Her parents were frantic, and her father even flew to Colombia to try and bring her home. She didn’t even meet with him, telling him that she is not coming back. Her family was completely devastated, even more so when she started posting pictures of her and Juan Camilo as a couple, and pictures of their wedding several months later. Within the first month of being together, she got pregnant, and they decided to get married. 

Everything was very normal until just after the wedding. They went to San Andres to have an abbreviated honeymoon, and during this trip, Juan Camilo let Sarah know what he expected of his new wife. His expectations were that she was going to move into the family home and live with his mother and siblings and when they had saved enough money, they would get their own apartment. This was a change, but she went with it because it seemed logical. He also said that she needed to find a job to help out with finances, and since she came from a 2-income family, this made sense as well to her. She found a call center job she could do from home and started making money. He controlled the finances, so she just knew that the bills were getting paid, and she was able to buy things she wanted and needed. 

There was one large change though, Juan Camilo was starting to spend more time going out with friends and not coming home until late. This started to bleed over into the week, and he eventually started not going to work. He said not to worry about it because the bills are paid and they’re saving up for their own place. This boiled over into late in her pregnancy, one evening she was particularly tired from work and being 7 months pregnant, and just wanted an evening with him. She told him that she was sick of him not working and going out, and reminded him that she is pregnant and a baby was coming, and this behavior is unacceptable for a new father. It was time for him to be a man and step up. She admitted that she said it aggressively because of her heightened emotions, hormones and the fact that she was incredibly tired. 

She said the next instant, he remained emotionless and punched her in the face hard enough for her to lose consciousness and break the glass coffee table while falling. He left while she was out but told his mom to relay how a woman is supposed to act and this isn’t an acceptable way for a woman to talk to her husband. When she came to, his mother told her that she deserved that because a woman doesn’t talk to her husband like that. This was far from the last time he was abusive to her, after their son was born he continued to hit her for a while. 

For her the last straw was when he came home from a night out and still had a condom on, but didn’t realize it because he was so drunk. She was livid, and decided this not the life she wanted so she started making plans to get away. She did everything she did in Florida to get to Colombia, but now in reverse. She got her son a US passport, hid her passport so he could not hide it from her, contacted her parents, apologized, told her story and her dad returned to help her get home with her son. 

They have been back home for 3 years now, but the scars of her experience have caused her trauma that she carries to this day. She has since mended her relationship with her family, and Juan Camilo initially was very intense about her bringing their son back to Colombia, but as he did with their relationship, with time he lost interest. She hired an attorney here to get an emergency divorce and protective order against him, but is moving on in her life without him. 

Writer’s thoughts

What happened to Sarah is unacceptable in every way. This guy was a predator that preyed on a young woman and weaponized the trust of her family to get his way. It’s truly disgusting, and every parent’s worst nightmare. This isn’t acceptable anywhere. While this is far from a normal occurrence here, it does happen. 

From what I’ve seen, foreign women haven’t had the same struggles that foreign men have with serious dating here. I believe that is in part because foreign women aren’t coming here to find love. It feels like they are open to the possibility of it, but that isn’t their primary objective in coming here, as it is for many men. This might explain the disparity between men who come here and women. It’s more than 2 to 1, based on 2023 tourism statistics. 

Just my observation, but it feels like women don’t come here with the intention of dating because on an economic level, it’s difficile to “Date Up” with a local, and as the lady I spoke with pointed out, most short term tourists (those here less than 180 days), aren’t looking for a relationship with a woman from their own country. Will I say that women have it better in dating here? No. They have their own challenges to face, there is still a danger here that they face as women, especially surrounding sexual violence, but they are conditioned to it at a younger age. The men who come here are more naive and are not prepared for what is coming their way. I truly believe that is part of what causes the difference in violence problems here. Yes, I am counting druggings and robberies as violence. The men are being given drugs to achieve a goal, the women know that they are possibly going to hurt their victim, but don’t care. Often times causing long term effects. 

Dating is hard. No matter where you go it’s difficult and filled with challenges, it’s just magnified when you do so cross cultures. In the next article I’ll be talking about what to do if you want a real relationship. I would love to hear your experiences dating. Your story may help others. Leave a comment below, or you can reach out to me at [email protected] and we can talk more. Until next time. 

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