62°F
Broken clouds

Dating in Colombia as a Foreigner: Setting Realistic Expectations (1 of 4)

Share on:

Table of Contents

The last time I talked about a touchy subject it went well, so I think it’s time I discussed another important topic, dating. I can just hear you cringing from here, but this is a topic that is very important to discuss, and since it’s so nuanced, I am going to do a 4-part series on this. This is the first part in this series. I want to touch mostly on the common pitfalls of multi-cultural relationships, and what are the expectations of dating your Colombian partner.

Begin with the end in mind

Let’s talk about the really uncomfortable part up front here. I can’t emphasize this enough to you, before you even enter the dating pool here, you have to be upfront and clear with yourself first and foremost. Honestly look inside and determine what you want in your partner and for your relationship. What are your deal breakers? What do you expect from him or her? What does your perfect relationship look like? Narrow this down in advance, and don’t waver from it. 

If you want to get married, but are afraid you’ll scare away potential partners, be upfront. If you want a ‘friends with benefits’ situation, be upfront about it. This will save you both time and heartbreak. Trust me, you will have enough pitfalls being from different cultures, no need to add to that.

Another important thing to contemplate is your wants vs needs. I will elaborate more on this with the gender specific articles, but this is an important thing to contemplate. Too many people in the world in general are hyper focused on their wants, and ignore their needs, causing many of the struggles in dating worldwide. 

Communication

This is honestly fundamental, but many overlook this early on. If you need to use a translator to talk, and you don’t learn Spanish and they don’t learn English, your relationship will fail. Plain and simple. This is no secret, but communication is the bedrock of a relationship, and if you can’t speak clearly to each other your relationship is doomed. There are so many cultural queues that Google didn’t program into the translator app. It’s incredibly important to learn these things, because one slip of the tongue, and you will be in a fight over a misunderstanding, ask me how I know this one. 

Also, Colombian culture is very expressive, whereas in the US, Canada, UK, Europe and Australia, we are not as expressive and it makes us appear cold and uncaring to our Colombian partners. There is a dynamic of communication called “mirroring”, which means you mirror your partner’s communication style and mood, which is very important early on, even more so when you are dating someone from a different culture. One thing which I struggled with is public displays of affection, I personally am not a huge fan of it, but with many Colombians especially the women, that is their love language. A previous girlfriend of mine felt insulted if we weren’t affectionate in public, and I acquiesced. I also was in a long term relationship with a woman who didn’t want to be touched in public. So, there is a range of all types of partners, but figuring out being upfront about it will save you from resentment in your relationship.

Mind the age gap

I think I am going to have to speak with the gentlemen here. Ladies, I think you can skip to the next section. The tendency I’m seeing is that men are looking for younger women. I’m guilty of this as well. It’s in our nature, but there are some guidelines to think about here. The first thing I have to say, and this shouldn’t have to be said but I’m just going to say it, if you have children back home dating anyone within 5 years of your child’s age isn’t a good look. You will be judged when you go out, and due to recent events of terrible men coming here for nefarious reasons, the age difference between foreigners and young Colombian women is in an extreme focus. If you are in your 40s and are dating a 19 year old girl, expect judgmental looks from people. 

The next thing I would like to point out is something I was told when I got divorced at 29 years old. As men we should adhere to the “Half-Plus-Seven” rule. You shouldn’t date anyone younger than half your age plus seven years. If you are 40, you shouldn’t date anyone younger than 27. This ensures your generational gap isn’t so big that you have nothing to talk about. If you are the above guy dating a 22 year old girl, your experiences on this earth are so vastly different that you will struggle with finding common ground. Keep this in mind, to someone that age, Blink-182 is considered classic rock. You’re welcome. It’s not just a shame tactic, you and your partner will have more struggles, and if you can’t see a pattern forming, I’m trying to eliminate struggle points, because you will have enough. 

Expectations

There is a very important phrase when it comes to intercultural relationships, “Expectations are the mother of all frustration”. This is very true, and when you date a Colombian, this is amplified. I feel like especially for the men who come here looking for a “Trad Wife”, a submissive traditional wife, are sorely mistaken. Especially if you come to a place like Medellin looking for this. Women looking for a family are definitely out there, but there are far less than in other towns, villages and cities in Colombia. There isn’t really an archetype of woman from here, but I can tell you one thing, if you are looking for a submissive, non-opinionated woman, latinas are probably not your thing. 

Also, another misconception is that people will come here and find a partner easily because they want to get out of Colombia. This is just not the case. I have spoken with many people here, and they don’t truly want to leave Colombia, just improve their life here. You may have the expectation of wanting to take your partner to the US and live your lives there, but it’s just not as common that your partner wants the same thing. Thirty years ago that may have been a true statement, but recently, most Colombians want to visit other places, but come back to where they are from. 

Financial Expectations

Another thing which is incredibly important to get clear from the beginning is the financial arrangement. You as the “rich foreigner” are going to be expected to provide for your partner completely nine times out of ten. This may start before you even meet them in some cases, and can quickly spiral out of control. This is an uncomfortable conversation to have, but you MUST establish your limits early on and hold firm to them. 

This highlights a very important cultural difference; it’s very common for people to ask for loans or just to outright ask for money here. In the US, it’s not common, and frowned upon. The other thing which is very important to know is that there will always be a mountain of excuses to extract more money from you. I know this because I kept a spreadsheet of every time I was asked for money over the past 4 years and the amount of money that has been asked for is staggering. It’s just a cultural difference and something you have to be aware of. Find your limits and hold to them. Don’t be afraid to say no, because if you don’t you will be seen as your mate’s ATM very quickly. 

Going out

When dating in Colombia the culture here that it’s expected that the man pays. This is part of the culture here, and that’s all of the discussion there is to be had about it. As a man, it’s not uncommon for you to pay for her transportation, child care if she has kids, the entirety of the date, and some even have expectations of a gift. This is not a “Gold Digger” activity here, this is the norm. As a foreigner, the expectation is you will spend more on a date than she could expect from a local man. However this is one of those instances where you should look at the two parts above, communicate with your date and temper the expectations. 

A brief reminder, a huge cultural difference here is that Colombians tend to not adhere to schedules. There is a running joke that if you want a Colombian to be somewhere, tell them you will be there an hour earlier than you want them there. The phrase “Ahorita” means anywhere from now until 2 hours from now. In most cases, they won’t realize the level of disrespect we feel from extreme tardiness. Again, communication is key here.

If you truly want to gauge how you get along with someone, it’s not insulting to invite them to have coffee or a cocktail. I will even introduce a pro-tip here, if you want to do something with limited commitment, just to get to know someone, invite them to walk in the mall with you. You can have coffee, lunch, gelato, or any number of other things, while you get to know each other in a stress free environment. This is definitely the least stressful way to get to know someone, and it’s not a real insult to ask as TikTok shows it to be for many foreigners outside of Colombia. 

When you plan a night out with your partner, I recommend looking in our Nightlife section for curated places to go out. We have done exhaustive research on the places that we cover, so they tend to be great places to go out for a date night. I know I’ve said this before, but when planning your date, communicate with your partner. 

There are plenty of nice places to take a date for dinner or cocktails in the area, so knowing the basics of what your partner likes is important. One thing which is a certainty for dating a Colombian, you can’t go wrong if you take them dancing. Dance is such an ingrained part of the culture, that practically everyone loves to go out dancing here. Since you’re not Colombian, dancing is likely not a huge part of your culture, so my recommendation to you is to be open minded and let your partner know that you’re not a great dancer, but willing to learn. That will endear you to them, and it’s a way to bond over something they love to do.

In speaking with many Colombian women who date foreign men, there are several complaints they have told me about. These all seem like simple things, but based on their feedback, I don’t think it’s common sense. I’ll give you five do’s and five don’ts:

DO:

  • Be clean, and smell good. A nice cologne goes a long way. Also brush your teeth. If you haven’t noticed, oral health is very important here.
  • Wear neat, clean and well fitted clothes.
  • Wear clean shoes. This is something you will be judged for here.
  • Remember your manners. Read the room and act accordingly.
  • TRY in Spanish.

DON’T:

  • Make every conversation about sex. Sex is natural, but not everything  is sexual.
  • Sit on your phone the whole time. 
  • Don’t brag about your sexual conquests – I’m appalled I have to even say this one.
  • Don’t make the date all about you. Learn about your date as well. 
  • Don’t badmouth the city, country or people here. Again, surprised I have to mention this one. 

Ending your date

I want to bring together all of the things that I’ve said here. If you have a great date and as the date is winding down, you will probably need to temper your expectations here a bit. As your date is getting in their transportation for the night, you may have the hope that they’re going to tell you to come along. While this does happen, it’s incredibly uncommon. Two very important factors come into play here – reading the room and knowing the culture. 

To many who have don’t have a high social IQ, this is confusing because let’s say that the date has gone great, you had an amazing dinner, then spent the whole night dancing close, just for your date to give you a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, maybe on the lips, and then back home. You may have been thinking there was more happening, and when it doesn’t happen you feel disappointed, or it hurts your ego. This is a mistake many people make when dating here, specifically men. 

I want to point out something I’ve said before, and it bears repeating. Hookup culture isn’t a thing here, despite what you’ve been sold. Generally speaking, if a Colombian is interested in you, they will be a bit more sexual in their flirting, but this doesn’t translate into a hookup culture. Does it happen? Of course! Is it the norm here? Not a chance. Don’t expect sex the first night if you are dating someone who is serious. 

Why is it this way? I feel like we’re all friends here so I can be honest with you. Men, there is a perception here right or wrong that foreign men who come here are mostly here for partying, drugs and sex, and let’s face it, there are a large swath of men who come here for that. So when a beautiful Colombian woman is out with a foreigner, she doesn’t want to be seen as a slut or a whore. If she is with her friends or with people she knows, this is amplified 5x. So if you truly want to win over a Colombian, and not just get in her pants, being a gentleman goes a long way. There is also a fine line you have to walk, if you try and be cheap, you’ll be seen as a “Chichipato” (cheap ass) and if you go overboard, you will be seen as a simp. While this is true everywhere, it’s amplified here. 

Stay safe

My next two articles in this series will be the foreign dating experience from the male perspective and the female perspective. If you are a woman and want to talk about your experiences dating here, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at [email protected] and we can chat. I’m more than happy to protect your identity.

Just remember the core tenants of what I’ve said here, temper your expectations, communicate and be flexible. This will help you to date successfully. In the words of Skeletor from my favorite cartoon growing up He-Man – Until we meet again!

9 Responses

  1. Well it sounds like your article is directed towards young people but there’s a lot of people especially older men who can’t afford to live in the United States now are coming to places like this affordability and they’d like to have a girlfriend or a wife I met an amazing traditional woman from son son I didn’t date her through an app but I have looked at Facebook dating and there’s an immense amount of older women who are traditional looking for traditional men. We were married a year ago she makes me breakfast she washes my clothes she calls me her King that’s basically what all men are looking for. Otherwise I could just stay in the United States and date boss women lol

    1. Hey Scott,

      Thank you for your perspective. I think that it is accurate what you’re saying here. This is the unfortunate truth, that living in the US has become almost untenable for most. I’m working on an article about the “New American Dream is to leave” which encapsulates what you’re saying. I’m happy you found your match, that’s more valuable than a lifetime of going out and partying!

      Steve

  2. Great read, with an interesting perspective on dating in general as well as in Columbia.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Nina! When I was doing interviews for this article I was shocked at how many people had the same complaints. From the women the complaints were alarming. I would love to see more common sense in the world, so as I’ve said many times, all boats rise when the tide goes up. I want for people to expect more from each other. Stay tuned to the series for more.

      Steve

  3. Very informative article. I look forward to the next ones. I visited last year for 6 months and did meet someone but the language barrier took its toll. I’m returning from n June and I’m now determined to learn Spanish. Thanks again

    1. Hey William,

      Thanks for your experience. So I have some good news for you, if you start now, you can have a good base of Spanish, and if you practice Spanish while you are here, quality people will respond well. If you make mistakes in Spanish, that’s great. They will be ok with this, and correct you. Just learn from it. If you need any suggestions, send me an email [email protected] and I’ll be glad to help. We have a very comprehensive guide on cool stuff to do here outside of the popular areas!

      Steve

  4. I love the article as a colombian from medellin, I actually consider the article very accurate and entretaining .

  5. As a US national from a Hispanic background, I can attest to your point about “hookup culture” not being a thing here or in many other Latin American cultures. Social perception in Latin America being what it is, the phrase “que dirán” (“what will they say”) sort of explains why not.

    Despite this, tons of expats come down here thinking they have “game” and can “get some” with any paisa just because they’re “exotic” or (even worse) “have dollars/euros”.

    1. Thank you for this Jose. I tell people all the time, no matter where you go, there you are. If you have no game at home, you’re going to come here and be a disaster. Most time, people don’t speak the language, don’t know the cultural do’s and don’ts, put themselves in horrible situations because of their ego, and then get violated in one way or the other because of this. It’s not ok to hurt others, let’s just start there, but if you put yourself in bad situations, you’re going to be taken advantage of.

      I hope that people read this and don’t focus on the mundane parts of the article. This and the whole series is a warning to people who have the idea of coming here for sexual tourism.

      – Steve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Promotion by Kia Medellin

Similar Blogs

ALERT - Medellin International Airport: Scheduled Maintenance
New Migracion Prices 2024
Dating in Paradise: The Women's Perspective (Part 3 of 4)
The Harsh Realities: Men's Dating Experiences in Medellin (Part 2 of 4)
How to Relocate Your Dog from the U.S. to Colombia: A Complete Guide
What Sura Health Insurance Changes Mean to Expats
Join the Wave

#1 City Guide & Resource Hub. Keep up to date with the latest events
and information that’s going on in Medellin