From my 5-month relationship with a Brazilian guy to my short time being single in Rio, there are a few things I have learned about dating in Brazil.
Keep in mind that some of this may be a bit generalized (obviously not everyone is this way); the opinions shared are simply based on my own experience and observations.
1) Brazilians are a jealous breed. And for independent North Americans, can even be considered clingy.
This is one instance where the independent American culture clashes with the dependent Brazilian culture.
Anytime that I wanted to go out without him, my boyfriend at the time thought it was very odd – “Why don’t you want me to go out with you?” “But you know that guys are going to hit on you, right?” “This is not normal in Brazil” etc.
In the US, it is considered normal and healthy to spend time apart from one’s significant other. Americans like to go out with their friends and have “girls nights” – same goes for guys. This was a fairly novel concept to my ex – because in Brazil, it’s strange to go out without one’s significant other – the guy knows that his girlfriend will likely get hit on and cannot stand that. I have heard that if one goes out without their boyfriend or girlfriend in Brazil, it sends the message to other people that they are single.
Even when they go out together, Brazilian couples tend to stay attached at the hip. I had to remind my boyfriend to give me some space when we went out together – telling him that I would want to mingle with friends and other people, independent of him – I would remind him to “be more American” whenever we went out. In the US, this type of thing is pretty much understood, unless you want to gain the “clingy” label. But my ex found this estranho (strange), saying that in Brazil, couples do not leave one another’s side if they are out together because if they do, it sends the message that one is single. He was worried that other guys would try to flirt with me if he wasn’t around – but I tried to explain to him: even if somebody does hit on me, I’m obviously not going to do anything!
But Brazilian men do not like to watch their ladies being hit on. If another guy touched me when I was with him (Brazilians are super touchy-feely!), my ex became super upset and agitated – which I actually found to be quite sweet.
While I do think a little bit of jealousy is healthy in a relationship – it shows that the person cares – I found that Brazilians tend to be jealous to an unhealthy level. For instance, it is normal here for couples to check one other’s Facebook and text messages (which my ex never really did – thank goodness!). But if you trust the person, then why should you feel the need to check their messages and invade their privacy? To me, this sort of behavior is simply unacceptable.
2) Brazilians tend to be very into the Facebook relationship
I have never been a fan of being “in a relationship” on Facebook. Since being in Brazil, I have gotten more used to it, since everyone seems to do it, but it just has always seemed so cheesy and high-schoolish to me. In the US, the Facebook relationship status is not taken so seriously.
But in Brazil, it seems that everyone is in a Facebook relationship if they are in a relationship with someone – my ex-boyfriend said that his friends thought I had something to hide simply because I didn’t want to announce my relationship status on Facebook (in the end, I succumbed). But why should I have to let the entire Facebook world know who I am dating?
3) Many people get into relationships (start to “namorar”) very quickly
Here, people tend to namorar (become boyfriend-girlfriend) after a very short time – there is even a word for this in Portuguese because it happens so frequently!
I was talking with a French guy the other night and he was saying how in Brazil, if you aren’t in a relationship, it’s seen as weird. He was saying that everyone is in a relationship here, which I found interesting. And sad, as well, that people feel such a compulsion to be in relationships here. Since when did it become such a bad thing to be single?
Sometimes I wish that I were less picky when it comes to dating – but unfortunately, it is not easy for me to feel an attraction to someone, actually have enough interest in that person to date them and also have that feeling reciprocated. And I would much rather be single than settle – I could never be in a relationship with someone that I wasn’t totally crazy about – so it’s strange to me how here, people would generally prefer to be in a relationship and settle than to try to hold out for something better. And personally, there is no greater turn-off to me than a guy who is always namorando someone – every girl wants a picky guy – to be chosen. And vice versa.
Updated side note: I recently went on a few dates with a Brazilian guy (here in the US) – on just our second date, he said to me “Voce quer namorar comigo?” (Do you want to be my girlfriend?). He definitely seemed like a player and it was clear that he had ulterior motives so I didn’t take him seriously when he asked me that. His behavior that proceeded therefore came as no surprise – I only heard from him sporadically after that…he sent me the occasional message saying that he felt “saudades” for me (missed me)…but that was it. From my experience, many Brazilians tend to throw around the word “namorar”, not holding much meaning to it.
My ex-boyfriend and I only waited 10 days after meeting to become an official couple – and I remember he said that was a long time for him (he was trying to be patient because I’m American). In Brazil, if two people are into one another, have been on a few dates, and they reach first base, then it’s pretty much understood that they are together and soon after, will officially namorar (and you can probably see proof of that on Facebook). In the US, dating is a bit more practical and less rushed – people like to take their time, date different people (probably simultaneously) and then make an educated decision.
In the US, we even have a word for discussing the relationship status, since people normally date more than one person at once – DTR or Define The Relationship. While it’s nice that there is less confusion on the dating front in Brazil, it definitely makes it harder to take many of the relationships seriously when everyone just jumps into them so quickly – and it likely explains the high prevalence of cheating!
4) Many Brazilian men will say anything to please a girl
I have heard numerous times from people that many Brazilian men will say nearly anything to please a girl.
Case in point: I met a Brazilian in Paris who, shortly after we met, said things to me like, “You want to sail around the world too? See, this is why you have to be my wife…” “How many kids do you want to have?” etc. While I obviously did not completely take his words to heart, I did actually like this guy at the time and took his words to mean that he actually liked me too (Cut me some slack – it was my first experience with a Brazilian man). Well, I could not have been more wrong…soon after, he fell off the face of the earth.
The other day, I was talking to a Brazilian girl about this sort of thing- she was telling me that she has really been hurt in the past by guys who have told her things like “Eu adoro voce” (I really like you) and then the next day completely disappeared. She explained that the men here are very passionate – but with that passion, comes fleeting relationships and insincerity. Many Brazilian men talk in the moment, without thinking much about what they are really saying.
In Brazil, many times, “Eu te amo” (I love you) often only means “I like you a lot…right now.” AKA…maybe tomorrow I won’t anymore.
“Eu te amo” seems to be a phrase that is thrown around a lot and said very early on in Brazilian relationships. It makes sense in a way since this is a culture that is full of passion and warmth. But it also makes you question if the person really means it.
And it has made me wonder if being “apaixonado” (in love) really means the same thing in Brazil as it does back home. Perhaps it translates more to our version of “lust” – more fleeting and less meaningful. My suspicions were confirmed after watching Friends with Portuguese subtitles (great way to learn Portuguese by the way!) – I noticed that “I am crazy about him” translated to “Estou apaixonado por ele” – it seems that “apaixonado” indeed does not translate to “in love” – it can mean both “crazy about” and “in love” – which mean two very different things in English.
Sasha Cagen of the Huffington Post, sums it up well: “I used to compare San Francisco men to Brazilian men and wish that San Francisco men were more forward, but now that I have seen the flip side, I’ve grown to appreciate the subtlety and slowness with which American men say what they are feeling–they say less, but I trust them more.”
I too have come to appreciate the more subtle approach after living here – anglophone men may be less expressive, but at least you know that they actually mean what they say when they say it.
But again…that’s not to say that this is always the case in Brazil and that all the men are like this – my ex-boyfriend was an exception to this and i could tell that he was always sincere in what he said.
But beware: if a guy tells you “Eu adoro voce…” or “Eu te amo” very early on, then that is probably a red flag..
5) Infidelity is rampant in Brazil
Sure, this sort of thing happens everywhere and of course it happens in the US, as well. But in Brazil, cheating is extremely commonplace.
Everybody warned me (even Brazilians) before coming to Brazil – “do not date a Brazilian man – whatever you do.” Now, I’m not saying everyone cheats here – fortunately, I had a very loyal boyfriend. All the same, if you decide to date a Brazilian, be careful, is all I have to say – men and women alike.
6) Ladies, expect to date a guy who lives with his parents
Most guys (and girls) here live with their parents until they get married. That means that there are many 30+ year olds living with their parents. I think this is in part due to Brazilian culture, which has extremely close family ties and a very dependent culture – as opposed to American culture, which is much more independent and kids leave home at 18. And partly due to the astonishingly low minimum wage here combined with the high rent- in Rio at least, people simply can’t afford to live alone!
I met an American man yesterday whose daughter had a job in Rio that paid around $800 USD a month – so she had no choice but to live at home. She got the same exact job in New York (thanks to her dual citizenship, she was able to do that) and now is paid $60,000 USD a year.
Financially speaking, it is understandable that many Brazilians live with their parents. But in the US, women find it to be a huge turn-off (and even a deal breaker) if a guy lives with his parents. There is even a “Sex and the City” episode about it (Carrie dates a guy who lives with his mother – it doesn’t end well…)
7) Dates are always last-minute – Brazilians cannot seem to plan dates in advance.
Since being single, I have been on a few dates here. The ones I have been on all tend to be last-minute encounters – guys are extremely flaky and never really plan in advance here. I have also had several guys marcar (set up a date) and then never follow through. “Vamos jantar na quarta nesse restaurante” (Let’s have dinner on Wednesday at this restaurant) and then…nothing. This has happened to me several times. I know this is a Carioca thing and I was warned about this too before coming here and even experienced it with Brazilians in Paris, as well (both guys and girls) – I’ve learned that Brazilians (and especially Cariocas) rarely follow through with plans. So when you make plans to do something with a Brazilian, make other plans just in case…
When a guy asks me out here, I now generally ask “Is this a Brazilian/carioca invite?” Meaning, is this date actually going to happen?
Once again, you can always find exceptions here. I have also met some Brazilian men that do follow through with their plans (although they are few and far between, I must admit!). Luckily for me, my ex was one of those people – when he said he wanted to meet me, he actually meant it. If we had plans to meet, he never bailed.
8) Brazilian men are very complimentary and expressive
“Nossa, você é muitoooooo lindaaaa.” (Wow you are so beautiful). “Voce tem olhos sinistros” (you have incredible eyes). “Parabéns pra vc, beleza dos deuses!!” (Congrats, you have the beauty of gods!!). These are a few of the compliments that a girl might hear in Brazil. Guys have no qualms about telling a woman she is beautiful.
While it’s really nice and I love how Brazilians shower girls with compliments, if a guy is so complimentary early on, it definitely makes me wonder how many other girls he says that sort of thing to…it rings off the galinha (player) bell in my head.
9) Brazilians are extremely affectionate and “carinhoso”.
It’s funny how in English, we have a word for displaying affection in public (PDA or Public Display of Affection). There is no word for this in Portuguese because this sort of thing is simply implicit. In Brazil, like many Latino cultures, it is totally normal and expected for couples to make out and touch one another in public. Even on a first date, Brazilian men tend to be very touchy-feely about an hour after meeting a girl (kissing her on the cheek, holding her hand…).
Carinho (affection) is a very important part of dating and relationships in Brazil.
10) Brazilian men are very aggressive and forward.
The other night, I was at a bar and this Brazilian guy approached me. Upon starting a conversation, he immediately wrapped his hand around my waist and started to get way too close for comfort. Not being the most assertive person, I tried to shove his hand away the best I could. My attempts apparently failed because soon into our conversation, he tried to kiss me – I didn’t let him, so instead, he kissed my forehead and cheek. The whole thing was a bit uncomfortable for me – I had to keep telling him, “Eu não sou Brasileira cara – preciso de ESPACO!! Nem conheco voce!!” (I am not Brazilian – give me some space! I don’t even know you!). But this type of physical aggressiveness is very normal in Brazil.
If you are on a date with someone or meet a guy in a bar here, rest assured, he will try to kiss you just moments after meeting you. A Brazilian once told me once that 5 minutes is a long time to wait to kiss someone. The method? They will either flat out try to kiss the girl or tell her that they want to beijar (kiss). So guys are in luck – Brazilian girls generally do not hold out long to kiss guys. And if you don’t kiss a Brazilian girl soon after meeting her, she will assume you aren’t interested. One Brazilian friend in Paris told me how she was disappointed in French guys since they didn’t move nearly as quickly as Brazilians – that she would go out with a guy and he would not try to kiss her at all during the date.
Keep in mind, however, that kissing does not mean much of anything in Brazil. If you kiss someone in a bar or club, even if the guy tells you how in love he is with you at the time, it’s safe to expect that you will never see them again. Another Brazilian friend from Paris told me how he thought it was strange that people don’t really kiss at clubs in France – because in Brazil, he said that everyone kisses someone when they go out.
Rooshv.com said the following:
“Brazilian game as told to me by a Brazilian guy:
Alright all you have to do is walk up to her and say ‘What’s your name?’ Then you give the two cheek kisses but make sure you do it nice and close. Then make her laugh a couple times and touch a lot and after that go for the kiss. Just go for it. It may take a couple tries.”
They are persistent too. “No” in Brazil does not mean the same thing it does elsewhere. I heard once that many Brazilian women say “no” even though they mean “yes”, just to try and appear hard to get. So even if the girl tells a guy “no”, the Brazilian man will keep trying. So if the girl is actually not interested, she has to be rude to the guy for him to get the picture. Simply saying “no” is not enough.
I once met a Brazilian guy in a gay club in Paris (of all places!) – I refused to kiss him but he kept insisting, over and over again. I even told him I had a boyfriend (which was a lie) and he told me that he had a girlfriend too, but that it was Carnaval time, so didn’t count – we weren’t even in Brazil!!
Yet another example: At a party in Ouro Preto once, a guy approached me and tried to kiss me – Once again, I told him I had a boyfriend (which was also a lie) but he said something along the lines of “what your boyfriend doesn’t know won’t hurt him…” Even using the “boyfriend” excuse doesn’t work in Brazil!
11) If you are dating a Brazilian, you will get to know their family very well.
I love how close and involved families are in Brazil. In the US, people wait a while to introduce their significant other to their parents and to bring a girl or guy home to the family. It’s a pretty big deal to “meet the parents” and is saved for serious relationships – or at least until you’ve been dating someone for several months.
Not in Brazil. Shortly after starting to date someone here, you will meet that person’s family. It’s no secret that family ties are super strong in Brazil – so when you are dating a Brazilian, you will really get to know their family and spend a lot of time with them.
When I was dating my ex-boyfriend, it felt like I had a second family in Brazil. They were always super welcoming and warm, making me feel right at home whenever I was a guest- and they always cooked mouthwatering, home-cooked food!
12) Brazilian men can be super charming – it’s sometimes a bit unsettling.
Between showering you with compliments, being touchy-feely and seductively locking eyes with you, it can be hard to resist the charm of many Brazilian men – even when you know the guy is completely full of it!
The first time I fell under the spell of a Brazilian man was when I went out with this Carioca guy in Paris a few times who just exuded confidence and sexiness. He was the definition of suave. There was something about him that just pulled me in. Despite all of my instincts (and friends) telling me that he was a total player, I still fell for him…Since then, I have learned to be much more cautious when faced with the Brazilian charm!
13) Brazilian men can make the best boyfriends
While you need to be choosy about who you date in Brazil, you can definitely find some keepers. Despite the cultural conflicts that I encountered with my ex, we managed to work through them and had a great six-month relationship. He turned out to be one of the kindest, most caring and loving people I’ve ever known.
Proof that Brazilian men can make great boyfriends? My ex.
When I came back from the US, he came to meet me at the airport at 7AM (he had to wake up at about 4am to be there in time) to help with my luggage – never once complaining about it.
He could be incredibly romantic – each month, he reminded me of our “anniversary”, whether it was our one-month or our five-month (I am the girl and I didn’t even know this!).
He always spoke to me in Portuguese (even though he loved to speak English), because he knew that I preferred that.
Whenever we went out together, he would insist on carrying my purse for me – not caring how it may look on him or however heavy it might be. He preferred that to me carrying it.
Knowing how important it was for me to go for runs, at least once, he went running with me…wearing flip flops (because he had forgotten sneakers), motivating me every step of the way.
He was so caring and always worried about me going out alone, taking taxis by myself etc. When we first started dating, he would always come to my house to pick me up, even though it was far out of the way for him.
He was so helpful. He always did the dishes at my house (saying that he didn’t like to see me doing that sort of stuff) and helped me with any articles that I had to write.
He was willing to do whatever it took to please me and make me happy, whether that be watching The Bachelor or another chick flick or making a bunch of Brazilian DVDs with Portuguese subtitles for me (to help me learn Portuguese).
He always offered to give me massages.
He would always ask me if I needed anything, even at my own house. “Quer alguma coisa?” (Do you want anything?) was a phrase that I became very familiar with.
He knew me inside and out and loved the hell out of me – even with all of my little imperfections.
And the best part of all? Unlike many Brazilian men, I knew that he was genuine about everything that he said and did.