A guide to dating in Spain
If you think dating is complex, you have clearly never dated in Spain. Hear from six expats who took the plunge and offer insight into dating a Spaniard.
Dating is a pretty complicated process no matter where in the world you are, and dating in Spain is no exception. But being a foreigner can make the dating process even more difficult. Let four female and two male expats aged 18–32 years old who dated Spaniards to give you the ups, the downs, the dos and the don’ts.
To start off it’ll be helpful to know some words in the dating vocabulary.
For instance, if you want to say that you’re dating someone, as in boyfriend/girlfriend, you’d say estamos saliendo.
If things aren’t that serious, you may use the phrase amigos con derecho a roce, meaning friends with benefits.
If you had a good night out in a club, you can use liarse. Depending on the context it may mean just make out or perhaps a little bit more. Additionally, ligarse can be used to mean almost the same thing.
If you’re a little more adventurous, the word for one-night stand is enrollarse.
Where to meet?
Of course, there are Spaniards everywhere in Spain. But a good place to actually meet one for romantic purposes, like anywhere else, is through the nightlife scene, or through friends.
Othmane, 21, Morocco: "I dated a Spanish girl for like five months. We met in a club. I was with my friends, they had the table next to us, and I just saw this cute girl and I told her to take a picture of me and a friend and that was how everything started."
Amy, 23, United States: "I met my boyfriend in a club last summer. I saw him from across the room and thought he was really cute. So I made my girls keep moving closer and closer to him. I was literally standing next to him for like 15 minutes before he actually said something. Once he found out I was from the States, he immediately began speaking English, overjoyed that he now knew someone to help him with it."
Singles aren’t limited to meeting in clubs or bars though. A great place is through English centres, especially if you’re still not quite up to scratch on the language, or expat groups and clubs.
Ariadne, 30, Cuban-American: "I met my last Spanish boyfriend while I led a study abroad programme. He taught at the centre where my students were teaching. We dated seriously for six years and were engaged when we broke it off."
Mike, 24, Spanish-American: "She worked at a language school I attended in Malaga. She was one of the teachers there (not mine however) and I was completely infatuated with her Andalusian accent. The first words out of my mouth were 'hola boquerona' (boquerona are what Spaniards call girls from Malaga) and she giggled and decided to give me her number. It was a serious short-term relationship, it lasted about four months."
If all else fails, there’s always online dating for expats.
Rose, 23, United States: "We met on chueca.com, an online personals website. We dated seriously for almost a year, but were on and off. I would tell foreign gay women in Spain to use an online personal website because it is hard to find lesbians, even in Chueca, Madrid."
When the dating game begins
Now that you’ve met that someone, what comes next? Usually a text message, according to our expat panel.
Tara, 20, United States: "We met at a party and exchanged numbers but I thought it was just in a friendly way. Then I got a text the next day that said something like, 'No se porque pero lo único que me acuerdo de ayer es que me quede con las ganas de conocer mejor a cierta chica'. So that made it clear he was interested romantically. As I was attracted to him, I went with it. Then we hung out after school a few times, and then he took me out on a very nice kind of elaborate date."
Amy: "After some time, I looked at my Facebook and saw that he wrote me a message saying something like 'Hola Amy, Como te va la vida? Que desde que me vine a Alcalá no he vuelto saber nada de ti'. I didn’t reply because I thought it would only complicate things. I was leaving the country soon, for good, and I didn’t want to have to say goodbye again. But he got on messenger and we started talking. Next thing I knew, I was on a train to Alcalá to see him again."
How is dating in Spain different?
Perhaps all these sound familiar. After all, it’s the same dating game everywhere, isn’t it? Maybe not. The panel shared their thoughts on the differences between Spaniards and people from their hometowns.
Tara: "I felt that our gender roles were very defined and that he appreciated me as a very feminine thing whereas here (United States), everything seems so much more equal. In Spain, I felt like it was separate but equal (though I guess some people would say there is no such thing). Still, I liked that."
Mike: "The importance of communication is crucial when dating a Spanish girl. By that I mean you have to constantly verbalise all feelings and thoughts as well as must be in constant contact with them. For example, I had to contact her (email, phone call) a minimum of three times every day, not with any urgent news but just to keep her happy. It seemed to me she needed more 'communication' and attention than any other girl I've dated."
Amy: "I think that with my boyfriend, I’ve found an exception to the majority of Spaniards. He doesn’t give empty promises when he says something, he actually does it. Although he’s almost always late, it’s usually through no fault of his own. To me, he seems a lot more mature than all of the Americans I’ve dated. He is older, almost 23, but he has his life set, he is off away from his parents (which again is very unusual for a Spaniard) living life on his own. And he has his own car, which is very convenient."
Rose: "It was different dating a Spaniard because she was way clingier and less independent than Americans I have dated."
Othmane: "If I have to compare it with dating a Moroccan girl, I would say it is almost the same as they like to know a guy very well before starting to date him."
Advice for dating in Spain
It’s important to remember that no two relationships are ever the same. However the panel still gave their final words of advice for any expats thinking about embarking on that extremely tricky journey known as dating.
Ariadne: "Remember that people wait a whole lot longer before they get married. They also have to spend Sundays with the family for a lunch that lasts entirely too long! Be prepared to spend too much time with the family."
Othmane: "Be patient with Spanish girls. They are not easy to get (most of them) especially if you’re a foreigner; and try to be good friends with her friends because her friends can influence her!"
Mike: "You do not have to speak Spanish fluently but you better try to speak her language, and remember to communicate constantly even if you are making empty promises. Note: Don't do this too much, they'll pick up on it and break up with you."
Tara: "Spanish men are, from what I've seen, relaxed and fun. However, they can also be very possessive and intense. If you're moving to Spain you should make sure that you would be happy there alone too."
Kejan Haynes / Expatica
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Updated 2013, 2014, 2015.
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