Life abroad can be lonely without a companion. Whether you’re looking for a romantic partner or simply a good friend, before you dive into Portuguese dating here’s what you need to know about dating a Portuguese man or woman and which dating sites in Portugal are most popular.
Whether you’re hoping to meet someone in a bar or club or are thinking of signing up for an online dating site in Portugal, it’s important to know what to expect when embarking on dating for the first time in a new country.
Understanding how Portuguese dating culture works can really help your love life – and who knows, you might just find your ideal partner. But first, if you’ve just moved to Portugal, it’s important to gain an understanding of how the culture works – and this can be a time-consuming task, especially if you’re hoping to meet someone special. Indeed, what you might consider a romantic gesture in one country could be seen as unwelcome or rude in another.
While there are no fixed rules when it comes to finding a partner, these tips should help to give you an introduction to dating while in Portugal. They include some basic etiquette about dating and customs to help you understand Portuguese women and men, and hopefully be successful in the dating scene here.
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The Portugual dating scene
Dating in Portugal works no differently to how it does in other countries, in the sense that people generally meet their partners through friends, work, socialising and online dating.
As you become more comfortable with your new culture and begin to get to grips with the language, you’re sure to find being a solo expat in Portugal much easier. And while it’ll help at first to join groups and meet other like-minded people in the expat community, it’ll also serve you well to learn more about Portuguese customs to help you have a more rounded experience.
Let’s start with the basics. When you first meet someone in Portugal, it’s best to both greet them (and indeed bid them farewell) with a handshake. Customs here vary between the sexes – once they’ve made an initial acquaintance, Portuguese men tend to embrace and pat each other on the back as a greeting, while women usually kiss both cheeks and only elect to shake hands in more formal situations.
While Portuguese people aren’t as outwardly fashion conscious as some others – and don’t worry, you won’t need to wear your suit on a first date – it’s also not the place to wear ripped jeans or a t-shirt. On dates, men usually choose to wear sports jackets or blazers and women opt for dresses or skirts and jackets.
It’s important to be on time in Portugal and lateness is particularly frowned upon – so plan to arrive a little early for your date. And as for the age-old ‘cheque dance’ after a meal, men in Portugal tend to be very chivalrous on dates, so women may find their attempts to split the bill at the end of the night falling on deaf ears.
Dating a Portuguese woman
Women in Portugal are romantically independent and tend to hail from strong, family-centric backgrounds. With this in mind, two of their greatest traits are they are upfront and honest.
Portugal has a rich and varied culinary landscape, so expect your Portuguese date to be more knowledgeable about food than people you’ve met in other countries. When you date a Portuguese woman, you can expect her to talk enthusiastically about the unmissable delicacies in local restaurants, and if you’re lucky, perhaps fill you in on those famous family recipes. While Portuguese food varies from region to region, if your partner is a good chef, you can expect to enjoy plenty of onions, garlic, tomato and olive oil.
This might not be much of a secret – and appearances aren’t everything – but Portuguese women are blessed with striking Mediterranean beauty, with thick dark hair and tanned skin. As well as their beauty, they are highly passionate and are more comfortable expressing their emotions than women in some other European countries. Of course, this means they can also have frightful tempers – so do endeavour to be on your most charming behaviour and make sure you don’t turn up late.
You might find that conversation in Portugal is more gesture-based and animated than you are used to in your home country. This visible openness extends to dating too, so there’s a good chance you will enjoy lively and animated discussions when you date a Portuguese woman.
If you’re lucky enough to be going on a date with a Portuguese woman, you should be as chivalrous and romantic as a Portuguese gentleman would be – so don’t keep her waiting and treat her respectfully by holding doors and offering her your coat. While you don’t need to buy expensive gifts to impress her, you should emphasise your most open and romantic side – these are highly valued characteristics in Portugal.
If you’re from a more reserved country, you might find Portuguese women more open in conversation than you’re used to. Portuguese women enjoy discussing their families and their traditions and will tell you all about their upbringing.
Dating a Portuguese man
Portuguese men are naturally handsome, with a dark Mediterranean complexion and – for those who live near the coast – a certain tanned and sun-kissed style.
When meeting and dating Portuguese men, it’s important to understand how important their country’s roots are to them – indeed, they don’t like being banded in with Spanish men as if they are one and the same.
In a country so renowned for its coastal beauty and seafood delicacies, you might not be surprised to hear that Portuguese men love the sea. The influence of Portugal’s coastal landscapes shouldn’t be underestimated, and this means that Portuguese men love fishing, sailing and surfing.
If you love the smell of the harbour, a spot of sailing and some fresh locally sourced seafood, you’re very much in the right place and with the right people, but if the thought of this makes your stomach turn, you might want to think twice.
While Portugal has a strong influence on Brazilian culture, Portuguese men are a little more reserved than their Brazilian counterparts. While Portuguese men tend to embrace their close friends, if you’re meeting your new partner’s family for the first time, shaking hands is considered more appropriate.
In terms of gender politics, the balance in Portugal might be different to what you’re used to in your home country. While more modern and progressive attitudes are slowly replacing more old-fashioned views, you should still be aware that Portuguese men tend to hold conservative and traditional views about their roles, and indeed the roles of the women in their lives.
These traditional attitudes extend to family, too. Portuguese men are highly family-oriented and are highly loyal to their upbringings and local customs. Indeed, families here tend to take a stronger role in the personal lives of men than they do in some other western countries.
All of this means that while you might have to work hard to impress your future mother-in-law, once you’re truly inducted into the family you’ll be treated with great loyalty and you might even form allies for life.
Online dating sites in Portugal
While online dating exists in Portugal, its market remains smaller than in some comparable European countries and the United States. Even with this in mind, as with online dating sites in other countries, you should always remain vigilant, as scams do happen.
If online dating interests you, you’re likely to find that the most online activity tends to centre on major cities with younger and more tech-savvy groups of single professionals, such as Lisbon and Porto.
This is also the case if you don’t speak fluent Portuguese. While English is likely to be fairly commonly spoken as a second language in more urban and cosmopolitan parts of Portugal, the language barrier might cause you some issues in more remote places.
As in other countries, dating websites are available to cater for those looking to simply meet new people casually, or those hoping for a long-term relationship. While some websites are free, most will charge you – either for a subscription or to interact with other people’s profiles. To do this, you’ll usually need to purchase credits, which are sometimes known as ‘stamps’.
In terms of specific dating sites in Portugal, there are various options – though a couple are more popular than others. Meetic.pt is one of the more popular sites, both in Portugal and Europe generally. Badoo also has plenty of members in Portugal, although with it being a free website, there’s more chance of encountering fake profiles.