Dating in Argentina is very different from the UK. Planning on taking the plunge? Here are 10 things you need to know…
1. A date isn’t a date until it happens
Argentines struggle to arrange dates or as my Argentine friend, Max Gigena, puts it: “Our country is so unstable, that it’s difficult for us to make plans. We know that whatever we aim for will ultimately fail.”
I call it flakiness but regardless, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been invited out, only to see said dates fail to materialise. Acceptable cancellation excuses include a Boca Juniors (Argentina’s favourite football team) defeat.
2. Dates start late
Back home in Britain if a date asked to meet at midnight, I’d assume it was a booty call. However in Argentina, a late-night rendezvous doesn’t (necessarily) signify sex. Dinner here is rarely eaten before 10pm – at the earliest – after which Argentines will head to a bar, before hitting a boliche (club) around 3am.
No matter what sort of date you’ve got planned, arrive fashionably late: Argentines aren’t big on punctuality.
3. Argentine men could charm the birds from the trees
Chivalry is alive and well in Argentina. Expect your date to open doors, pay for dinner and shower you – in smooth Castellano – with compliments. Get used to being called mi corazón (my heart) and hermosa (beautiful).
Sure, chances are the chamuyero (charmer) will have uttered the same sentiments to at least three other women that week, but Argentines certainly know how to make you feel special.
4. Don’t mention the war
At some point, the thorny issue of the Falklands War will raise its head. Despite the fact that this 10 week conflict took place more than 30 years ago, there’s still an incredible amount of anger and sadness surrounding Las Malvinas, as they are known here.
When asked for your stance on whether the islands should be returned to Argentina, simply shake your head sympathetically – if you want a second date – and say that it’s a difficult situation …
5. PDAs are the norm
Argentines are passionate people and have no qualms about smooching in public. Couples of all ages will happily lock lips in bars, at bus stops… you get the gist.
Be prepared to abandon your British stiff upper lip and pucker up in public – or risk being called “cold.”
6. Factor in telo time
Ready to take your relationship to the next level? If your Argentine lover lives at home (most don’t leave until they marry), you’ll be checking into a telo. These popular pay-by-the-hour hotels are where couples go to do the horizontal tango and can be found in every barrio (neighbourhood). It may sound sleazy but let’s face facts: it beats making out in a McDonald’s car park.
7. Romance is a roller coaster
So you’re officially in a relationship and calling each other other novio (boyfriend) and novia (girlfriend). It’s smooth sailing from here on in, right? Wrong. Argentines adore drama, so you’ll need to develop the patience of a saint if your relationship is to succeed.
Argentines have an uncanny ability to create mountains out of molehills, or as my friend Brittany White, a 38-year-old American dating an Argentine, frequently bemoans: “Half the time, I don’t even know what we’re fighting about.”
8. Family comes first
Argentines are devoted to their families and Sunday asados (barbecues) with the padres are a sacred ritual. Spending time with the family isn’t restricted solely to Sundays, either. Case in point? Christian Bravo, a 45-year-old Argentine based in Buenos Aires, will happily abandon his American fiancee and board a 16 hour bus to Tucumán every fortnight so as to see his family. “I love my family,” counters Christian. All of which will make you feel more than a little guilty, for being so slack at Skyping your own folks.
9. You’ll forgivean Argentine for anything
“Try to control me boy, you get dismissed.” So sang Destiny’s Child in their hit song, Independent Women. The problem is Argentines are so ridiculously good looking that, after a glass of Malbec, even the most independent woman will find themselves forgiving their Argentine amour for their flakiness, hysterics and chronic lateness.
10. Dating an Argentine is never dull
Argentines are lovers of life (Argentina has more paid national holidays, than any other country on the planet) and their enthusiasm for everything – from family to food, football and politics – is infectious. Just ask Joanna Farmer, a 37-year-old Brit who swapped her Swiss beau for a Latin lover last year. “Looking back, there were just too many mundane moments in my past relationships,” reflects Joanna.
Bottom line? After dating a flamboyant Argentine, anyone else will seem bland by comparison.