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Ask a Brazilian: Family Closeness

September 14, 2010

This is our regular column called "Ask a Brazilian", the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian - for those issues you aren‘t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send your own comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.

Hi. I'm an American woman that was in a relationship with a Brazilian man and I need your expertise. So, I understand that Brazilians are a lot warmer and more physically affectionate (which is something I loved about my ex-boyfriend), but could you tell me if this is normal in Brazilian culture please? Because it struck me as a bit "off":

1. Adult brother (late twenties) and his younger adult sister (early twenties), cuddling on the couch, sister has her head in his (my BF's) lap, while he's rubbing her shoulders and stomach.

2. Sister, who was visiting from out of town for 2 weeks, sleeps each night with brother in his bed. I'm informed of this sleeping arrangement when he barrs me from spending the night over his house, not because it would be weird having the GF overnight, which I would understand, but because he's sharing his bed with his sister and 3's a crowd obviously. (Note: his house is huge and there are two giant couches plus a futon for guests to crash on. His roommates mind their own business the whole house is quiet by 9pm, so it's not a circus around there.)

3. There was other behavior between brother and sister that seemed "boyfriend/girlfriend" like that I won't overload you with.

4. When I asked him if he'd be comfortable if I was cuddling on the couch with my adult brother and sharing my brother's bed, he said "yes!" I thought, "whhaaaaaaaaatt?????"

5. And finally, he's really attached to his mom. This may or may not be relevant; I don't know anymore to be honest.

So what do you think? Normal, or a little too close? Thanks so much for your help.

Hello Dear,

Look, I have brothers, I don't remember sleeping with them, cuddling specially, since we're children. It seems a bit too close, yes. You know Brazilian families are very close, right? But this is weird. How old is the sister? Unless she's young. Is she? Rubbing her shoulders and stomach and Vicky Vaporub? Or... just rubbing?

I don't like to say anything to any of you guys cos, you know, I don't know your boyfriend, or his sister, it's hard to judge like that. I just want to say it seems weird but maybe they have a different relationship and maybe it is OK. As to how this fits with Brazilian culture, I can't say Brazilians brothers and sisters cuddle on the couch, no. But if there's isn't any extra bed in the house then definitely it wouldn't be a problem to sleep together in the same bed. You could sleep with a friend in a bed in Brazil, only so this friend could stay in the house.

What else? Oh, "attached to his Mom". Well, this is Brazilian, yes. Like Jewish Mothers, a Brazilian Mom will always be there.

Hope I could help,



Readers comments:

Dear American Lady,

Run like hell!!!

I think you should verify their relationships....is the sister really the sister?

This type of behavior is unacceptable in any culture.

I truly fear for you....get out!

-- Fellow American in Brazil

I am an Australian man married to a Brazilian Woman and when I showed her this article we both thought that this boyfriend of yours might be stringing you along.

His sister might actually be his long time wife or girlfriend and you might just being used for money or visa purposes. This is a regular occurrence in poorer Countries with both male and female.

Sorry if it upsets you.

-- Rodney

Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you‘re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to gringoes@gringoes.com with "Ask a Brazilian" in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.

Previous articles in this series:

Ask a Brazilian: Jealousy
Ask a Brazilian: Waxing and Electronics
Ask a Brazilian: Nails and Spanish
Ask a Brazilian: Easter and Surnames
Ask a Brazilian: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: House Buying and Apartment Entry Problems
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Dating in Brazil
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: A Question of Race
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Corruption and Lula
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Leather and Telephones
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: Treatment of Animals
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Well-to-do Ladies
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
Ask a Brazilian: All Souls Day and Halloween
Ask a Brazilian: Answering a Question
Ask a Brazilian: Revoked Visa
Ask a Brazilian: Pedestrian Problems
Ask a Brazilian: Trash
Ask a Brazilian: Tiles
Ask a Brazilian: Headlights
Ask a Brazilian: Differences and Love
Ask a Brazilian: What Do the Police Do?
Ask a Brazilian: Contractor Frustrations
Ask a Brazilian: English Books and Brazilian Boys
Ask a Brazilian: Cold Caçhaca
Ask a Brazilian: Interruptions
Ask a Brazilian: Travel and Security Concerns
Ask a Brazilian: Gestures and Toys
Ask a Brazilian: Hispanics or Latinos, and Duvets
Ask a Brazilian: Overbearing Sogros
Ask a Brazilian: Hotels and Bank Transfers
Ask a Brazilian: Swimming, Showers and New Year's
Ask a Brazilian: Making Friends
Ask a Brazilian: Female Etiquette
Ask a Brazilian: Washing Machines
Ask a Brazilian: Picking Teeth
Ask a Brazilian: Lozenge or Candy?
Ask a Brazilian: Liberal or Jealous?
Ask a Brazilian: Truck Wheels
Ask a Brazilian: Tolerance
Ask a Brazilian: Screens
Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers


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