July 5, 2009

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&rsquot;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.

What is the culture for dating in Brazil? I mean a serious courtship and the dating period (length). The engagement period length? What is typical as far as intimate relationships? Are they conservative (waiting for consummation longer than in the USA)?

— Amy

Hi Amy,

Oh dear, I don’t know.

Maybe it’s the same everywhere. You meet someone you like, someone likes you back… suddenly you’re drinking coffee, in a relationship, engaged, married, moving to Australia… It’s hard to say how you do that. If there are some good lines to say, or a perfect time to act, any ideal this and that for Brazilians, I’m afraid I am not aware of any. Sorry.

Maybe some of our readers can find something typically Brazilian when it comes to love? We might have good ones.

Thanks for your question and good luck,


Readers comments:

Hi, Amy.

Mutual understanding and acceptance of cultural differences, or the lack thereof, can sure make or break a cross-cultural relationship! I am a 29-year-old Brazilian who’s lived in the US from age 15 to 23, so as far as the dating culture in Brazil goes, even though I’ve had a Brazilian boyfriend, I can be quite a gringa. But a very observant and well rooted one, so I feel confident I can compare and contrast.

Please note that when I say Brazilians or Brazil, I most likely mean people in São Paulo and São Paulo city. And, of course, my views on each topic you mentioned might change with the addition of other factors such as age group, social background, etc. Anyway, if you are wondering about it for yourself, there is nothing like a Brazilian girl or guy friend to advise you. I suggest http://american.meetup.com/291 for social occasions in which to bring up this subject and get varied, interesting and relevant accounts.

In any case, since you asked for it and I love the subject, here is my generalized, biased and skewed opinion to you, Amy. hehe So, about…

…Serious Courtship

In the USA most couples don’t hold hands when they walk around together. Here, if you don’t, it’s almost as if you are announcing that you are not a couple or you are hiding that relationship because you are ashamed of the other person. For holding hands, as with anything else in a relationship, I suppose, it’s best for the guy to take initiative. The hand-holding can be the ring-equivalent for making it official that you are seeing each other exclusively and you are interested in taking it seriously. And the gesture stays strong even after the ring is on. Wow, 10 fingers can be worth more than a thousand words! I love it.

In Brazil I hear about many couples that date each other for as much as 10 years before they marry. In the USA, that was unheard of in my experience. In general, though, if a couple dates seriously for 3 years in BR I’d say that most people would consider that long enough for getting engaged, specially in bigger cities.


By the time it happens with a BR couple, both families most likely already know each other quite well, each person has been “adopted” by the other’s family, the girl is best friends with his mom and the guy hangs out with her dad. In the USA, that is not necessarily the case at all.

I’d say that in general any big-city USA guy is more comfortable with popping the question than a big-city BR guy. It seems to me that the question weighs much more in BR than in the US. But maybe Im crazy.

I’d say that engagements that go over 2 years in BR lead people to wonder what’s going on, what’s wrong, do it or set him/her free, and so on.

…Intimate Relationships

I’d say USA and BR guys are the same in open-“mind”edness for intimacy. And that the difference is mostly in the consequence of it. Mostly to the woman, of course. Tsc, tsc.

I’d say that Brazilian guys feel more confident about a woman’s reputation and her potential for loyalty to him in a serious relationship when the woman does not go to bed on one of the first dates, and is more “traditional” in bed at least in the beginning. So sex on a first date would less often lead to a serious relationship with that woman in Brazil than in the US, where this seems to be accepted as an aspect of being “an independent woman”.

US guys, in contrast, seem to be proud and supportive of a crazy-in-bed woman, girlfriend or not, anytime, being less likely to wonder about the woman’s loyalty or potential for a long-term relationship because of it.

I’d say that BR men and women feel and/or show jealousy MUCH more intensely than USA men and women. And it seems that quite often, in BR, if you don’t show it, regardless of whether you feel it or not, it’s as if you are saying you are not afraid of, or don’t care about, losing that person, so you are not alert to keeping off the competition. So for US people dating BR people, I would advise you to see expressions of jealousy as gestures of “you are worth a lot to me” as opposed to “i don’t trust you”.

Oh, I could go on and on…hehe

But if I may say so, perhaps the most important thing of it all, specially for people involved in many cultures, is for that person to be aware of and loyal to his/her own morals and to look for the people that share those morals. Knowing how it’s done locally then serves mostly to give you a line to not cross when exposing your own preferences about something in public to a general audience, for a sort of diplomatic safe ground. Both Brazil and the USA are big enough and the people are diverse enough to accomodate you and yours, probably. So just be happy with who you are and what you need or prefer! And do no harm on purpose and try to be consciencious of others while at it. =)



Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you&rsquot;re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to gringoes@www.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: 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 Cahaca
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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