May 30, 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.

Great site! So I’ve recently been dating a lovely Brazilian woman, living here in the USA. She’s great but she has this belief that men only cheat and leave and her jealousy is really causing me to worry. On our very first date she made a jealous comment about a woman she saw looking at me from a car as I was walking away. That kind of scared me, I have to admit.

Is this a common thing among Brazilian women? Also, do Brazilian men cheat constantly? I read another answer and you said that a polygamous person would be considered a pervert; but the impression I get is that Brazilian men aren’t very faithful and so Brazilian women are left in a constant state of worry/insecurity.

Also, I’m concerned that if she’s so worried that I’ll reject her for someone else, and then eventually she decides that I won’t, and I’m “safe”, will she immediately lose interest? My gut feeling is that the answer is “yes”, but I’d love to hear what you think.


Hello, Sean,

Thanks for coming!

It’s funny you are not the first gringo to ask me about that… so, out of curiosity I just googled and there are 355 statements saying Brazilians are jealous. Not so much really, if you compare with the 7,090 saying Brazilians love soccer.

One should give Google credit, Brazilians love soccer but are Brazilians utterly jealous? According to some sources Brazilians are jealous of everyone and everything and especially of each other.

But being Brazilian maybe that entitles me to say it’s bullshit, right? Statistically speaking, are most Brazilians jealous, is there something like that? I don’t believe being jealous is a countrywide thing; maybe it’s a PMS thing, that’s for sure.

About this belief that your girlfriend has that men cheat… as a woman I must agree with her. But again I think it’s a matter of gender not nationality.

As a friend Sean, I’d tell you she was probably cheated on before, and that must have hurt her a lot, and now she is in love with you and afraid to be cheated on again.

I’m not trying to defend your Brazilian girlfriend, I’m just saying that feeling unsafe and insecure and being jealous is only human, specially when you like someone. Maybe you’re too cute? Now really, talk to her and ask her about the things you’re asking me. Jealousy can be fun but not if it’s crazy. She will understand.

If she doesn’t joke back and you are too cute then send me another letter.

Ps: My name is Vanessa, I’m Brazilian and I’m jealous.

Best regards and good luck.


Readers Comments:

I really like your Ask a Brazilian column. Some really great tips that you have shared!

Today I was reading the rather funny post regarding Jealousy – this is something that I have often discussed with Brazilian & foreign friends a like. As a Brit-Brazilian I have to say that I believe that jealousy is extremely obvious in the dating realm in Brazil, or especially São Paulo where I am from. I have a lot of family and friends in Brazil, have recently moved back to Brazil but grew up in the UK and spent a number of years in Spain and Germany. Comparing the dating and relationships in Europe to Brazil then there is a clear difference about jealousy.

From my own personal experience: many see jealousy as almost a game or a way to show love. If you are not jealous then you don’t really love your partner – and this goes both ways with men and women. So it has become ingrained in the culture that you should be jealous and should show this to your partner so that he/she knows you love them.

However, now statistically I cannot say whether Brazilian men cheat more than any other nationality, but they certainly talk more about doing so. Plus I know more Brazilian men that have cheated than their North European counterparts (take Italians though and there might be a competition). Put another angle on this, I also know more Brazilian WOMEN that have cheated in comparison to any other nationality, therefore that also says a lot…

So taking into account these observations and the common tendency to think jealousy is a cute way of showing how much you love someone, then you will have this crazy Brazilian girlfriend/boyfriend that cannot stand it if the opposite sex so much as looks in the direction of their partner…

But I completely agree with your conclusion Vanessa, Sean should definitely talk to his girlfriend first and let them know that this is not considered normal in the US. Unless of course, she really has been cheated on previously, in which case there is another dimension to consider…

Anyway, just wanted to add a comment to your post. Hope you don’t mind.

— Ana

I am Scottish and have lived in Brasil for 12 years .

In my opinion Brazilian women are very jealous because men treat their women very poorly.

When was the last time you saw a Brasileiro pull a chair back for this woman at a restaurant or anywhere else for that matter, usually finding their chair and leaving the woman to find her own.

Walking on the outside to protect their woman from the traffic and passing pedestrians, they do not even do this for their children.

The men openly stare at other women as if their woman was not there.

Male conversation regularly includes the amount of women they can be seeing at the same time.

Maybe because there is completion for a man due to the imbalance of men and women, 6 to 1 in some places. So there is always another woman just around the corner.

I live in the north east, Aracaju, and the amount of older, 30’s 40’s women with children and no husband is astounding.

Yes, Brazilian women are jealous and with good reason!!

— Anon

In response to the article Ask a Brazilian: Jealousy, I felt obligated to add my comments. I am an American anthropologist, living in Salvador for three years, married to a wonderful Brasileira, and doing research for a book on Brasil. Interestingly, one of the topics of my research is this very subject. I have been conducting research on common law relationships (i.e., many Brasileiros prefer to live together and have families rather than legally marry); the best of both worlds (i.e., Brasilian men prefer not to marry in order to maintain the option of leaving a relationship when they encounter another women they prefer more, or as is in most cases due to the lack of finances to support a family); the search for fidelity among Brasilian women (the fact that many Brasileiras actually are in a constant state of worry and insecurity because they believe that most Brasileiros “trair”); and marriage to foreigners.

Of course, I agree with you in that it depends on the persons involved and is not a national characteristic. However, this does present an interesting question in terms of whether or not this tendency could be considered an imbedded cultural characteristics and which incidentally happens to be the focus of my research.

At this point, I have found that both Brasilian men and women as well cheat to a large degree particularly among the younger age groups. Also, that the tendency to be overly jealous among Brasileiros (men and women) is a characteristic that exists not only in Brasil but throughout most of Latin America.

Now, there are many causative factors some of which are waning interest after a long period of time in a relationship; the overabundance of single, extremely beautiful women; the boldness of Brasileiras in their attempts to seduce men they find attractive regardless of whether they are in a relationship or not; and the weakness of Brasileiros to resist the lure of infidelity.

Clearly, my research is not nearly complete but certain patterns have definitely been revealed. As for PMS, I had the most difficult of times adjusting in my own relationship and, in my opinion, Sean should be more concerned with PMS than jealousy.

— Neil

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 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: Nails and Spanish
Ask a Brazilian: Tipping
Ask a Brazilian: UK Visa Issues
Ask a Brazilian: Gossip
Ask a Brazilian: Real Estate Scam
Ask a Brazilian: Lacking Change and I Touch Myself
Ask a Brazilian: Tampons
Ask a Brazilian: A Brazilian CV
Ask a Brazilian: Gender Stereotypes
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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