Beautiful women wearing tiny bikinis line the beach while shirtless men play Samba in the street. The jungle hums in the background and Christ The Redeemer stands over it all.
There’s a lot to love about dating in Brazil. There are also a lot of stereotypes, however (see above), and it’s not always apparent where cliche ends and reality begins. Not all Brazilian men are flirt savants, for instance, and not every Brazilian woman will expect you to approach her.
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And yet – some cliches reign true. Even though Brazil doesn’t necessarily have more sun and sex than Ibiza (and not every beach has more sculpted bodies per square metre than Miami), statistics bear out that Brazil truly has the potential to be a straight single man’s paradise, with the CIA World Fact Book stating there are 97 men to every 100 women in Brazil.
Not to mention, as couples counsellor and dating coach Heidi Gee shared with DMARGE, understanding cultural differences can help you increase your chances of finding a date. For instance, just because obviously not every guy in Brazil is an extrovert and not every women is an introvert, understanding the expectation that, as a man, you are expected (more than you might be in Australia) to make the first approach in Brazil, is useful to know.
“Do your research and respect the beliefs and customs.”
The problem is, most tourists and travellers looking for love in Brazil tend to make one of two mistakes. One: they don’t bother to learn Brazil’s cultural kinks, or two: they over-learn (or over believe) them, and end up projecting the stereotypes of a society upon the individuals they come into contact with.
So: whether you’re making a football pilgrimage, are there for the carnivales, or are simply looking to relax and read a book on a nice patch of sand, here’s everything you need to know before looking for love in Brazil.
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Don’t be shy
As Heidi told us, one of the first things she noticed when travelling in Europe and South America is that when it comes to approaching women in a bar, Australian guys “don’t have the balls” of their overseas equivalents, and are worried about “looking like a freak” in front of their mates. To many Aussie women who travel overseas, this can either be a relief or a pain in the arse, depending on the circumstances. For Australian men, however, it means that when trying to attract the attention of the sultry eyes across the bar, of course you still need to be polite and respectful, but also a little more direct than you are accustomed to.
In this globalised world this is fast becoming a piece of generic advice. But the point remains: Tinder is hot in Brazil, with a market (10 million users and counting) second only to the United States. Plus, as travel website Culture Trip adds, “There is no stigma at all attached to using dating apps in Brazil so don’t feel shy about downloading them and searching for a date.”
“Dating aside, it’s also a great way of practicing your Portuguese.”
Time your trip
According to Culture Trip, “For casual hookups, there is no time in Rio quite like Carnival, where kissing and casual flings are all part of the celebrations.” It is also known as a time when there are higher levels of infidelity among relationships, which is something that is (apparently) “largely accepted as part and parcel of the party.” This isn’t the case for everyone, however.
“To meet people at Carnival, simply join a bloco (a moving street party) and feel free to mingle, flirt, and enjoy.”
Pay the bill
While there aren’t any really any rules per se for paying the bill on the first date, quite often, the man will insist on paying for the woman. Our advice; you should always offer to pay or split the bill (for gay couples, it is normal to split the bill and pay half each).
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Master the art of ‘small talk’
No: we don’t mean the weather. We mean adding prefixes onto the ends of words to make them (and by extension, you) cuter. As the BBC reporter Ian Walker wrote earlier this year, this is one of the first things language learners realise when they arrive in Brazil: “I’d barely been in Brazil 24 hours when I was let in on a segredinho (a little secret).”
“In a barzinho (a local bar) as the sun went down, a new Brazilian amiguinho (a good friend) I’d met in my Rio de Janeiro hostel had a frosted bottle of Antarctica beer sweating in his hand,” Walker continued. “Chatting about our night ahead, he poured our drinks and told me, “If you want to speak with a girl tonight, don’t ask her to have a cerveja [a beer]; ask her if she’d like a cervejinha (a little beer) instead.”
“She’ll love it if you use this word.”
Don’t have set expectations of sex (or the lack thereof) for the first date
No set-in-stone rules for this and this should always come down to what you (and your partner) are comfortable with and feeling keen to do. However, whatever you decide, don’t be too shocked if you end up at a pay-per-hour motel: “As it is common for Brazilians to stay living with their family until later in life, dating couples often rent a motel for a couple of hours in order to get some privacy,” (Culture Trip).
“Motels in Brazil are designed specifically for sex and many come complete with a hot tub, sauna, condoms, and mirrored ceilings.”
Keep your options open
Like any urban metropolis, if you’re in Rio or Sao Paulo, saying, “let’s catch up again” doesn’t necessarily mean that you will do, and if you’re on Tinder you should always assume your date is talking to other people. Everyone likes to keep their options open, so try to embrace the laid back vibes.
Don’t be close minded as to acceptable locations to meet (or find) a date
Strike up a conversation in bars or clubs, visit outdoor street parties, or even just head to the beach.
Don’t be upset if your date is late
It’s a cultural thing.
Be prepared for a little more PDA than you’re used to
Still confused? Check the word ‘carinhoso’ in the dictionary.
Set your overall expectations
As Culture Trip writes, “In a country that simply oozes sexuality, sensuality, and a fun-loving spirit, dating in Brazil can be relatively easy.” So far so good. However, “While casual hookups are pretty straightforward, making it last long term can be a bit trickier,” the travel website adds.
In other words: if you’re looking for a holiday romance, it’s hard to imagine a better place than Brazil (“where the passionate residents will make you swoon”).
But – particularly for any expats who have moved to the land of Neymar – you need to set your expectations realistically and be patient if you are looking for something long term.