The day that I will get to study abroad in Malaga, Spain, is inching closer at an unbelievable pace. Thankfully, I have begun my “research” early, and I have a treat to share today.
Let’s be honest, studying is not the only thing in any college student’s mind when “studying” abroad…
Chances are many of us are attracted to the mysteries of being far away in an exotic place, where we can get away from reality, even if for a little while. Ok, ok, I’m going to stop beating around the bush and say: what many of study students are interested in is finding that foreign romance. Where could it be better to hook up or even fall in love in a faraway place that allows you to be independent like never before and far away from the judging eyes of your familiar ones?
But are you wondering exactly how the courtship works on the other side of the sea? Here’s my answer: I don’t know, neither should I.
There is no one formula to fit all. How can you come up with one proposal that is suitable for all the people from one continent, let alone a single country?
Putting the importance of individuality aside, it is essential to note that it is the different individuals who make up a society. So I suppose it is not too ethically wrong to come up with a stereotypical hypothesis. After all, we are all humans who have the tendency to categorize everything in an organized manner in order to make everything easier for us to comprehend. If not, we’d be consumed with all of the different little details in our daily life that will ultimately drive us absolutely insane.
With that said, please keep in mind that the following article that I am about to refer to below should not be held as a proven, solid laws. Let’s think of it as something entertaining. It is written based off of a personal experience of a woman who travelled to MALAGA, undergoing some intriguing experiences and is kind enough to share her memories with us. I am not her, and I am expecting to experience something very different, given that I will be in different circumstances. I personally am not believing this article 100%, but it is definitely something to keep in mind and test out.
Without much further adieu, here is the article “The Three Rules of Spanish Courtship (For the American Women“, written by Lauren Moloney on February 4, 2009 on the website Glimpse.org. Click the link for the original content!
(One more thing, I’m not sure why it’s titled “For American Women”, since the protagonists here are the Spanish men…whose practice of courtship does not only work towards American women…but anyways here it goes…)
The Three Rules Of Spanish Courtship
(For American Women)
4 Feb 2009
RULE #1: DON’T ACT INTERESTED Perplexed. No, perhaps “disgusted” is a more apt description of the look on the face of the billboard-ad-attractive, Spanish man I will name Señor Guapo (Mr. Handsome). I had just arrived in Málaga, Spain, two years after my first visit to the country, and when it came to meeting men, I did not intend to waste any time. While out with my new Spanish girlfriends at a local bar, it didn’t take long for me to notice Señor Guapo perched front and center with his friends. Every few minutes, he threw me a sly smirk to let me know that he had noted my entrance.
I shot my Spanish girlfriends a look that said, “Watch this,” and before they had a chance to stop me, I marched right up to Señor Guapo and his buddies. “Hola, qué hay?” I said. (“What’s up?”)
The man’s once-flirtatious eyes opened wide as if he were shocked that I could speak. The fluid chatter of his friends was swallowed by an uncomfortable silence, and Señor Guapo responded with little more than a nod.
Faking interest in a nearby jukebox, I remained glued to the floor, my pride scattered in pieces around my feet. Señor Guapo and his friends soon migrated to another area of the bar, and my perfectly primped, high-heeled Spanish girlfriends quickly descended upon me.
“Are you crazy?” they said. “Lorena! We thought you were interested in that guy! Why on earth would you go and introduce yourself?”
My friend Laura grasped my shoulder with as much force as her tiny frame would permit. “Don’t you know that if you approach a man, you are seen as easy game? Do you want him to think you’re a slut?”
Laura, I believe, most closely represents the prototype of a “traditional” Spanish woman: She prepares herself for an evening stroll as if getting ready for prom night, she never allows her “availability status” to last longer than her previous relationship, and she profusely fans herself to prevent the sweat marks that are the inevitable result of Málaga’s 90-degree afternoons.
I was raised by two human rights advocates in a household of five women (and one very patient, gray-haired father). The idea that approaching a man should be equated to sexual promiscuity makes my gag reflex quiver. But, I had just learned the first rule of dating in Spain, and I’d learned it the hard way: If you are a woman and you are interested in a man, never ever show it.
RULE #2: NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST OFFER A few weeks later, I found myself at a New Year’s Eve party and spotted an attractive young man named Estebán. Taking to heart Laura’s advice, I decided to let him be the one to pursue me. I flirted with someone else who had approached me, and lo and behold, Estebán appeared at my side a few moments later with an extra cocktail in hand.
Thinking I was starting to get the hang of things, I even refused to give Estebán my number. At 7 a.m., the hour that typically closes a night out in Spain, we were hungrily scraping the last of the melted chocolate out of our cups with fresh churros. Our conversation had barely suffered a pause since Estebán appeared by my side earlier that evening.
Now, he looked at me from across the table, pouting like a puppy whose owner has denied him one last treat. Pleased with myself for having held out so long, I finally spilled my digits.
Estebán called two days later to ask me to dinner. Unknowingly, I committed my next Spanish courting blunder: I accepted.
No sooner did Estebán and I make plans, then our plans were abruptly cancelled. When he never called back, and when he failed to return my subsequent three phone calls, I knew I had lost the game before I even set foot on the field.
“Ay, Lorenita, don’t you realize?” my friend Miguel Sanchez later explained to me over tea. “If you want a date with a Spanish guy, you have to reject him, of course.”
Of course! I thought, inwardly rolling my eyes.
RULE #3: IT’S YOUR TURN TO DO THE CHASING And now the tables turn. In the game of poli y ladrón (cop and robber), as my suave friend Juanma Fernandez calls it, once it has been established that both parties are interested, it is the woman’s turn to do the chasing. For Juanma, allowing the woman to pursue means avoiding her phone calls, talking about other women in her presence, and even going as far as to fib about one’s availability to solidify the second date.
“Juanma, are you trying to tell me you would lie just to impress a woman?” I asked, horrified, as he drove me home from work one day.
Juanma squinted at me with his dark almond eyes and said, “Lorena, us Spaniards are very stubborn and like a good challenge. When we play, we play to win. If you score a quality Spanish woman, you are set for life with her.”
While I could perhaps fake busyness, I wasn’t altogether sure that I was capable of wearing a fake smile and listening to someone I liked drone on about another woman. It was not exactly feminist behavior.
“Each woman offers a new challenge, a new set of rules and at times, an entirely new ball game,” Juanma said. He then muttered, “Now, if only I could get my wife to play… ”
While one might expect Spanish girlfriends and wives to be submissive once they secure a monogamous relationship, the opposite is often true. Juanma’s wife, for instance, actively supports the Women’s Rights Movement in the Middle East and enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to being late for their daily 3 p.m. lunch. But to think, if she had been the one to initially approach Juanma in a bar, they may have never tied the knot!
As for me, marriage was the last thing on my mind: I was still trying to get a second date. After months of dabbling and learning through trial and error, I was slowly starting to come into my own, learning how to weigh cultural realities against my own values. It was a constant balancing act. I would play their game, but on my terms.
Eight months after arriving in Spain, I finally found myself on a second date—with a beautiful man, on a beach, under a full moon. The night was ripe for romance, by any cultural standards. I was thinking how the date could not be going any more smoothly, when he asked me the dreaded question: “I am really enjoying myself here with you tonight. Can we do this again sometime?”
I took a deep breath, then looked him in the eye and said in a clear, confident voice, “I’m enjoying myself as well. I would love to see you again.”