Oh those Porteños: spontaneous, clever, expressive, social, never boring, and sexy as hell with an accent straight from the heavens. But at what price? Chamuyo, histeriqueo, machismo, flakiness, lying, cheating, and drama. What you need to know about dating in Buenos Aires.
“Chamuyo” is what to expect from a “Chamuyero”, a smooth-talker that tells women just about anything to get their attention, and get them into bed. This is pretty common, and some attribute this behavior to the theory that local women tend to give men a run for their money and play hard to get. It’s a cat and mouse game. You’ve been warned.
“Histericos” (the men) and “Histericas” (the women) are basically locals that play mind games and exhibit bizarre behavior. For example, being interested one minute and disappearing the next, turning from hot to cold as quick as a Swedish sauna, constantly changing their minds, or behaving in a way that is contradictory to how they actually feel. Basically, any behavior that confuses the hell out of you.
Flakiness and unreliability
In Buenos Aires if you have plans, they can often be more of a suggestion than a sure thing. In my experience, canceling at the last minute and showing up late or not at all is more common and acceptable here than in other cultures.
It can be hard to be a woman in Buenos Aires.
Local men tend to take on the role of protector and aggressor, and women are expected to adapt and play counter-part to this role. This might be why some men here seem to be turned off by women who are successful and independent and openly proud of it.
If you’re a woman in Buenos Aires, expect to be objectified, as men here feel completely entitled to say whatever they want to you (read more about cat-calling in Buenos Aires), and Argentine society places a great deal of importance on a woman’s physical appearance. It’s no surprise that Argentina has very high rates of anorexia and bulimia (read more here) or that Buenos Aires is known as the “plastic surgery capital” of the world (read more here). A perfect manicure, long feminine hair, heavy makeup, and sexy revealing clothing are all the norm here, and preferences openly expressed by local men. Numerous men I have dated have commented on both my hair and whether or not my nails are painted.
Lying and cheating
Unfortunately, lying and cheating seem to be more common here than other places I’ve lived. Many people in relationships unapologetically flirt and cheat, and very often the cheating goes way beyond sex and these “affairs” can actually be relationships in themselves.
In Buenos Aires, with all the lying and cheating going on, it’s no surprise that “celos” (jealousy) is quite common. Partners often don’t trust each other, which sparks possessive and jealous behavior. It is not uncommon to see couples with “shared” Facebook accounts or “rules” about having friends of the opposite sex. Soap opera drama ensues.
Locals “don’t like to plan things” and prefer to see how things develop naturally. That said, dating can go at the speed of light, saying things like “mi cielo, mi vida, mi razón de ser” (“my darling, my love, my reason for existing”) within weeks of meeting someone, or months or even years can go by without things progressing much.
There is also a very strange phenomenon here where things never really “end” and can bizarrely drag on forever. Porteños will contact you months and even years later, for no apparent reason at all. Unless you change your phone number or block them, expect to hear from them again.
And now, the good stuff
I want to clarify that despite the chamuyo and histeriqueo and lying and cheating and machismo, Porteños and Argentines are the bomb: they place a very high value on friendship, relationships and family; they are expressive and talk about their feelings; they love life and make time for the people and activities that are important to them; they’re affectionate, talkative, interesting, social, extroverted, generous, hilarious, sarcastic, clever, spontaneous, sexy, talented, fun and never boring. Their witty and dry sense of humor, natural charm and sex appeal are off the charts.
In my experience, they express themselves verbally and physically more than other cultures, telling loved ones how much they mean to them, and showing them through hugging, kissing and touching. In fact, expect physical contact with just about everyone here…your friends and family…whoever you’re dating…your Doctor…complete strangers. Ha.
Read about communication barriers, cultural differences and more in Dating & Relationships When You Live Abroad: Part 1