This article is a blog post by an American expat named Seth Colvin that has lived in Colombia since 2006. To learn more about all you need to know regarding living and dating in Colombia, check out his website.
When it comes to dating internationally, you are guaranteed to come across cultural challenges that come with dating someone special from another country.
With over a decade of living in Colombia, I have encountered many of those cultural challenges myself with previous girls I have met and even my current Colombian girlfriend. On top of that, I have met numerous men that have encountered the same cultural challenges that I have experienced myself also while dating in Colombia.
So while there are many amazing benefits to dating Colombian women, it is important to also be realistic about some of the challenges that you will likely encounter.
And what exactly are those challenges?
Let’s break them down.
Challenge 1: Family Issues
When dating Colombian women, there are three different issues with family that you need to be aware of.
First, some Colombian women will insist on sending money to their parents every month even when the parents do not even need money. This is largely because some of them see it as the responsible thing to do after all the years that their parents helped raise them.
On top of that, family is simply much more connected and tighter in Colombia than in countries like the US so that influences them to send money also.
Now this can be an issue if you are married to a Colombian woman and you both share finances.
With my current girlfriend, she does not have any plans to do this.
However, I did have one Colombian girlfriend before her that said that she would send money to her parents like that if we got married. And I knew other Colombian women that shared those thoughts as well.
Second, when the parents get old, do not expect to be able to send them to a retirement home. That is simply not as common in Colombia as in the US. When they get old, there is a good chance they are moving into your home or the home of a relative of hers.
Third, as said before, family is much tighter and more connected in Colombia than in the US. This also means that sometimes family members of a Colombian girlfriend will seem more involved in your life.
So when you get married to a Colombian girl, understand that having good relations with her parents is even more important in Colombia than in the US and that they will likely be much more involved in your life.
Challenge 2: Linguistic Differences
As would be expected, you are also going to have some linguistic challenges when trying to communicate with your Colombian partner.
Now to be fair, this partly depends on your Spanish abilities, her English abilities and what part of Colombia she comes from.
First, I always encourage everyone to learn as much Spanish as possible to have dating success down here. Now you don’t need to learn Spanish to the point of being able to write a novel in that language. But you need enough to be at least conversational.
Do not rely on her to be able to speak English since only trying to meet Colombian women that speak English will greatly limit your ability to find the right woman for you. Especially as most Colombian women don’t speak English anyway.
Also, what part of Colombia she comes from is slightly important also. Women from places like Bogota, Pereira, Manizales, Bucaramanga, Medellin, Popayán and Valledupar tend to be a lot easier to understand. Granted, they have all their own accents in each of those cities but the Colombian women in those cities will be easier to understand overall with their accents.
Colombian Spanish comes in array of accents
However, along the Caribbean Coast with cities like Barranquilla, Cartagena or Santa Marta, the women in those cities are bit harder to understand. Not impossible if your Spanish is good enough but that is something to keep in mind. Same could be said regarding women from Cali also.
Don’t let that discourage you though from meeting women in those cities but do keep that in mind.
Challenge 3: Body Hair
Colombia is the only Latin American country I have dated women from where the women do not like body hair on average. Now some women will be fine with it but quite a few I have met do not like body hair on a man when it comes to his legs, armpits, etc. Now it’s not really a big deal to be honest.
However, if you date a Colombian woman, she might mention this issue to you and request that you shave your body hair. I do not shave my body hair because that seems more feminine in my opinion but just keep in mind this small issue might come up.
Challenge 4: Showing up Late
It is very common in Latin America for women to show up late to a date.
Even if she is your lovely girlfriend that loves you so much, it is almost guaranteed to happen. Now the most common scenario is that she will show up 5 to 15 minutes late. That is completely normal.
Which also means that when setting up dates with a Colombian woman, you should set the date to be earlier than when you actually want to see her by around 15 to 30 minutes. Because it is also not too uncommon for a woman to show up late even by 30 minutes.
Now if she shows up later than 30 minutes – say 45 minutes to an hour, then that is obviously disrespectful even in her culture. But even if she shows up late by 15 minutes, I still hold my girlfriend up to my standards and expect her to apologize for showing up late.
She tries her best to show up on time and normally does so but sometimes things just happen which is normal down here.
Anyway, in my time in Colombia, this is often a common issue that foreigners have with dating Colombian women that irritates them a lot.
Just follow these 3 tips on this topic:
- Set the dates earlier than what you want by 15 to 30 minutes.
- Set standards with her if you two are in a serious relationship that you want her to respect your time. If she truly respects and loves you, she will at least make an effort to respect that even if it is not always perfect.
- If she still shows up late by 5 to 15 minutes, then you know never to show up on time yourself. If a date is for 5 PM, then you show up at 5:10 PM if she normally shows up late.
Challenge 5: Food
I’ve written about it before that I am not the biggest fan of Colombian food.
My girlfriend has taken me to Colombian restaurants and her family has cooked for me also.
I am always respectful of what they cook and also always say it tastes great.
Love it or hate it Colombia has its own tradition of food
Even though in reality it rarely does. And from all the foreigners I know in Colombia, most would agree that Colombian food isn’t the greatest in the world.
This is a minor challenge you will have when dating Colombian women as you will just have to learn to deal with the food you two might eat together. A small price to pay for dating beautiful women in this great country.
Challenge 6: Jealousy Issues
It is well known that Colombian women often are a bit more jealous than most women in the US for example. In my experience, one of the reasons for this is because a lot of them assume that very naturally you might just end up cheating on her.
In large part because there is already so much cheating in certain parts of Colombia anyway like Barranquilla or Medellin. It is natural and healthy for you to expect some boundaries if you feel her jealously becomes too much and you should communicate this to her.
However, on the other hand, you should also be prepared for handling some jealously on her side regardless.
Challenge 7: Catholic Differences
When talking with my friends and family about Colombia, often someone will ask how important is Catholicism for Colombian women. Aren’t they all Catholic?
Well, first, not all Colombian women are Catholic even though most are in my experience.
Second, her Catholic faith will have some influences on your relationship.
In my case, I am not Catholic myself. So in my experience, I have had Colombian women ask me not to tell their parents that I am not Catholic. Even though I have admitted before that I am not Catholic and never had any issue with any Colombian parents.
So expect her to perhaps ask you this favor but decide yourself if you want to be honest or not on this issue. Her parents may or may not be so accepting of it. Also, it is common for her to want the marriage to be at a Catholic church. Not a big issue for me but could be for anyone who is not Catholic.
And when it comes to raising children, I have had this discussion with my current Colombian girlfriend and we agreed not to raise our children Catholic but to let them decide for themselves when they are older. Other Colombian women might not be comfortable with that arrangement but that is how it worked out for me personally.
Challenge 8: Dancing
When dating Colombian women, you will notice that dancing is quite important here culturally. However, it depends on where you are.
If you are in Valledupar, then enjoying vallenato music is important. If you are in Cali, then salsa music is important. And in other Colombian cities like Barranquilla, dancing is also very important.
However, not as important as it is in Cali for example. Also, in a place like Bogota, dancing is not really as important as anywhere else in the country.
Colombian Salsa is no joke
Overall, you can have dating success without much dancing skills down here. But expect to learn the basics as your Colombian woman might teach you how to dance merengue, cumbia, salsa, etc. Which, by the way, I found merengue to be the one of the easiest Latin dances to learn.
Salsa being on the opposite end and a bit harder. Anyway, she will appreciate the effort and find it attractive that you are willing to learn. You don’t have to dance well. They do not expect it since you are a foreigner. But your effort will make you look good in her eyes.
Challenge 9: Different Sense of Humor
As I have noted before in other articles, Colombian women tend to not always understand sarcasm as well. This is especially true if she is from Medellin. However, you could also say that Colombians have a different sense of humor than Americans for example.
Many times I will crack a joke and it goes straight over her head and she doesn’t even realize it is a joke. Compared to other types of Latinas like Mexican women (who do understand American humor a lot more in my experience), Colombian women will have a harder time. So just keep that in mind.
Challenge 10: More Children
In the US, it is very common for couples to have only 1 or 2 kids. And even much more common for couples to entirely skip the idea of having kids altogether. Now in Colombia, it is much more common for women to want maybe 2 kids at the very least and maybe even 3 to 5.
However, it largely depends on where she is coming from. A woman that is pursuing a big career in Bogota or Medellin is much less likely to want something as big as 5 children.
Now women in more conservative parts of the country like Popayán will be more comfortable and desiring to have more children like that. And in many other parts of Colombia, like Barranquilla or Pereira, women will also be more likely to want more kids than the average American woman.
So if you ever get to that point of marriage and starting a family, this will be a cultural difference to come across as to how many children you two will have.
Challenge 11: Heightened Security
In my experience, Colombian women have a much better sense of security and safety than the average American. From talking with my girlfriend about this and from general observations from living here, I would say it is often because Colombian women live in a more dangerous society.
And when you go back about 25 years ago more or less, there was a lot more violence in Colombia with more car bombings and civil conflict that was a lot more intense. So a lot of Colombian women have experienced a much greater degree of insecurity and will be more mindful of safety precautions.
You will likely notice this to be a difference between you and your Colombian partner as you two date. For example, before I even met my current girlfriend, it was common for Colombian girls I was setting up dates with to be cautious about meeting during the night.
Even though plenty of Colombian women will do that more and more these days as Colombia becomes safer, others still have some hesitation with that. So just be aware of that difference when it comes to dating Colombian women in general.
Challenge 12: Delayed Life Progress
In my experience living in Colombia, it is more common for women to not as quickly progress through life as American women for example. In the US, it’s much more common for women to go to college right away and try to finish in 4 years.
After that, they might move back in with parents for a year or have some financial help from parents for maybe a year or two while they are establishing their life. All by the time they are 25 years old or even less.
In comparison, I once met a Colombian woman that was still living with her parents and had not finished college or even have a job by the time she was 27 years old. And keep in mind that generally speaking Colombian women do tend to take things slower when it comes to moving out of the family home, finishing college and getting an established job.
In part because some of them want to find the right man to marry and settle down with where they stay at home to raise kids. And also plenty of other women simply do not feel pressure to move quicker in life because that is how the culture is and they do not get as much pressure to progress more quickly.
However, it also depends on which Colombian city you are talking about. Because in the more developed and richer cities like Bogota, Medellin or Cartagena, you do have more women that take their studies and work more seriously.
In Bogota, it is much more common to see women pursuing high careers like being a lawyer or a doctor at a young age. Also, another factor is wealth obviously. Women from upper class backgrounds are going to have more pressure to move quicker in life and also more opportunities and money from family to go to better universities.
Whereas women from poorer backgrounds or even moderate backgrounds have fewer opportunities and pressure to do so from my experience. So again, much of this will vary but this is something you might likely see when dating Colombian women also.
Challenge 13: Quicker Marriage
From what I have seen, Colombian women tend to emphasize marriage a lot more than American women. There are a lot more women here that emphasize trying to get married in their early 20s for example. That is much more common here than in the US.
In large part because there are a lot less women here pursuing high careers and delaying marriage and children for a high career as a lawyer or a doctor.
Of course, this will also again vary by where you are. Women from bigger cities like Bogota or Medellin are less likely to marry at such a young age versus women from places like Popayán, Valledupar, Pereira and more.
Challenge 14: Bigger Wedding Challenges
As I have been getting more serious with my Colombian girlfriend, we have actually discussed marriage and how it would work in the future when we reach that point.
From our initial discussions, it is clear to me that our wedding in the future will likely be very big with a lot of family members and friends. In my experience living in the US, weddings can be big but they are normally more moderate sized from what I have seen.
However, from other foreigners I know that have married a Colombian women down here, nearly all the weddings have been much bigger than what you normally expect. This isn’t always the case obviously but is quite possibly something you will encounter if you get serious with a Colombian woman.
One of the reasons for why this is the case, is because Colombian families are simply much bigger with more relatives on average and much more intact and tighter than families in the US. When you add in all the friends and you have bigger weddings on average. At least that is what I have seen so far in all my years down here.
Challenge 15: Where to Live
Finally, you have married a wonderful Colombian woman and have decided to raise a family with her! However, you two now have to confront a big question – where to live?
In my experience, Colombian women tend to get home sick a lot easier than American people in general. Again – because families are tighter here and it is a bigger cultural adjustment for her to leave her family and move to the US.
A few Colombian women answer questions about marrying a foreigner
On the other hand, you are likely to earn more money living in the US but the cost of living is much higher also.
But could you even live in Colombia if you wanted to? Do you have an online income built up or some retirement fund? Any savings? Also, how good is your Spanish for living in Colombia? Can it improve? How good is her English if she lives in the US? There are endless amounts of factors to consider when deciding where to live.
I know one couple between a foreign man and a Colombian woman that moved to the US but returned to Colombia. In large part because the mom of the wife had health problems and the wife wanted to return to be with the family. So when dating Colombian women, consider this very important topic.
Final Positive Note
With all that said, it is clear that there are obvious challenges to dating Colombian women. But many of those challenges are small when compared to the many benefits of dating a Colombian woman, including:
- There is a more supportive culture for traditional families in Colombia
- Prettier women that are more feminine
- Lower cost of living
- Have greater family values
- Lower divorce rates
- Lower infidelity in certain areas of the country
- The women have lower to no debt
- Her family is more likely to be intact and tighter
- Can learn a foreign language
- Greater interest in making you happy
And so much more….
So if you are interested in dating Colombian women, take a trip to Colombia anytime and enjoy life down here.
And if you have any questions, let me know in the contact page of my website, Dating Colombianas.
Thank you for your time and for reading!
Hasta luego parceros,