“Latins are tenderly enthusiastic. In Brazil they throw flowers at you. In Argentina they throw themselves.” Marlene Dietrich
They’re exotic, attractive and come from a fascinating foreign land. There is no lover more alluring than one from a different culture and everyone knows that bringing home a Latin lover is a far better souvenir than a squashed alfajor (Argentine cookie) or a fake Boca Juniors t-shirt.
Argentine men and woman can make great partners, they are sexy, intense and relaxed – or unstable, jealous and flaky, depending on the time of day.
Confusion arises when expats who are dating Argentines are unable to separate which characteristics come with the foreign territory and which are specific to their partners. It may be hard to tell whether one’s Argentine sweetie is only slightly unhinged, totally psychotic or just plain foreign.
There are certain issues that foriegners in Argentina are likely to experience dating locals. Here’s the roundup, but beware — sweeping generalizations to follow.
Language – Argentine Spanish, Slang & miscommunication
The first obvious problem with dating an Argentine is the language. Castellano includes an endless amount of slang, a lot of it sex-related, which can be utterly unintelligible to anyone who’s learned Spanish elsewhere. That being said, the accent is easy on the ear and an Argentinean partner can teach the ins and outs of lunfardo (Argentine slang) in a way a Spanish teacher never will.
Miscommunications are common. Kimberley Bacon, a New Yorker married to an Argentine musician, once overheard her husband asking “¿Que pito toco aca?” when talking on the phone. She knew that pito means penis, and thought he was asking which penis he was going to play.
“It certainly made my ears prick up a bit”, she says. After confronting him, she discovered that ‘pito’ is also a type of flute. Tales of miscommunication like this one are abundant in cross-cultural relationships, though this particular mistake is only common among flute players and their partners.
Housing Situation – Argentines Living with their Parents
As university degrees in Argentina typically take five or six years to complete, most university-educated Argentines live in the family home until they are in their mid-twenties — at least. Anyone dating an Argentinean who has managed to leave the nest before the age of thirty should breathe a sigh of relief – they will only have to experience some of the following problems:
• Problema Uno: The Argentine Mother
Argentine families are typically close-knit and these tight family units can be a little overbearing for anyone far from their own home. At least one day of the weekend is usually dedicated to some kind of family event and it is not uncommon for Argentine mothers to ring their children several times a day, any day of the week. These conversations usually consist of the mother asking a series of questions about what they ate and did that day — questions they already know the answers to because they asked the same thing an hour ago.
• Problema Dos: Immaturity & Over-Reliance on Parental Units
Unlike their European or North American counterparts, independence is not usually high on the list of priorities of a young Argentine. Having their mother or maid do all their cooking, laundry and even the washing up can lead to over-dependence on others and a seeming incapacity to do anything without the support or advice of their parents.
Grown Argentines may call mamá or papá for help in hours of need i.e., whenever they are required to think for themselves. Should they buy green or red socks? How do they cook rice? And where did they leave their SUBE card? The parent will lovingly advise them before sending them on their way into the big bad world, and calling them back five minutes later to see how it went.
Be wary about trying to banish these phone calls. Letting your partner be mollycoddled may be a happy alternative to playing the parent yourself.
• Problema Tres: The ‘Where Can We Sleep Together’ Dilemma
If overnight sleepovers are not permitted in the family home, and the expat lodging is not a viable alternative, couples may find themselves clawing the walls or each other at inappropriate times. While no one bats an eyelid at couples making out in the park, the street or the subway, frustrated couples may eventually crave some privacy.
This is where the beloved national institution of telos, or love hotels comes in. A trip to a telo can be an exciting and eye opening experience for foreigners who don’t have the equivalent service in their country.
But even love hotels can become routine, and some expats may find the experience too premeditated for their tastes. A telo habit can also pull on the purse strings — sex three times a week in a luxury love hotel complete with room service and a Jacuzzi does not come cheap.
All that sneaking around the family home and three hour turns in telos does seem to have done most Argentines some good though. Latin lovers don’t have a hot-blooded reputation for nothing.
— Rosie Hilder