Dating a Mexican, like me, comes with some amazing benefits… We’re loving, warm, and fun to be around! But there are some very specific things about our culture that ALWAYS lead to problems in relationships between foreigners and Mexicans…
Yes, if YOU are dating a Mexican maybe you’ve already encountered some of these… If you haven’t, don’t worry! They’re coming!
So, to avoid confusion, dramatic fights, or even a heart-wrenching break-up, Paulísima, your favorite Spring Spanish teacher, is here today to make sure you know which are the 9 biggest problems that come with dating a Mexican… but more importantly, how to sail through them para poder ¡seguir viviendo tu hermosa historia de amor! (to keep on living your beautiful love story!)
In this article, I’m going to get very real about things like:
- A Mexican dating phenomenon I call the Macho-Caballero Paradox (you can be sure it’s affecting your relationship too)
- The 8 magic “sentences of affirmation” that you should learn by heart to fix all your Mexican relationship problems!
- And much more relationship advice!
Let’s start with a friendly reminder: This article doesn’t intend to put all Mexicans under one umbrella… We're as diverse of a people as it gets and my observations are generalizations.
Indeed, when having a Mexican partner you most likely encounter these 9 most common problems. I’ll show you how to overcome them in a moment:
- The shockingly conservative attitude towards sex that prevails in Mexican families
Sleepovers are for married couples only! Perhaps engaged couples, in less conservative families…
- Navigating the complexity of family and its huge importance in the life of your partner
There are so many of us… Try learning like 235 names, attending a thousand family events, remembering who doesn’t get along with whom, who is who!
No, no! This is not José Luis, it’s Jose Francisco, the son of tío Francisco, el que no se lleva con Luis Francisco (the one who doesn’t get along with Luis Francisco).
- Never understanding all the hidden messages behind your girlfriend’s silent, low-key, furious attitude
Si dice que no tiene nada, ¡tiene todo! (If she says there’s nothing wrong, everything is wrong!) Why can’t we just say what we want?! You will learn this is such a common problem in a minute…
- Speaking of Mexican girlfriends… What about the high expectations that they have regarding how much of an old-fashioned gentleman their boyfriend should be at all times?!
This is the way we were raised, what we were told to expect…
The Macho-Caballero Paradox: Modern Mexican women want all the good stuff that comes with a man who is not a macho. In case you were wondering: macho is a male chauvinist, someone who is toxic and aggressive about his masculinity.
In general, a modern Mexican woman wants someone who is not fixated on gender stereotypes, someone who “lets her be”, but at the same time, she kind of expects—or at least it would make her very happy—to get these other displays of gallantry that machos often perform, however contradictory that might seem! I’ll give you more examples (and tell you how to deal with it) in a moment.
- Managing the jealousy or territoriality of your Mexican boyfriend… and girlfriends too, actually…
¡¡Ay, ay, ay!! Se están poniendo serias las cosas (Things are getting serious)! Perhaps, while in a relationship with a Mexican you’ve struggled in:
- Manejar la informalidad que parece reinar en México (Managing the informality that seems to reign in Mexico)
And this is manifest in so many ways: People are always late, often eat in the streets with their hands and while standing up. We are used to being a little loose with certain rules and regulations… Believe it or not, this is a potential source of fights with your partner not many people talk about.
- Understanding why we have to be so freaking loud! And defensive about it!
¡Mi amor! ¿Qué crees que me pasó?
(My love! Guess what happened?)
Okay, okay, cuéntame, pero ¡no me grites!
(Okay, okay, tell me, but don’t yell!)
No estoy gritando; ¡yo así hablo!
(I’m not yelling, this is the way I speak!)
- Making sure you don’t offend our sensitivities when it comes to food
Mexican food is perfect, okay? But let's say you are holding on the carbs and your partner’s abuelita comes with 500 tamales… You can get in real trouble if you don’t word your rejection perfectly: no le quieres romper el corazón a la abuelita (you don’t want to break grandma's heart).
- Feeling uncomfortable with public displays of affection
There’s no shame if you’re feeling a tiny bit smothered by the constant kisses and touches of your passionate Mexican partner… I mean, I don’t think this happens, though…
¿A quién no le gusta que lo apapachen? (Lit.: Who doesn’t like to be “hugged with the soul”) Do you like it? ¡A mí me encanta que me apapachen! (I love being “apapachada”!)
¡Atención, mi gente! Todos estos problemas son reales (Attention, folks! All these problems are real!) A great many foreigners that have dated Mexicans do report having had many of them… and from my own experience dating a few foreigners, I can tell you that all of it actually happens…
Bueno, ya sabemos cuáles son los problemas que vienen con ser pareja de un mexicano o mexicana… Ahora, ¿qué hacemos para solucionarlos? (Now you know which are the problems that come with dating a Mexican, but what should we do to solve them?)
2. La verdadera causa de estos problemas (The true roots of these problems)
Empecemos con una buena noticia (Let’s start with good news): El problema no eres tú (You’re not the problem)… ni tu pareja (neither is your partner)… it’s the way our society works!
1. Get used to a little chaos!
In developing countries, like Mexico, people are used to a little chaos sprinkled everywhere… we could either be moody about it all day or we can just adapt by becoming unreliable ourselves!
So, next time tu amada pareja mexicana is late or a little unobservant of rules, don’t criticize them! Be patient… We’ve been through a lot, okay?!
Regardless of how much we Mexicans complain about our country, we can get quite defensive when an outsider comments on our way of living…. So, resist the temptation to pitch in your two cents when your favorite Mexican is complaining about:
- los baches (potholes)
- los impuestos (taxes)
- la inseguridad (unsafety)
- el pinche gobierno (effing government)
- los políticos (politicians)
- la burocracia (red tape)
2. The influence of Catholicism
Even if, like me, you’re not a Catholic growing up in Mexico, it doesn’t mean people don’t have old-school values determining things as basic as the type of sexual education we get.
While women are raised to believe that they should only have sex once they get married, men are encouraged to explore their sexuality freely, to put it nicely. Double standard much?
Worst part is that this has everyday consequences. The Macho-Caballero Paradox: not the best at keeping it inside their pants… yes, I said it!
Mexican women know this, and that’s why they can get a bit territorial and might find it hard to trust their partners.
3. Gender roles suck!
Gender stereotypes are still reigning in Mexico. Things are changing, of course, but they still are the cause of many of the common problems that come with dating a Mexican.
Because of traditional gender roles, men are the leader and women are supposed to just follow. Mexican women actually grow up being actively discouraged from expressing their opinions. Once again, the Macho-Caballero Paradox…
We have horrible machista popular sayings like:
- Calladita te ves más bonita. (You look prettier when you are silent.)
So, please don’t expect your hermosa novia mexicana (beautiful Mexican girlfriend) to be always upfront about what she wants, needs, desires or hates.
Now, let me tell you a secret! Even now, in 2021, a woman like me (you know, smart, independent, self-reliant, happy, feminist, fun-loving, modest)… even I melt down when my partner picks up the check in a restaurant, and they do it every time… When they open the door for me, bring me flowers, fix my chair before I sit.… Yes! Guilty as charged!
3. Cómo resolver estos problemas (How to solve these problems)
First of all, you’re gonna have to do your homework. Research, learn more and more about the culture, the history, the traditions in Mexico in order to understand them better. We actually have a full playlist dedicated to Mexico and Mexican culture here on Spring Spanish. So, definitely watch all the videos to be prepared!
Also, it’s terribly cute to see your partners learning about Mexico…
Second, get ready for difficult conversations. As we saw in the previous sections, factors external to our romance can impact our love story (especially if you are an interracial couple).
There will be culture shocks and hard realities to address. Mientras lo hagas con el corazón abierto, con honestidad y con respeto mutuo (In so far as you do it with an open heart, honesty, and mutual respect), I’m sure you can work things out!
Third, whatever language you both speak, do try to learn Spanish! I mean, that’s what Spring Spanish is here for!
Communication is key in a relationship… even if you are both fluent in each other's languages. Let’s be honest: there are certain emotions that are best expressed in Spanish...
Learn these fabulous words of affirmation that you can tell your Mexican beloved when trouble seems to be on the way:
- De verdad quiero saber cómo te sientes. (I really want to know how you feel.)
- Sea el problema que sea, quiero arreglarlo. (Whatever the problem is, I want to fix it.)
- ¡Confía en mí! Yo solo quiero estar contigo, ___. (Trust me! I just want to be with you, ______.)
- Me cuesta trabajo entenderlo, pero quiero hacerlo. ¿Me ayudas? (It’s hard for me to understand it, but I want to do that. Can you help me?)
- Tenme paciencia, por favor. (Be patient with me, please.)
And if nothing of this works, try:
- Vamos por unos tacos, ¿no? (Let’s go get tacos, yeah?)
Seriously! Memorize all of it! But don’t just memorize it, believe it and FEEL it too, of course! And if the fact that it’s all in Spanish makes it difficult, why don’t you download our free cheat sheet with the most essential Spanish “relationship chunks” you can use right away? They’ll help you talk in Spanish about your feelings, desires, express your love (and have civilized, but passionate discussions)!
And if you still want to date a Mexican (I think you should, of course!), then I got you covered. I prepared a video about how to effectively flirt in Spanish (spoiler alert: you shouldn’t say “¡Hola, guapo!” or “¡Hola, guapa!”) and win over that Mexican sweetheart.