As for me, marriage was the last thing on my mind: I was still trying to get a second date. 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.
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. The night was ripe for romance, by any cultural standards.
A surprising number of my colleagues have met their life-long partners during semesters abroad or even on sessions as brief as a touristic visit (love at first sight? A number of people have a particularly strong desire for a foreign partner, most commonly along the American-European axis, which can drive notions of romanticism beyond the realm of reality and all the dating standards it encompasses in the familiar home environment.
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. 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.
Every few minutes, he threw me a sly smirk to let me know that he had noted my entrance. ”) The man’s once-flirtatious eyes opened wide as if he were shocked that I could speak. “Don’t you know that if you approach a man, you are seen as easy game? ” 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 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. The fluid chatter of his friends was swallowed by an uncomfortable silence, and Señor Guapo responded with little more than a nod. I was raised by two human rights advocates in a household of five women (and one very patient, gray-haired father).
The sororities and naïve tourists that prance through Firenze and Sevilla have left an often bitter taste balanced only by the sophistication of the global American business girl in the mouths of those young European males that seek but do not act, inhibited by the shame brought on by their brethren that prey in American-populated bars near the Duomo or Quartier Latin Starbucks.
The truth of the matter is, in my opinion, that it is no easier nor any more appropriate to meet the love of your life in a bar or club in Europe as it is finding him or her in a similar locale in the United States.