In Spain, dates usually involve going out for drinks or tapas, or to the cinema, park, or beach. It is also common for people to invite their date to join them and their friends on a night out. After all, having your partner be accepted by your inner circle is very important in this sociable society.
It is also useful to know that receiving a late-night invite to meet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a booty call. After all, Spain runs by its own clock; having dinner and going out happens much later than in other countries. Therefore, don’t assume that a spontaneous invite to meet a man or woman at means they only have one thing on their mind.
Dating behavior in Spain
While it might be unfair to stereotype a whole nation, there are certain behavioral traits that you are likely to come across when dating in Spain.
Being late for a date
First things first, it is important to be aware that Spain is extraordinarily loose when it comes to time-keeping. In fact, it is acceptable and common to be 30 minutes late for social meetings in southern Spain and 15 minutes in northern Spain. So try not to get angry when your Spanish partner turns up late on several occasions. And don’t be disappointed if they’re not keen on making fixed plans days in advance, either. For your own sanity, it’s better to just go with the flow.
Dressing to impress
Perhaps unsurprisingly, appearance is extremely important to Spaniards, no matter where they are. Generally speaking, people present themselves with care and self-expression; so you can expect your partner to scrub up nicely for a date. Men and women tend to dress elegantly and tastefully, even for casual occasions. Shoes are considered the most important element of an outfit; women usually wear heels or nice sandals, while men opt for loafers, leather shoes, or nice sneakers. Looking presentable is also seen as showing confidence, which is important in Spanish culture. So as long as you don’t rock up wearing ripped jeans and shabby shoes, you’re sure to make a good impression.
Flirting and affection
Sitting on the same side of the booth and making physical contact during conversation is common in Spain; even on a first date. And although Spanish women are known to be the most flirtatious, Spanish men certainly won’t hold back from showcasing how much they appreciate their partner, either. So you can expect lots of hand-holding, prolonged eye contact, and hugs and kisses during your dates. To a newly-arrived expat, this behavior might come across as stifling or possessive. But in Spain, it is considered completely normal.
Understanding body language
Fortunately, the age-old stereotype of men behaving in a macho and chauvinistic way towards women (known as machismo) has changed drastically over the years. Nowadays, men are more likely to act respectfully toward women and demonstrate gentlemanlike behavior. They will likely kiss a woman when greeting her, rather than shake her hand. Another thing to bear in mind is that Spanish people tend to stand very close to each other when talking. Therefore, try not to see this as an invasion of your personal space or a sign that they are coming on too strong. Finally, be prepared for a rather animated discussion once the conversation gets going, as the Spanish tend to speak a lot with their hands.
Picking up the check
Despite Spanish men and women being equally as bold and flirtatious, the man will usually pick up the check at the end of a meal. This will even be the case if he is still living with his mom and earns less money than his date. That said, every couple is different and some might prefer to split the check.