Moving to Spain as a single gal comes with a big ol’ box of surprises. As an expat in Spain, one of the biggest surprises has been trying to navigate the challenges of dating abroad.
Originally from the Philippines, I never imagined I would be online dating in Spain! But after going through a bad breakup, a friend opened a Bumble account for me. It was a kind attempt to keep me from moping around the apartment all day…. and it worked!
Taking the Plunge into Online Dating
While at first I was nervous about dating in a foreign country, now I think of it as an interesting adventure. And I don’t regret taking the plunge. I mean, I’ve enjoyed some pretty amazing dates in this country and have done things I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise!
With an Argentinian hottie, I went to a U2 concert and danced the night away at a jazz club. On another date, I watched a Real Madrid futbol game with a die-hard Madridista (Real Madrid fan).
Alongside a Basque surfer, I enjoyed my first taste of morcilla (blood sausage) and mollejas (sweetbread). And on an ironic date in a hipster Malasaña club, I met the most conservative Spanish lawyer. Needless to say, the conversation that night was… interesting.
But not all my dates in Spain have gone according to plan. I’ve been stood up, bored of my mind, or just stuck with some weirdos. Once, a date told me he was clairvoyant and saw exactly how he was going to die. On another date, I met a man who was part of an organization that required wearing weird hats. He thought we were going to get married.
So has all this been worth the time and effort? For sure!
Of course, with over four million expats living in Spain, you don’t need to only date Spanish guys. You can easily join any of the english-speaking expat groups if you think overcoming any language barrier might be a problem.
But, if you don’t want to limit your pool of men (who would?) and would like to integrate with the local culture, then I hope my tips and rules for dating Spanish men can help you find your príncipe azul!
Expat Dating Sites in Spain. Know the Options.
Okay, if you’re ready and open to dating online, you need to know what apps are available. The good news is it’s not so different here than anywhere else, really. There are plenty of expat dating sites in Spain. And, there are also completely free dating websites in Spain. Tinder is not your only option! (Thank God.)
For example, there’s Bumble, where the female has to message first. This is great for avoiding an overflow of pesky men. There’s also Happn. This app shows who you crossed paths with on a particular day. So if you spotted a cutie in the cafe but didn’t get a chance to say hello, this app can help make the connection.
There are also more specific apps like Ok Cupid and Inner Circle. These options match certain criteria like wanting children or may require more detailed bios. Plenty Of Fish is another popular app choice.
There’s the European Meetic, most used with Spaniards, as well as Badoo, Parship.es, eDarling.es. As you can see the options are limitless!
How to Choose the Right Online Dating App in Spain?
With so many choices available, choosing a preferred dating app will involve some trial and error. When you have free time, try to download each of the apps. You can compare features, dating pools, and other factors.
Not all apps are completely free dating websites in Spain. Some apps require monthly payments and subscriptions. Ultimately, research can help choose an app that works for you.
Also, keep in mind that managing a lot of dating apps at one time will be difficult. Pretty soon, you’d have trouble remembering which guy said what! So, it really does help to play around on the apps a little before committing to the one or two you like the most.
The Rules of Dating Spanish Men
Okay, so here’s the part you’ve been waiting for! What’s it like dating Spanish men? First thing’s first… dreaming of finding a young Antonio Banderas? Well, forget it. Sadly, this ain’t the movies, so you’ll need to wipe any stereotypes from your mind. You’re better off following these few simple rules….
Rule #1: Go With the Flow
Living in Spain, you gotta chill out if you’re the strict “keep to a plan” type. Plans change… especially in Spain. People are very casual and being late is completely normal here. So if a guy says he’ll meet you at 9pm, don’t take offense when he strolls in closer to 9:15 or maybe even later!
Part of going with the flow also means being spontaneous. With so many great bars and restaurants in Spain, your date may decide to change the location at the last minute or even during the date! Maybe he’s discovered a great new spot or just found out that his friends are at another place just down the street.
Yup, this means you may also find yourself on the way to a “group” date without being prepared for it… which brings me to rule #2.
Rule #2: Be Social
Because Spaniards are friendly and social, your date may think it’s completely normal to invite his friends to meet up with you all at some point in the night. Or, he may strike up a conversation with the couple next to you at the bar, and the next thing you know you’re getting a table for four.
Also, be prepared to meet the family, or at least some members of the family, quite early on!
Rule #3: Get On-Board with Tradition
Family and traditional family roles are an important component to Spanish culture.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that many Spaniards live with their parents for much longer than in other areas of the world. Due to the economic situation and high unemployment rates in Spain, many people can’t move out on their own until they’re older.
So, don’t be surprised if you meet a young man who is still living with mom and dad. It’s quite normal for people under 30. So you can imagine what living in the comfort of mom and dad’s for so long can do to a man… tread lightly, ladies! Many men can still be quite traditional or conservative, which may or may not suit you.
So what else can you expect when dating a Spanish man? Let’s see… there’s been a lot of laughter and fun but also frustration and confusion. Everyone’s experience is different.
Be Honest About Your Intentions Dating Online in Spain
Some of the reasons I’ve experienced some frustration and confusion is because of mismatched expectations. If you want a serious relationship, be upfront about this. Honesty will weed out matches who just want a good time and zero commitment. If you’re not in the market for a relationship and just want to enjoy dating for a while, be upfront about that, too.
Dating is complicated when we have mismatched expectations. Don’t try to force something that the other person just isn’t up for. It’s best to get those expectations out of the way. This way, you have a better chance of finding your perfect match in Spain.
And, don’t lie. It’s not fun to get someone’s hopes up. Besides, if they don’t like you just as you are, what’s the point?
Dating during the pandemic is very different. We are supposed to be socially distancing as much as we can. But, meeting up for coffee or brunch outdoors (and following all the COVID-19 safety protocols) is becoming more and more possible.
Also, even though Spain is a very safe country overall, be sure to use common sense. Tell a friend where and with whom you are going and if something feels off, don’t be afraid to get out of there.
Luckily I’ve never felt like I was ever in danger on a date here in Spain, but I’m careful. And you should be, too!
Is Online Dating in Spain Worth It?
I know all too well coming home from a date and feeling disappointed because your match wasn’t the one. Removing your makeup, you consider how tiring it was to get dressed up for nothing. You immediately feel exhausted having to start over with someone new and go through the same routine questions.
But not all is lost. If you had a nice time, discovered an interesting spot, tried a delicious dish, or learned something new, that adds more value to your life than watching Netflix alone.
When it comes to online dating in Spain, keep going! But only put in the effort if it feels right. If you need a break from dating apps, then take one.
Dating requires self-belief and emotional control. If you are looking for ways to feel more confident on your next date, check out our story, 5 Ways to Practice Self-Love and Acceptance Through Style.
As for me? I have been off the dating app circuit for some time. Online dating has afforded me a lot of experiences and learning opportunities. I ended up with a very special person I will treasure forever. That makes it all worthwhile.