The first time I met a guy from South America, I was almost instantaneously in love. Though his English was poor, he knew the important words to get to a girls heart: You’re beautiful. It’s not often that gorgeous men bestow this compliment on me when we have just met. After spending more time with him though, I came to the unfortunate realization that telling me I was beautiful was about the only topic of conversation I would get out of the guy.

After dating and having friendships with multiple men from different South American countries and living in Argentina, I believe that I have a much better idea now of how to interpret their dating culture than I did on that first night. I’ve had a lot of misunderstandings and made a lot of mistakes, but hopefully by imparting my wisdom on you I can help things go smoother for you in some of your future romantic endeavors.

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed during my time in Argentina is that Latin men will act differently in their home country versus when they’re abroad. For example, here the women demand a certain level of respect. They don’t just fall for the simple flattery. They make the men work to earn their interest. Just like in any culture there are unfortunate stereotypes and one of the stereotypes about American culture is that the women are “easy.” To avoid misleading a Latin man that you fall into that stereotype, it’s important to not be too easily won over. Simply complimenting you on your physical appearance shouldn’t be enough. They, like men from any country, will treat you with as much respect as you treat yourself.

You may have noticed that I’ve mentioned, several times now, the flattery aspect of Latin culture. Latinos are a passionate people and the only thing that compares to their passion for soccer is their passion for women. They will profess your beauty and their undying love (seriously, it has happened) and then try to make a move. I like to call it the “compliment for a kiss” approach and if that’s your style then go with it! Just fair warning, modesty in terms of public displays of affection doesn’t really exist for them so don’t just expect a simple peck.

While Latin men can be a little aggressive in their come on, they make up for it in their chivalry. South America still exists as a very macho society, meaning that there are certain things that are just expected of the men. Almost always, in my experience, they will open the door for you, walk you home and do general “gentlemanly” gestures.

Though it’s important to keep in mind that any kind of flirtatious gestures, whether you mean them to be or not, will be taken as encouragement for them to pursue you. This includes, but is not limited to, repeatedly smiling and/or making eye contact (I accidently do this one all the time) or agreeing to see them in a non-group setting. Even something as simple as grabbing a coffee or doing homework together will be seen as a date. In general, subtlety doesn’t work well; you must be direct and clear if you are not interested in a guy.

Overall, Latin American men tend to be passionate and interesting people. While signals can easily get crossed between what the social norms are in your culture or theirs, being aware of how your actions may be interpreted is essential to avoiding awkward situations.

Whether at home, or abroad if you are lucky enough to land a Latin man, you are in for a real adventure!