#1. Passion is everything
“Do it with a passion, or don’t do it at all.”
This seems to be the motto of the people from the Iberian peninsula, and it certainly is one of the things I learned from dating a Spanish girl.
Whether it is the cooking, the dancing, the eating, the sex or the arguing, it is done with a unspoken dedication and devotion. And it is lovely. If you’re Spanish, you don’t halfass things, you go all in. I don’t consider myself conservative, especially not compared to the average Dutchman, but I admire the Spanish devotion to what they do and how they do that right.
Cliches are cliches for a reason: they are usually true. This one definitely is. When you’re dating a Spanish girl, you’ll learn really quickly. The first time me and my girlfriend were to meet, we agreed to meet in front of a bar (the three sisters) here in Groningen at 3 o’clock. Back then, I was far from always on time, but when there’s a pretty lady involved I tend to leave the house on time a little more eagerly than when I need to go to class or to work. Anyway, after having made myself pretty, I left the house, facing the Dutch winter cold and arrived in front of the aforementioned bar at exactly three o’clock. Minute after minute passed and I waited in the blistering cold, with no sign of the lady of the matter until she arrived at exactly 15.18, waving at me with a big smile on her face.
By now, my body is completely frozen stiff and I’m unable to wave back. It took three hot chocolates for me to get warm again. Meeting up for dinner with friends at 20.00? Expect us at 20.30. Or 21.00. Sorry. Going to a family gathering, where everyone should arrive at 10 am? Yeah we’re not gonna make it on time. Sorry. I’m not sure how or why it is so difficult to leave on time. I’ve tried it all: I moved the time of all the clocks in the house forward some fifteen minutes, I have lied by saying we would have to leave at 10, while in reality 10.45 would be fine too, all to no avail. We’re gonna be late. Sorry. Now, three years later I’m not sure what has happened. Maybe I have accepted it or I don’t know, but now when we are to meet someone, we’re gonna be late. Of course I can always blame it on her. “Sorry we’re late, my girlfriend is Spanish.” Somehow they always understand.
#3. You’re gonna get fat
So you have a Spanish girlfriend/you’re dating a Spanish girl and you go to visit her family for the first time? “Un poquito más” will be one of the first sentences you learn. It means “a little more” and these three words will make you fat. Spanish food is dee-licious, their Jamón Iberico, the fuet, the chorizo, the paella, the tortilla de patatas, they are all just heavenly devils in edible disguise. After you’ve eaten everything on the table though, you’re mother in law will say the following line: “Un poquito más?” and you won’t be able to resist. Spanish food is delicious and my new family can’t stop feeding me. Also, dinner at 2300h? Very normal.
When you see your first Telenovela (soap opera), you can’t believe Spanish is a real language. Dating a Spanish girl, will teach you that. It is such a dramatic language. You soon realise though that that’s not the language of the people and that, more importantly, telenovelas aren’t Spanish. After spending some time playing Duolingo, studying audiobooks and listening to countless Spanish songs (God, I wish I could get Solamente Tu out of my head) you discover Spanish actually isn’t that hard to learn. The grammatical structure of the language is, in fact, quite uncomplicated, and soon you will find yourself understanding more than just the “Dos cervezas, por favor.” and you start to enjoy learning a new language. Even though there is no possible way you can pronounce the ‘r’ in the word “perro.”
#5. You realise you don’t speak Spanish at all
As you listen to Spanish music and maybe even enjoy a Spanish movie (with subtitles of course), your confidence grows. “I speak a little Spanish,” you might even start to think. Well done. The next time you go to Spain, however, and meet with the friends of your girlfriend, you realise that you don’t speak Spanish — at all. The Spanish you learn from books and audiotapes is NOTHING, I repeat: NOTHING, compared to the language the Spanish speak. I don’t know if they do it just because I’m there or if this is truly the way they speak, Spanish people speak Spanish FAST. While I’m still figuring out the meaning of some of the words in the first sentence, the conversation soon picks up on a completely different topic and I am as lost in the conversation as a nun on a honeymoon.
Dating a Spanish girl, 5 more things I learned:
#6. Going to the in-laws is awesome
If you’re anything like me, then you don’t really enjoy Dutch winters. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter-winters, with temperatures below zero, snow fights and ice skating on the canals in between the fields while the sun bravely shines down on you after chasing all the clouds away. The reality of the matter is though that nine times out of ten, Dutch winters aren’t like that.
They’re grey and dark and wet and the sun seems to have gone into hibernation. It hasn’t however, it has gone to Spain. Nothing beats leaving Holland in December to go to the sunny hills of Barcelona for Christmas. Having breakfast outside in the morning? Very much possible. Getting a tan in the closing days of the years?
Impossible to believe when you live in Holland, but such a treat. One of the best things about dating a Spanish girl!
#7. Dutch food is really weird
Dutch food is quite weird, and not pretty at all. Dating a Spanish girl, and after having been to Spain a couple of times, your in-laws might come over to that beautifully flat country of yours. And of course, after having eaten all that delicious Spanish food, you want to impress them with your country’s beautiful cuisine. Except that boerenkool isn’t very pretty. Nor is hutspot, snert or raw herring. Taking a kroket out of the wall might be a new experience, but it isn’t very romantic.
So you revert to the good old stroopwafels to make your guests happy. Works every time.
#8. Football is serious business
There is nothing I love more than a little competition and sportive rivalry. So when the news came out that the Dutch were to play the Spanish in the 2014 world cup, I couldn’t wait. Dating a Spanish girl is fun.Of course, after having lost the 2010 final to the Spanish, my lady has always made fun of the Dutch team. Weeks and weeks of abuse preceded the match, mostly of her saying things like: “It’s okay if you lose again, sweetie. Just accept it,” or “We’re gonna kick your ass, but it is just a game.” I couldn’t do much but keep responding with:“Yeah, yeah we’ll see”. She was in Spain at the time of the game so we kept in touch by messaging.
The match started and it wasn’t very pretty. Spain scored the first goal and I thought it was all over. Messages started coming in from Spain, saying: “GOOOOAAAAAAAAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!”. And then this happened.
It was beautiful. It was glorious. It was magnificent. And then we scored four more goals. And then all these incredible photoshopped pictures appeared online. It was gold. We didn’t speak for a couple of days and that’s when I learned: it isn’t just a game.
#9. Skype is your best friend. And worst enemy.
When you’re in a relationship with someone from a different country it is inevitable to be away from each other every now and again. When you’re dating a Spanish girl who lives in Spain with her family, you cannot always come with her because you have things to to and places to be at. Thirty years ago you would write a long, awe-inspiring romantic love letter, filled with long words and romantic rhyme, nowadays you just fire up the old computermachine and BOOM, you can see each other, hear each other and even see that you should probably shave your beard. Skype. It’s a great invention.
Not always though. Sometimes, when we’re both at home and I’m trying to read a book or watch some tv in the living room she might be Skyping with her family. It all starts very quietly and civilised but before you know it there are three or four women shouting at each other and I am just sitting there on the couch all confused, not knowing if they want to kill each other or if they are celebrating that Barcelona has just won.
#10. You can’t dance.
Now, that I’m not the greatest dancer alive is not something new. I’ve always known that.
However, when you’re at a dance floor in Spain, in between the small and delicate rhythmically moving bodies of the Spanish, shifting the weight of your tall Dutch body from one side to the other while you concentrate on the beat of the music, that’s not a pretty sight for anyone.