Are Brazilian Men Incapable of Love?

Elena Leman
Mar 20, 2017 · 12 min read

I’d lived and loved in eight different countries and I’d never doubted that among (and often inside) assholes, players, and womanizers there was a loving man seeking a deep connection with a woman. And then I came to Brazil.

Having spent 1,5 year in the behemoth of São Paulo and half a year in the more provincial Northeast Region, I’ve ridden the emotional rollercoaster of Brazilian dating long enough to start pondering — are Brazilian guys incapable of love?

To put some light on the matter, let’s have a look at the three case studies from my own psychotic love life.

Case Study #1 Michael

Michael was a teacher in one of the best dance schools in São Paulo, where I happened to be doing salsa & zouk. I saw him for the first time dancing on the stage at the annual Dancing With the Stars event. The stars were the students themselves who’d practiced with their teachers for weeks for that one moment of glory.

I was amazed by Michael’s intimidating manliness and unforgiving sexiness. I complimented his moves, he complimented my curves. One dance with him left me dizzy and high on endorphins.

Then I saw him kiss a girl. I checked his FB. Yes, he was taken. “Oh well, that’s that. Plenty fish in the sea,” I thought.

But it was not over for him.

Suddenly, he would appear at the school canteen every Thursday after my class. “Why don’t you practice with me for the next event? Why don’t you come to my intensive bachata course on Saturday? Why don’t you give me your phone number?” And then I got that dick pic from him (surprisingly unimpressive, though).

“Enough!” I said. “It’s not right, Michael. You have someone.”

“No one has to know…” he calmed me down.

I stopped replying to his messages.

On the next ball at the school his hand “accidentally” slid across my butt during a spin. His girlfriend was in the room, I knew she was watching. I went to the bathroom to cool my body and mind down. “Why should I be the one to be a grown-up here?” I thought staring in the mirror. “I’m single, I want him, and I don’t even know his GF.”

“Would you want someone to do that to you?” I heard an annoying voice of wisdom in my head. I sighed.

When I opened the door, Michael was already there, waiting in the corridor. He kissed me before I could say a word. I released myself from his arms, both shocked and excited.

“Your girlfriend is here. Aren’t you afraid?” I asked.

“No,” he replied with a cocky smile. “We can’t fight it anymore, babe. We have to do it…”

I felt his strong arm around my waist and testosterone exploding from every pore on his brown skin.

“No,” I squealed with pretend confidence. A painful roar of the hungry animal in my womb pierced through my brain. Oh, how I desired that man! But not like that.

I left the party. His girlfriend’s big dead eyes drilled a hole in my neck.

Case Study #2 Valter

Going out with Valter was an act of desperation. The heartless São Paulo way of living, entrapping the young (and the not-that-young) in the endless loop of the single lifestyle, was already getting on my nerve. I’d just closed a long chapter of solo soul-searching across Southeast Asia. I wasn’t ready to lose it again! I wanted depth and meaning and connection with another human being… Not the bullshit of empty sex with no strings attached. A friend convinced me to search for my twin flame on Tinder (how appropriate). Legend has it that there are real couples who have met there. So I did something I’d promised myself to never ever do in my life — I swiped right.

What I loved the most about Valter’s profile was the total absence of shirtless shots. Quite the opposite, there was a green sweatshirt, a scruffy beard, dark Middle Eastern eyes, and a book in his hand (!). A few witty messages later he offered to be my guide at the bohemian Rua Augusta Street on Friday night. We crawled from one pub to another, sharing our thoughts on liquid love and our Ayahuasca visions. He put me in touch with the Ayahuasca people in São Paulo. He wouldn’t be able to go with me for the next ceremony, though. He was still on Prozac.

We smoked weed in his car and went to Jazz B, the coolest jazz place in town. Relaxed by the green magic, with an intriguing man leaning against my shoulder, I let the musicians play on the strings of my mind, on the keys of my heart. When he drove me back home I thanked him for the awesome date and kissed his cheek for goodbye. It took maybe a second too long but that was enough for his lips to find mine. We exploded into an uncontrollable vortex of lust, his hands everywhere, my face red and stinging from his beard. “Woah, woah, woah…” I gasped. “Now I reeeally have to go home. Good night!”

On the next morning I woke up like a little bird from the Snow White, a bird on cocaine, singing and dancing throughout her day. So love existed! Intelligent men with great taste in music and killer kissing skills existed! Hope was back and the best way to celebrate it was to treat myself to a falafel burger in my favorite veggie place. It was not on my way but who cares! What a beautiful day…

It was.

As I glided into the restaurant on the flying carpet of my delusion, guess who was already there queuing for the salad bar? Yes, Valter. Yes, with his girlfriend. Paralyzed, I stopped tweeting for a moment. But he kept a cool head and… invited me to eat with them. He was a true gentleman in the end.

So we ate that damn falafel dinner together and he told the story of how they met (no mention of the story how we met). He even suggested I could go out with his girlfriend to dance forro since both of us loved it so much. I nodded my head like a maniac, “Definitely, we should schedule something,” Brazilian way of saying, we will never EVER meet again.

I bought a big bottle of beer and strolled along the Paulista Avenue, not sure if I should cry or laugh. So I just drank. As always, millions of couples were making out on the benches and bus stops — young, old, gay, straight… I used to be envious of their love. Not anymore. It was nothing but an illusion. Sooner or later, maybe even in a few hours, all of them would cheat on each other. Hope was gone.

Case Study #3 Kleyton

Our eyes met across the sultry dance floor and it felt as if an electric spark flew across the room. In a split second my mouth was dry and some other parts of my body — wet. God, was he gorgeous! Tall, black, slim, with a storm of thick locks, but foremost — he was an amazing dancer. He was spinning a girl but staring at me, his eyes narrowed. I blushed. He extended his hand towards me for the next song and entrapped me in his arms for the whole night. Brazilian strategy — surround your prey and don’t let go of her until you get a taste of her flesh. With the Universe as my witness, I resisted as much as I could. I was new in town, just arrived to Recife, I didn’t want complications right at the beginning. And hot men were such a trouble! But he was charming, convincing, and persistent. My defenses were down. OK, let’s go outside “tomar um ventinho” (get a breath of fresh air). All right, the air will taste better served in each others’ mouths.

What came next was the usual. Kleyton texted me almost every day. Far from his hotness, in the safety of my room, I was doing my best to reject his advances. No, I didn’t want to meet him. No, I wouldn’t send him my nudes. No, I wouldn’t come next Sunday to the Cuban place again.

But I did.

Unable to focus, turning my head left and right, I looked for the familiar storm of Afro hair tamed by a headband. He wasn’t there.

He apologized promptly. He’d been giving classes at the dance school for the whole weekend and was too tired to come. I was aloof but he caught my attention by offering to me samba de gafieira lessons, in my living room, in exchange for English classes. Yeah, sure, why not, it’s such a difficult dance in the end.… Some extra help won’t hurt.

When I opened the door on the next day and saw his beautiful face, I knew the afternoon wouldn’t finish on a class exchange. When all the introductions had been made and the th sound practiced till his tongue got numb, it was time for me to step down from the teacher’s pedestal and become a dumb-ass for a change. He played “Pé na Areia” and pulled me to himself, just to push me away three seconds later. We turned our backs on each other, we made a jumpy walk back and forth, he spun me around and I laughed, having lost my balance. He caught me right on time, hot, sweaty, melting… He tilted my head back and sucked on my lip. We floated on the waves of samba all the way to my room.

I disappeared.

We continued our classes with benefits for a few weeks, chatted on whatsapp every day, got jealous, had our first fight when he slapped me in my face in bed and I slapped him back. I would lose my focus whenever I smelled his perfume on other men. He fed me with the same crap he served all girls, just to get me addicted to him — we’re going to be together forever, we’ll get married, it’s too soon to hold hands in public but one day… I told him off, I didn’t want to hear any of that shit but somehow it stuck. The mixture of his smell and bullshit blinded my mind. Maybe we could be something more than just ficantes (fuck buddies)?

And would I even want that? The dude lived in a dance school, flirted with every girl around, and had kids with two different women. Certainly not the kind of man my mom would like to meet. I got the taste of reality when I introduced him to my brother who was visiting for the carnival. How lovely, on that specific day Kleyton showed up completely drunk, with a broken front tooth after opening a beer can the night before, and as per glorious Brazilian carnival tradition — wearing a skimpy dress. My brother wasn’t impressed.

You know how sometimes a small snack only triggers your appetite instead of satisfying it? That’s what happened to me. Weekly fuck meetings with Kleyton and then pretending as if we barely knew each other on the parties was not enough. I wanted something deeper, realer, lovelier… I tried to get distance, I suggested a break, but I ran back to him within a week. The dance started all over again.

But it was becoming intense not only for me. I saw it in his eyes, he was terrified. Suddenly I was everywhere, invading his territory with my high heels and swirling skirts. Wherever he turned his head, I was there, dancing with another man. I studied his face. What was the meaning of that sadness? Was he jealous or was he tired of my presence? Whatever it was, it was too much. His smell vanished into thin air. No more whatsapp messages, no more “how was your day.” I didn’t ask what happened. I didn’t try to keep him. I knew the drill very well.

He disappeared.

I sucked it up, just as I always do. He’s probably already fucking another girl. That’s how you keep it safe — bang as much as you can and run away before the first unpleasant fluttering of your macho heart. I took a risk with Kleyton and I lost but not everything. It was infinite when it lasted.

Que seja infinito enquanto dure…

The Rant

Those were just three of many bitter-sweet romantic (?) adventures I’ve had in Brazil and they’re nothing in comparison with what I’ve been told by my girlfriends. Every woman I meet has a few tragic stories of unfaithfulness up her sleeve, ready to pull them out on caipirinha-soaked girls’ nights out. The worst ones are those of their mothers, cheated by their fathers and left alone, with nothing to live on, and often with debts to pay.

My heart sinks. Is that really what you get when you fall for a Brazilian man? You love him? You want him? There you have, take him, together with all the crap that comes with the package — cheating, machismo, and the inability to love you.

However, the thirty- and twenty-somethings won’t tolerate the shit their moms used to turn a blind eye to. They’re hardworking, ambitious, and self-sufficient. They do sports, travel, and develop their passions. They are the best and deserve the best. So how does that work out for them? They’re alone. Because Brazilian men can’t handle the new reality. They can’t find their place in that new relationship model where they don’t need to be a provider. Rodrigo, a male colleague of mine, admits that he’s single because he’s afraid. If he dates a woman, sooner or later she will discover that he’s a fraud. He has nothing to offer to her what she can’t get by herself. So he prefers to run away before she notices and leaves him for someone better.

The story of Mariana confirms that strange logic. She was a beautiful and successful app developer at Google. She’d been trying for a child with her husband for over a year when she discovered that he was already expecting one, just that not with her. A nineteen-year-old street vender from a favela he patrolled turned out to be a more attractive love interest. And a less threatening one, for sure. Two weeks later Mariana was a beautiful and successful… divorcee.

The Reasoning

I’ve always been more of a man-lover than a man-hater so I’m trying to find sense in that misery. Everyone desires to be considered a decent person but what if the definition of decent differs across cultures? What if you’ve been imprinted by your father and your society from an early age that to be a man means to be able to get as many females as possible and outsmart them all? Wouldn’t Brazilian men behave differently, had they been raised in a place were fathers don’t bring their 14-year-old sons to whore houses to lose their virginity, where they don’t pat them on the back for cheating on their teenage girlfriends, and where love and fierce loyalty to one woman isn’t seen as weakness but as strength?

I’ve watched an amazing video by Matthew Boggs where he explains why some men are unable to commit. Imagine that you have 16 oz of love in your hand, all pretty, fragrant, and ready to be gifted to that one special man. But he only has 4 oz to give you back in exchange. You’re getting upset that he doesn’t want to give you more but the truth is — that’s all he’s got. And that seems true for the guys in Brazil. They are emotionally handicapped, incapable of developing depth that would make them attached to one person only. It’s always the same superficial, sex-based relationship, just the bodies are different. That’s why it’s so easy to exchange one woman for another.

The Words of Wisdom

I would probably break into pieces and turn into despair, if I weren’t aware of the laws of the Universe: everything that surrounds you is the reflection of your own soul, everything you experience is brought to you by the Law of Attraction to match the vibration you project. We’re not victims of our circumstances but the captains of our lives.

I sit in quiet meditation and ask my Inner Being, “Are all Brazilian men indeed emotionally-unavailable cheaters? Or do I attract only those types (and the women complaining about them)? And if so… Why?”

The answer is pretty annoying, as always. It seems that it’s me who is emotionally unavailable and men I choose simply mirror my attitude. On the surface I crave intimacy and depth but truth be told… It scares the shit out of me. To fall so deep, to lose control, to surrender myself completely to another person… Ain’t nobody got time for that! I need to focus on my writing, find an agent, publish my novel, go for a run and dance classes, meditate on the beach, meet my girlfriends… A man now? He would just ruin everything! Thus, a part of me sabotages every chance for a relationship, picks from the crowd the worst kind, the players, the womanizers, the assholes… So I don’t have to take the responsibility for the failure in dating. It’s always going to be their fault.

That realization is painful and hopeful at the same time. There are awesome and honest men out there, maybe sipping coconut water on the beach I don’t know, maybe dancing kizomba in a club I haven’t been to yet, maybe walking their dogs in the park in the other part of town… I haven’t met them because my vibration doesn’t match with theirs. I’m not ready. So I should just chill out, enjoy a bowl of açaí, and publish my first post on Medium. ;)

It’s much easier to blame your surroundings than to see the “reality” as the mirror of your soul. But that’s the only way to stop “being lived” and start living instead, without asking silly questions, such as, “Are Brazilian Men Incapable of Love?”

If you’ve liked my first post on Medium, click the heart ❤️️ so more people can see it, and share your thoughts in the comment section below (esssspecially if you happen to be a Brazilian or you’ve lived and dated in Brazil). Can’t wait to read your opinions!

Elena Leman

Written by

Nomad, dancer, poet, tarot reader & deliberate reality creator.

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