The Do’s and Don’ts of Panama Dating

November 30, 2010 by:
The Do’s and Don’ts of Panama Dating


There are rules to dating in Panama. A different language and cultural norms is often to the novelty of inter-cultural dating, but can also be the source of constant frustration. If you master these rules, you will create lovely and long lasting relationships. If you do not, you’ll be doomed to dating disappointments here in Panama.

eop-evan-big-headshotPanama Dating Rules — Do’s

1. Do learn Spanish. Learning Spanish is a sign of respect. Even if the girl speaks English, learn a couple words and phrases in Spanish. She will love it, and so will her friends and family.

2. Do learn how to dance Latin music. You don’t have to be a Latin dance professional like Marc Anthony, but you need to learn the basic dance steps of Salsa and Merenge. Your Panamanian girlfriend will ALWAYS want to dance when she hears Latin music. You have two options; either you can dance with her, or watch another, rico-suave dude spin her around the floor.

3. Do call her the next day. Unlike Western dating culture, calling a girl the day after a hookup is mandatory. If you do not, you will be considered “frio” (cold) which is no bueno.

4. Do say sweet nothings. Spanish sweet nothing pet names and phrases like; mi amor, mi reinita, mi corazon, should all be incorporated into your daily vocabulary. Try to interject Spanish sweet nothing phrases frequently and use them jokingly. If you feel corny, get over it.

5. Do find bilingual friends. Bilingual friends are assets! Their ability to speak both languages allows them to communicate with everyone in Panama. If you go on group outings be sure to bring one or more of your bilingual friends.

6. Do pay. There is no concept of going dutch in Panama. For the most part, guys always pay, even the female’s taxi cab fare.   *****  This does also depend on the females economic situation.  But, typically guys pay for dating activities.

7. Do manage expectations. Panamanian relationships can get real serious real fast. If you are not looking for a serious relationship, you must be proactive and honest. Tell her your intentions early in the relationship to avoid future headaches.

8. Do hang out with gay guys. Latin gay guys are a straight man’s best friend. They are typically surrounded by packs of beautiful women. If they think you are cool, then they will introduce you to their surplus of hotties. Subtly state that you’re of the heterosexual persuasion by commenting on a nearby pretty girl, or referring to an ex-girlfriend story. This will tastefully clarify your sexual orientation, and will allow to you start mingling with their ladies.

Panama Dating Rules — Don’ts

1. Don’t wear shorts. Always dress-to-impress when going out with a Panamanian female. See article.

2. Don’t be cultural-centric. Statements like “Services in the US are so much better”, or “I like to food in France a lot more”, and “Panamanians are stupid” will never go over well.  This is referred to as “The Grumpy Gringo“.   Don’t expect to rag on Panama in front of a Panamanian and have a positive response. (For the record, we do not believe any of the aforementioned statements)

3. Don’t go on the first date with her friends. You will be a wallflower. Once again, see article.

4. Don’t be surprised by cell phone interruptions. Answering your cell phone and having a long conversation while in a business meeting or on a date is not considered rude in Panamanian culture. I, on the other hand, find it extremely disrespectful. My advise is to politely ask them to let the call go to voice mail and continue on with the date. Destroying her cell phone with the heel of your boot mid-call should only be a last-ditch option.

5. Don’t cheat on her. Infidelity is rampant in Panama. Males cheating on their partners is so deeply ingrained into the culture that some of my Panamanian girlfriends actually expect to be cheated on! Hold yourself to a higher standard — be monogamous with your Latin lover.

6. Don’t piss off the mother. Family relationship are extreme strong in Latin cultures. So, strive to make not just a good, but a GREAT impression with the family and especially the mother.

7. Don’t be a pussy. You cannot beat around the bush. Indicate your sexual interest right away. Panamanian females are accustomed to very sexually direct Latin men. Thus, you must grow a pair of balls and go for it.

8. Don’t have sex on a first date. Be forward but not too forward. Meaning, if you like someone and are interested in getting to know them better (and possibly having a relationship), sex on a first date will likely ruin everything. It’s much too soon, it’s not romantic, and it communicates to the other person that you’re more interested in their physical characteristics than in finding out who they are.


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Evan Terry Forbes

Evan Forbes 122 post in this blog.

Evan Terry Forbes is an Author, Entrepreneur and Hall of Fame Traveler. He writes entertaining books about how travel has changed his life. In so many beautiful ways. Currently, Evan is traveling with his retired mother for 1 year through Europe and Asia. This book will be called, Travels With My Mother - How Travel Transformed A Mother-Son Relationship. Read his books here.

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22 Comments on "The Do’s and Don’ts of Panama Dating"

  1. RK on Sun, 1st Nov 2009 3:56 pm 

    The problem with all your articles on dating/sex, Evan, is that they are all about foreign males dating local females. Maybe you can find a female blogger, either local or foreigner, that is not a lesbian, to write some articles?

  2. MA on Sun, 1st Nov 2009 5:28 pm 

    Not every Panamenian girlfriend will want to dance latin music

  3. John Taylor wrote on Sat, 19th Dec 2009 3:16 pm 

    Mi corazon, mi cielo, mi amor too early in the game gets you a go to jail card. I have found from personal experience that if you begin these terms of endearment too early in the game you will strike out.
    Another observation about the Panamanian culture, not only in the dating scene, but in everyday interaction, generous acts can be viewed as weakness.
    For example, I have a friend who was building a house. He needed to go to Canada and bought t shirts for the entire work crew which he gave them on his return. The workers did not show up next day. They saw it as a sign of weakness and held out for a raise.
    You are judged by a different standard than a local both on the romance scene and the everday living scene. As a gringo they will have high expectations about your economic status. Being too generous, too early sets you up for serious hearburn. If you tend to be generous bring along plenty of rolaids. Be nice but not stupid.

  4. glencoe on Sun, 20th Dec 2009 6:15 am 

    All fair in love and war….the panamainian girls will go for you if you got a big wallet..they want security and a gringo is fair see them old American guys with nice young colombian and panamainian girls.they paying through the nose…..i got involved with a really nice girl from David, getting on great .then met the family …they want you to pay for everthing..sorry not want Expect, madre y padre..dont really like you but like you when you pay…

    then meet the siblings…always your the bars….had to get out, cheaper hanging out wi a colombian hooker.

  5. katryna on Mon, 8th Feb 2010 12:16 am 

    I am a Panamanian, and I like american guys because they are very romantic and gentle. Some of the stuff the panamenian girls expect from them but they are too rud and sarcastic and sometime MACHOMAN, hope to hear from you ladies and gentleman.

  6. katryna on Mon, 8th Feb 2010 12:28 am 

    Hey you GLENCOE, not all the panamenian are like that, it will be some of them but not all of them, i have date american guys with big wallet and poor wallet so, who cares, I am a woman enough to work and make my own money, you can see that on the Colombian girls, they are coming now to Panama cuz they know the american and french man are coming a lot to live here and visit, so theywant to catch one of them. The colombian girls dont fall in love they just use panamenian guys and who knows … so there…think about it

  7. Carol on Mon, 8th Feb 2010 6:39 pm 

    This is really funny….some of the Do’s made me laugh a lot.
    If you want an advice….do not follow the Do #4….

  8. wa1den on Mon, 15th Feb 2010 3:27 am 

    Saludos a las panameñas aqui en el foro! Espero irme para alla un dia de estos, dentro de poco, a conocer Panama (resido actualmente en el estado de California, en “gringolandia” – soy norteamericano/gringo, pero converso en español sin problemas). De veras es interesante ver los comentarios aqui respecto a las costumbres en latinoamerica/Panama. Pienso que a veces tienden a generalizar demasiado. Me parece que cada persona es diferente, y que si uno desea cultivar una relacion con una dama, al tomar un poco de tiempo en conocerla, puede uno darse cuenta de su actitud, y evaluar si existe una base de compatibilidad adecuada para una relacion seria. Hay que cuidarse de la nocion de que existe alguna “formula” que hay que seguir; mas bien, hay que ser perceptivo y adaptable, y mostrarle debido respeto a la dama.

    Walden Barney
    Gridley, California

  9. FlowerFlower on Tue, 16th Feb 2010 3:06 pm 

    About your Do’s

    No. 2: ❝2. Do learn how to dance Latin music.❞ NO WAY! im pretty sure i’m not the only one who dislikes salsa, bayenato and other latin vibes.

    About your dont’s:
    No. 2: nice advice. We know Panama is not perfect so please dont start with comparisons.
    No.4: I dont think its a general behavior.

  10. Betsy on Wed, 24th Mar 2010 7:35 am 

    I like your article! :) As a panamanian woman I agree to many of the items in the list except #4 (both in do’s and dont’s).

  11. dan on Tue, 26th Oct 2010 9:53 am 

    i have lived here for 15 years, am married to a panamanian woman, and have concluded that most of the cultural differences are overrated. in the end, we are pretty similar in our expectations and beliefs, and what seem like huge differences in the beginning fade away to minor details over time. overbearing mother-in-laws, golddiggers, etc are just as common in the usa as here, as is infidelity, rudeness, etc.

  12. karla on Wed, 15th Dec 2010 2:13 pm 

    About paying, yes pay for the date even if it is only 1 and no mas. in latin culture men are expected to pay, especially since he is the one asking for the date. Sweet names are good but at a proper time, otherwise they feel they were ‘over-used’ with other chicks just like telling everyone I love you. Do you really love them? use the word love but mean it. About treating the whole family to drinks…no no, I would have said to that (not enough cash, left cc in the house etc). This guy might have shown a sign of weakness when he kept paying. It’s ok to say no, not only in paying but in other things in life too!!!
    Great article. I loved the gay part. lol

  13. TOM DUNNE on Wed, 15th Dec 2010 2:55 pm 


  14. David on Sun, 26th Dec 2010 6:25 am 

    After living in Latin America for 15 years and heard almost all of the sob stories….I have concluded that there are really only two golden rules to live by:

    1. no good deed goes unpunished
    2. kindness is weakness

    Failure to live by these rules is muy malo

  15. Reggie on Mon, 17th Jan 2011 6:40 pm 

    I am 44, so where is a good place to meet single ladies in Panama? I will be relocating there soon.

  16. Michelle on Sun, 20th Feb 2011 6:19 am 


    I’m moving to PA as soon as I get the money together. Hopefully by April/May.

    Where is a good place to go dancing or socialize (I don’t drink) where there are both Gringos & Panamanians ages around 35-50? I’m 45.



  17. Andi on Fri, 18th Mar 2011 1:31 pm 

    Interesting. But guys just be yourself. And I agree with a some of the posts on here, not all Panamanians like latin music. Panamanians are very varied and cosmopolitan, some like the latin music, others like rock music others like even classical music and just go for that and are not into the club scene and it doesn’t matter what part of the country or city you were raised.

    And Panamanian women in general are very independent and have a higher education than most men in the country. It may seem like a patriarchal society on the outside, but many women work to provide for themselves and/or their families.

    And if it isn’t you to ‘sweet talk’ then don’t do it, be yourself, be genuine.

    And yes, don’t be too generous too fast. If the woman or her family expect you to pay for everything that is bull…run like hell in the opposite direction, that’s not even expected for Panamanian men to do, so why a gringo? Yes pay for the date, and be a gentleman, but you don’t have to support the entire family. Be careful who you date, get to know the person and her family (if it gets serious), the best thing if you already have good Panamanian friends, meet people through them, that is a good filtering system.

    Be smart, be yourself and be safe, that’s the bottom line.

  18. Isis Stacio on Mon, 9th May 2011 7:52 pm 

    I dated 6 yrs ago the love of my life and still so happy and in love with him…. I am panamanian, but he doens’t speak spanish… just some words like mamita and te amo mi amor, also he doens’t know how to dance at all! but anyway he is so sweet and nice!….

    nice article!

    thank you so much
    I love to read your articles!

  19. Ricky on Fri, 20th May 2011 6:45 pm 

    My first time visiting the site and was intrigued about reading this article. I’m a Panamanian that lived most of his life in the US, so mostly Americanize than Panamanian. I do agree with the content of the article and most comments.

    However, Americans are not the only people targeted or known to blow money on woman, and being one that works constantly with foreigners, I have grown accustom to getting questions like, Is it true prostitution is legal? and where can I find a hot Colombiana? Hookers are easy to spot in this City, just visit hotels or other convenient locations in the City.

    It’s also true that most Panamanian woman today outnumbers the men and usually has higher education standards than most Panamanian men. So, do treat them with respect because they deserve it as should any other woman.

    Dating a Panamanian woman can be a great experience and just like in the US or Europe, not all woman are alike and just like the article states, Panamanians either man or woman are very family oriented, so getting to know the family is essential.

    One last thing, just because tourism has grown, doesn’t mean that all Panamanians should know English, so try to learn some Spanish words, Spanglish is very well accepted, after all Spanish is really the language of Love!

  20. shynna on Wed, 3rd Aug 2011 9:14 am 


  21. Pilar on Tue, 4th Oct 2011 4:39 pm 

    Well, I am Panamanian and I personally don’t like American men because I don’t think they are here looking for formal relationships. The kind of relationships that will make you grow as a person and feel good about yourself, long-term relationships. In the way I see it they come to Panama looking for girls who are more DTF (in Jersey Shore’s slang), the type they can booty call anytime they feel they need some female company… “summer flings”. Most of the young American men who come here do it for a limited amount of time (mostly holidays) to escape from their hectic lives back home and to let themselves loose. They see Panama as a place to getaway and to have good memories from, so more sooner than later they will say good bye to you and go back to their normal lives. In the other side, when it comes to old American men who are planning to stay in Panama (retirees), they are looking for a different type of woman: someone who will accompany them on their last days, someone who will take care of their illnesses and will accept to try to fuck them once in a while and they are willing to pay the money price of that. None of these two cases sound good for me, I rather stay with the national produce ;) just sayin’… NO OFFENSE!!

  22. Alex on Tue, 22nd Nov 2011 10:08 am 

    I liked the article a lot!! as a panamenian girl, I must say you dont need to learn how to dance salsa/merengue but you can have fun trying :)
    on Do #4 please dont do it untill she say something like that, If theres something I hate is being called MAMI it reminds me of disgusting guys in the street!

    Theres another thing never is ok to go too fast, take your time get to know each other dont scare her or make her think youre going really serious if you dont mean it.

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