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Sex and the Spanish single lady

Spanish women have seen significant advances towards equality in recent years. With a government in power passing various laws to promote equality, progress has been made. But they still have one pending revolution: emotional independence.


Emotional independence: the final frontier? Photo: Pablo Monteagudo.

Madrid is full of women who are beautiful, intelligent, financially independent, over 30 and…single. It seems particularly hard for these single ladies to find their partner for life. With a ratio of 1.07 men to women and a deeply entrenched Catholic culture that promotes traditional family values, what’s behind this trend, if it’s not the numbers?

Society and culture tell us we should all dream of finding a soul mate to spend our lives with and create a family, but the rules of the game have changed. Women no longer have to put up with things they don’t want. They don’t have to depend financially on a man. Their place in society does not depend any more on being someone’s wife. Yet many of them long for a man: a man who will treat them as an equal human being that wants to be loved, cared for and respected; not a prince who will come along and rescue them from… nothing.

And yet they are finding that there are still double standards for men and women when it comes to sexuality. In a Catholic country in which the only female role models are either Mary Magdalene or the Virgin Mary, there isn’t much room for women to be considered full human beings with full equal rights, including, of course the right to being a sexual being. For better or worse, culture has its roots deeply embedded in individuals minds. Spanish single women are finding out that expressing their sexuality with whom they want to and when they want to -or sleeping around if you prefer- leads to punishment: the punishment of being neglected and ignored by men.

Sara, 32, returned to Spain after living abroad for 10 years. Her first boyfriend was American. After that, she had a few affairs, nothing special. She will never forget her first experience with a Spanish man: “I went to a Democrats Abroad party and met a wonderful, funny, witty, good-looking and single Spanish guy. We were enjoying each other’s company so much that I decided to spend the night with him. When he finished, he almost literally kicked me out of his bed. By chance, the next day I ran into him face-to-face at a party. He ignored me and pretended to have never seen me before. I found out he wasn’t married or anything like that. I didn’t understand. Is there something wrong with sleeping with someone or what?”

Ignoring a woman after having slept with her seems to be common in Spain. Sara continues: “I thought maybe it was just one bad experience and moved on. But I ended up having too many more similar experiences. Nowadays, I can’t be bothered any more with men here. I have given up on dreaming that I will ever meet a man that I can have sex with and a conversation with afterwards. I’m not asking for a relationship, but some respect wouldn’t hurt. I’m really not in the mood to be mistreated again. Sex is something natural to be enjoyed by two, not just one. I see nothing wrong with sex as long as it’s between two adults and consensual. I’m starting to think that Spanish guys have issues with women that have sex”.

Is porn to blame?

Silvia, 35, has an interesting theory about why Spanish guys are so disrespectful towards women who have sex because they want to: “My generation grew up watching Canal Plus porn on Friday nights. Most of the men in the 30-to-40 bracket that I have slept with have asked me to act and behave like those porn women. And, I’m sorry but it turns me off completely, I know my body and what it likes. I’m sorry but no, those things hurt me, degrade me and do not give me pleasure at all. I have tried to tell them how I like to be touched but they keep on saying they know better. How can they think they know better than me what I like and what I don’t?”

For Mariela, 43, things haven’t been much more romantic either. “Since I turned 35, going on a date seems kind of like a utopia. First thing they ask me is my age. Then they continue with a patronising ‘hey, don’t fall in love with me’. Who do they think they are? I just do not tell them my age any more. I know guys ask my friends how old I am but I just refuse to tell them my age.” She adds: “Why don’t I deserve respect? Is it just because I am not going to be the mother of their children so therefore sex is the only thing they can take from me? If they just want sex but are not willing to have it on equal terms, why don’t they just pay for a prostitute?”

But Ana, 42, has discovered a niche group of Spanish men that seem not to have issues about having sex with a woman and being able to respect her afterwards: divorced men. “At least you can have a steady affair. Since they have already lived with a woman, and they usually have kids and know they are not financially an eligible bachelor, they treat you with respect and care. Some of them are even open to a serious relationship! Being 42 I know that my chances of biologically being a mother are very slim, so I don’t mind any more that they usually don’t want any more children.”

Of course, when there are lots of single Spanish ladies, there are also lots of Spanish single men. And they voice one common complaint. “Women are desperate and hungry to marry and have children”, says Juan-Pablo, 45. “I feel they just want to hunt me for my money and position.”

But Sara, Silvia, Mariela, Ana and many others don’t need to “hunt” for anything: they have university degrees, careers and financial independence. “I don’t want a man to support me financially, I just want to share the path of life with someone and I’m not going to settle for anyone that doesn’t consider me an equal,” says Ana, who paints an unappealing picture of motherhood in Spain. “I look at my friends that have just had their first baby and they are all miserable. Their husbands’ lack of involvement in the house and with the babies is killing them emotionally and exhausting them physically.”

Mariela continues: “The problem is that we don’t need them anymore, we want them, but don’t need them.”

Sexual and emotional losers

As long as men continue to think women’s ultimate goal is to hunt down a husband, or that there are women to have fun with and women to have children with, or that it’s a woman’s duty to bring up the children and take care of the house, there will be a surfeit of single women and single men in Spain. Spanish single men will continue missing out on sharing their lives with equal human beings; they will continue being paranoid that any woman that approaches them only wants their status; they will continue missing out on sharing sexual experiences with another human being. Spanish single women, on the other hand, are embarking on women’s pending revolution: achieving emotional independence.

Many women are starting to cut themselves off from the emotional need of a man in their life. They are learning that there is life without a man: they are taking good care of themselves, enriching their lives with different activities, seeing the value of friendship with other women and dedicating their time to doing the things they like.

But with the birth rate dropping, what we don’t know yet is who is going to give birth to the next generation of Spaniards. Unfortunately, most of these single Spanish women won’t be able to afford having babies on their own (average salaries are still too low in Spain to be able to raise one child on one salary). It’s time for men and governments to wake up too.

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Published: Mar 15 2011
Category: Iberoblog, Featured
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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18 Comments for “Sex and the Spanish single lady”

  1. Another thing about spanish guys like me is the bad level writing and speaking english, so I apologice in advance.

    I think is misleading to talk of spanish men like a unified reality, at least geografically. There are great differences between Barcelona and Bilbao, for example.

    Another mistake in my opinion is to analize a relationship only from the women’s point of view. Both of us have problems matching with another and there are a lot of cool guys out there who are not apreciatted precisely because they don’t match in the Alfa macho stereotype you are describing.

    For example, I’ve beeing ignored by girls the day after spending the night with me. As they feel comfident they are as bloodles cruel like the men you described. Put the blame on porn if you like but the fact is that freedom doesn’t mean to be unrespectfull and this go for men and wimen alike wherever they like adult movies or not. Many girls applaud this acttitudes as a kind of gender revenge I’ve seeing it with my eyes. Is there a way out of power relationships between us?

  2. Juan, yes, there are differences between Barcelona, Bilbao and elsewhere in Spain but that would be for another article. This article was about the difficulties that spanish single ladies in Madrid are encountering in finding mates for life due to the double standards imposed on women (i.e.if a woman sleeps around, she´s considered a slut, whereas if a man sleeps around, he´s considered a macho) and how machism still prevails in our society and the way it´s manifesting is by men punishing women by ignoring them if they are the kind that sleep around with whom they want when they want to. On top, due to these double standards, men do not take care of those women sexually speaking as…if they are sluts, why bother with trying to pleasure them. Women´s reaction to this, or at least, the ones that I´ve interviewed are either stopping sleeping around with spanish men or acting as they are being treated, that is, ignoring the men as well and just going for their own thing. This last option is the road less travelled in the girls that I interviewed, though. I did find spanish single boys (note that I call them boys and not men) complaining that they don´t find proper girls to have a relationship with but then, these same boys are complaining when girls approach them saying that women just want to hunt them. I guess we are all lost? 🙂 Relationships are not about power but about caring and sharing and if we´ve been brought up to think that they are about power (with all sorts of steriotypes justifying this theory, such as, women are the ones that really rule, etc etc), we´ll just continue being lost. That´s why the article tries to call men up and tell them to wake up and adapt to the new role that many women are playing. Ignoring women who freely express their sexuality and continuing the slut-shaming or not treat them sexually as equal beings is just counterproductive for men and society: women that have achieved independence are not going to go back to playing old roles and games of pretending to be virgins or try to hunt a husband that will give them a life: they already have a life and if the man is not willing to adapt to that, it´s their loss. Women are not longer going to give up their lives to fit in the life of a man.Eventually men will have to wake up or the next generation of spanish will not be born…out of spanish women

  3. Having had a few Spanish girlfriends,shared with a few English and Spanish girls and been teaching privately for years,where stuff like that comes out,I’d totally agree with the article.There’s been a lot of reports in the Spanish medias over the years re wither the Spanish,Ibero macho.It’s a dying breed clearly.The Spanish,or at least here,the madrileño is still living in the past century-but is that a surprise when the 80s seems to be an obsession? It seems the only modern males from Madrid are gay-how tragic.
    It doesn’t surprise me that madrileñas look for foreign men so…… I am presently single…….all you hsve to do is……

  4. I would add one proviso-madrileñas,or españolas living in Madrid, at least from my observations,have become extremely fussy,very particular-it might be a reason for not finding the “right” man but it might be a hangover from the previous bad experience(s).

  5. Thanks Malcom. I agree with you. I think they are so fed up of having bad experiences that many have decided not to bother anymore….

  6. Pity.Maybe I should put my contact details here:-)

  7. haha…sure, go ahead! and add a profile!:) I would put you in touch with the girls I interviewed but dont know if it´s a good idea: one of them was so mad that she wants to do a “pre-sexual agreement contract”, kind of like american´s pre-nups, before anything happens; another one is considering studying psychology so she can spot ass**** in advance or take the guys for a psychological test before going on a date!

  8. Ha ha indeed.While I was on the bus I thought more about this-something negative that is noticeable is there is a certain amount of bitterness,naturally anyone might say,but I’ve noticed the bitterness seems to get in the way of their character,that they seem oversuspicious.
    The main problem I have and have had,is that too many smoke,or if they don’t their friends do.
    But,yes,teaching men here,I can see why they’ve lost connection with women.

  9. I am an African American from Chicago and met an amazing Spanish woman online. We’ve shared wonderful emails, pictures and some phone conversations. She’s 41 and I am 51. I am currently separated for near 3 years. Ive been in business (real estate) for 20+ years and until the recent economic collapse, I made a lot of money. Well, my America wife could not deal with the hardships even after living a wonderful life for 23 years of marriage. Seeking someone who thought of other values other than money, status or security, Ive found myself intrigued and now in love with the idea that this beautiful Spanish woman wants to be the patient, passionate, long suffering, loyal and unconditionally committed woman I so desire in my life. You see, I am still handsome and can have some pick if American woman. But, I don’t want to relive the lifestyle I had in my early 20’s now in my 50’s. Am I making a big mistake falling for this Spanish woman who wants to make a life with me. Please respond.

  10. Porn’s just another symptom. When you have so much freedom, like we have now, you also have a lot more choices to make. Part of that is choosing what’s going to make you happy. Skinny, rich, single women (statistically) have the highest probability to have the power to make the most choices, but also form the least happy demographic of women, and we’re losing ground on the happiness front, not gaining it, as we could with better choices. Choose what makes you happy, and when you feel like it, choose what happiness itself means to you.

  11. Having originally moved from England to Spain 6 years ago. I have been shocked by the culture of how so many Spanish men treat their women so badly, and suffer terrible paranoia.
    I have met a lot of women English and Spanish who have had so many bad experiences with Spanish men, a few of those English women have said worse than a lot of English guys they have dated. Of course that could be a result of differences in culture. However a good Spanish friend of mine told me the thing with a lot of Spanish guys. Many have a high sexual need for a partner and get very paranoid about being lonely. Might explain why many are so flirtatious towards women.

    Though not all Spanish men are like this, it seems from female friends I have met and spoken to that’s the picture they paint of most Spanish men.

  12. Hello all, I have just returned from a holiday in Barcelona. I’m a single English girl. Blonde hair, blue eyes. I was travelling there to check out the city because I plan to move there next year. On day two I met a very handsome guy on the beach…he was so sweet to me said all the right things and that night I slept with him, something which I dont usually do so soon but hey…I was on holiday. We swaped numbers…he seemed very keen. As we were exchanging numbers…he had a call come through, a girls photo came up on the screen, he answered the call and started speaking in catalan, thinking I wouldnt understand what he was saying…he was organising taking his girlfriend to the hospital for a baby scan. I was horrified. I didnt let on that I knew what he was saying. Asked him what it was about and he gave me a load of rubbish that his cousin wanted a lift to the hospital. I didnt see him again. He didnt even call me. Just compleately ignored me. Ive never felt so used in my life. Day 5, I went clubbing with a girl I met…in the club I met another beautiful guy…we swaped numbers at the end of the night and he said he wanted to take me out for dinner the next day. When we met for dinner, we really connected, he said all the right things, wouldnt let me pay for anything. He was a real gentleman. I slept with him…and we met every day for the rest of my stay in bcn. He was amazing…he really was. We added each other on facebook and it was an emotional goodbye…until september when I said I would return. Since being back in England…I find out he’s only 20 years old, has a part-time girlfriend in bcn…who has now seen pictures of us on facebook and gone mad. I said I would try to come back early in July…this was when he admitted everything. I dont know what to do now because I really like him…but again I feel a bit used…and he wants to see me again but im just not sure….So anyways…I thought id share my experiences with spanish men. If anyone has any advice then please feel free to comment.

    • Sounds like spanish guys like to fuck and go. excellent flings and nothing more.

    • This is what you get for sleeping with a man you barely know abroad just because he is “attractive”, no wonder English in spain have such a bad reputation. You can’t play naive, men will say anything to get into a woman’s pants.
      He has a girlfriend, yet goes to the beach to chat up women. Does this not strike as strange to you?
      You are most likely no the first woman he has bedded behind his girlfriend bacl.
      Spanish men consider foreign women from countries like the U.K as fair game because many women there tend to have a casual approach to sex and see no big deal with sleeping with strangers. This is your choice, but this only becomes questionable when you are sleeping with a person who is already seeing someone else!

      He wants you as a “mistress” not a partner, you do understand this? Men in Latin culture have two classes of women
      1. The kind of woman they want to marry
      2. The kind of woman they only want to sleep with

      You are an idiot if you don’t realise by now what catergory this guy has you in.
      He is a game player and knows what he is doing do not think this is all “by chance”. It amazes me how stupid women can be.

    • sorry, but after having known someone for only one evening you can’t expect him to commit himself already to you forever after. if you sleep with him after this little time then that’s perfectly ok but you should not expect that he owes you anything for it. the choice is yours: if you want something serious then maybe wait a little longer and try to know him better before you go to bed with him. nothing wrong with having some fun but please accept that if two people have a one night stand then both use the other just the same. it’s not just the bad guy using the good girl, it goes both ways! an one last remark: of course it’s not nice to tell lies, but on the other hand it’s not nice either to eavesdrop on a conversation that is obviously private…

  13. Hi, i have always heard this notion that spanish ladies are racists. I am Kenyan, though i think spanish ladies are beautiful and decided to learn spanish to hook up more easily. After seeing this, now i dont know. But still how do i hook up with a spaniard who is not racist and desires a meaningful love experience? Or maybe i do other things?

  14. Great post! But only because it goes to show that both men and women go through similar trials and tribulations to get some satisfaction out of life. Listen, I am Spanish and grew up in the USA. After being back in Spain on an extended visit of several months for work, I can assure you that love and sex is a *much* simpler proposition in he Anglosaxon world. I have re-discovered that although Spanish women are incredibly flirtatious and alluring, they are exceptionally hard to get to know intimately precisely because of the deeply embedded Catholic doctrine. The thing is that I KNOW they want to chat with me but they are always watching over their shoulder so that the other girls don’t think she is a easy type. I would like to have one nice woman so that we can chat, dance and have passionate fun together while I am here but given that Spanish women normally just get intimate with guys who have been carefully vetted, I don’t see it happening because that takes time and I will not be here long enough to pass through the process.

  15. I am English and my girlfriend is from Madrid. My girlfriend’s ex boyfriend (of seven years) suddenly left her for a colleague. This is the bad side to Spanish men. The thing is people are all too keen to confirm the stereotype of the flirty, charming, attractive but pig of a Spanish man. While there are some stories – I think that I’ve heard far worse things about English or American men. Sleeping with women and not calling them, treating them badly just after finishing – this is not endemic to Spanish men. That said, Spanish women are hardly always the innocent victims – as often as I’ve heard of boys cheating on girlfriends I’ve heard of the opposite in Spain.

    To all the tourists who’ve felt used by Spanish men – I roll my eyes. You pick the suave foreign man who “says all the right things” who charms you off your feet quickly and you get surprised that he is not – in fact, a virtuous gentleman in disguise who has spent years perfecting his charm in order to woo just the right woman – you. Well what in God’s name did you expect?? They saw you coming a mile away. The thing that people don’t realise is that it’s the same everywhere – when Spanish women go to America, when English go to Australia, when Norwegians go to Italy – they all complain that the men are awful to them and treat them like meat. Does no one possibly think that maybe you had a little bit of wool pulled over your eyes and that maybe you couldn’t see all the signs that he was a bit of a player because you were so impressed with the fact that he was foreign?

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