Cuban Novio, Cuban Boyfriend

By far, the majority of my traffic centers around these search terms.  That worried me.  It says that there’s a need.  There are these women out there with Cuban boyfriends, or wanting them, and not knowing how to handle it.  What to buy them, how to get one, how to know if they’re cheating, what to feed them, when to believe them.  I didn’t just put those thoughts into people’s heads, they’re all very real search terms I see all the time.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never had a novio cubano, for a variety of reasons.

If you want to know what it’s like, read Whitney’s series Adventures with a Cuban Boy over at her blog On Love and Other Things.  She has great prose, genuine thoughts and enchanting pictures.  And more importantly, she has the experience.

I won’t talk about other people’s experience, but I cant talk about mine.  Here are a few posts I’ve written on the male/female dynamic in Cuba, from the perspective of a young, white American foreigner.

I had a hard time with the novio thing in Cuba.  I’m a girl who’s used to having close guy friends, and a few good circles of guys to spend time with.  I’m also used to people finding out I have a boyfriend and respecting that, rather than trying to make me forget or “live in the moment.”  I’ve taken a bit of crap from fellow travelers for disliking some of the attention I get when abroad, but I don’t think anyone should have to put up with harassment, and I think everyone has the capacity to understand boundaries, even if they are foreign to them.

I really hated that it was hard to have platonic friends in Cuba.  I felt I had to keep my guard up; any time I didn’t, I noticed not-so-subtle behavior changes, or I heard about my “blossoming relationship” later from other friends.  Many who travel short term to Cuba, or who don’t leave the resorts, never experience this.  I’m curious how other extended visitors found things to be.  Most Cuban guys, in their own words, told me that unless my novio was on the island, it didn’t matter.

This all probably sounds really stuck up.  And I’m sure people will claim that the guys had one reason or another for continually deciding to ignore my” just friends” mantra.  But I don’t think that sitting next to one of my guy friends for a couple innings at a baseball game and honestly calling him a childish idiot for blowing up condom balloons constitutes flirting.

I hate being told to” live in the moment.”  Especially when I know they don’t mean my moment, they mean theirs.  I hate being told to stop thinking, to stop being so serious.  This is not How Delia Got her Groove back.  I’m 21; I have groove.  I hate that for so many guys, their only interpretation of fun was getting drunk and flirting with white women, and having them buy dinner.  I hate that so many white women for decades before me had already set the precedent that this was true and okay.

Sometimes going to other countries, ones with even stricter gender roles than ours, reminds me just how little I fit my gender.  I stick out as ornery and a run for everyone’s money in the states–imagine how that comes across in a Muslim or machismo society (the two are more similar than you’d think).

I believe I have the right to dance however I want with my friends and not get touched by strangers.  And yes, I understand respecting customs and the importance of context.  It isn’t so big a deal if you’re somewhere for a week or a few days, or if you’re constantly surrounded by western backpackers.  But after a few months in a foreign country where you can’t let you guard down or go out with just women, it gets awfully lonely.  That’s all.

3 thoughts on “Cuban Novio, Cuban Boyfriend”

  1. I don’t think it’s right to generalize in this aspect. First, this attitude is not cuban, its latin – you’ll get the same in Argentina, Mexico or Brazil.. and very similar in Spain and Italy.

    I work in finance and went to Cuba during 2 weeks for work. I never felt someone was trying to push me to live in the moment.

    My theory is that, the same way you and me might have assumptions and tend to generalize certain attitudes, they might do this as well. Some latin friends told me that spanish women are known for their strong character and they don’t want to mess with them too much – don’t insist, you might get a slap or two. This doesn’t mean I’m one of them (could be!).

    My point is, we all create assumptions and then act according to them. And this will happen in your own country as well as in a foreign one.

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  2. given that I was in Cuba for three months instead of just a couple of weeks, and you were in a work setting, it is understandable that we would have different experiences.

    I wasn’t saying it was exclusively Cuban, it’s just what I experienced. also, calling it Latin is actually generalizing MORE than I was. this isn’t a theory about all Cubans, it’s about the ones I met. and i have to say, you’re the only person to ever disagree with me on it, which i find interesting.

    but, given the circumstances in Cuba, all male-female relationships where one of you is a foreigner have an extra weight on them. i was asked for money, food, sex, batteries, club admissions and scholarships. there is a different and strange sort of desperation that comes from the power dynamic. all American women have an inherent power: they can marry a Cuban. this was almost always present, whether spoken or not, in friendships and relationships.

    i did find it interesting how many Cuban men said they would never date a Cuban woman, and vice versa.

    As for the assumptions, there were definitely many of those. in my experience, Cuban men assumed that smiling at them, laughing at them and dancing with them was an invitation to something more. often, just spending time with Cuban men or showing up to a club (where there were very rarely any Cuban women) was quite provocative, and indicated all kinds of messages about willingness.

    good to hear your insights!

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  3. You are so funny!..reading this and imaging gramma near the fireplace telling stories about her “adventures in Cuba”…lol…but I can understand, in your time in Cuba you probable met just the “useless” part of cuban society, of course they are not really cubans…not even persons…they do just exist..they are the result of the hunger and needs that a demolishing dictatorship has teach them for the last 50 years…and if you let them, they will f**** your brains out, took all your money and probably convince you to marry them to escape from the country…never met the real guys and girls, those with a brain on their heads…but hey, you are a lucky girl!,,you at least visited Cuba..and created an opinion for the piece of crap you saw in 3 months…now my advise…go back..:)

    PS: I’m cuban…lived there for 36 years, live in the US now..sooo…no mistake…:)

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