I would not be completely honest if I didn’t write a post about one aspect of Panama.
Specifically, the guys.
More specifically, they’re pushier.
I want to make three points.
#1 In general, men come closer then in the United States.
#2 Guys are bolder about asking you out/getting your number
#3 Girls/women need to be as careful as you are anywhere else, because if a guy gets the wrong message, he can act very bold.
When I spread my arms wide and turn in a circle, all the space my arms touch is mine.
I’ll be honest – it makes me uncomfortable when unfamiliar/new people come into that distance.
But in Panama, personal space isn’t what you’re used to if you grew up in the States.
In Panama, all people, and men in particular, seem oblivious to personal space. Speaking from a US perspective, Panamanians lean closer, hug more, touch arms, and are generally more physical.
I met a guy from the States who showed us around Panama. One day he said to me, “Get used to men hugging you because that is what they do in Panama.”
Not just hugging – men will touch your arm to direct you, slap you on the back, or even kiss your hand. In the States there is this distance, this reserve, that I didn’t notice until I came to Panama and there wasn’t any.
(That last sentence is so awkward – let me rephrase that.) Until coming to the more friendly, physical, “touchy” country of Panama, I didn’t realize how much distance and reserve we have in the US.
Asking you out
Another crucial difference in Panama – guys are much, much, MUCH bolder about asking you out, getting your number, expressing interest, etc.
If you are from the States, like I am, you may be caught by surprise.
In the States, guys tend to “hold their cards close” for awhile. They’re reserved, and don’t just say, “Hey, I like you,” upon knowing you two hours.
Here in Panama, guys are bolder. I’d roughly estimate I’ve had more guys express interest in me, (under the guise of learning English) in the month I’ve been in Panama than in my entire life in the States.
A smile in Panama doesn’t seem to mean the same thing as it does in the US.
In the US it means,
“Oh, hi, I see you, and want to greet you without saying anything.”
In Panama, many people (esp. guys) take it as,
“Hey I like you a LOT and would love to talk to you!”
A few weeks after arriving in Panama, I was shopping when a young Panamanian man approached me and boldly asked for my number and email address. He was very pushy, didn’t take no for an answer, and in general made an absolute pest of himself.
One twenty-something Colombian girl we met remarked about Panama with these words: “The men don’t have boundaries. You have to be very clear, loud, and firm.”
Be Aware of This!
Before coming here, I had read about this difference. I didn’t realize HOW different Panama can be from the US. It’s very important for all girls and women who are visiting or living in Panama (and are used to a more reserved culture) to be aware and prepared for these three differences.