You met your soul mate. Everything you ever wanted, your new Cuban love wants to give you the world. They call you every day, multiple times a day. The promise you eternal love and devotion. They make you feel so warm, so loved, so appreciated and loved just the way you always wanted to be. You think it’s the real deal. They’re so charming and socially fun, and then of course there’s the dancing and the sensuality that is just a massive hook for many people in love.
Cubans are addictive, there’s no doubt about it. They are fun-loving, light hearted, and generous with their time and love. They know how to bring a smile into your day no matter how horrible of a day you may be having. They are genuinely sweet, romantic and they LOVE to have fun at all costs. Cubans have an innate ability to tap into your needs, desires and passions and they will see you deeper than you may even see yourself almost instantly. They’ll dance you around the kitchen, make you dinner, invite you into their families, make you feel so connected to them, obsess over you, love bomb you and win you over quicker than you ever imagined possible. They are masters at reading between the lines and they know how to discover you in ways that you may have never even known how to discover yourself. In short, falling in love with a Cuban is not only easy, it’s almost impossible NOT to do.
There’s absolutely no reason not to fall in love with a Cuban if you feel that connection. It is a guarantee that you will learn worlds about yourself, your own insecurities and fears, Spanish, Cuban culture, music, dance, art and family. Your relationships with Cubans will transform you from the inside out and shift a lot of your stories about how to do relationship, what is OK for you, and what is not. Cubans can be wonderful partners and lifelong friends even through hard times. They love the romance and passion of love.
Marrying one and committing your heart, finances and life to them is another thing entirely. As with any marriage, it is something that should not be taken lightly but with Cubans, there are other things that you should consider very seriously. The layers are deep, profound and more complex and cultural distinctions are only one part of those complexities. The damage it can do to your life can last longer than you might ever imagine and can cause long term psychological trauma, as the way they exit can be cold, calculated and deeply traumatic and confusing for foreigners who aren’t familiar with their cultural norms.
All of that powerful delicious passion and super sweet Cuban love can have it’s price when things don’t go their way. Cubans are renowned as hot headed and while that is absolutely a gross generalization, there is also a backbone of truth in it. Their culture is hot, fiery and passionate in almost every way. It’s not a bad thing, but it is something to be aware of and mindful of in romantic relationships. That sensual, yummy, over the top romance can easily shift to scorn, resentments, jealousy and become something very not loving at all. The Cuban bite can indeed be much worse than its bark. Who you once thought was your best friend, ally and true love can, in an instant become a formidable enemy that you never imagined possible. Often you’ll be left scratching your head having no idea what happened as everything you believed was true crumbles around you.
Your Cuban partner may suddenly become cold, heartless and vengeful and never give you any explanation as to what is going on in their heads. They can create huge dramatic endings over small misunderstandings or cultural differences that you would barely raise an eyebrow at. Issues that an American or European would be committed to working through as part of the normal process of long term relationships can quickly escalate into incredibly vindictive nightmare endings with a Cuban. The kinds of things that Americans or Europeans in a relationship would simply sit and discuss calmly to resolve can quickly become fuel to a massive fire that can burn up and permanently destroy relationships, marriages and friendships. Cubans are quick to react and can be easily offended by what to us might be nothing more than a cultural distinction or misunderstanding. They are very sensitive and as intuitive as they can be, they also can be misguided by their own cultural confusions on what our norms are. They are also subject to all the same psychological and mental illnesses that the rest of the world is. Know the warning signs and pay attention.
The one commonality in most relationships with Cubans is that they will want to get married, and as quickly as possible. It will feel so special, so magical and so powerfully alluring to have such a cariñoso partner who is so dedicated to your needs and desires, especially in the beginning. It can be tempting to just say yes for the fun of it all and jump into the magic of their passion. They make such convincing cases of how they will take care of you and meet your every need, of how you are the one and only special one, and of how they will never leave you and will take care of you through old age and sickness and always be there for and with you.
The other commonality in many (certainly NOT all) relationships between Cubans and foreigners is that they rarely deliver on these promises, and often they have ulterior motives that are not at all based in love nor in the stuff marriage should be made of. Your job, if you are even thinking of marrying your Cuban love is to do your own homework, take your time and be very aware. You should also be prepared to accept that you may find out the hard way even when you are 100% sure that you and your Cuban love are in mutual agreement about the relationship and marriage.
Now, of course, being fair, one could argue that those two are common in ANY and ALL cultures as basic human realities for certain personality types. However, in Cuba you have a distinct set of needs and conditions that lead to a high percentage of marriage as business arrangements, marriage fraud cases, manipulations, hit and runs (get engaged or married to get out, then jump ship once out or when they think they’ve found an upgrade), use and abuse of foreigner’s good will and money, and in turn, a high percentage of devastated lives.
There are some relationships that work out beautifully on the other hand. I have known of a few that have lasted the test of time and a few who still seem happy. Again, this case could be made for relationships between any 2 people in the entire world. Many relationships fail, a few make it and even fewer lead to happy lives. It is possible, and the warning signs should be heeded no matter where your potential partner is from. Since this is a blog about Cuba, I’m speaking specifically about the years of stories I have witnessed between Cubans and foreigners. And of course, I have my own personal stories as well, some very beautiful, and others not so nice at all.
Sadly in almost a decade of my love affair with Cuba and hearing stories, I have heard of very very few of these relationships lasting longer than a few years at best, and almost always the foreigner gets the short end of the stick. Many foreigners I know personally have invested their entire lives and life savings only to be taken for a long, painful ride and end up devastated while their Cuban love sails off into the sunset, pockets loaded, with a new person, often within days of deciding to leave the marriage or relationship. Plastering it all over social media is a new tactic to try to officially validate their attempt at using the money of someone else to obtain their objectives. Often once out of the country, and married, they’ll get their papers and quickly divorce or abandon their partners and move on, once their objectives have been fulfilled.
Cubans know that it’s hard to get out of Cuba. In fact, for many of them, without a foreigner’s help, it is virtually impossible due to economic conditions, their own innocent ignorance of how the outside world works, and their ingrained ways of being dependant on others on a daily basis. It is the rare Cuban who will find their way out on their own without using or manipulating the kindness of a foreigner who has been charmed into loving them and believing that the love is equal and/or reciprocal.
Cubans are also highly aware that it is very difficult for them to afford to live outside alone. They know that without an economically stronger partner or family members on the outside, they may never get to leave. They also know that even if they could find their way to save enough to get out, they will likely have a very difficult time on the outside alone.
They have become masters at using love, sex, and sometimes dancing or music, as their tools to get them where they want to be: outside of Cuba with a new world to explore. Now, with the introduction of Facebook and social media, Cubans now can target their spouses for full scale manipulation through marriage.
Marriage with a Cuban, particularly a Cuban who is still living IN Cuba, however, is something to consider very carefully. Statistically speaking, 95% of marriages between Cubans and foreigners/turistas, do NOT end well nor last long. Some do, there are a handful of marriages that make it, but more do not.
If someone, ANYONE, Cuban or not, is looking to marry quickly, that alone is almost always a HUGE red flag. Add to that that many Cubans see leaving Cuba as only being possible or sustainable if they have someone to foot the bill, take care of them on the outside, and who they can be financially dependant on for at least long enough to figure out how to find someone or something better. These unique conditions make for a combo that should get you to think long and hard before you sign papers and put your money, time, life and heart on the line.
So here are a few red flags to watch out for before you start talking marriage with your Cuban love.
- Quick to Want to Engage or Marry (Fiance visas are a quicker way for them to get out of Cuba)
- Rushing the relationship publicly on social media and privately with pressure in intimate phone calls
- Playing into and on your fears/insecurities/passions and becoming a mini you-liking everything you like, etc.
- Getting angry if you don’t send money or if you aren’t moving fast enough in the relationship
- Threatening to leave you or find someone else if you don’t do what they want and in the time they want you to
- Insensitive to your problems or economic difficulties if they arise: thinking of you like a bank account
- Lots of promises about working hard and taking care of you later if you take care of them now
- Jealousy or control issues (always a red flag)
- Mysterious Past or dramatic breakups/divorces that are always the other partner’s fault
- Too available and too eager to commit to you (maybe even before you’ve met in person if it’s an online affair: be assured, they will often have other partners/wives/relations nearby to take care of their needs at home if it’s a long distance deal.
- Love Bombing Publicly to prove a point (love doesn’t need to be proven on social media): This is often a way to try to publicly validate a relationship for legal reasons
- Dislike of or hatred of Cuba: Desperate to Leave Cuba
- Lack of empathy when you have normal ups and downs: expecting you to be the fixer and always serving their needs
- Overly anxious in the relationship: Saying I love you too fast
- Wanting you to invest in their homes or buy property in Cuba in their names or family’s names to “prove” your love
If you do decide to marry your Cuban, do so with an open mind and no expectations that it will last forever. Have compassion for their reality and understand that a marriage, no matter how beautiful the love is, is hard work and requires dedication and time to mature. If you go into it with your eyes wide open, and it works out that’s great. It certainly can and does for a lucky few couples. But, atleast, if it doesn’t, you’ll be a little less heart broken when you understand the cultural distinctions and how they use marriage as a tool to advance their lives. Never expect them to love unconditionally, because their love is based on certain conditions. The primary one being that they get a ticket out of Cuba and a nice comfy new life away from the poverty and struggle that Cuba is for many of them. Discovering that someone you gave your heart, body, and soul to share life with was only using you for their own objectives is painful and shocking for people who love sincerely and deeply. Yet, the shock can be tempered with compassionate understanding, and you can forgive, and move on.
Don’t judge them. Cuba is hard. For many of them, it’s their only way out. Often they haven’t been educated well enough to understand how much economic, emotional and spiritual hardship a broken relationship or divorce can cause a foreigner. Sometimes (not always) they simply see foreigners as rich with limitless disposable income, and think our lives are easy and that money is no big deal. Some have the attitude that love is replaceable and they don’t realize the damage they cause until it’s too late to fix it. Yes and that can be said of any culture, not just Cubans.
Marriage is a sacred thing that has become too casual for many people. Divorce is “no big deal,” anymore for the younger generation and the very sanctity of marriage has been lost in the search for what one person can do for another rather than the true sharing of life and love that make it a truly special once in a lifetime experience worth working for.