Studies on socialization, flirting and dating in Brazil can be enlightening at times and so I found myself reading someone’s dissertation titled “The Stud, the Virgin, the Queer, and the Slut: A Qualitative Study of Brazilian Sexual Identity in Three Brazilian Communities” on Google Scholar (which I link to at the bottom). For anyone who has spent enough time in Brazil or around Brazilians, you might have heard of their version of having fun with no strings attached, which is not to say that all Brazilians actually do it but it does play a role in the ‘dating’ scene down there. It’s known as ficar (to stay) and the people who practice it are ficantes. In my high school years, there was a similar practice called ‘getting with someone’ (or ‘hooking up with someone’) which, like ficar, has a wide range of possible interpretations. When I suggest that ‘dating is dead’, what I really mean to say is that ficando has assumed the common role among 20-somethings and younger that dating once held. If the ‘hook up’ has gained such prevelence, where it once had from very little to none, then will its ‘market share’ just continue to increase until we enter a Brave New World where we ‘engage’ each other at will and whim?
“Chaves (1994) discusses a new behavior that has completely changed courtship among teenagers — teens just stay together, acting as if they were girlfriend/boyfriend, but have no commitment. Her study of middle- and upper-class teenagers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte suggests that this type of relationship which appeared in the eighties attracts, seduces, and corrupts individuals to the extent that it offers immediate and non-committed pleasure. If this kind of rationale stimulates the ficantes (those who ficar) to ficar with as many partners as possible, it is also true that male and female ficantes face different consequences for the same act in terms of reputation. For the male, ficar with more than one female in one night suggests he is a stud. For the female, the same behavior is not well regarded among males and may ruin her reputation.
According to the picture drawn by mothers from all social groups in all three sites, dating was quite different when the mothers of teenagers were teenagers themselves. It was strictly supervised and there was not very much they were allowed to do in terms of physical contact with their boyfriends — which does not mean there was no such contact. Dating was, in the past, the natural path to marriage which, many females believed, would free them from their authoritarian fathers. Thus, marriage tended to happen very early in their lives. Yet freedom was not always the consequence of getting married. As one mother reports, her husband is as authoritarian as her father was and, instead of freedom, she has moved from one prison to another. Her experience is exactly the same Freyre (1956) reports to be the case for nineteenth century Brazil, when females moved from the “stern tyranny of their fathers [to] the tyranny of their husbands” (1956: 419).
In the past, you dated to get married. (Catholic mothers, Montes Claros)
The other day I was talking to my aunt, she said she dated 12 years with commitment. She said he [the boyfriend] never hugged her, never kissed her. (More educated mothers, Macambira)
I married very young and also with my first boyfriend. I started dating him when I was 13 and I married when I was 16. So, I married to have more freedom, because in my house it was very much like a very closed system. I didn’t go out, I didn’t have any freedom. So I thought that, if I married early, I was going to have more freedom, and all that. It ends up, you know, with you going to another prison. (Upper income mothers, Montes Claros)
But lately people are getting married with this conviction that, if it doesn’t work, they break up. This is what I think. Not in the past [when it was different]. First people dated (…) and [then] married the first boyfriend. They got engaged before they got married. Nowadays the person is pregnant when [he/she] gets married. (Catholic Private School female teens, Montes Claros)
As the female teens from the Catholic Private School mentioned, dating today is completely different from what it used to be. In fact, nowadays there is more than dating or having a steady relationship. Ficar (to play around) has become a very common behavior among Brazilian teens. It means staying together and acting as boyfriend/girlfriend but with no commitment. It may involve one or more actions such as kissing, hugging, cuddling, petting, and having sex. If a couple fica together one night, it does not mean they are going steady.
Other evidence that suggests the difference between ficar and going steady is the fact that ficantes, especially males, do not necessarily care about beauty or the physical appearance of the other. The important element in ficar is just having fun. When asked about characters in the telenovela they would like to date, marry or ficar, many teenage participants state they would ficar with characters they would not necessarily go steady with or get married to. – Source (continue from pg. 12)