My experiences in Mexico, including counseling bi-cultural couples, has taught me some interesting lessons. People that adjust to a new culture succeed by being open and flexible. In this post, I'd like to share what I learned about something I call "The Ándale Release."

It's not a sexual position. It's about the emotional connection between people, including strangers--it isn't the same as in the U.S. or other western countries. A great example took place in a Latino hidden video show episode. A cheerful fellow would initiate a conversation, and not allow the other person to leave. This did not require touching the other person in any way. It just involved continuing to talk to them and not saying goodbye. This got the individual slapped by a lady working a retail counter, and nearly slugged by a man at a train station.

But why didn't they just walk away, like they would have in the U.S? Because, when you connect with someone, there is an invisible, emotional link that must be disconnected. You must give each other "permission" to walk away. You can do this by saying "ándale."

The first time someone said this to me, I had just decided not to buy something from him at a flea market. I thought he was giving me the equivalent of an American "piss off." But now I know this is the "secret un-handshake" that sets you free.

It's a kissing cousin to "con permisso," the phrase used when leaving a group. You say it to acknowledge the fact that you have permission to walk away. You do this when it is already obvious enough that you have permission to go. It means, literally, "with permission." That's a fairly blatant example of this cultural difference: You need permission to walk away. This knowledge can help you avoid having a misunderstanding or appearing rude.

But what if the other person doesn't give that permission? Do you have to hit them, like in the hidden camera show? My advice is to simply ask to be forgiven for being rude, "but I will have a problem if I'm late," or some other reason that helps to justify cutting things short. Of course, if it's someone that you don't really have a connection with, like a street vendor, you have more latitude.

I should add that the meaning of ándale depends on the situation and tone of voice. Ándale can also mean (among other things), "Hurry up!" "Exactly!" "You're right!" "Go for it!" or "That's it!" With a menacing tone, it might mean, "Watch your step, you're getting on my nerves." Spanish depends more on context than English, and this seems to be reflected in the culture.