sábado, marzo 25, 2023

Red Flag Hunting

Arab Gulf Fireworks

-“He would need to look like Kurt Cobain”, said a good female friend back in the day about Juan, another friend in his early 20s who seemed to have come to the conclusion that a good way to get in girls’ pants was to play love songs for them in his acoustic guitar. And so it was, vicariously through Juan, that I learned very early on an important lesson that can be easily translated into many other scenarios: Don’t be the guitar guy. (At least not if you don’t look like Cobain).

One would expect this sort of emotional education to be relatively easy to come by in the age of dating apps. Practice makes the master and it almost seems that anyone with some sensible selfies to upload can go on a dating rampage for four weekends straight. There is even a sort of parlance amongst experienced daters to talk about this: Red flags.

A guy who describes all their exes as “crazy”, a person who just can’t be nice to the waiter, the guy who picks up the tab but makes sure you notice how much he is paying. The emotionally immature narcissist who pulls out his/her guitar to grab the fix of attention he/she so desperately craves. We all have our red flags, but it should be easier to educate oneself out of them in the times of Bumble.

But there's places amongst places.

The trendy red flag in these coordinates could be easily confused with the notion of gold-diggerism or the myth of the sugar daddy. In fact, a couple of good friends who have spent some years in this part of the world tend to explain the rise of this -phenomena- by simply pointing out that there is many a rich man around who is willing to offer financial incentives to a lady (or a few, depending on his budget) in exchange for the illusion of having a girlfriend. The most pragmatic ones, the anecdote goes, are in it simply for regular sex: coitus at will, without much questions, under what we could describe as some kind of subscription model.

However, while I partly agree that the red flag I am talking about is enabled by this kind of masculine willingness and cash availability to exchange money for sexual or emotional favours (or both), I think there is a big flip-side to all this. Yes: There is of course your professional gold-digger and your happy-chappy 65-year-old sugar daddy here and there. But I think the issue is slightly more complex.  

What worries me is the cognitive dissonance of some sisters I have met on the way who are genuinely looking for the companionship and partnership of a sensible man but are also too ready to suggest that he should make disproportionate financial -investments- on her or her wellbeing during the dating stage. Let me paint the picture more accurately: She is beautiful, she dresses well, she smells fine, she is somewhat witty and cultured, she has a normal job. But boom: I really love this bag she says, giving you the puppy eyes, on the second or third date, as you pass by the Prada boutique.

The easy answer is to dismiss these sisters as amateurish gold-diggers or more compassionately: As gold-diggers who haven’t discovered themselves just yet. And at this point I must confess that I despise that word to the point that I have never used it to refer to any woman regardless of whether I thought she fits the description. But don’t get me wrong: That could be the case for many, they might just be missing a therapist who helps them realise that deep down they really hate men and that their GD instinct stems from a subconscious need to take revenge for all the bad things their fathers did in their childhoods. Be it what it may, I think men-and-woman provider-receiver relations are much more complicated and fascinating than this. In other words, I (perhaps naively) think there is a few of these ladies who still have some possibility for redemption and that’s the public service I feel like making today at the risk of sounding preachy.

Take it from a self-proclaimed feminist who picks up all the tabs in all the dates: No decent, self-respecting man whose company you would really enjoy for a significant amount of time is very eager to establish any relationship in which there is such a vulgar quid-pro-quo of emotions and/or sex for anything else. I don’t mean any superhuman, I mean the decent self-respecting man that you claim you want to have: The one that is soft but also rough, the one who plays love songs in his guitar but is not needy (and perhaps looks a bit like Kurt), the financially independent man who is ready to raise those kids that you want to have, the one who actually likes you, not just your private parts. Yes: We are providers by nature, providing for a loved one is one of the most fulfilling masculine experiences to be had, but no: we don’t even remotely want to feel like your sugar daddy nor enter into a one-side-pays-all sort of contract.

Again, no decent man with basic self-respect would ever accept that sort of arrangement or anything that resembles it too closely, but here is a more practical tip for the day-to-day that one might share with zero resentment and in the form of tough love: Regardless of how gorgeous you think you look on this date, if you really start feeling the urge of a present or anything expensive that is not paid with your own money, no matter how rich you think your romantic suitor is, keep in mind that the only scenario in which you can get away with even hinting or suggesting anything that resembles the sort of -deal- that we have been discussing without insulting the gentleman in question is if you look like a Victoria Secret model and (please note that this is an AND, not an OR) if you are as good in bed (and other places) as a p$%nstar. If you were to meet those  two conditions and he doesn’t take the deal (and many of my fellow men actually have that level of self-respect) it’s OK, at least you won’t come across as pathetic as Juan.

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