Tragedy of the heterosexual lifestyle

In my humble opinion, this would be a better headline for this WaPo article than Market for Romance Goes From Bullish to Sheepish – Are Guys With Less to Spend Less of a Catch?

The economy is swirling down the drain and men don’t have wads of cash to wave around in bars, so straight people no longer know how to go about finding dates. That appears to be the gist of the article, anyway.

“It’s been incredibly stressful for me,” said Neil Welsh, 27, the guy in the [Hugo Boss] suit, who until last year was marketing director for a booming real estate company. “I was so used to using my financial situation to leverage my dating.”

For many affected by the recession, dating is the least of their worries. But the market crash has had a particular impact on young adults who developed their dating skills in fat times, the twentysomethings who spent lavishly to show that they could afford the finer things. Now, with national unemployment rates at 8.8 percent for people 25 to 34, they are looking for more creative ways to attract partners — and reassessing what all that big spending really meant.

Do we need to read the rest of the article to understand what all that big spending really meant? No, we don’t. It meant that you were paying for sex. Continuing on, we find that those trapped in the lifestyle still operate from an archaic Me-Tarzan-You-Jane, Male as Mighty Hunter/Provider model of “partnership.”

I feel bad for the guys who don’t have jobs,” says one young woman in a bar, sharing that guys ask her out a lot less since the market crash. “I guess I’m kind of traditional. So if a guy can’t really take you out or doesn’t have the money or the state of mind to take girls out, then it’s not going to go anywhere.” Ah, tradition. So heartwarming.

Even in this post-feminist age, the vast majority of those interviewed said men pick up the tab on dates…Jamie Fabrizio, 26, a Catholic school teacher from Arlington, said a man doesn’t have to spend a lot, but he has to act like an Alpha male.

“Guys should be bold; whether or not they have money doesn’t matter,” she said. But if a guy asks her out, she added, she expects him to pay for dinner.

The author refers to the age in which this practice takes place (tongue in cheek, I presume), as “post-feminist.” Whatever it is, it’s sure not conducive to building real partnerships between two adult human beings who are equal to one another. “I guess I’m kind of traditional.” “Inadequacy; I can’t harp on that word enough. I just feel inadequate.” These are otherwise intelligent, educated people, but when it comes to possibly the most important decision they will ever make, finding a life partner, they regress into a silly Cinderella world where men are men and girls are girls.

Seriously, people. As important as marriage equality is for GLBT folk, I think its even greater value is to the much larger universe of heterosexual people who will benefit from seeing a healthier model of marriage. A partnership based on prescribed, inherently unequal responsibilities isn’t really a partnership at all, it’s an arrangement – and it’s an arrangement that too often truncates the full humanity of both participants.

It’s this aspect of marriage equality that really chills patriarchal traditionalists. It’s not equality for GLBT people per se that’s so problematic for them, it’s what that equality implies for them. It’s the possibility for genuine equality between marriage partners, including between women and men.

Meanwhile, in the absence of $15 martinis some of our heterosexual friends may discover that they actually enjoy each other’s company, a much better basis for marriage than “nice rack” and “oooh, Hugo Boss.” It’s a start.

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8 Responses to Tragedy of the heterosexual lifestyle

  1. Jonathan says:

    I feel pretty inadequate dear. I only buy you $10.00 martinis and I don’t even know what a Hugo Boss is, but it sure sounds sexy.

  2. David says:

    It’s a very big fish, my sartorially-impaired dear one. Never you mind.

  3. David says:

    Oh sorry, my mistake. That would be a Huge Bass.

  4. Mil Bickings says:

    Are there really 15 dollar martinis?? God, I must really be out of the loop.

  5. Kara says:

    Suddenly, I feel so unMaterialistic. Thank goodness I never entered that scene.

  6. doug in mount vernon says:

    I wholly agree with what you’re saying David, but do you think the depiction of dating in the article is at all representative of most of the young adult scene? I don’t. Thoughts?

  7. David says:

    Doug, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the young adult dating scene, lol. And I am so thankful for that. I hope it’s not representative, just a horrifying inflammatory WaPo story. Which doesn’t bode well for journalism. Ow, my head.

  8. JayHughes says:


    Don’t feel bad man…if I knew what Hugo Boss was I’d have to turn in my bear membership card….as for the martinis….I make my own….much cheaper than $15.00 a pop. 😉