Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Consumer Watch: The Brands of Boyfriend

3QAluminum-Ice-BucketWhen it comes to boyfriends or potential boyfriends there are “types” and I have certainly had my fair share of them.  I have zero qualifications on giving advice on love or anything that resembles love and/or relationships.  My degree is in business and global economy and my qualifications are roughly 17 years of failed relationships.  So, keep reading if you dare. 

Now, I’m not talking about “types” that are relegated to physical categorization like "the muscle head” or the “the academic”.  Those designations are based more on physicality and interests, although for the sake of transparency, any man who has jewels on the ass pockets of his jeans is not welcome in my universe.  No, I’m talking about the brand that comes with how they stack up as a potential partner and how that evolves over time.

There are three buckets of types I subscribe to, mostly because I like simplicity and in my experience of dating for the last 17 years or so, I’ve learned to recognize the differences and how I’ve effectively been doggy paddling in the dating cesspool of life. 

I give you my three Boyfriend Brand Buckets: The Bargain, the Faux Beau, and the Real Deal.

The ironic twist!  Of course there is a ironic twist.  Any one man can be any of these brands, it depends on a variety of factors, their level of interest, their maturity level, their goals, their geography, their options, their emotional state, etc.  There are about a million more variables and factors, but you get my drift.  So, while some men suck inherently, I don’t think that’s why all relationships fail.  In my experience, most of us hang out in between Bargain and Faux for years until (or if) we find the Real Deal. 
81-stella-artoisThe Bargain Brand:  Since we are talking about dating, I’m clearly going to reference the global economy.  When the dating pool takes a sharp nosedive in supply or quality, the value of crap in the dating pool suddenly seems far more appealing.  So, this is when we head to the Bargain Brand aisle.  The random guy in the bar who hits on you, your college lab partner in the mediocre fraternity, or the guy two cubes down who flirts with you and looks a little like Vince Vaughan but also flirts with half the office.

Now, I don’t mean that this guy is missing critical teeth in his mouth or doesn’t shower and has major personality flaws (although those guys easily fit in here too), they just aren’t your ideal anyway you slice it.  This guy is a filler.  He fulfills the basic boyfriend requirements.  He’s a man, he can have sex with you, there are meals that are eaten at the same time and in the same place, and you even have a good time when you hang out.  So much like PBR can get me drunk, a Bargain Brand can physically BE my boyfriend. However, if Stella Artois is available the PBR would never get a second glance.  But here’s the stinging part, if he’s a bargain brand for you, you could just as easily be a bargain brand for him.  Yes, I said it.  Supply and demand is a mother fucker.  Nothing wrong with some bargain brand shopping, just be realistic about what the transaction is really about and how far it really can go before it runs out of gas.  Most relationships for me between the ages of 14 and 22 were of the Bargain Brand variety and I still buy the bagged cereal.  Screw you, General Mills.

imagesThe Faux Beau:  Oh, the Faux Beau is a complex creature.  It’s ALMOST it or feels so close it can fool everyone who sees it!  The quality level of the Faux Beau varies too.  Some are easy to spot and others take years to discover the truth.  Ladies, it’s like the designer bag you get off a cart in New York, it’s passable in almost all capacities.  It looks like the real thing, you like how it feels, you drop a bit more on the knock-offs than the bargain brands and you are INVESTED in how you look with that bag on your arm.  The idea of owning a Prada Raso Jeweled Clutch, that retails for $2100 for $620 is a real find!

This guy knows how many sugars you take in your coffee, that you like sashimi and not nigiri sushi, that you’re allergic to cats and not dogs, and how dirty to make your martini.  He knows your mom and dad, has met your best friends, even goes on vacation with you twice a year.  This man will put your orgasm before his from time to time and he knows when your forehead crinkles you are angry with him.  He buys you a journal, is capable of considering your feelings, and you even flip through real estate magazines and talk about the house you’ll build in the mountains someday.  These relationships can last weeks (when you are on your best behavior) or years, when you continue to believe that the man who looks and acts the part IS the real deal.  You can build a life with a Faux Beau.  The rub with this guy is that it’s not easy to spot and it doesn’t mean these relationships aren’t meaningful.  The two years I had my Vuitton Audra bag were two of the best handbag years of my life and my dad STILL wears the fake Rolex my friend bought in the streets of Baghdad in 2002.  And it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault…well, sometimes it is.  Cheating with the accounts payable manager at work is clearly a bad choice, but that’s not always the case. Bottom line here, if he’s faux for you, you’re faux for him.  So, Faux isn’t always “bad” and it’s oftentimes unavoidable so appreciate it for what it is and what you learn. In fact, it’s a critical stretch on the road to the Real Deal.  You can’t recognize or even be ready to invest in the Real Deal until you’ve spent some serious time trafficking on the black market.  I’ve been intimately familiar with the black market since roughly 2001.    

unicornThe Real Deal: Ah, the unicorn.  The white whale of the relationship economy is the Real Deal.  He’s the forever guy, the one who does all the things that the Faux Beau does and more.  He buys you  a journal because he knows what moves you to write in it and will read it if you want but wouldn’t dare if you didn’t.  He knows the dream house in Colorado because the mountains move you to a spiritual place you can’t articulate and that even with that house, he’ll have to take you to the ocean at least twice a year so you can be near the water.  He’s the one that lasts a lifetime.  I have the LEAST amount of empirical data on this one.

He’s the same guy that’s been other women's Bargain Brand and probably even a few meaningful Faux Beaus.  Yep, your one and only true love  is probably on some other woman’s shit list.  Probably more than a few.  And truer still, you are as well. 

To me, the biggest paradigm shift has to happen when we recognize that if there is a Real Deal out there for us, then we are the Real Deal for someone else. That we’ve all been Bargain, the Faux, and that that is normal. On top of that, you’ll be wrong more than you’ll be right. So don’t treat dating like a job interview or waste your time being something or someone that you’re not.  I assure you these pearls of wisdom are real and not of the faux variety.  I wrestled with the oysters myself to get them. 


  1. This one really is hilarious! Genius, even!

  2. I've dated a lot to learn these. A lot. Like, I'm exhausted.