Every week we look to cover thought-provoking subjects, some on current news and others related to more obscure themes. This week, we at Milenio Stadium decided to start the discussion on the business of love, sex and dating. Nowadays, and especially through and post-pandemic, what are the views on finding love and what do relationships entail.
A recent study suggested that 60% of marriages are failing due to incompatibility. The current pandemic has become a trigger to some of these issues as people spend more time together. In a world where everyone is at a touch of a screen away, relationships seem to become more complicated and impersonal. Manuel DaCosta interviewed Brian Gonçalves for Here’s The Thing (Camões Tv). From the traditional meet cute to the world of social media and dating apps, Brian Gonçalves helps us unravel today’s world.
Manuel DaCosta: As a single man you may share your experiences and views regarding this subject. First, tell us a little about yourself.
Brian Gonçalves: I’m 35 years old. I started to work for my father’s company at 15, I left school, and have been doing that for 20 years. I was with someone for almost 10 years, but not married. We didn’t work out, but we separated properly. I have been single for three years now. So, I have dated pre-pandemic and now, through the pandemic. Hopefully, I don’t have to do it post-pandemic [laughs].
I have dated many women, I typically try to date women that I find interesting, that I find that challenge me, that are fascinating at the same time. If I see something that I don’t really like, I don’t typically go through with it. But I feel that, to date, in this day and age, you have to be a gentleman. Open the door for the woman, complement her, take her out of the car, take her out for dinner. I believe in equality, that when the bill comes, two people pay. But I’m old school and the way I grew up, is the man who pays the bill.
MDC: Don’t you find that some women will challenge you about you opening the door and paying the bill. Is there any push back in your experience?
BG: Actually, it’s carried with open arms. They are quite surprised.
MDC: Why are they surprised? See, there’s not so many gentlemen out there.
BG: No, and that’s the exact comment that I get, by the way. If I want to be there or not, once I meet them, I still go through with the date. I don’t want them to feel like I’m backing off. I want them to have a good time, to enjoy the meal together, enjoy the conversation. I find that it’s important to make your partner feel like they are the only one in the world. That’s the most important thing. You have to make them feel special.
MDC: Social Media has brought a new perspective on the dating, the love and the sex business. Most encounters are planned in front of a screen. That’s not a new situation but it’s becoming more typical now due to the pandemic. How impersonal is to meet someone else through a screen?
BG: Pre-pandemic it was already very internet centred, based on your interests, your likes, looks, what you like to do and where you like to go. Now, it has gotten quite interesting, people actually build their profiles professionally to attract a certain type of partner. Like a resume. It has become very inorganic.
MDC: Do you consider it to be unhealthy?
BG: I think so. I think the classic, going down the street and making eye contact with someone, is slowly disappearing. People are busy, with their work, their families… they are just busy in general. Doing the online thing, I actually want to video them, I want to talk to them on the phone to see If it is that person. I find that a lot of women, and they say the same thing about men… you know, we have a lot of conversations about dating… they do a video before they meet, just to make sure it is the right person. Some people sell themselves as one thing and, in reality, are something completely different.
MDC: With social media and sites for people to meet up, people are categorized. There are sites for almost everything you can think of. There’s even a Portuguese site.
BG: Yes, there’s a Portuguese singles webpage on Facebook. There’s one called Classy Singles and other called Portuguese… something else. There are two groups. It’s an older crowd, usually divorcees, people with children, some younger people; it’s people that have common interests, that grew up a certain way; they are from Portugal and came to North America. There are people from everywhere, from Africa, from Portugal, the United States, South America; it’s quite interesting. It’s a private group, but once you join, you can see all these people, and everybody communicates. It doesn’t work like a conventional date website, it’s more of a page, where people post stuff and they communicate through it; they also do events. Toronto does a few a year. There are a lot of avenues depending on what your interests are and what you are willing to put up with.
MDC: In the song ‘Material Girl’ Madonna says, “the boy with the cold hard cash is always Mr. right”. How important is cold hard cash for you to be Mr. Right when you meet someone?
BG: I am an anomaly. I like women that are head strong, successful, passionate. I don’t want to be always right; I want to be challenged; this is me personally.
MDC: So, money doesn’t come into the picture when you are trying to make contact?
BG: For me, I just walk away when I see that a woman is just interested in money. She’s telling you one thing and showing you something else. I’m not interested in that; I find that to be very short-term. Now, if you are looking for something short-term, that’s very easy. If you are looking for something long-term; something that gets you going in the morning, you wake up excited, looking forward to seeing your partner; then that needs more depth, more attention, if you will.
MDC: Let’s say, out of ten women that you have met through social media, how many were compatible once you met them?
BG: I have my criteria; If I don’t catch any red flags, I keep going to the next step. Obviously, the last step is to meet them in person. Out of ten, I would say two or three you can really become friends with; you can really communicate and be on the same level. A few girls that I went on dates with, I’m still friends with them; we communicate a lot. But the majority puts up a face, they put up a game, and as soon as you break through that, it’s not…
MDC: What are they looking for?
BG: A lot of women, and men, are lonely. I mean, we are not designed to be alone. It’s a very simple fact, right? Especially through a pandemic, most people are alone. They work at home, they stay home, the most communication you get with the outside world is to go get groceries or put gas in your car.
MDC: Otherwise, they are looking at a screen, either doing their job or looking for love.
BG: It gets kind of empty. The things most people look forward to like traveling, going to the gym, going out for dinner, meeting up with family; it doesn’t exist. Now it’s starting to open. A lot of people are lonely, so they explore different avenues to meet people that they normally wouldn’t off.
MDC: We live in a society that has websites for dating, strip joints, massage parlors, you have all kind of places that people use to seek sexual gratification or to meet someone. Do you think all this is leading to more promiscuity or is it becoming more tolerated by society?
BG: That’s an interesting question. Yes, I think there’s a very fine line between infatuation and love. Most people misconstrue one with the other. They think they are in love, but they are just infatuated. Now, with kink that is a very slippery slope. Kinks are fantasies; things that get you going. Usually are not so accepted by our social society. There are people that are into lingerie; people that are into having sex in public; having sex with multiple partners, as in polyamorous relationships. There are all kinds of different things.
I feel that is becoming more accepted; it’s very mainstream; people are very much into it. People embrace it and try to find like-minded people. Some people are very positive and open about it. Essentially, there’s a fine line between people thinking you are a sex addict and people thinking you are normal, or whatever that means.
MDC: is it necessary to be in love to have a fulfilling relationship?
BG: I think there are different kind of relationships. It’s possible not necessarily be in love with someone to sleep with them, but I think you can love them as a person; and they give you something nobody else does. I think love, in general, you can never love someone as you love somebody else, because the things that make you fall in love with one person aren’t necessarily the same. I mean, it’s a loaded gun; you never really know.
MDC: When you meet someone that you like, but the person insists on having certain strings attached to the relationship. How many strings do you allow to be attached to?
BG: Typically, none. I find that in every relationship, one person is more dominant than the other. I’m a very dominant person. I’m a type A personality. Plus, if I can walk all over my partner, it won’t work. There needs to be a back and forth. I need to be mentally stimulated as much as everything else. If it is just a physical thing, it’s boring.
MDC: The business of sex is possible much bigger than any other economic segment. We can’t even imagine how much money is involved, because a lot of it is underground or cash based. Now, how much does it cost you for a typical date?
BG: If you are paying for sex or if you are going out on a date, taking a girl to a bar, essentially, at the end of the day, you are paying for the company of a woman. It can be physical or virtual, but you are still paying. When you go out on a date, depending on what kind of date. I like to eat good food; If I’m going on a date I like to go to a nice restaurant; I like to have some wine. It’s also another thing I’m very surprised is how many women don’t drink. If you are someone that enjoys having a glass of wine and you are on a date, you order a bottle of wine, and you have to drink it all by yourself, you look like an alcoholic [laughs]. I mean, you spend a couple hundred bucks; If you are going out to a show, you spend even more; If you go to a bar afterwards, even more; then the Ubers, to get around. I think the best kind of date is just going out to a simple dinner and going for a walk after, especially in a summer night, you get to chat.
MDC: Let’s say it costs around 500 dollars. If you go out four times a month, it will sum up to 2,000 dollars. Most people wouldn’t be able to afford it.
BG: It’s expensive. I mean, you can have cheaper dates, but then again, it’s about your interests. I like nice food, nice cocktails, I like that experience. If I want to go to McDonalds, I can just go to the drive-through [laughs]. But that’s me, not everybody is in a financial situation to do that. I found that with someone that I went out with, I showed her a really good time and I don’t think she was used to that. They can be very budgeted on their life, or maybe they are a single mom, or came from a divorce; so, their money is very budgeted, if you will. It’s tough, I prefer to show a good time to a girl. I want her to have a good experience.
MDC: Once the pandemic is over, what would be the type of environment that people will meet, in comparison with meeting someone through social media?
BG: Bar and clubs are different, because when you go in there, you go in with a different mentality. Maybe you are going in with some friends for drinks, your friends know other friends and you meet that way. But, to just go out and meet someone in a bar, their walls are up, and to penetrate through that you have to stand out.
Some birds do some calls or spread their wings. I find that to be a difficult environment to meet someone, to be something tangible. Now, for a one-night thing, it’s a different story, two people are looking for the exact same thing. I had experiences at “2 Cats”, on King St., it’s definitely a meat market for the corporate type, after work. It’s a great place to go have fun and sing along to music. I find the most natural way to meet someone to be in the grocery store, down the street or through your friends.
MDC: From a perspective of where you are at, and possibly the continue search for a companionship, what can we expect in the future for those who are looking for love, sex, or dating?
BG: Well, you can see it now, it has become very digital. It’s not warm or organic anymore. It’s going more towards that; more towards your interests. If you are in finance, you can stay in that community. People that are into gaming, can stay in that community. It’s becoming less and less interactive. Less personal.
People are becoming more and more antisocial. Maybe fearful of other people and what they think, so they hold back to themselves. Especially with the kinks, not everybody accepts that sort of mentality. I think it’s moving more digital, it’s kind of sad.
Veja a entrevista na íntegra neste sábado, dia 26 de junho, na Camões TV, às 21h.