The Playbook For The Modern Man

‘Race To The Bottom’: The First Date Faux Pas Men Commit Too Often

‘Red Ferrari Syndrome’.

For all our pretences, we’re all just ‘monkeys in shoes’.

When it comes to modern dating culture, we still find ourselves being held back by our worst instincts: whether that’s making foolish assumptions on social media or not extending the courtesy of ordering someone an Uber after a one-night stand, we’re our own worst enemies. More to the point, we’re often guilty of hurting people’s feelings when we should really know better, as this news.com.au story relates.

Dating columnist Jana Hocking shared her experience with what’s she’s dubbed ‘Red Ferrari Syndrome’ – a habit many Aussie men are guilty of.

“You know when you’re casually walking along the street and all of a sudden the traffic lights turn green and a gorgeous, shiny, red Ferrari drives past. You stop what you are doing and are momentarily distracted by the glory of it,” she explains.

“Now apply that to a date. Perhaps you’re sitting at a bar having a jolly good time, when suddenly a glamazon walks past… his jaw drops to the floor and his whole body turns to watch the magnificent creature walk past. Perhaps he may even get off the stool he is sitting on and turn towards the passing women in an extra thirsty bid to make eye contact…”

“Now I know what you’re thinking. Surely, someone wouldn’t be that obvious. They would just have a quick passing glance and try to make eye contact with you again in the hope that you didn’t notice the drool coming from their mouth. Unfortunately, my recent experience with ‘Red Ferrari Syndrome’… went EXACTLY like that… I’ve even suffered from it myself. But to literally get up off your stool and turn your whole body in a bid to connect eyes… Bravo for having the audacity to do it, but it’s safe to say that the date was now dead in the water.”

Hocking relates that there’s nothing wrong with a “cheeky glance”, but to be so brazen – especially if it happens multiple times on the same date, or if you’re well into dating – is just the height of poor taste.

DMARGE sought expert counsel on this trend, speaking exclusively with Heidi Gee, Sydney-based relationship coach and sexologist.

Gee concurs that “we all notice someone beautiful, [but] I think if you are on a date it’s important to be respectful, especially if this is not your first date and you like the person.”

“I’m not saying don’t look but at least have the decency not to get up off your chair and turn your whole attention to the person you are perving on.”

While men having ‘Red Ferrari Syndrome’, a ‘wandering eye’ (or whatever you want to call it) is hardly a recent phenomenon, there’s an argument to be made that modern dating culture has made it a more prolific issue. The downside to the convenience of dating apps and a more laissez-faire attitude towards relationships in our society is that it somewhat undermines the value of – or the incentive to put as much effort into – courtesy whilst dating.

It’s that classic ‘fear of missing out’: we’re always looking for the next best thing, often to the detriment of the here and now. We asked Heidi if she thought that the rise of dating apps has been responsible for a watering down of dating etiquette, and she had an interesting response.

“I think dating apps make it ‘easier’, in a sense, to keep looking in case there is ‘something better’. It can also be a way of trying to forget about an ex by putting yourself out there. I’m not saying dating apps are bad but I do think that it can be misused (or abused if you like)… taking the time to get to know someone [and] interpersonal communication skills [are becoming] less important…”

“People use dating apps for different reasons and I think it’s important to ask yourself, ‘what is it I want to get out of this?’ Once you know and can honestly answer that question then you need to be honest with the person you’re on a date with/communicating with about what it is you want.”

She also shared what you should do if you’ve been caught out with a bit of Red Ferrari Syndrome yourself.

“Acknowledge how it made the person feel and apologise if it made them feel uncomfortable. When I’ve been in a similar situation with a partner who had a wandering eye, I would admire the person they were perving on but also set healthy boundaries so there wasn’t any sneaking or disrespectful behaviour that made either of us feel uncomfortable or angry, e.g. ‘oh she’s gorgeous’ or ‘I like her dress’.”

The reason Red Ferrari Syndrome is so common is because it’s perfectly natural. Our brains are hard-wired to seek out the most desirable mate – but if you can tie a tie and do your tax returns, you can certainly control your base urges. But if you do commit the dating faux pas of having an unsubtle look at someone else, there’s a way to recover.

The big takeaway? Be classy, gents.

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