I am skipping the sex post until next time and making this about narcissism, the modern disease. Why?
Because in a personal way, it was the impetus behind my "Last Tango" in Argentina - my reason for leaving - and secondly because there are so many people out there trying to now deal with this - acting as Co-narcissist, recklessly playing with their well-being.
I grew up with two full blown narcissists - one parent diagnosed with NPD - Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For an only child, it's a life worse than hell, at least siblings would have validated my feelings. As it was, I struggled on alone, being gaslighted until I started training in psychotherapy and had to do my 400 hours to understand myself before attempting to understand others.
Every single therapist would soon want to focus on the parental NPD aspect with absolutely no prompting from me. In fact the first few times, I changed therapists because I felt so damn guilty criticizing Mother - I knew she would abandon me and blot me out of her life for the smallest recognition of any imperfection in her. I had been well trained or brainwashed.
Even with many years of focus and an ability to recognize a narcissist much more quickly, I still wonder why I am a total narcissist magnet. They flock to me to get their needs met and try to destroy me when they don't get what they want. My conditioning is speaking loud, after all 80% of communication is body language.
It is essential to go NO CONTACT instantly before the narcissist gets under your skin and rips you to shreds. It's insidious and it's very rapid and you will feel depressed and sucked dry before you even realise it. Once your defenses have been breached, it's easy for the narcissist to convince you that you're the rotten one. Their self-esteem is so fragile that the only way they can survive is to make those close to them believe that they are wrong and bad.
However No Contact won't do in terms of long-term healing - There are many more elements to this and it's constant but at least in recognizing it and doing this research, you are on the way.
Again - It happens very quickly.
And it has been shown that people living under mental or emotional abuse will start to emanate within six months the characteristics of someone who grew up with lifelong abuse.
This is a consideration when you're thinking about how to make it work with a non-committal guy. When you keep coming back for one more try. There ARE bad people in the world. People who are envious of your joie de vivre, your success or popularity, your abilities in whatever. First they feel good in the reflection of whatever you have that they want and then they hate you for it. When thinking of how to make a man want you - first be very sure that this man is not making you feel bad and will leave you feeling worse.
Books like 'Fifty Shades of Grey' don't do women any favours, perpetuating the myth of the deeply wounded and desirable man. It makes woman believe there's value in rescuing a man especially when no other woman has been able to do so. Christian Grey, the enigmatic hero of the book is an abuser in more than just his sexual games. What is romantic about being abused?
If you're trying desperately to make a relationship work, check that you aren't trying to make it work with a hidden abuser.
I disagree with certain lists of narcissistic traits to recognize - the biggest narcissists bury their narcissism behind walls of sweetness and kindness to other people. It's one of the reasons you will doubt yourself and be easy to convince by your narcissist that you're the bad one, not him.
We live in a world that now applauds the egomaniac. Reality TV has been one of the worst culprits, social networking sites are others - Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame to last forever. It is now more important than ever not to let yourself be blind-sided by men pretending to love you and pretending to be kind people.
Behind his kindness, there will be signs if you are ready to see them.
- He is kind to everyone else but you feel neglected
- Everything is about him. If ever I cried, my narcissist would burst into tears (well, he was Italian) and spill a sob story so that I cared for him then he'd walk off leaving me carrying my own sadness.
- He hasn't got much of a life and wants to press into yours. Or if he has his own life, there are elements of yours he wants entry to in an unhealthy way, be it control or jealousy.
- He acts deferring and shy around others (not necessarily brash and arrogant as some would claim) so that everyone says how lovely he is.
- He blames his exes for break-ups and acts the innocent
- He has a lot of grandiose schemes for his life that are unrealistic
- He WILL very subtly let you know you aren't in his future - Watch For It.
Technorati Tags: commitmentphobic men, daughters of narcissistic mothers, emotional damage from narcissistic lovers, emotional unavailability, fifty shades of grey, gaslighting, make relationship work, Narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder, recognize narcissistic traits
For a long time here, we have been a community of women complaining about our men. What they have 'done to us' and the crazy-making commitmentphobic behaviour they have challenged us to. It's what we women do whether at meetings with friends or group get-togethers - moan about men. They are "emotionally unavailable" and worse - I see some self-help blogs where men are referred to as "assclowns" for example.
People come to this blog looking for a solution in how to make a man behave better but there is a better way to achieve happiness in a relationship than in labelling people as wrong. There are some bad men out there for sure but who is making the choice to stick with them? The bad men of Argentina (actually most men in Argentina) say it's the women that make them they way they are. This is easy to write off as an excuse but it got me thinking about how much veracity the belief might contain.
It took me five years of living in Argentina to work out was what 'wrong' for me with cultural climate. There is a fractured psyche inherent in the country from the decades of difficulty and even horror they lived through in the last century. Possibly the new generations will move past this and create a new cultural identity but most of us reading this and looking for answers won't be around to enjoy this. At the same time, the struggle to engage with a man from this culture taught me invaluable lessons not only about macho men reared to dominate, but men of any nationality. Months spent in an ashram in India gave me even more time to consider this.
Guru-ji in India refused to listen to any complaints about disciple's relationships.
"Just Love Each Other." Was the only advice and if you can't do that -Let Go.
This is an easy enough principle to lay down and at this stage of my life it seems obvious and simple but for many years it seemed an impossible task. There was always some little niggle but harder I tried to make it work, the more I seemed to be batting up against difficulties or difficult men.
I could walk away but things would be so great, if only ...
The lengths I went to in order to fix destructive relationships were ridiculous. What a terrible waste of precious life it is trying to make another person love you in the way you want and need to be loved.
But it was my problem. Those wants and needs were mine but I was trying to make someone else deal with them.
Sometimes it's desperation, let's be honest. You've finally found a man after rounds of hideous dating, a man who give you a buzz, who you can laugh with, who you feel this massive connection with. No way are you going to start again on the search - this one will have to be made to work.
That's the first problem - Chemistry. And a great quote I keep close on the bookcase is -
"Avoid Cold Men who Generate High Chemistry"
Often I ignore this quote or make excuses and denials about some new date and always regret it. If your chemistry is being triggered - it's a HUGE sign to go very slow. Very slow. You think you're going slow but you're not - GO SLOWER.
But sometimes it's a subconscious desire to work out an internal issue.
We draw toward us that which is deeply hidden inside OURSELVES. Inside each of us is an alter ego, what some psychologies call the "Inner child" and some call the "Shadow". This inner other wants to sort out that buried emotion or belief and looks to the context of relationship to accomplish it. It should be a fulfilling and spiritual journey instead it's often pure hell.
Those of us with low self esteem find men who seem at first to build it up but suddenly pull the rug and crush it even lower.
Those of us with guilt and other emotions left from poor parenting seek men who are not available because deep inside we don't feel worthy or are self destructive.
Some of us seek out commitmentphobics and complain about them to disguise the fact that we ourselves are deeply terrified of this lifelong binder. You say; ”No, no, that's not me. I really want love and commitment."
But ask yourself this.
Do you feel bored by a man who isn't a little exciting, even dangerous?
Do you feel bored by a man who doesn't inspire chemistry on the first meeting?
Do you constantly get together with men who have problems - Wives, girlfriends, kids, debt, drink?
If so, you are a woman afraid of being in the boring couple. Or maybe the terror of failure or success is so buried that you cover it by finding a man to fix.
Ask yourself why you're staying with a man you need to moan about. It's the greatest passion the world has ever seen, no one else could possibly understand the incredible connection, the deep love that would be there if only....
You think he's scared and that once you've made him see this, he'll come to you open arms ready to indulge your great passion.
Men don't like being 'made to see' something by their partner. They like their partner to wait for them non-complaining while they figure out their own lives.
Or maybe he will stick around with you and maybe he will do what you've nagged him into - come home early from work and not go for a couple of drinks after, go shopping with you and not fishing with his mates, no more friendly glass of wine with the ex, or indeed any other woman. But what you will have created is a belligerent child, not a partner and certainly not a passionate connection.
So the first thing to do is stop.
Stop complaining about him to your mother, your best friend, your work colleagues or on relationship blogs.
Stop nagging him and trying to remake him into a better person. (Guru would say "Who are you to remake another person? Your ego is out of control.")
Take on a Zen attitude of - Does this really matter? Why should this man do what you want him to do? Who are you to 'allow' another person to do or not do? Let it go.
Start thinking about yourself and those things that are buried deeply inside.
Because the first thing that attracts a man, a real man, a good man, not a man who wants to play out some thwarted history from his own background - the first attraction is self-centredness. I don't mean the pure selfish and narcissistic attitudes that have been so prevalent in the world for the last three decades - I'm talking about being secure within. Secure enough to accept that your partner lives his own life and that you live yours but that when you come together angels sing and flowers bloom.
Start now - look around at the women who have a great relationship as well as a great life. You don't want to be a woman who may have a man in her life but is miserable. You want a fulfilling partnership. Look at those women and imagine how secure they are. If a man leaves them, they LET GO. They may be sad but they are not devastated because their premier level of self-respect is - Don't chase a man who doesn't want you.
Instead make yourself a calm and centred being - a woman who is secure and calm is a great attraction to a man. A woman who is hysterical and projecting her problems onto him is not.
Next time we'll talk about sex and how we've handed away all our equality for it.
Technorati Tags: attracting a man, attraction, chemistry, commitment phobic man, emotional unavailability, finding love, keeping a man, letting go, make a man want me, making a man commit, relationship, self esteem
I've been so wrapped up in writing and re-writing and publishing the second novel "And Then the Magic Began", I've kinda ignored this blog and left it to the commenters to fill in posts (Thanks for that - Muchas Gracias - Can't say it in Hungarian).
And there's an interesting phenomenon that goes with that. Despite being devastated by the break up and the unique way it was carried out last May, since he vanished, I've published three books - two novels and a travel guide to Salta. These are things I don't believe I would have accomplished without our break-up. I would have remained in the clutches of "love".
And that brings me to the point about how much we abandon ourselves for the sake of being in relationship. Some of the more toxic men pull you into love and make that, ie themselves, the focus of your existence.
In the Novel, Suzanne falls madly, wildly, unbelievably in love with a younger Argentine and goes through huge guilt at allowing him to believe that she is younger than she really is (How many of us have done this? A man of 30 looks at a woman of 40 as his mother). "Magic" is a psychological exploration of what we give up for love, the images we create to be loved and the importance of fighting back the inner shadow of our insecurities.
But they are great together and despite some of his emotionally unavailable behaviour, Suzanne loves how they laugh and have so much in common and focuses on the good. When strange and scary events take place with increasing regularity, she cant help suspecting that her lover is somehow involved.
From Salta, NW Argentina, theey move to NE Brazil in search of the idyllic beach lifestyle.and Suzanne allows her Boyfriend to merge himself into her career as a cookbook writer. When they try out a candomble (African Brazilian religion similar to voodoo) ceremony, Suzanne falls into her insecurities until they look set to engulf her. As she fights them off rather than facing them, they lead her into tragedy.
This is the completed book jacket although it is still in formatting for paperback - currently available on Kindle here "Magic" on Kindle for Amazon
Please pop over and give it a "like" even if you don't have a Kindle.I hope it inspires us all to be stronger women inside and less dependent on a relationship or love to define us. Love is a part of life that is created to enhance us and help us grow. Anything else is diminishing.
I received this email from "Sue" and I said in my reply I wished she'd posted it to the blog - She did, in the comments and I've re-posted below.
My reply to Sue was that a man with a wife and a new baby is not going to be available to you and never will be and even if he was - How long would it be before you found yourself in the same situation.
Sue wants to get out but can't say "no". Many feel like that when they are in "love". This discussion board is not about bashing the Argentine male per se, as many commenters seem to think (and I find it indicative that it's the Argentine women who are the most vitriolic on here, accusing their sisters of "making" the men act this way) It is about learning that you are responsible for your own relationship and seeing what "love" really is.
Infatuation is easy. Love takes an effort of will and commitment.
Therefore a man who disappears without a word does not love you and certainly does not respect you. He is emotionally unavailable. A man who has a wife and a child does not love you, he loves the idea that someone as wonderful as you is availble should he ever decide to escape his ball and chain.
Love as we know it now should really be called narcissism. When we are able to see that love is equal sharing and respect with sex as an expression of ecstatic joining. we have confused love with passion and sex with a means to get an orgasm like just another drug.
Here is Sue's story :
"Dear Girls, here is my story in a short way. I moved to Spain four years ago from England (Windsor), anyway I am originally Hungarian. I met my argentino in Spain. He was the first foreigner in my life who was stolen my heart and the last one as well. So...My argentino (F)... he is the same as all of them... I always try to believe he is not... but...yes, he is! It does not matter where he lives. At the first 5 months I did not know that he has a wife!! I was ask him, but he always said NO, I have no wife just a gf. Nothing happened in these five months, just he was nice and courted me, ok we kissed but nothing else. I thought we are never going to have sex... we were on top every time, but he does not want to make it.. was weird. But I felt like a princesa as never before in my life. One night his wife came down to the bar where he is working and I can see her wedding ring. I asked him again but he says NO, she is not my wife. I said OK.. Day by day I knew al l of his friends and family. From the first time when we met... there was something in the air (you know how I mean). Was incredible and with the time it's just growing... I never felt something like this before. So I am totally in love with him. Sometimes I can feel he loves me, but sometimes I just realize how silly I am. Because I believe in his words. When I told him how I feel (it was one and a half years ago) he said to me he never felt the same and he does not want to change his life. I was ran away... and when I got back to Spain after 4 months and I wanted to start with a Spanish guy (who was nice, cute and so on) so than he grabbed me and said: I love you and you do not know how much do you mean for me... and I said please don't do this with me, I am over on you... anyway I lied to him. He said no, he wants me and kissed me sooo passionately and I lost again. But after a few weeks... everything was different. And I ran away again. He wrote me a very nice message and I was totally confused by the way. After two months I went back again to Spain. And everything was nice and unbelievable. We started to feel each other thoughts and feels anytime, anywhere. I still do not know how is it works... my friend could not believe in it when I told her, but when she was in Spain with me for a month ... She said she never could see something like this between two people and it's more than incredible. But nothing is perfect for so long... and his wife visited him at the bar and she had a bump than... and I was in shock... wtf... Oh yes, and he never trust in me.. he always ask me that I have sex with others. Why I am going to hug others if I do not want anything and so on... we were fight so much and try to explain him that in my hometown it's really not a bad thing just hug sby. I am not a bitch because I do it. Finally he can understand it. ( or I hope so) So now he has a six months old baby. I ran away again two months ago and now he is in his hometown with his family. He wrote me often... but... I do not know what am I going to do. Because it's not enough for me, but I love him. I never going to let him know again how I feel for him and I am playing this silly game... because the sex is very good with him. He is attentive, devoted etc... I know sex is not everything... but...a lot. He always ask me when if I'll be back, but I just say: I do not know... But I exactly know that I'll be back soon on the day when he will get back to Spain too. I wanna see him, I miss him so much. But the other side I know there is no way... he never going to divorce and be with me. He is playing his game and I am so crazy because I know it and still do it.
Because it's Super Spring Sunday, I wanted to give away a free chapter of the book "Last Tango in Buenos Aires" right here. After you've read -Feel free to comment, click the buy now button to be taken straight to Amazon, or LIKE it on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LastTangoinBuenosAires
Or just enjoy the read - It's a chapter set in a tango hall from towards the middle of the book. Besos
I was quite happy with the liberty of my relationship with Dario, once we fell into one. I wasn’t trying to cram myself into what other people, even my friends, thought was appropriate, looking for a steady man to grow old with. Bugger that, I wasn’t getting any older spending afternoons on the back of a motorbike or the floor of my loft, I was regressing to youth. Let other people dodge the fear that sometimes woke me up in the vampire hour living as was deemed appropriate by the rest of the clan, all terrified of life.
Maybe that was what kept everyone safely within the bounds of acceptability and not challenging others to face reality. In Argentina it was as rigid as what time you ate dinner and what you were allowed to eat at that time, but we were foreigners and couldn’t be expected to understand the proper ways.
The new arrival’s habit of going to the milonga every night of the week had worn off, but I’d pitched an article to a travel magazine about non-touristy tango and needed to set about on some research. I had my life schedule perfectly organized – tango all night, sleep until noon then get myself fragrant for mid afternoon when Dario would appear, then hang out with him until I went out at eleven. He seemed perturbed at this and tried to make me stay at home when he left, but soon had to give up with that.
He refused to come when I went to a garden party at the British Embassy one afternoon, shook his head violently at the thought of rotund men in union jack pinnies manning the bar and maintaining the Empire spirit at the bottom of the world. He had sex with me before I left and hollered, ‘Viene la leche,’ just before he came so that I passed an afternoon among the elite wondering whether he really meant ‘The milk is coming’, or if that was some other idiomatic phrase I hadn’t yet learned.
‘So long as you’ve got a tea cosy, you’ve always got Great Britain.’ A woman with a smooth, serene face counterpointing her grey hair befriended me at the jams and jellies stall. Mary Wesley had lived a patient life in Argentina for the past thirty five years, finally accepting that her boyfriend would never leave his wife. She worked alongside him in his export company, helping it grow and prosper without reaping any reward but her salary. His wife looked after the children and when they were grown, looked after herself even more intently and prayed to God that her husband wouldn’t leave the family home. She had never done a day of work in her life.
‘I got to the ripe old age of…’ I avoided saying the word, ‘…ripeness, fanatically evading married men, no matter how sexy and now I’ve joined the ranks of the mistresses.’
‘You don’t have to carry on, or does he handcuff you to the chandelier?’
‘It’s too late. It’s done now there’s no going back and anyway the passion between us is, incandescent.’
‘So it’s just about sex?’
‘It’s about liberation. I don’t have to worry whether he’s ever going to marry me. I won’t have to go through the misery of wondering where is this going.’
‘It’s a shame we’re so programmed into forcing everything to an ordained conclusion. People questioned me for years and one day they stopped en masse and no one ever mentioned it again. I have no idea what prompted it.’
‘Whenever a woman encounters a man she immediately starts planning forever. Wondering “Where it’s going”. Men don’t do that.’
‘If only we could know earlier what we know too late.’
‘Men think about what they want in their life and go take it. They take it all. They take what they want in the moment that it feels good and then they take the next moment. It’s a great way to live. I wish they would do it here without all the chamuyo.’
Mary Wesley laughed, of course she understood Lunfardo. ‘It’s what the women
here expect. They like to be chased.’
One night, Dario insisted he drop me off on the bike and I went into the milonga at Los Consagrados. The focus of my article was the neighbourhood milongas on the edges of town, often in the back room of a pool hall or other insalubrious location with bare settings and fluorescent light. The serious seekers of connection didn’t care about atmosphere apart from that sparked in the space between two individuals.
I paid my entrance and stopped to loiter around the desk as there was a bit of a scene going on at my usual table. It had taken me ages to get a seat at the table, but apparently I’d done it in record time by joining my friend Bianca who’d paid her dues over time and established herself as a regular. Bianca had joined the table of a well-known Argentine tanguera who we called Lady Caterina, for her increasing resemblance to a Jane Austen character. It was Lady Caterina’s table by long term squatter-ship and by the strict code of the milonga. The table always belonged to her when she attended and to the friends she chose to invite. Two faux blonde women in brand new shoes, rather buxom, hovering at age’s precarious turning point, sat at the table. Bianca was half sitting, half standing and Lady Caterina was verging on apoplectic.
The situation was resolved by the host bee-lining for the table and moving the two American women to a table further back, not on the edge of the pista. Form was regained and I joined my two companeras at the table, but the blondes were livid. One loudly announced in an American accent, Southern, whiney; ‘Well, I don’t know who Miss Celebrity Tango is that we are booted out when we were here first and have been waiting all night for this dance to begin.’
‘There are too many tango tourists spoiling the milongas these days,’ Lady Caterina retaliated loudly, ‘If they don’t understand the codigo of the dance, they should stay at Ideal.’ She named a famous old milonga in the centre, frequented by older tourists especially for the afternoon dances.
‘See, it’s because we’re foreigners,’ the other American told her friend.
Lady Caterina stood regally and moved to the pista, where she was joined by a small man with very white hair and a neat suit who barely reached her shoulder.
‘I’m amazed she spoke to them, or at them,’ I whispered to Bianca. Usually Argentines evaded confrontation by feigning deafness.
‘A lot of the tangueras are fed up with interlopers not learning the rules and thinking it should be their way,’ Bianca said. She had fought for her acceptance into a tango society as tight as a transvestite’s girdle and rigid as the Pump Room at Bath. She was a real tanguera – a person who lived to tango whereas I was a philistine and a hedonist – in it only for the thrill found dancing Nuevo style with a Pedro, like an addict frequenting the opium dens of Victorian London looking for an escape. We all connected differently and both styles of tango - Salon or Nuevo - might just provide that hit, that moment of impossible melding. I just didn’t have the patience to endure the eighteenth century customs as I chased the elusive dragon of connection.
The American women were snapping photos of the dancers, another action likely to inspire vicious stares. ‘Hmm, hmm, look at that one dancing with Miss Red Shoes, I could do with a hunk of that.’
‘But white shoes on a man? Isn’t that a bit Miami blue plate special? And he’s not more than twenty-nine.’
I grinned at Bianca and she laughed, imagining what El Toro would say had he heard the two women describing him, a stud as big as any found on a polo pony estancia, as resembling a pensioner. He was extremely proud of his shoes that drew attention to his snapping feet. Following behind him, a woman with the tightly bunned hair of a prima ballerina flicked up a boleo as she passed and kicked the underside of our table, causing the water glasses to rattle, then executed a spreading volcada that would have taken the heels out from under El Toro’s partner had he not deftly manoeuvred her into an ocho that rescued her from the assault. The women behind us snapped photographs like paparazzi, impressed with the show.
At the end of the tanda, El Toro escorted his partner to her table and turned towards ours, but Bianca had the cabeceo from a rotund man with tiny feet belching out of his high heeled shoes and hair slicked down by an entire tin of pomade and I got up with a man with orange red hair. Beside us on the pista, I saw Bianca’s partner pull her slightly too close to his protruding gut so that she wasn’t able to find her optimal line of axis and as the music began, move her off snappily, standing too upright. I tried to find a Pedro connection with the redhead.
Tango is not only the union created with your partner, but the universal connection shared with each of the couples surrounding you. As an individual partnership, you’re meant to build a sensory awareness of the other partnership units in the room even with your eyes closed, not only to avoid piling up on a crowded pista but also with the intention of a mystical consciousness-raising, something akin to a Moonie Wedding.
After the three dances of the tanda, we were returned to our table as Caterina got up again. Bianca plonked down frustrated. ‘At least his belly provided a curved shelf to lean on and get more tilt on my axis,’ she said.
The Americans looked bored. ‘How do people get front row seats when they dance like that?’ whispered one loudly.
‘All she did was walk around the room,’ said her friend at a somewhat less modified pitch. ‘That’s not tango.’
Bianca rolled her eyes as she attempted to dry off one side of her face where her partner’s sweat had plastered her hair. Now that Broadway tango shows toured the world, Salon style was not so popular with the new breed of tango fanatics eager for the dramatic pizazz of Nuevo style. Bianca ironed down her hair with her palm. ‘Gross. Now one side will be lush and the other will go all frazzle rock, half a bad hair day,’ she said.
I gave her a sympathetic smile, ‘Dios, his sweat is dripping down your cleavage’.
‘Yeah well, mine accused me of back-leading.’
‘I hate it when they blame their inadequacies on their partner.’ We looked at each other and stifled giggles. Giggling girls tended to send potential partners scurrying. A very young blonde man stepping up to the table pulled back discomposed by our hilarity so I agreed to dance even though I had a rule about not dancing with tourists. He had the face of a Raphael angel but was totally unsteady on his feet and hadn’t yet learned how to lead. I was ready to kick myself with my turquoise stiletto. Now I wouldn’t get another dance. The male dancers studied a woman carefully before issuing an invite so as to make sure she wouldn’t make him look bad on the pista. This was why the Americans remained unasked, no one would take the risk.
‘I don’t care if I sit out all night, I’m only dancing with tangueros I know from now on,’ I said.
‘Me too and only handsome ones.’
‘That guapo who’s always staring at you is looking over,’ I said from the side of my mouth like an amateur ventriloquist. ‘He looks like he’s trying to give the cabeceo.’
The cabeceo was another historical practice at the milonga. The man looked across the room at his desired partner until he caught her eye and with a wink or a nod indicated that he was willing. The woman had the option to pretend not to notice him or just look away, or if she was willing, give a nod and move to the floor. Supposedly it saved the man the effort of crossing a packed pista but was more about saving him the humiliation of rejection in front of a crowd of eyes as beady as a Dowager’s.
‘I am not looking at him,’ Bianca was adamant.
‘He’s muy guapo,’ Lady Caterina said.
‘I don’t care how bloody cute he is, I’m not…’ Bianca was interrupted by the woman with the tight bun and ravenous cheekbones executing another boleo beside us and upsetting water over the table. The woman’s partner gave a sheepish apologetic shrug.
‘Her partner isn’t leading those ganchos and boleos,’ Bianca said.
‘No man would lead them on a crowded pista,’ said Lady Caterina, shaking her head. ‘She’s probably been to one tango festival in Ljubljana, done one boleo workshop and now she’s a performer.’
‘Are you going to dance with Ricardo?’ I asked Bianca.
‘No we fell out last week,’ Bianca also tried to talk without moving her lips. ‘I threw his stuff over the balcony. Gotcha. Reeled in El Toro,’ she rose triumphant, knowing she would at last be shown off to her advantage on the floor.
El Toro was small but stocky, compactly constructed to move smoothly but powerfully across the floor like a rattlesnake gliding with a hedgehog. He was also extremely handsome, in a darkly intense way, with eyes that burrowed into a woman’s body slightly above her navel. They met on the floor and I could clearly hear in my mind what Toro, tango’s greatest chamuyero, was saying to her; ‘Mi vida, estas cada vez mas linda’. I could hear it because he always said exactly the same; ‘My life, you are every time more lovely,’ to me and any other decent looking woman.
As I moved to the floor to meet a tall, thin man I had danced with before, Toro settled Bianca into his arms as comfortingly as a babe with its Mother and once she was in hold, rocked her slightly to test the weight of her resistance to his lead and demonstrate the strength of it. Each couple did this no matter how well they knew each other, in order to make the adjustment between different partners. You only had three dances in the tanda to show off everything you had.
‘Thank you, Toro.’ Bianca smiled, smoothly enjoying his flattery. ‘It’s been a long time.’
‘Y queria morir por no verte. Sos un sol,’ he uttered beside her hair, smiling at me. (Meaning; ‘I wanted to die from not seeing you. You’re a sun.’ It somehow sounds much more romantic in Spanish.)
‘And now?’ Bianca loved to tease when Toro became expansive with flowery words. He said he was much better now that he was with her and able to breathe easy. Catching the envious eyes of the two blonde Americans, Bianca said, ‘Can you believe the number of tourists these days?’
‘Ah turistas,’ El Toro gazed off into memory, ‘the Yankee dollars from lessons are very helpful.’ I had no idea that El Toro had begun teaching tango but it didn’t really surprise me. He was a very good leader and anyone who even knew the word tango seemed to be teaching now. ‘They are all begging me to lead them and who am I to deny a woman something that is so easily delivered,’ Toro said. ‘Every single one wants to go back home saying they enjoyed a fantastico romance with their tango instructor. Every one begs for sex with the maestro. It really is terribly tiring.’ Toro looked devastated with the effort he applied to his calling.
As the music began Toro whispered, ‘Pero you are unique,’ in case Bianca felt excluded from his orbiting admirers and told her he would take her to the bathroom at the end of the tanda. With a small click of his heels he lifted her off into the dance.
Toro gave another satisfied click of his heels at the end of their three dances. Even an expert loves to feel the synchronicity in a good partnership, especially when he frequently has to manoeuvre a woman around the dance floor like a toddler driving a trundle truck. As the changeover music began to blare, he manoeuvred Bianca towards the washroom area and she emerged from her chrysalis of reverie to extricate herself from his advances.
‘Mierda.’ Toro swore as he suddenly realised Guadalupe, his corazon, his heart’s desire, had come into the milonga like a bull into the ring and swerved across the room pulling Bianca along by the elbow back to her table. If it was possible for a woman to have steam blasting from her eardrums, Guadalupe would have been blowing like an engine hauling up a mountain. Toro plonked Bianca down in her seat and uttered, ‘Maybe I will pass by later,’ before he turned to speed across the pista to placate his raging girlfriend.
‘Amor, amor, no tienes ninguno idea cuanto te quiero,’ Bianca said in imitation of his pleading, both to her and now to his Heart’s Desire. ‘I think I’ve got a very good idea how much he loves-wants me.’ The word in Spanish was interchangeable. ‘About as much as he wants any other good-looking woman in the room. Oh well, it was still like dancing across clouds of butterflies, barely touching my toe to the brightly coloured wing of each one.’
‘You had your eyes shut,’ said Lady Caterina, ‘You were not aware how the guapo who always watches never once removed his eyes from you.’
We watched the antics in the entrance, going on in full view of a delighted dance hall, with the new arrivals backing up behind their three-round knockout.
‘She is so insecure,’ I said as Guadalupe took a swing at Toro.
‘She has good reason,’ said Bianca.
‘But you do not live with a tanguero and expect him to be faithful,’ Lady Caterina shook her head.
‘I don’t know why she gets so worked up,’ Bianca replied, ‘a three minute vals lasts about three times as long as sex with Toro.’
We were laughing so hard we didn’t notice the tiny woman with breasts so big and heels so high she looked ready to face plant as she weaved across the floor, hauling five shopping bags from Comme il Faut, the Jimmy Choos of tango shoes.
‘You don’t mind if I just perch here do you,’ she said in breathy British, ‘no one will be able to see me back there.’ Lady Caterina was rendered speechless and before she could catch her breath to start again with the apoplexy, the girl swished back her dirty blonde hair and we realised we knew each other from milongas back home.
Suki had just arrived in Buenos Aires, had only booked a hotel for one night and now had nowhere to stay. Instead of looking for an apartment all day, she had searched out the perfect shoes.
‘I’m so excited with the shopping here, I can’t even feel the jet-lag.’ Suki said as she changed her shoes right on the edge of the pista. ‘Everything is so utterly staggeringly cheap.’ The first was a tango faux-pas, the second, a national one in a country that had been stripped of its pride and savings by the devaluation of its currency just five years previously.
‘Can’t you tell your friend to stop talking?’ Caterina growled at me after three hisses at Suki had administered no relief. ‘She’s scaring off the leaders.’ Men were as likely to approach a table of yakking women as they were a nest of vipers. Your best bet for a partner was sitting lonely as a single deer surrounded by a pride of lions on an African plain.
I turned to mention this to Suki but a handsome young man, mid-twenties, lithe and not dripping sweat, approached and she was whisked off onto the floor, with the mouth of every woman trailing along behind. Not only had a complete stranger been asked to dance before her competence on the floor had been ascertained, but she had been approached at the table instead of given the cabeceo from the security of the other side of the room.
‘Can you believe that?’ said Bianca, totally dumbfounded.
‘Petite, blonde, big boobs, the Argentine man’s dream girl. Of course you can believe it,’ said Caterina, ‘It’s totally predictable. As it is in life, it is in the tango hall, it all just comes so easily to some women.’
A pale older woman, with very yellow hair and tons of expensive jewellery, passed our table in the arms of a very young dancer, who we knew was a taxista – a taxi dancer, one of the Valentino lookalikes who charged a fee to drive women around the pista.
‘Tango in Buenos Aires is more like sex tourism now,’ snapped Caterina. She was right but you couldn’t criticize women for looking for love anywhere in the world they might possibly find it. Tango could be a synonym for sex in that everyone sought the ultimate goal - a shared moment of nirvana. It was as elusive as a seat on the subte but when found it was so spectacular you were inspired to continue, possibly forever, in the quest for its repetition. No wonder there were ten women for every man seated on small chairs around the edge of the dance floor, looking eager and available for invites, like wallflowers at the ball. Most of them would trudge home alone at the end of the night with sore feet if lucky or sore buttocks if they were unlucky in securing a partner.
I’d heard of quite a few middle-aged women disappointed in love, now ex-pats in Buenos Aires looking for stimulation. ‘At least they can go back home having felt some passion,’ I said.
‘But do you know of any it has worked out for?’ Bianca asked
‘Only as long as they keep picking up the bill for clothes and dinners and sometimes the rent.’
‘And for the wife and kids and granny and aunties and cousins at home in the interior,’ said Caterina.
Suki, early thirties, was the very definition of bubbly, always chatting and giggling. She had appeared at my tango class in England, wanting to be a substitute teacher and had immediately copped off with a bearded young actor who everyone was hot for even though he had the requisite fragile, semi-ex girlfriend in tow. When Camilo, a new teacher arrived from Argentina, Suki had him too before he’d unpacked his bags. A couple of years later, I saw Camilo back in Buenos Aires, at a milonga.
‘Do you know that teacher?’ I’d asked Pedro, standing beside me.
‘Teacher? He had three or four lessons then said he was moving to England,’ he replied.
Suki and Penny, younger, blonder and Swedish, were tango buddies and went to Negracha, the best milonga in London, every Friday. Until Camilo took Penny to the bathroom at Negracha, leaving Suki waiting patiently for her gorgeous lover to come back and lead her floating round the room. While new meat was treated warily by men who couldn’t take the chance of being made to look bad on the floor by an unskilled partner, Suki had the kind of flesh for whom they would run the risk. Even if they tripped, they could legitimately save face by telling their friends they’d got a feel of her boobs.
At the end of the tanda, Suki brought her partner and his friend to join the table. Caterina looked as though she was ready to turn rabid and glared at me as though I was responsible. ‘You can’t let men sit down with us.’ I whispered to her.
‘Why? Are you married?’ she giggled. ‘I’m just being friendly and they said they had a room I could stay in.’
‘I bet they did,’ I said. ‘But if there are men at the table you may as well be married, no one will invade another man’s territory. None of us will get invited to dance.’
‘Oh don’t be so silly,’ she replied. ‘This isn’t the bloody eighteenth century you know. Who is that gawgeous guy that keeps looking over here? I reckon he’s giving the cabeceo.’ Suki stood to dance, abandoning her new recruits to our care and Caterina’s wrath.
Bianca leapt up and gave Suki a nudge that knocked her back into her chair. ‘I don’t know,’ she said, ‘But I’m about to find out.’ And she walked to meet her guapo on the floor.
I'm re-posting here a comment from Selma just received on an old post so that everyone can share her experience. It's interesting she says that she thought that her guy was different and that he worked hard to persuade her of how different he could be. The promises are usually an indication of faux feeling.
I now view any relationship with an Argentine as an opportunity to learn - about yourself and why you fall into these situations. There are always signs from the beginning but we choose not to hear our intuition and to hope too much. There is nothing to miss about leaving Argentina except the wine.
Here is Selma's comment...
"This blog should be a warning to every woman who even thinks of getting involved with an argentine man. When I started dating mine I came across this blog when I was reading about argentina to understand his background better and I thought, well not all men are the same and he is so sweet and lovely...
I was wrong. I never thought I would fall for it but I did. He explained why he is not like most argentine men and how much he is looking for a real and honest love where he can be giving his heart and soul into it and all the time he kept me thinking that what we had has potential but he was really smart in avoiding saying anything directly and kept me hanging. I was very careful in the beginning and did not go completely with it and he was totally sweet and caring and communicative. As soon as I got hooked and started showing that I have developed feelings for him he became distant and then I found out that already in the first weeks of dating he knew that he'll leave the country as he had applied for a job somewhere else. Once I confronted him with this and asked him what "we" actually are it was over.
We went from talking about the ideal relationship to a painful break-up - and even then he couldn't let me go. He had to keep telling me that it was special and important but that he doesn't see a future. He kept me hanging with a push-and-pull technique for 3 weeks until I couldn't stand it anymore and confronted him with his contradictionary behaviour. He told me it wasn't that special after all and called me aggressive because I was pushing him to be honest and once he was and I could finally put everything in perspective I told him that I appreciate he's being honest about me just being an affair and that at least now I can close this chapter, he went completely mental and told me he can not tolerate my aggressiveness and has no respect for me anymore. He broke all contact and way of communication (blocking me even on facebook).
I really don't get it. I kind of offended him by saying it's alright that he was not that into me as I was into him but now that he was honest about it I can at least understand. I have never experienced something that contradictionary and emotionally dragging before. No more argentine men.
If you think if dating one, think twice or three times and don't let them sweet talk you. They can be very manipulative and make you feel that you just don't understand how relationships with them work but truly they are just afraid of commitment and looking for the next chase....
It's that time. The car to the Clouds is going to drive off to new pastures. And if I found BUYING an auto in Argentina something of a nightmare (the insurance still has to be in the name of the dealer as foreigners can't own things here so if a claim was made the payout would go to them. Am I foolishly trusting?) then selling a car here is nigh on impossible.
I had lunch the other day with the partner of a foreign diplomat here who told me they were advised before coming not to buy a car as it was so difficult to sell, they could well find themselves having to leave it on the street and throw away the keys.
In some countries i.e. mine, you sell your car to a buyer, both sign the transfer attached to the car's registration and send it to DVLA. Much too simple and logical for Argentina. Here is the list of papers to be looked for with a massive waste of daily existence:
-Verificacion policial - Apparently proves that there are no stolen elements residing in your car
-CETA (to procure this from AFIP - the Federal Administration Dept or Ministry of Total Control - another paper called a Clave Fiscal must first be sought)
-Certificate 08 - The transfer of property must be signed in front of a law clerk.
-Libre Deuda patentes - a paper to prove you've paid yearly plate fees
-Libre infracciones - a paper to prove you've paid your fines (not including the police shakedowns endured over the years)
-Certificado Dominio - a paper that seems to prove nothing whatsoever and takes 10 working days to procure but apparently if you have any single liability for anything anywhere, you can't sell your car.
As if the list isn't heinous enough, the Argentine character is one that loves to give out incorrect information meaning extra journey to government offices all over town will be made. And it would appear that Argentina is not actually one country but a set of provinces that operate as individual and autonomous totalitarian regimes. If the car is registered in one province, the idea of having moved to another locale and selling a car is something akin to mass murder - you must be up to something. In Buenos Aires there are "Casas" pertaining to each state but that doesn't mean they carry out any useful activity.
Currently the concept of driving two thousand miles round trip for some useless paper makes me want to dump the thing on the street. Must be why there are so many trashed out abandoned cars here.
I am reposting a comment left by Jessica on the post "How do Argentine Men Treat Women".
I have to say I agree with her (despite people commenting that there are "as many differnt Argentines as there are men") that this culture demonstrates a major, pero MAJOR misunderstanding of what LOVE is. And yes there are dogs in all countries but I've never heard of this many cases of evil cruelty and lack of basic human respect - never mind lack of respect for the "Goddess" who was the "Love of your Life".
While I think we are seduced because we find it hard to believe a man would be so passionate if he didn't really feel it, I also agree with a commenter who called us "Stupid". Every Argentine falls in love in two days - and that can never be true love.
Here's Jessica's comment :
I have to say that I wish I'd read this before I'd started my relationship with a Porteno. I feel compelled to share my story...
We met in the spring, we talked, we clicked, everything felt right. I was in the process of leaving my husband and making changes in my life when - let's call him G - and I met. We had the same interests and were passionate about the same things, we could talk for hours and hours - we were only friends at first. In a short time he pursued me very intensely - and I mean INTENSE! I have never witnessed anything like it back in the States. For the first time, I was called a Goddess and every day I heard how wonderful I was and he recounted to me in all the ways he loved me. G was constantly texting me, dedicating songs to me, singing to me. Within a month, G said that he wanted to be my partner for life, that I was a drug and he couldn't get enough of me: I was the woman he'd been waiting for and he'd never loved anyone like he loved me. We could not stand to spend one second apart from each other. I got along great with his kids and he loved to see me spending time with them, he was helping my son learn Spanish, I talked to his teenage daughter frequently... it seemed so amazing.
For the next month things got very intense and he asked me to marry him and G said that he wanted to have children with me. Everything felt so right, so wonderful. I did what I could to hurry the divorce process back home and there were some issues with custody. I wrote G and told him that I may not be able to make it to BsAs in the next few months because of some issues I needed to resolve and he never wrote me again. I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong! It just went cold. I eventually received an email from him stating that "ahora entiendo que "vivir lo nuestro" no seria possible por algun tiempo porque de tus chicos. sos LA MEJOR PRECIO DE ESTA VIDA! Perhaps you will find happiness in the arms of another man before you can return to BsAs. Quiero lo mejor por vos!"
I found out a month later that he started talking to another woman THE DAY AFTER I told him that I wouldn't be able to see him in the original time frame we'd planned. I was never Ms. Right... for him, it was all about Ms. RIGHT NOW. There is absolutely no concept of what love really is, it astounds me!!! And to think that I formed a connection with his kids, and he with mine... I feel stupid, and like the WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD! :( I couldn't believe that what we were doing could have been anything but love.
I just wanted to share my story, I hope that it helps someone. Please be careful when talking to any man in Buenos Aires. In the US there are some men who are major dogs, but I have never seen anyone be treated this way, and I have never seen a man use kids like this to get to a woman. Unbelievable.
Living in Argentina demands the acquisition of patience. Bureaucracy, corruption, hyperinflation, bad food, cheating men. It's a good characteristic to learn despite the hardship endured while learning and perhaps a characteristic useful anywhere in the world. Even the cheating men have been a very useful lesson. The Argentine man is exceptionally macho. Even the ones who aren't macho are incredibly macho. It's a culture that didn't shift in the seventies revolution when women demanded equality in the Northern Anglo Saxon cultures. But in that epoca, it was the women who demanded a change in the men and the men required to respond if they wanted to be accepted. In Argentina the women have never demanded so the men have never changed. It's not their fault. Maybe it's ours. The majority of foreign women seem to have problems with Argentine men (and they ultimately with us, once the fascination turns to frustration) but some have wonderful relationships.
An Argentine man may always be selfish but he will be exceptionally loving. Once you get past the chamuyo into a deeper relationship, they are capable of great passion. I have learnt while living and loving here that an Argentine man has the same needs in love as a Northern man but the Northerner has them buried now.
All the single women reading myriad books about how to make a man into you, paying for male secrets downloaded from love blogs, throwing the same questions out on the Unavailable Commitmentphobic forums - all need to live in a macho culture for a while. Loving a Latino makes it obvious what a man wants and needs.
He needs to be loved. This seems obvious but some of us are not good at always letting him feel that he's loved. - We are too good at letting him know we are disappointed.
He needs to be appreciated. It is very important deep inside a man's soul to provide for a woman - he used to be out killing sabre tooth tigers with a big stick and would probably secretly prefer to be doing that still rather than sitting in that bank tower. Even if he isn't providing for us financially, he has to provide protection, caring, security. It is our job to let him know he is providing and that we are grateful for it rather than whingeing that he hasn't taken out the garbage. (I use the garbage cliché because it is so indicative of our times. His task - Our irritation at his shortcomings). This is a problem within unequal cultures. We foreigners are generally more financially equipped than locals. He might like the opportunity to be a gigolo but still needs to somehow feel he is providing therefore don't you pay for dinner, drive home AND get on top in bed.
He needs to feel excited. Yes in the obvious way but MORE so in spiritual ways. A woman should be something to be admired, a worthwhile partner for him to have captured. A little bit of a challenge but not too much. Intellectually stimulating, but not too much. Adventurous, unpredictable and independent, but not too much. How you balance these qualities according to your man's levels indicates your success or failure in a relationship.
He needs to feel support. You feel you are supporting him just by sharing the bathroom with him but he needs to feel your support. (Men are all the same in this - we operate on talking, they operate on feelings. If you remember nothing else, a relationship works or fails based on how a man FEELS each moment of every day). A man faces constant demands and pressures in the world, he has been brought up with a ton of expectations. When he comes home he needs to know that you are there for him even if he has done something idiotic and you just feel like slapping him around. Patience is required in the face of dumb mistakes.
He needs to feel accepted. It's been said a billion times - Men are from Mars etc - but we don't seem to take it in. Men are not like us. Recognise it, let it be okay and there will be harmony. Because you can't change him and you will kill your love trying.
An Argentine (in Argentina) is only now being exposed to women who want to share and communicate as friends. They don't understand it fully yet but they are quite disposed to learning it slowly and in their own way. The rule with an argentine is the same as the rest of the world - there are a lot of players and bullshitters, looking for ego boosts, damaged by the past and unable to move through - the rule is the same anywhere - when you get a good one , let yourself grow as you nurture the relationship until it flowers. Love without demands.
I'm currently unsure what I'm going to do with this blog. I've had it almost five years and it has taken its own path and diverged from the route I'd planned as often as the book for which it's named did. Last Tango, the book was finally born in June this year, having changed from its original premise of woman learning from her tango experiences in a foreign culture. This blog changed from an account of living in Buenos Aires before it was flooded with expats to a constant expose of intercultural relationships based on my own, my friend's and the experiences of the many women who emailed their stories to me. Some have been glad to read it, some have been angry. Personally I have learned a great deal but I don't think I can continue.
I am not a relationship guru and never set out to be. I only wanted to share and learn from each other as our Mothers used to do sitting around a kitchen table with a cuppa (java). Women have lost that culture of support now, we have less time for hanging out while babies are asleep in their prams. Instead of complaining to each other, we complain to our men. And they get very tired of it.
I have nearly finished my new book, an intricate tragic love story set against a background of spells and plant magic in the ancient cultures of the Andes and the Amazon.
It's based in love. I don't know whether it partners well with this blog or whether I should start a new blog based on loving.
Only love. Love yourself first and learn how to love a man.
Last tango is available in print at Amazon.com, on Kindle and at Smashwords for I-Pad, I-Phone, Kobo, Nook and PDF Download.
A 4-Star review was gratefully received although I would contest the reviewer when he says the 'book is not about tango'. While it isn't strictly all about tango, there are various scenes and a whole chapter dedicated to the milongas of Buenos Aires - A must-read insight for anyone interested or thinking of coming to dance.
Read the review here
Last Tango in Buenos Aires not only offers hilarious insights into dating, love and sex with the Argentine man, it is a travelogue that apart from Buenos Aires, visits Patagonia, Iguazu, Salta, Tigre and the Gualeguaychu carnival.