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  1. 1. Going Out With the Customs<br />Dennis Avila<br />Anthropology 102 H<br />Professor Wolfe <br />December 11th , 2008<br />
  2. 2. For this assignment, I studied one of the most common social interactions in the Western world: Heterosexual dating. There are plenty of interesting things that most people overlook because they think it is very normal or they are used to it, however these behaviors have been developing along the years and in some countries more than others. There are different styles where many factors play different roles in the relationship such as religion, education, ethnicity and even family customs. One, since adolescence starts learning these behaviors: how to ask a girl out, where to take her, how to behave in front of her, etc. And from the girl’s perspective: how to behave in front of a guy you are dating, how to dress up, etc. Of course, there are people that are more shy that others and this process turns out to be rather complicated. This picture, for example, depicts one of the most common images of a date: the guy driving a car to go out with a girl.<br />
  3. 3. Since there many types of relationships, I decided to narrow down my project to a relationship between two Hispanic people. I had previously asked another friend from a different background to let me follow her and her boyfriend during a night out, but she refused saying that her boyfriend would not let her do it. I learned also that her boyfriend does not let her do many things. It would have been an interesting story. However, this Hispanic couple accepted and let me do my project. He is from Mexico City and she is from Chile. They met each other while learning English here. They grew up in their respective countries and for that reason they still keep their dating customs, which are almost the same in all Latin America and I would say also in the United States. In this picture, he is opening the door for her; this is an act considered kind and gentlemanly and (most of the time) happens during the first stages of the relationship, which later is less common. One learn this since childhood; I even remember my mom teaching me to open the door when I am with a female. <br />
  4. 4. This picture follows the same logic that the last one. The guy opens the door for her. There are girls that simply open the door themselves, but (based on my own experience) there is always a fraction of a second where she waits for the guy to open the door. This pattern works not only for girlfriends but for all ladies in general. It is interesting to see how this act of kindness happens everywhere, I have seen men in the movie theatre opening the doors for women; however, this courtesy is not the same among men. They usually enter the premises first and, as a nice gesture, try to leave the door open for the other man coming in.<br />
  5. 5. One basic need that says a lot about a relationship is dining out. Sometimes it is nice to eat in a fancy restaurant, but most of the time a casual diner at a fast food restaurant is enough. Even if the guy had already eaten at home, he takes his girlfriend out because she is hungry. However, she is undecided about what to eat. Some women are known for being always “on diet” and in this case she is no exception. She actually asks for a salad to pretend that she eats lightly. Some girls do not care at all and eat a Big Mac, but in this case, they are still in the stage of impressing each other.<br />
  6. 6. This is the ultimate symbol of who is “suppose” to pay for the food. When a guy asks a girl out, it is implied that he is going to pay for everything. However, when time goes on and the relationship is deeper, they would share some of the expenses that going out mean. When they started going out, they shared the costs, but when they started a romantic relationship, he started paying for the expenses. Having a girlfriend could be costly for a guy; expenses such as restaurants, movies, gas, gifts, phone bills, amusement parks, among others, could mean a lot to a guy’s budget. However, these expenses are sometimes ignored by him, because what he gets in exchange for that is very important for him.<br />
  7. 7. Once the girl has made her choice, usually the guy is the one who carries the tray with food. While I was shooting these pictures, I was thinking the moment where all these behaviors started. It was always understood, at least in the culture where I come from, that the man is the strong one and therefore, he should do the toughest jobs. Carrying a tray is certainly not hard work but it implies that he takes care of that so the girl do not have to worry about it. There are instances where the man does this to demonstrate that he is the one in charge. I am sure that this is not the case. He is just being kind. <br />
  8. 8. Here is another example of kindness and courtesy (all of them learned), serving the drink for the girl. This behavior could be equivalent to, for example, tasting the wine in a fancy restaurant. According to our way of thinking the guy is suppose to make things easier to the girl. At the end of the shooting, and after noticing all the details that they did not even think about, she said: “I just realized that I don’t do almost anything!” whereas he said: “Oh, I did!” and they started laughing. <br />
  9. 9. Another common behavior of a romantic couple is hand holding. There are some details in this act that some people (even the ones in the picture) do not realize. When I asked them to hold hands, he automatically put his hand in front of hers and she automatically put hers behind his. When I asked them why they did that, they at first did not know what to answer, so after a few seconds he told me that it would feel weird if it was the opposite way. She agreed. Another detail is that he is wearing a more casual clothing whereas she always goes out wearing something to impress him. <br />
  10. 10. In this picture there are also many details that tell us the different roles that each gender play. He is putting his arm around her shoulders whereas she only holds him by the waist. Some girls, however, do not like to be held that way, for instance, my ex-girlfriend did not like it at all. Another detail is that he is walking at the outer side of the sidewalk while she does it at the inner side. For them, this is natural, but I remember learning it from my first girlfriend. She had had another boyfriend before me so she was very used to it. I remember walking down the street with her and I just started walking on the inner side of the sidewalk. Almost right away she switched sides with me by saying: “You are suppose to go on that side!”. I was a little surprised but did not say anything, I just thought that was the natural way; later, I learned that it means a sort of protection feeling for them.<br />
  11. 11. This final picture depicts a usual scene on a Saturday or Sunday night: to watch a movie on TV. Here, we can see the same patterns that happen in the other pictures: him putting his arm around her shoulders in a relaxed position whereas she just sits in a normal way. It is worth noticing that he sprawls out and looks more relaxed than her. I asked her if she was comfortable in that position and the answer was yes. What it seems interesting is that usually she is the one that chooses which channel they are going to watch.<br /> Even though we see these expressions of affection every day in the streets, we do not realize all the meanings and connotations that many of those expressions have. These behaviors, however, are not the same around the world, there are many countries where public expressions of love and affection could mean jail or even death. But it is important to pay attention on how these behaviors evolve along the years and how they are different from many others that are (or are not) practiced around the world.<br />