You meet a former colleague for lunch to talk about the side project you two have been working on in your very limited spare time. And then after a full day of executing some of your creatively fulfilling ideas, you head home — only to find your live-in lover in the exact same spot you found him/her the day before and the day before that: the couch.
Your gut instinct is to recoil in disgust. But then the smell of a home-cooked meal hits you and your loving partner gets up to greets you with a kiss and a glass of wine. And just like that, all of your contempt melts away.
After all, you’ve tried dating people as career-driven as yourself in the past and there was never a whole lot of human interaction, just a lot of texts with messages like, “held up in meeting… can we do dinner another night?” or “gotta get up early in the morn — would you mind going to the party w/o me?”
And therein lays the slacker appeal. Unlike corporate go-getters, regular Joes with zero career ambition are always available, and for many overachievers that can be a calming influence in their hectic lives.
“It can allow him/her to have a safe haven,” says Dr. Cheryl Fraser, a B.C.-based registered psychologist and sex therapist (a.k.a. ” the Passion Coach”). [It gives careerists] a home or relationship life that is based on things other than competition, deadlines, demands and having to be ‘the best’ all the time.
“This can serve as a grounding force, both psychologically and emotionally. And if that ‘slacker’ is a great cook, homemaker, parent, lover, friend… those things can go a long way.”
That may be true. But as Fraser points out, healthy happy relationships between slackers and careerists are the exception rather than the rule.
“Ambition says a lot about core values,” Fraser continues. “And a huge difference [in career ambition] is too big of a strain on core values. [That's why] those relationships usually won’t last.”
Despite these less-than-encouraging odds, we’re seeing a lot more of these unlikely pairings. Career-minded women, in particular, are hooking up with slackers. Why? Well, one of the theories (and it ain’t pretty) is that even in this day and age ambitious women are not exactly magnets when it comes to attracting ambitious men.
“I know, that doesn’t sound politically correct, but it isn’t an opinion — it is what the research shows,” she Fraser, who is currently working on a book called Kill the Soulmate and Save your Relationship as well as a CD home study series called ‘Creating Long Lasting Passion; The Keys to Cultivating Intimacy, Thrill and Sensuality that last a Lifetime.’
“So often, career women end up with slackers because ambitious men are threatened by women who are their equal or those men simply want a more traditional woman –someone who can calm him down and be the eye at the centre of his workaholic storm, and keep the home fires burning while he is out conquering the world.”
The fact that more and more professional women are shacking up with broke underachievers doesn’t mean they are any more successful at keeping their relationships alive than their male counterparts. In fact the opposite is true. According to Fraser, that’s because more often than not these powerful women wind up losing the all-important r-e-s-p-e-c-t for their work-shy sweethearts.
“A woman needs and wants to respect her man, not just love him,” says Fraser. “She can out-earn him, but he needs to be dedicated to his work or his passion, so that she can look at him with shining eyes and feel proud. And let’s face it: financially supporting a guy is not great foreplay.
“And let me emphasize,” adds Fraser, “for women, it is not about money, it is about respect. At a deep core level, women — no matter how powerful — want their man to be powerful, too.”
If that sounds like a double standard (with men getting the crappy end of the stick), that’s because it is, which, Fraser says, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just merely a fact of life.
She’s also quick to clarify that we’re not talking about stay-at-home dads here. We’re talking about the kind of guy who lets his girlfriend pay all the bills, so that he can spend his time smoking pot and pursuing his dream of becoming a world-renowned installation artist.
Of course, there are other reasons we date people we don’t have anything in common with and some of them have nothing to do with work schedules or gender generalizations. There’s always the issue of really hot sex.
“Opposites can be good fuel for lust, interest, and an initial zap of energy, so enjoy the ride — much like a roller coaster it is a blast,” says Fraser before warning, “but don’t fool yourself into thinking roller coasters are fun for hours or days or weeks at a time. Research shows that similar interests and values are what long lasting relationships are built on.”