Monday, February 23, 2009

Word Meanings

Here is the entry for the word passionate in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Main Entry:
pas·sion·ate           Listen to the pronunciation of passionate
15th century
1 a: easily aroused to anger b: filled with anger : angry2 a: capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling b: enthusiastic , ardent3: swayed by or affected with sexual desire
synonyms see impassioned
pas·sion·ate·ly adverb
pas·sion·ate·ness noun
I had to look this up during a long chat with a desi girlfriend K, who is single and active on the dating scene. She wondered about the use of the word passionate in a lot of personal profiles posted by desi guys.

K has always associated the word with its second meaning per Merriam-Webster i.e. capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling. She asked me whether that was the meaning I would assume as well and I said I would. Apparently the Indian gentlemen she has encountered on the dating scene always imply number three - i.e. swayed by or affected with sexual desire and that little misunderstanding of intent and implication of a word has been the root cause of many an abended relationship for K. Per K, the non-desis are far less likely to use such euphemisms to couch their intentions - they tend to be more factual.

So we have a scenario where K reads a desi guy's profile, finds it interesting in many ways and thinks he looks rather "cute". She likes it that he describes himself as passionate specially in combination with his rather esoteric list of hobbies. K thinks that the passion drives him to pursue his many interests outside his career and that he would throw himself whole heartedly at anything that captures his imagination. Women almost always like men who fit that description.

Then reality strikes. K is out on her first date with the said guy after a few emails and phone conversations that have all been very positive. Her expectations are really high at this point. The date goes well too except for one thing. The guy mentions a few times how passionate he is and he would find it difficult to be in a relationship with a woman who is not as well. I would be remiss to not mention at this point that K is a very attractive young woman with a great sense of style.

K talks animatedly about her passions - traveling, dancing and volunteering. Knowing her for as long as I have, I understand how much of herself she invests in all of those things and how much they mean to her - they define who is she. The guy sitting across from her has however tuned her out. She does not understand why. He dumbs it down one notch so she may find it easier to comprehend the word passionate. He describes himself as very physical when it comes to demonstrating love and affection in a relationship. At this point, even K gets his drift and wishes she could evaporate from the date.

According to her, this pattern has repeated itself several times with little variation. She is to the point that she clicks on the next profile as soon as a desi guy has used the word the word passion in any form in his. It is one of her red flags. I tell her maybe this is one of those Men from Mars and Women from Venus things that relationship experts talk about but I do have to admit all this talk about physical and passionate coming from desi men does sound a little rich in light of their less than stellar credentials in the area. I could not help wondering if there was not a little bit of over-compensation going on there.


The Gori Wife said...

LOL. I love that she clicks away from any use of the word passionate now!

Heartcrossings said...

Gori wife - I thought that was hilarious too. What if there is this one desi guy out there who takes a more nuanced view of the word passion ? Miracles do happen :)