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Wed 4 Jun 2014 12:42 PM

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Rise of the gold digger

Lavishing gifts on a companion does not have the desired results, warns Silja Litvin

Rise of the gold digger

One thing that has always amazed me about the Middle East are the many young women flaunting around the mall all day, dressed in the most expensive brands you can find. When I’d ask them what they did for a living I learned they were “sorting things out”.

When I am “sorting things out” I am living on canned ravioli…

It took a while and many amused friends before I understood these were “kept” women living in all kinds of arrange­ments that were actually preventing them from "sort things out".

Coming from a German background, I wasn’t accustomed to that type of relationship – it’s not unusual to go Dutch on a first date there and women who aren’t earning money are usually eyed suspiciously if they don’t have young children to take care of. Still, since I’m a horrendously lazy person I would lie if I did not admit that the idea of being entitled to access such riches - solely on the basis of being a female who was easy on the eye to look at - did intrigue me.

Surrounded by many examples of different relationships with “perks” other than being madly in love with each other, I was able to conduct little studies of my own. Soon I realised I was observing all the symptoms of “extrinsic override”. An extrinsic override occurs when an intrinsic emotion – an emotion that arises by its own, such as fondness that could evolve into love – is overpowered by an extrinsic interest, for example, material gain.

Studies show that any emotion from love to hate can be altered by material gain; two people meet and take to each other with the potential to fall in love. One of them (usually the man, even though the opposite happens sometimes – but let’s stay with the usual scenario) showers the other with presents and/or enhancement of status, causing the receiving party to subconsciously shift the attention and affections from the giver to the gifts.

If you question the effects of an extrinsic override, just check what happens when the flow of material things goes away. Usually the not-any-more receiver does, too.

Now - if somebody experienced an extrinsic override, either through overbearing parents or past relationships, the effect can go on “autopilot” every time this person meets someone or even in the process of filtering out perspective suitors…

That is what I call “the rise of the gold-digger”.

Of course, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule, and the deeper and more stable a relationship is before exposure to material gain, the less vulnerable the emotions are towards the effect. I like to tell those of my friends who happen to be burdened by mammon (yeah, poor them) not to be too generous in the beginning. Not to be stingy, of course, but not to shower their perspective partners with presents too soon, thus allowing them to first develop deeper feelings.

However, other than those who have subconsciously adopted gold digging traits, there will always be a calculating, manipulating and emotionally cold type of woman, who targets men solely for material benefit and doesn’t give a hoot about the emotional state of the disappointed men she leaves in her wake. But that would be a different type of psychological profile that thankfully doesn’t apply to most of those girls I am writing about.

Of course I asked myself: why the Middle East? Why not Berlin or Seattle or Shanghai? I am aware that in those cities, too, live many gold-diggers, but probably not to the extent of this region.

It not only has an extremely high percentage of wealthy patrons but the culture is also famous for its generosity. Expats living there quickly embrace the lifestyle, treating their female friends with similar exuberance as their local role models, albeit without the context of a family.

The downside of an extrinsic override lies in the fact that relationships which are afflicted by this effect never become as emotionally rewarding as they could or would be without. Disinterest in the partner, a feeling of separateness and coldness arise in the receiving person while the generous giver struggles with the lack of connection and loyalty emanating from his partner.

It seems a bit unfair that an objectively positive action such as generosity could cause such affliction for a couple, since everybody needs love and closeness. But it is a redundant legacy of our ancient fight for survival when any material asset could make the difference between life and death – who needs emotions when his stomach is rumbling and all he has to chew on is a stone...

So I conclude: “Dear gold diggers, make sure that you haven’t lost your ability to be happy and content on your way to Chanel & Co., and dear “well-to-do”, be careful not to trigger the effect. Should you be dating a partner you are not quite sure of: stop the presents, trips and social appearances for a while and just see what happens…”

* Silja Litvin has a a  Masters in Psychology and is currently working on a PhD in Psychology.

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A.A.A. 6 years ago

What is the point of this article?

silja 6 years ago

Dear A.A.A.,

this column is here to entertain and educate. It looks like I've failed you on both if you need to ask that question :-)


Ahmar 6 years ago

Dear Silja, great column! Makes one think before adapting to such generous practices. Keep the columns coming!

WHJ 6 years ago

@Silja. I find it a little bit pretentious of you to you say that coming from a German background, you're not accustomed to that type of relationship. Strangely enough, you went on to say that many gold-diggers live in Berlin (among other cities you've named). The last time I checked, Berlin was in Germany.
Frankly, AAA's question is not entirely off the mark, and your reply is defensive and leaves much to be desired. I hate to rain on your parade but your column does not exactly qualify as educational. We all know there are gold-diggers in rich societies, especially among women, who, in general, are biologically hot-wired to choose a good provider. We also know that men who engage in...let's call it incompatible relationships, are aware that their money is buying them "privileges" that otherwise they would not be able to acquire.
I sincerely doubt that a person genuinely interested in his/her partner will be changed by the partner's "generousity".

Sam 6 years ago

Word of the day ... extrinsic override..

Seriously this site should be renamed ArabianTabloids.com

Dipti 6 years ago

You're displaying ignorance if you think 'Extrinsic Override' is a word you'd find in a tabloid-ish article. I think the author is trying to purely delve into the psyche of the society here (developing more into a Hollywood Real Wives of Beverly Hills scenario/celeb culture) where materialistic comforts are increasingly forming the basis of relationships as they seem mutually self-serving.
Any astute reader would expect all kinds of topics and articles, as inane as they may appear, to be presented but of course it makes sense if only approached with an open mind. Have you ever read the NY Times? It's a delight to be able to peruse topics that delve into a variety of areas.

TallDarkHandsome 6 years ago

Great article, Silja. Men who have no character usually have to resort to money for female attention. Unfortunately, attention is not love, and will evaporate as soon as the gifts stop. Build character boys, and women will notice.

WSCT 6 years ago

Little bit surprised at some people having a negative reaction to the article - if you don't want to read it, don't click on it! If you clicked on it and chose to read it, don't complain about the content. If you have a problem with the editorial decisions such as this type of article existing at all, surely an email to the editor would be better than attacking a story in the comments.

Anyway: I visit the website everyday to stay up to date with current affairs, and my personal view is that it's nice to have a range of articles covering a range of topics, both as pure "news copy" and as opinion and point of view articles like this.

TL;DR: Haters gonna hate.

WHJ 6 years ago

@WSCT. This forum is for readers to express their opinions about the articles they read on this website. This might come as a surprise to you, but people who disagree with you are not necessarily "haters", they just don't share your opinion.

ZBZB 6 years ago

Interesting article, if more people start talking about this then it may provide some kind of a resolve for those "trapped" in such circumstantial relationship to view their own relationships with a clear head.