Boyfriend Version 2.0

Turkish men are like the upgraded version of English men. They come with more programs and features and it would be very difficult to go back to the old model. However, some of the attachments you could do without and there are some design glitches when they hook up with foreign hardware.

The Turkish man needs a careful user who’s read the manual.

The terms of the sale are clear. He wants to be your boyfriend. Not your date, not your fuck buddy, not your friend. There’s no fear of the R word or the C word (no, not that one). You’ll never hear him say ‘I’m just not ready for a relationship’ or ‘It’s not you, it’s me. I need some space’. Extreme versions of this are common; he calls for days if you dump him after the first week or tells you how many kids he wants before you’ve even seen the color of his bed sheets.*

Where the Turkish man excels is after sales care.

Post first kiss an English guy might call you in, say, a week. If he really likes you, in a few days. If he’s busy maybe there’ll be a text message to ask about your day and a call in a couple of weeks. Anatolian man has texted you by the time you’ve unlocked your front door and calls you the next day ‘just to hear your voice’. It took me a while to get used to this. I would wait bemusedly for the purpose of the call and then realize there wasn’t one. They expect a reciprocal level of attention in return.

They offer the full service in terms of affection. Verbal and physical 24/7 care and satisfaction guaranteed. From being happy when teeth knock mid-kiss (it shows there’s no closer to get) to dipping your finger in his tea to make it sweeter, he has no sense of embarrassment. On a sunset Bosphorus walk early on in my relationship, I commented how beautiful it seemed that night. My knee jerk, fingers down my throat at his utterly sincere ‘That’s because something is growing between us’ just showed up my self-conscious British cynicism.

The service even extends to your immediate family. Turks value their own relatives so highly that to meet your parents is not the drag it might be to a domestic boyfriend. Not only will he be polite and respectful, he pressures you to be a better, more dutiful daughter who calls home more often and appreciates all your parents did to bring you up.

Tired of carrying your bag? The Turkish passerby carries your suitcase if you’re struggling on the metro. The boyfriend model takes your bag as soon as he sees you. Even if this means he’s carrying a handbag (clutches you’re on your own) or Zara shopping bags, the Turk is manly enough not to feel threatened by your tote.

Relieved from the tiresomeness of hauling your stuff around, your purse is no longer to hand. But, that’s OK because you never need to pay for a drink or dinner again with a Turkish man on your arm. It’s almost a point of pride for them not to split the bill, and over insistence at being a financial equal kills the gesture. Better to pay next time, not in front of his friends. Get in there first rather than compete with him when the waiter is in earshot.

The Turkish boyfriend comes with a major set of add-ons. Not only his parents and siblings, but every cousin right down to the son of the woman who shared a wet nurse with his father. My potential in-laws took against me before they met me, have seen little to move them from their initial position of ‘foreign bride – No’ and think I’m too old. The fact I’m the same age as him makes me about ten years too old apparently. Even the nice cousins demand to know why I haven’t busied myself making them tea when they come to visit him in his house. His house where he is the host.

The Turkish family can exert pressure, even without their direct presence. You will never, ever, feed him as well as his mum. To the extent that even buying top quality butter, for example, will not be as good as the hand churned, natural and preservative-free version his mother made. Even now it’s growing mould in the fridge. Make friends with her by getting her to teach you to cook and forget about expecting him to cook for you in the majority of cases. Even if he can, his mum showed her love by preparing his food and he sees your love through you doing the same. My boyfriend has only cooked for me when I’ve won it in a card game.

Design glitches
There’s only one really. The Turkish Boyfriend comes with major jealousy software. He’s jealous of your male friends, any boyfriend you had before him, colleagues or even his friends if you show them undue attention. A far more subtle facet of this is that it’s a big problem if you’re not jealous. How else can you show you care? Well, certainly not by trusting him. The following story is met by unanimous siding with him from Turks I recount it to.

We were in a bar with a father and daughter client of my boyfriend’s. Quite elderly and on the last day of his holiday, the father went back to his hotel leaving the three of us to carry on. I flaked earlier than them and, having no problem leaving them to it, went home and fell asleep – the sleep of the unworried and trusting – to be woken at 1am by my boyfriend demanding to know if I had any feelings for him at all to leave him in that ‘dangerous situation’. He would never have left me like that and, most damning of all, a Turkish girl would never have left him there. One year on he still tells this story to people with the same incredulity at my attitude. So much so that sometimes I doubt myself… jealousy isn’t a real emotion… is it?

Problems meshing with foreign hardware
Independence, the sign of the modern girl, is something we take for granted as a virtue. It’s the very thing that meant I left home and arrived in Turkey, entwining my destiny with the boyfriend that now sees my attempts at standing on my own two feet as insults to his manhood. Don’t try to do something alone. You’ll demonstrate that you don’t trust him to help you, especially if it’s something physical or more difficult for the foreigner to accomplish than a local. Maybe he’s right, how many times has the Western girl declared loudly that she doesn’t need a man?
* The bed linen may well be pink and floral, picked out by his Mum. Probably washed by his Mum. Probably in his Mum’s house. A lone dwelling Turkish man is a rare find, one that buys his own sheets, a red diamond.


One response to “Boyfriend Version 2.0

  1. Pingback: A brief and hopefully pleasantly reminscent interlude | Istanbul Restaurant Reviews

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