Michele N., 37, and Michele D., 37
What do you do?
MN: I'm a lawyer.
MD: I'm a lawyer too.
Did you ever hook up with a client?
MD: No, and by the way that would go against the lawyers' code of conduct… although you could make exceptions to the rule.
MN: No, you couldn't. The code of conduct forbids that.
Okay, let's put the legal stuff on the back burner and focus on juicier issues. I just talked to a woman who said that men nowadays aren't manly enough, that they're scared of women with personality, that it's up to women to chase now. What do you think about that?
MD: I think in part it's true, and I think it's due to the emancipation of women. But also, the younger generations do have less personality. I never met a woman who took the initiative when I was younger. It was always the man who approached a woman.
MN: I think it has to do with laziness too. Also, men don't want to make their intentions too clear for fear of making fools of themselves.
MD: I think men are more fearful because women have changed. Women are no longer shy, so men feel intimidated.
What's a girl gotta do with the I'm-so-scared type of man?
MD: A woman must send some signal to the man that she's interested. It's part of the game. I may have a retro mentality, but I still think that courting and seducing a woman, even if it's more difficult and requires more work, is still more gratifying.
MN: Yes, I agree that the woman should send some signal.
MD: But it should be subtle and elegant.
MN: She needs to make him understand she's interested. I have the sensation that many women are stuck up.
MD: Yes, especially in this town!
Why, what are the women like in Bologna?
MD: Well, I've always joked that the average Bolognese woman walks twenty feet above the ground. The typical Bolognese woman is difficult to approach, she's stuck up, she thinks she's more important than what she really is.
MN: I agree. Many times the women here aren't sincere, and they place all the emphasis on looks, rather than on who they are.
MD: So much so that they seem clones of one another. There is a standardization. I've never dated women from here. They were always from someplace else — Mantua, Milan, Bolzano…the United States.
United States? Did you have an American girlfriend?
MD: Yes, I even married her. Twice. First in the U.S., and then in Italy.
Congratulations! What are the differences between American women and Italian women?
MD: It's a difficult question for me to answer because, except for my wife, I don't really know American women that well. But I can say that, unlike Italian women, and Bolognese women in particular, American women seem to be more approachable and they seem to appreciate a certain type of chivalry from the man. They seem to be more authentic and to appreciate a man taking the initiative because American men don't do that. At least that's what my wife told me. She said she knew that I wanted to go out with her three minutes after we had started talking, which she'd never experienced with an American man.
So what do you do to seduce a woman?
MD: Well, you show your interest by being present. If you go out in a group, you sit next to her, you talk to her, maybe you even say silly things, but you show her your interest by paying attention to her. And then of course you ask for her phone number.
MN: I do the opposite instead — I show indifference. So I can understand if there's real interest from the other side.
MD: He's the cryptic type of guy.
MN: Yes, I don't like to give myself away.
What do you do if you meet a girl that you like and she's also cryptic, or just shy?
MN: I give it up. Amen. I'll just have to find a girl who's not shy and cryptic like me. I don't like to make the first move. I'm more like American men. To tell you the truth, this tactic doesn't really pay off. But at least you don't embarrass yourself.
Marriage kills love. Do you agree?
MD: No, I disagree. Love manifests itself in different ways. I've been married for eight years, which is enough time to see the evolution of a relationship. So I can say that while marriage doesn't kill love, it can kill passion. Love is a different thing. There's more connection on the mental level because you know the other person better. You know what the other person needs. But passion definitely wanes.
MN: I actually think marriage gives a positive turn to the relationship. You can love someone, but if you don't go through daily life together the way marriage or living together forces you to do, it's not the same. It's not so much marriage, it's habit that kills the passion.
What can you do to keep the passion alive?
MD: Nothing. It's physiological that passion fades. To keep it as it was in the beginning is impossible, or at least very, very difficult. You constantly need to find new incentives, to reinvent the relationship. It's not easy. You also have to consider that often when you get married you tend to become comfortable in the relationship, so the fact that passion weakens isn't only due to the passing of time but also to your behavior in the relationship as a married person. You get too comfortable.
MN: That's like shooting your marriage to death. You always have to question yourself. Always do something different, even if you're going to experience something negative. Difficulties unite a couple. Habit kills it, but difficulties and change keep it alive. Like a difficult trip together. For five years in a row, for my summer vacation with an ex-girlfriend, we went to the exact same place in Florida. One year we decided to change and went to South America instead. It was a difficult trip — it wasn't relaxing and comforting the way it was going to Florida — but it was one of the best trips of my life. With Florida, I can't even remember which year I did what.