Why I Won’t Date Bankers


1st Oct, 2010

(For now…)

I just watched the new Wall Street sequel, Money Never Sleeps. Yes okay, finally, Shia LaBoeuf no longer looks like a child and just about passes for sexy in his latest role as the confident, go-getting son-in-law/ protégé of Gordon Gekko. Rather than focusing on how well he wore a suit however, I was admittedly more interested in the dynamics of the romance between LaBoeuf’s Wall Street character and his non-profit blogging girlfriend, played by Carrie Mulligan.

Being that I am a non-profit, single blogger myself, as I wondered home from the cinema I got to thinking about dating bankers. I have come close, but never actually dated one. This may have something to do with the fact that I still get carded for cigarettes in a country where the legal smoking age is 16 (no longer flattering when you’re 25, just embarrassing) and the average age of a banker (not an intern) is somewhere past thirty– a dangerous age bracket to be picking up girls that look like teenagers. Alternatively, it could have something to do with the sign on my forehead saying ‘back the eff up’ when a guy fitting the MessyNessy description of a ‘banker wanker’ tries his approach (I owe credit to my old friend MexicoMadness for coining this humorous term, ‘banker wanker’, when she added a Goldman Sachs trader under this very name into her phonebook).

The truth is, if I really think about the qualities I look for in a ‘mate’, i-bankers, traders, private equity, in-house research analysts, whatever– wouldn’t be the first type of guys to pop into my head. Could it be because my i-banker father was absent from most dinnertimes and homework-helping sessions when my brother and I were young children? Not really. My subconscious rebellious behaviour has long surpassed and the psycho babble doesn’t interest me in this case. Pops frequently brought home the latest and greatest toys on the market and we were easy-to-please kids of the blossoming consumer generation.

I’ll let one of the infamous DABA girls (Dating A Banker Anonymous.com) sum up the reason why I don’t plan to be dating bankers anytime soon…

“I met a 5-10 years older associate from one of the major banks. I thought the age difference would make a difference but should have known what was to come when at 2am rather than offering to take me home, he jumped in a cab and went back to work. It ended with a dramatic slamming of door scene – after which I had to humiliatingly return to get my things.”

Romance– it’s a virtually incomprehensible concept in the financial world. Cityboy would be up in arms over this statement if I had published this post without consulting him so I picked up my Blackberry and pinged him.

MessyNessy: I just saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and I’m going to blog about investment bankers as men– desirable or undesirable. Any thoughts? Last words?

Cityboy: I’m festered at work. But later. I obviously have a lot to say.

(He didn’t get back to me and so I had to soldier on without his trusted opinion).

I looked at the time. 9.40pm on a Thursday night. If his girlfriend didn’t have an equally demanding job in advertising, I can’t imagine she would be too pleased to be sitting at home alone, waiting for a boyfriend to return to the microwaved remains of her culinary efforts. Without saying much, he’s kind of proved my point. I’m not saying it’s CityBoy’s fault that he can’t get home to his girlfriend before the wrong side of 11pm to maintain some kind of relationship normalcy, but I don’t think I’d be too far off in saying his job might have something to do with the fact that his relationship is presently on the rocks (boy, am I in for a bollocking when he reads this).

True, most finance guys typically have no control over their schedules in the first ten years of their careers and any potential girlfriends (if even required) will have to manage their expectations accordingly. Even more true, is my certainty that this way of life starts to diminish romantic instincts altogether.

This is where Shia LaBoeuf’s ballsy/ sexy Wall Street character is left in the dust by, oh say, Javier Bardem’s in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. While Shia was more interested in his trading positions in Oliver Stone’s anticipated sequel, Bardem’s assumed positions in the bedroom were more of a key theme throughout Woody Allen’s 2008 cinematic offering.

Javier Bardem romancing his leading lady in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

You might think I’m beginning to compare bankers to grown-up math geeks with no sex lives– hardly. However, I am certainly hinting at the fact that as a stereotype, men working in finance are not typically renowned for their passion when it comes to pleasing a woman– unless we’re talking throwing a credit card her way (again, I’m in for a bollocking from Cityboy when he reads this). Stereotypes are awful things. Awful because they occasionally have some truth about them.

Okay, let’s veer away from insulting the manhood of the entire working population of Canary Wharf and find perhaps a different example. I’ll have to risk mentioning a recent encounter with a finance guy who, if he reads this, will probably know exactly who I’m talking about. Romantic speak– you know the kind that Javier Bardem is so good at (sorry I keep mentioning him, but I’m quite sure his type exists in various Latin/ mediterranean countries), is a concept that this finance guy obviously found frivolous and beyond him. His tone with me was frank, practical, occasionally suggestive but always polite. Maybe he lost his romantic speak somewhere slaving away as a first year employee on the trading floor of his bank or maybe he just wasn’t that into me– either way, that was the impression I was left with and there was not enough evidence to disprove the fore mentioned stereotype.

My mother might read this and worry that I’m limiting myself to dating flaky entrepreneurs or penniless artists. Well, there’s always lawyers (passionate in the courtroom, passionate elsewhere?) or doctors (preferably one that’s spent time in Somalia on a sabbatical with Medecins Sans Frontière – think Dr. Carter from ER).

But if I were to amuse my mother and entertain the idea of dating a real-life banker, how might I go about it? Would I need to make myself perpetually unavailable to appeal to his competitive Wall Street side? Or make sure I knew the difference between an IPO ‘bake-off‘ and an M&A deal in order to relate to him in some small way at the dinner table? I googled the words ‘dating an investment banker’. A discussion thread on WallStreetOasis.com came up and I scrolled through various comments by finance guys and women dating finance guys. One research analyst wrote:

“It just takes a special kind of girl to handle it, and frankly a certain type of guy to make that phone call after 2 all nighters and act interested.”

Is that a challenge I’m detecting? A special kind of girl, huh? Well I always did like a challenge.

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