According to the ol’ college schoolbook, there are two categories of rationale that explain the meaning of human behavior.
One is manifest function. The meaning of this behavior is obvious. A guy picks up a woman’s handbag when she accidentally drops it because it’s the courteous thing to do. Obvious.
The other is the latent function, which is the underlying reason we do the things we do. You might call it the ulterior motive you may not even know you had. The same guy above picks up the handbag because he wants to meet this woman and ideally have sex with her at some point.
Another example many of us can relate to occurs when a man offers his date a third glass of wine at dinner. The manifest function is catering to his date, complementing her food with a suitable beverage. The latent function is to paralyze her better judgment for the later hours to come.
Though oppositely charged, the two functions complement one another more often than not. So why the lesson in sociology? Because when you understand the difference between manifest function and latent function, it sheds some light on the whole “Arm Candy” issue.
The manifest function for Arm Candy is simple: An affluent man wants to make use of his money by providing himself with a companion. This could be just for the night or for eternity, but either way, his actions are simply based on having someone alongside him to complement his shared experiences.
The latent function however, is to bolster his ego. It isn’t having the candy on his arm as much as it is that people see him with the candy when he’s out and about.
Just like the guy driving down Santa Monica Blvd in a cherry red convertible. The “candy” enhances a guy’s perceived status, which proves more worthwhile than the candy itself. A guy doesn’t necessarily want it nor need it, but he certainly enjoys people knowing he has it. She is an accessory; nothing more.
To be considered true Arm Candy, there’s nothing real in the relationship. The only “substance” the two have usually consists of bickering spats that are the result of lingering angst the two have from using one another for such shallow intentions. This is plainly evident if you catch the two when they think no one is watching.
We can play manifest/latent function here, too. She nags at him because he brought her the wrong drink (manifest). But the deeper cause for her anger is the fact that she knows he’s just using her for the time being.
Because of this lack of genuine substance, there is no reason for a woman to be afraid to approach a man engaged in an Arm Candy scenario.
If you spark his interest, you may just temporarily relieve his itch to be “seen.”
Establishing a connection with the man in question, along with a slight stroke to his fragile ego will distract him from whatever dime piece is lurched onto his arm.
Remember, that $10,000 appearance fee that got her down to Mexico works just as well on a return flight home.
By Eric C.