Wednesday, April 30, 2008

High Maintenance

I've been asking my friends to pass my blog around to anyone who might be interested in hopes that it will find an even larger audience. Yesterday, it fell on the eyes of a former male colleague and friend (to clarify, he is still a guy, just no longer a colleague). Obviously this blog is intended for women, as the content of most of these posts is controversial in the world of gender relations. However, this particular guy, we'll call him Alvin, has a wife, a daughter and a large number of women friends, so I figured he might be able to stomach the subject matter.

Alvin was not only able to stomach the subject matter, but read the ENTIRE blog in one sitting and then presented me with a lengthy email including his opinion on various topics, and my latest approach to my love life. Most of what he said wasn't surprising at all, but there were a couple things that pushed my fem-button. Alvin stated that "life is too short to put so much pressure on finding a life partner, J-dawg doesn't sound so awful - - you are just a tad high maintenance - - which is OK. The key is that you need to find someone who is willing to "baby" you a bit. Also, guys don't handle pressure or competition very well."

My initial reaction was to feel misunderstood, get defensive and state that:

  • Finding a life partner is not the sole focus of my life, it's merely part of my life. I believe I've mentioned this before, and I wasn't just saying it to sound breezy or hide my secret desperation. I'm not desperate, I'm ready for the next step in my life - huge distinction. If I just wanted to be married, trust me, I'd be married by now.
  • By changing my perspective and approach to dating, and playing the field, I'm preventing myself from fixating on one guy and ultimately putting less pressure on myself and the guys I choose to spend time with. I will never be waiting by the phone again, and I think that's a good thing...for everyone.
  • I don't intend to recite a monologue on the first date about how my eggs are rotting (I heard someone on The Bachelor say this once - I think I'm permanently traumatized and embarrassed for all womankind), and I'm looking to find a husband. But I'm also not going to lie and say I'm just looking to fool around. I figure this will weed out a lot of guys, and I'm fine with that.
  • I'm certainly not going to mention the fact that I'm dating other people, unless someone brings it up or things get to a point where it becomes necessary...I'm experimental, not stupid.
  • I have NO intention of sleeping with all the guys I date. The physical stuff will inevitably get tricky, but it's something I'll have to deal with when I get to that point.

Finally, this is going to come off as a little snarky, but what do I care if guys don't handle competition well? This is the way things were before 1965, so if men have become a little more, ummm, high maintenance since then, I guess that's their problem - I'm not looking for someone who is going to cry about a little bit of competition anyway.

Once I picked my bruised ego up off the floor and brushed it off, I realized that I was still riled up: how did "high maintenance" become synonymous with a woman who knows how she wants and deserves to be treated? And, is finding someone who will consider the effect their words (or lack thereof) and actions have on me, really the same as finding someone who will BABY me? I'm not looking to be placated.

Also, Alvin clearly did not read that throughout the course of eight or nine months, J-Dogg would regularly go three days without any sort of contact, and at one point actually ended our relationship through his Facebook page. I've NEVER said J-Dogg is a bad guy (or a bad boyfriend) - we all know that I have some pretty strong feelings for him. While these might not be reasons to stop dating someone if you are 22, I'm definitely not 22. The bottom line is that if I'd been getting what I needed emotionally, I sincerely doubt I would have been so "high maintenance" about some phone calls. It was just a tangible example that I used to communicate the fact that I didn't feel like I was a part of J-Dogg's daily life.

The real point here is that just as most men have the same basic needs and desires, so do most women. We all want to feel adored and appreciated in our romantic relationships...whether we are vocal about it or not. It seems that the difference between high maintenance and low maintenance women is commonly attributed to low maintenance women being more laid-back people in general. I happen to be pretty feisty (although I have a very laid back side as well), but I really don't think those personality traits have much - or anything - to do with wanting to be treated in a certain way when it comes to relationships. In fact, even some of the most laid back women I know (I'm thinking of my current girl roommate and a friend I lived with in NYC) still want certain things when it comes to love.

Instead, I think that low maintenance women are better at controlling how they communicate their need for attention. I'm the first to admit that I need a lot of work in this particular area, and I've certainly learned a lot in recent months about how NOT to communicate my needs. In fact, if I had it to do all over, I'd probably handle things with J-Dogg VERY differently. I didn't ever mean to make it sound like the demise of our relationship was all his fault (okay, maybe I did when we first broke up, but I'm beyond that now). However, if I'd done things differently, it may have prolonged a relationship between two people who would inevitably realize that they were in different places in their lives.

Alvin is a great guy and I know that our difference in opinion can mostly be chalked up to the basic differences between men and women, but I just want to give him a shout out and thank him for being cool about my post.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recently have been having trouble with the "high maintanence" issue. All my life I've been accepted as "one of the boys" in many instances. I have an older brother and have often had groups of guy friends. I have heard the talk of wanting a "low mantenance" girl and all of the things that guys hate about girls. Now that I'm married I have tried to supress all of what I think of as "nagging wife" comments or "girlie" needs. This has caused a HUGE rift in my marriage. It turns out some things are just inherent differences between men and women and have do be dealt with that way or there is tension. My need to be accepted and cool and not "high maintenence" has made me think that being a woman is bad. I like shoes, I like shopping, I don't want my husband to throw his clothes on the floor, I want to be kissed passionately. I also like beer, action movies, being left alone, doing work outside, and I hate laundry. I don't want to be high maintenence but I do want to be a woman.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Ok, I just found your blog and will be reading it obsessively from now on. First, I just want to comment on two things you said:

Finding a life partner is not the sole focus of my life, it's merely part of my life... I'm not desperate, I'm ready for the next step in my life - huge distinction. If I just wanted to be married, trust me, I'd be married by now.

Oh my god, THANK YOU. I consider myself highly independent, a feminist, and a liberated woman ("Hear me roar!"), but I don't see how also wanting a life partner who digs me isn't compatible with that.

Secondly, this:

In fact, if I had it to do all over, I'd probably handle things with J-Dogg VERY differently... However, if I'd done things differently, it may have prolonged a relationship between two people who would inevitably realize that they were in different places in their lives.

I'm really glad that you said that last part. I've had two serious, long-term relationships-- both relationships with were awesome men who loved and cared about me and when we parted ways, we did so amicably. That said, I pulled a lot of Crazy Girlfriend antics during those relationships (especially the first one) and although I deeply regret making a fool of myself, I also think that my craziness was a reaction to the fact that neither of those men were truly committed to me and I'm glad that I didn't just smile and nod and let those relationships drag on even longer than they did.

That said, there is a whole wide world of difference between "smiling and nodding" and "bat shit crazy" and I probably could have found some middle ground.

Anyway, glad I found you!