When I was 20, I was engaged to a guy I thought was the love of my life. I had a lot to learn, and thank God I didn’t marry that guy (but that’s another story for another day) The point is one of the things he said to me when we broke up. (At that point, I didn’t know yet that people say a lot of mean things during break ups just to say them. Remember, I had a lot to learn.)
He said I was high maintenance. Ouch.
What’s worse is that not only did I believe him, but I spent the next year or more working to change that– believing that I was somehow unlovable if I didn’t become un-high maintenance.
So 20-year-old me buys self-help books and studies like my life depends on it (because I felt like it did.) Add to that the fact that I was studying abroad, living alone in Paris, and by June you’ve cooked up a recipe for a woman who kicks ass at being self-sufficient and low maintenance.
Great! Now I’m 100% lovable, meet the right guy who appreciates me and my new-found self and we live happily ever after, right? Wrong!
Independence is the anti-turn on.
This is what I’ve learned in the past 15 years. It’s as if that junior year boyfriend sabotaged my entire romantic future with this one brilliantly evil comment.
The problem is: I like me the way I am. The problem is: men don’t.
Men need to be needed. They want to feel big and strong and like they’re the hero.
I’m currently on a trip to Africa (Again another story) yesterday we hiked the rainforest to see Mountain gorillas in Uganda (Totally worth it if you’re ever passing through, by the way) My friend and I hired a porter– someone to carry our backpack and help us hike, which sounds extravagant until you try to hike a volcanic rainforest: straight up, straight down.
So here’s independent me doing my best to navigate vines and sink holes and jump across wide expanses and cross streams on what can only be classified as “branches.” Meanwhile “Jenny,” we’ll call her, is whining “I can’t” and the porter is lifting her and pulling her and holding her.
Insert eye roll here.
It’s not that I didn’t need help. I did. But every time I stopped and waited for the porter to give me a hand, suddenly Jenny was stranded and helpless again. (We can talk about this disgusting female behavior another day.) And the porter went running.
Here’s another instance: My bunk mate’s mosquito net fell on her head. Had that been me, I would’ve untangled myself and jerry-rigged some way to make it stay intact for the night. Is that what she did? Oh no.
She laid there with netting in her face waiting for a man to solve her problem.
She’s traveling with a friend of hers. He’s not even her boyfriend. She has a boyfriend. But clearly he’s hopeful, because he climbed right up there and tacked that mosquito net up for her.
Help! Help! I’m a defenseless incapable woman. Men come running every time.
Now, obviously I have some opinions about the kind of woman who plays the helpless card, or who is straight-up helpless, but today we’re talking about men.
The real problem, as I see it anyway, is that I don’t need a man for the things he wants to be needed for. And worse, I don’t even need him at all.
But the thing is, I do want him. I want him to give me attention: to talk to me, listen to me, spend time with me. I want him to be a faithful lover and a best friend. I want him to remember me and the things that are special to me and to us. I want him to be present in our relationship.
That’s all the hero I need.
No damsel in distress. No “help me, save me” bullshit. Just two equal people loving each other.
Men don’t seem to understand this essential difference between need and want, as too much of their thought life revolves around their ego. Or maybe they lack the wisdom to even appreciate the difference.
Either way, I’m not giving up my self-sufficiency just to catch a man. Nor would I want to be with a man who wants a woman in his life who can’t even change her own light bulbs. It’s a catch 22, but there it is: Reason #526 why I’m not married.