My last three girlfriends all complained that I didn’t criticize them enough. I know…what?!
I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but they all ended up dumping me because they felt they “weren’t being fair to me” – as though I was somehow putting up with them against my better judgment. The truth is that I’m just really laid back and rarely get bothered by stuff, so I’m not inclined to be critical often.
I would have thought this would be a Good Thing, but now I’m starting to wonder if I’d be better off being crankier and more judgmental, no matter how counter-intuitive that notion sounds. What do you think?
Too Chill For My Own Good
I’ve got a few questions for you:
When you’re at a restaurant with your girlfriend and she asks you how the food is, do you say, “Good!” and then keep on eating?
When your girlfriend asks if you like her dress, do you say, “Yeah, it’s nice!” and then turn back to the TV?
When your girlfriend asks what you think of the movie you just saw, do you say, “It was cool!” and then ask her what she thought?
When your girlfriend asks you how your day was, do you say, “It was okay!” and then stare off into space?
When your girlfriend asks you what you want to do for the evening, do you say, “I don’t know…what do you want to do?” and then agree to whatever plans she makes?
If you answered YES to even one of those questions, then we need to talk.
Look, you seem like a lovely, respectful, easygoing guy. Women should be trampling over all the jerks to get to you, right? At the end of the day, don’t we all want a guy who’s going to treat us nicely? And not one who’s going to criticize us or make us feel insecure or cause us to second-guess ourselves?
But here’s your problem (and YES, I can tell this just be reading your query): hanging out with you is just a little bit boring. And to the overstimulated and empowered women of today, nothing is less appealing than boring.
I get it – we modern women are damn confusing. We are strong and ambitious and committed to forging ahead on all cylinders, be them career, finances, worldly experience, or love. At work, we’re going to whip you into shape, talk down to you, and fight you neck and neck for that promotion. On a non-date, we won’t shy away from sharing our views on politics, religion or the social tragedy that is Kate Gosselin. Even once we’re married, we may expect you to do the cooking or hang with the kids or play stay-at-home dad while we rule the world. We see ourselves as forces to be reckoned with.
We still want a strong man! Not someone who is going to constantly critique us, surely (our egos are still sensitive, no matter how many kudos we get from the boss in the corner office). But a man who has strong opinions and beliefs. A man who is radiating confidence in his own decisions and worth. A man who makes decisions, and who makes plans, and who challenges our ways of thinking about the world around us.
Not a man who agrees with everything we say, or just goes with the flow even when we’re asking for his input, or just acts “meh” about things. We want our boyfriend to take over the world with us – not sit back with a chill, blank stare as we do our thing. We want to be with someone who we consider to at least be an equal, if not a partner who we can lovingly aspire to match.
Again, we want a man, with all his manly viewpoints and feelings and attitudes, in all his complex and confusing glory.
WTF?! BOTTOM LINE: Be that man! These girls didn’t actually want you to be meaner or more critical. They just wanted you to be more passionate and opinionated about your stance on, well, everything. So moving forward – pick the place to eat. Say what you thought of the movie, even if you hated it. Tell her which dress you prefer. And if she does something that annoys you, be (nicely, respectfully) honest about it. The girl will just be excited that you care enough to have an opinion.
Oh, and the breakup thing? Sorry, those girls were just looking for a nice way to break up with you. You hadn’t really done anything wrong, so they had to pretend to put the blame on themselves. In reality, they were just bored and looking for more excitement elsewhere. But don’t dwell on them – onwards and upwards!
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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