Give, Then Step Back.

I must have heard a million stories from girlfriends by now about quarrels they’ve had with their boyfriends and husbands, and it’s become painfully obvious that there is a sad pattern – and if we just knew how to break out of the cycle and stop it from repeating, we *might* actually find more peace and happiness in our relationships.

It’s what some people always chuck out there in conversation as “expectations”. We should have no expectations. No expectations, no disappointments. Except it’s much easier said than done. In fact, it’s not even human to say it’s possible to have absolutely no expectations whatsoever. So let’s get realistic, shall we?

It’s the one thing girls like to do – attach emotions and feelings with actions and words, and the complete opposite of what guys are always looking for, especially in the early stages of dating – absolutely no strings attached. If you look at it this way, they’re always going to clash.

Girls aren’t wrong in doing so, and they very well can’t  help themselves either. There’s always bound to be emotions and feelings involved. We’re largely motivated by these towards actions, so if we bake you lots of cookies, it’s because we love you and know you love cookies and want to make you happy (and maybe fat, but that’s another strategy).

Guys aren’t wrong for wanting as little entanglement as they can get away with – if you think about it, a dude’s life is pretty sweet: Wake up just in time to get ready, focus on one thing at a time and succeed at that, buy whatever’s needed only when it’s really necessary, destress through games, catch up with friends over drinks, feel like it’s been a great day, sleep, and repeat everything tomorrow. Now why would any guy want to screw that up with plate-throwing drama, nail-on-chalkboard-annoying nagging, high-pitched whining, and mascara-running wailing?

At some point it dawned on me: Why can’t we do both? Why can’t we be the girls we are and the girls they want us to be?

Love is supposed to be unconditional, and yet, every time we do something, we seem to be expecting something in return. In fact, there are times we don’t even do anything and still, somehow, expect something, like it’s our right. (Come on, stop denying it, you know you’re guilty of it.) Well guess what, (even, or despite being) in a relationship, nobody owes anybody anything (unless you paid off his loanshark debt for him, in which case, well… :/ ).

Some background rules:

1. You are your own person. Your happiness does not lie in his hands. If he has ignored you / isn’t being sweet to you / snapped at you, go to bed, get some rest, and go do something you love tomorrow on your own (manicure, movie, massage, McDonald’s; whatever makes you happy).

2. Stop overthinking. I don’t know why girls do this – I can tell you 99%, he’s not. They’re not going to be spending as much time as you are thinking about why you said what you said, and what you *really* meant by it. They’re not going to have long-assed debates with their friends over dessert discussing how they should next react to you. Men need their brain cells for more important things, like Assassin’s Creed.

3. He might not be dealing with you; he might be dealing with himself. Sometimes, and this might be hard to believe, but boys just don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, when you’re busy screaming out questions and demanding answers, they’re having flashbacks of Math class in high school where Mrs. Demooney was forcing them to write out the answer to the algebra question on the board, and they’ve got the chalk in their hand, but they’re just standing there, lost, because they don’t know the answer. There’s really no point in playing game show host and putting your man in the spotlight and telling him he’s going to lose a million dollars (or your love) if he doesn’t get the next question correct. Fact is, he probably doesn’t know. He’s going to need some time to figure it out. So let him. Whatever he’s doing right now, it’s not TO you, it’s to get away from you so he can figure out things on his own.

4. You can’t handle the truth. Yes, it’s in us. Maybe we were bloodhounds in our previous lives. We like to chase down every last trail, sniff out every discrepancy, we just want to know every last detail even if it kills us digging. Well, here’s a thought: What if you can’t handle that kind of brutal honesty? Aren’t we the generation of girls that has stopped asking the dreaded “Does this make me look fat?” because we know that’s just a lose-lose situation? Knowing isn’t always all it’s cut out to be. If he tells you something you don’t like – and then what? You’re upset, he’s annoyed because he knew you’d be upset and that’s why he hadn’t said anything, you both could have prevented the whole situation of *upsettedness* if only you hadn’t forced it out of him in the first place… In other words, don’t ask some questions unless you’re ready to handle even the most WCS (Worst-Case Scenario) answers.

5. Being more and more ‘girl’ does not rub off on him. Some behaviour within a relationship is mirrored, like little quirks or habits. But if you want him to be sweet to you and treat you lovingly, sometimes the way to that isn’t being sweet to him and treating him lovingly. I know, it’s strange. But sometimes, it could be the exact opposite. Sometimes, if you behave more like a man, and kind of NOT CARE a bit more, he’ll one day (yes it takes men some time to notice change) realise he misses your usual sweet, loving self, and hopefully be sweet and loving to draw you back into his evil clutches. (One can only hope.)

And that’s just the background rules. Now we can finally come to today’s epiphany. I call it: Give, then step back.

Basically, you love him, you want to give. Of yourself, your time, your money, your love, your effort, blah blah blah. But give only because you want to, out of nothing else but love (no attention-seekin’, guilt-trippin’ shit here), and because you want him to be happy. That’s why we give in the first place, isn’t it? Because there’s more happiness in giving than in receiving?

So metaphorically speaking, wrap up your gift, leave it on his doorstep, press the doorbell, and run away. Leave it as an anonymous present as much as possible, and don’t stay to watch his reaction as he opens it up. Don’t find fault with the way he tears open the wrapping paper, not noticing the little folds you made in them or caring that you took two hours to find the perfect gift wrap that said [insert the relevant thoughtful, appropriate words here]. Don’t start getting angry that he wasn’t as excited about it as you anticipated he would be. And don’t expect a gift in return since he’s not supposed to even know who it was from.

Give, then step back.

Step back, even if just to let him bask in his happiness, and watch from afar and smile.

We do this with children all the time. We give them a ball and the freedom to run around the playground or garden playing with that ball, and we stand and watch and smile. We certainly don’t expect anything else from them. And our love for them, just like our parents’ love for us,  is always, always truly unconditional. (I really wish my parents would give me the freedom to run around though. Seriously. I am an almost three-decade-old grown woman. I don’t need knee and shoulder pads to play with a ball in the garden, Mom.)

Oh and, never treat a man like he’s indispensable. Even if he is (which, technically, he probably really isn’t). It’s not so much that it gives him more power (it does, though), but also, you’ll start forming a more overpowering identity as his girlfriend, his other half, a part of him, than you as your own woman, the woman you will always be – independent, strong, mighty. Never forget that. Roar.

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