Are You Giving Him Too Much?
You were the world’s greatest girlfriend. You made him dinners! You planned a surprise party for him! Sent him care packages! Gave him one of your kidneys…maybe not. Either way, you were thoughtful, giving, selfless and he left you. Now you find yourself asking, “what did I do wrong?” Honestly, maybe just that…
My mother has always told me to let men pursue me. She is from Sweden and I told her to keep her old world, Jane Austen era opinions to herself. Now, after having actually been the girl standing on the porch, giant Lord of the Rings Themed gift package in arms and tears streaming down my face, I’ve since learned that no matter where you come from, the rules of romantic liaisons are universal. You were right mom.
Ballsy or Bossy?
You have a fabulous life: fun, witty, trustworthy girlfriends, a kick-ass job and you got your adorable apartment for $200 less a month than it was listed at. Why? Because you went after the things you wanted. You’ve been conditioned to be a go-getter. With all those benefits that came from being ballsy, it’s hard to put your balls aside when it comes to dating. But there is one simple fact I have just had to accept. Gender roles DO matter. Don’t get me wrong. You can love football; you can be loud and assertive. If you’re not into shaving your legs, there are plenty of Co-Ops in Berkeley where you’ll still be considered the prettiest bell at the ball. It’s not a personality or style thing that I am talking about, so crack open that beer and listen up.
Men are providers by nature. Yes, I’m taking you back to the whole women living in caves with their youngins while the men hunted and ran from Saber tooth tigers. Wow, now that I think about it, providing for us these days is a cinch! Regardless, the best thing you can give a guy is this phrase: “thank you SO much. That thing you did for me made me so happy.” Yup, making you happy actually makes him happy. Unless you’re dating a narcissistic, egotistical chauvinist. But if you’re not, then let your guy do things for you. By letting him give you something, you actually are giving him something—the feeling of success.
The trouble is, a lot of women don’t let men feel successful in making their girlfriends happy. We don’t mean to do it. It’s not because we are power-hungry man-eaters. It is actually quite the opposite. And this all relates back to my mother’s Scandinavian slur—women need to learn how to wait to receive.
See if this pattern sounds familiar:
You spend hours making your boyfriend’s favorite meal. He comes home. He is thrilled. He picks you up and twirls you around the room. Okay, sorry, this isn’t The Notebook. But, you’ve obviously pleased him.
Then a day goes by, two days, a weak…where the hell is YOUR homemade meal?? I’m not saying we give in order to receive. It’s just as my guy friend put it, “women just want to feel appreciated. But they make it so damn hard for us to make them feel that way!”
Whether you’re waiting for some nice surprise like a homemade dinner, or you were just hoping for him to look at you extra admiringly after you made him dinner, you’re not getting the response you’d hoped for.
So, naturally, what do you do? You give again. That’s got to be the way to get something back, right? How about a new season of his favorite TV show wrapped in a bow on his pillow? Maybe you plan a getaway weekend.
And so the viscous cycle begins. It happens. Believe me, I’ve done it. Here’s the problem with this solution of giving and giving and giving—you don’t give the guy a chance to give back. Within a week you’ve made him dinner, bought him gifts, planned a party and he is thinking “how the hell am I supposed to make her happy?”
This Is Where You Get Dumped
If a guy doesn’t think he can make a woman happy, he will leave. When I said it makes a guy happy to make you happy, did I mention that it’s also a selfish thing on his part? Your reaction of jumping up and down and thanking him with kisses (or whatever…) for what he’s done for you confirms him as a good boyfriend, and as a man. Not the Lakers Teddy Bear you left on his bed. And not Valentines Day decorations you put all over his room. No. Doing something for YOU is what makes him feel like a man. And that’s what I meant by gender roles.
I know it’s tempting when you’re waiting for him to make a step to just go ahead and take five steps yourself. But wait. He will come to you, with flowers and candy and the new Sex and the City movie in hand. And if he doesn’t, it’s not because you didn’t give enough. So get off Amazon and stop trying to find him that autographed copy of Pulp Fiction. It’s his turn to do something for you!