BG hits the ice on April 27, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
Thank you so much for your web site and especially your advice column. Even when the advice doesn’t directly pertain to my own predicament of the week, I enjoy reading your witty wisecracks and thoughtful responses.
Anyway, here’s my beef. Call me blind, but it seems to me the only relationships between men and women that I am seeing (at least the ones that are lasting) are the ones where the woman is very sweet, saintly, subservient, submissive, not strong-willed, sassy, independent, self-assured. It’s like for the long haul the smart, funny, sweet, self-confident guys don’t want a confident, sassy woman who might disagree with them or have her own life, one who might question their authority or want to call the shots some of the time.
I think of myself as a decent person (although still smarting from being dumped by one of those so called nice guys about five months ago who ditched me for a needy subservient type). I lead an active life, I’m friendly and willing to help out. I’m also independent, stubborn at times, and am not afraid to do things for myself if necessary. I would like to find a guy who can handle that, but am also not looking for an overly macho type. Am I asking the impossible? It seems I scare away the guys who possess qualities that I am looking for or only get the leechy ones who have no life of their own and like to latch on to mine. Any advice would be appreciated.
— Sassy and Single
Thank YOU. Anyway, I know it’s not helpful just to make a counterpoint, but let me just say for the record that some of my best friends are strong-willed, sassy, independent, self-assured women who are marrying smart, funny, sweet, self-confident guys — next month, in fact. And I’m not even talking about Susan Sarandon. Just so you know.
Listen, though, BG knows exactly what you’re talking about. I mean, try being a female hockey player. At the first level, many guys are like, “Wow, that’s really cool, that must be really exciting and empowering, Title IX, yada yada yada…so, do you ladies FIGHT?” (or, alternatively, “Those shoulder pads, elbow pads, pants, socks, shin pads, skates, helmet, and stick sure would look good on my floor!”). But when it comes to the long haul, there’s this sense of “She plays hockey … what does she need me for?” And often, those who are willing to stick around are those who need me … to walk them home.
But there is something to this “need” thing. And it’s not necessarily a gender thing. In our partnerships, we want to feel that we can take care of each other. Not because either party needs it in an icky needy way, but because each allows and welcomes it. That’s what partnerships are for. Listen, Sassy, you don’t want a guy who fully fully takes care of himself any less than you want a guy who can’t. Whoever you’re dating goddamn well better need you from time to time, am I right? And a guy wants to feel the same way.
So go ahead, be as sassy as ever; don’t change. Don’t get too bent out of shape about this situation — now that I’ve shown you how normal and human it is — or your sassiness will come across not as your bad self, but as Attitude. As in, “I’M SASSY AND STRONG-WILLED! TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME, YOU PUNY BASTARDS! GO AHEAD, PROVE MY HYPOTHESIS!” It’s a matter of tone, of degree, of spin. Ultimately, you will find someone with whom you naturally strike the right push-and-pull, duet-and-solo balance for both of you.
P.S. Same shout goes out to The Intimidator.