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October 29, 2010

Sassy and lonely

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 8:29 am

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

Dear Sassy,

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.

Breakup Girl

P.S. Same shout goes out to The Intimidator.


  1. In the season finale of Mad Men, everybody was in an uproar because Don chose Meghan over Faye. I totally got it. Meghan was completely at ease in her own skin, whereas Faye was always justifying her choices and over-asserting her strength and intelligence. Which made her come off as difficult and insecure.

    Men aren’t intimidated by strong, funny, independent women. They’re turned off by women who feel like they have something to prove. So often what we think is “sassy” comes off sarcastic and abrasive. And there’s a difference ebetween being smart and being a smartypants. I envy the women who know how to pull this off with such finesse. It’s something I struggle with.

    I don’t think it’s so much about conveying a sense of need or vulernability. It’s about being yourself and letting a guy be himself.

    Comment by AndThatsWhyYoureSingle — October 29, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  2. I think that’s a really smart (as opposed to “smartypants”!) distinction. I mean, women *are* more penalized for being “pushy” etc. than men, but I wonder if that’s more true to (e.g.) the workplace than it is in dating. Women don’t so much love abrasive/smartypants/etc. men, either. I like your take on the Man Men ending, too…
    Thanks for commenting! Please keep visiting!

    Comment by BG — October 29, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Breakup Girl, Moxieinthecity. Moxieinthecity said: YEEEESSSS!!! @breakup_girl Breakup Girl » Do guys REALLY want to be with strong women? http://bit.ly/aW4ZOR (YES) #dating […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Breakup Girl » Sassy and lonely -- Topsy.com — October 29, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  4. I really think the problem is that women act in a way that they perceive men to act, but not necessarily how men actually behave. For example, they think being strong means being aggressive, brash and pushy. Women adapt what they ~think~ are acceptable male characteristics. But they aren’t acceptable, not at all, not from men or women.

    Comment by AndThatsWhyYoureSingle — October 29, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  5. I’ve previously noted that people tend to call themselves “honest” or “direct” when other people would call them “rude.” So I was curious what “sassy” meant.

    Checking the dictionary
    Def’n of sassy: saucy
    Def’n of saucy: impertinent
    Def’n of impertinent: intrusive or presumptuous, as persons or their actions

    Not very attractive.

    Smart is attractive. Confident is attractive. I’m not interested in dating someone who disagrees with me regularly, nor someone who is too stubborn to compromise. Men are looking for a girlfriend who is easy to be around, not an opponent.

    Comment by Karl R — October 29, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  6. Something to consider.

    I think, generally speaking, responcible and dependable males like to feel needed. Perhaps this should be considered. That doesn’t make the female needy or clingy. Bottom line, in any relationship each persons needs and desires should be communicated, in a mature non-theratening manner, and whenever possible they should be met.

    Replying to AndThatsWhyYoureSingle: I know for a fact I do NOT want to date a female that behaves like a male. I’m not interested in her being “aggressive, brash and pushy”. There are many ways to get what you need and want without being like that. Some light teasing and playfull banter is great but, people need to be aware of their partners reactions and be adaptive.

    Comment by Kelly (male) — October 29, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  7. Replying and agreeing with Karl: Heres a quote, I found this on the internet somewhere.

    Anyone who believes that self-expression is an excuse for delivering insults is a menace to society

    Yes, truth is a virtue. But when it conflicts with other virtues, it doesn’t always win.
    Ask the Anne Frank question — whether a moral person who is asked her whereabouts by Nazi SS officers is obliged to reply, “She’s up there, in the attic.”

    *** Truth and self-expression is not good excuse for delivering insults. ***

    Comment by Kelly (male) — October 29, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

  8. […] asked/answered this question before — for background and review, read Sassy’s letter and response — but here’s some […]

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