Tuesday, 1 January 2008

High Maintenance

It should be the role of our Significant Other to provide sufficient emotional sustenance for our needs but, invariably, after the first flush of romance has worn off, after the thrill of the chase has subsided, their attentions wander to more mundane matters and they slacken off in their demonstrations of affection. Any woman will tell you how, in the early days, her man would bombard her with emails, texts, phone calls but, as the novelty wears off, so the level of his effusions subsides.

And when that happens we start to wonder if one man can ever continually quench the strength of our desire and replenish the reservoir of our self-esteem until it overflows and we are replete?

But, for men, it is different. They do all that showy bit in order to attract and enthrall us. Once captured, the demonstrations become more muted but not less committed or more shallow. How many other ways does he have to find to prove that he loves us? What will it take for us to believe, to relax, to trust?

We become 'High Maintenance'.

He told us yesterday that he loved us, so he feels he doesn't need to do it again today. We think that because he hasn't repeated the sentiment, his affections have strayed elsewhere. We fear we have become safe, boring, enchained and no longer worthy of his efforts.

Why do we still have all these doubts? Why can one perfect man's love not be enough? Why do we search for reasons that he might have changed his mind? Analysing his words and his actions for the negative rather than enjoying the positive?

So we turn to other sources for affirmation that we are still beautiful and exciting. We talk to our female friends and compare our hopes, fears and dreams. We acknowledge that we revel in and yet abhor the constant quest for recognition but are terrified to put all our eggs into the one basket for fear its capacity might once more prove inadequate. And, finally, the answer is revealed.

A revelation through a myriad of different conversations with other damaged women, all seeking the same substantiation, the same emotional proof and validation:

Because if I don't build my circle of protection, my safety net of reassurance and you were to leave me, I would have nothing... again.

Nothing but the empty shell of my inadequacy and insecurity, allowing the demons to break through the force-field you have nourished and carry me away once more

But in the midst of all the chaos, when other distractions are removed and there is just two bodies that are learning to communicate without all the interference of their minds, there comes a point where you have to accept the need for trust.

So, for you, because I love you and feel so safe with you, I shall put aside my armour and expose myself to the elements. Dismiss my honey-tongued bodyguard and tear down my own defences, allowing you to take the citadel unimpeded.

I will place my most precious gift in your hands, turn my face resolutely away from the disappointments of the past to look towards the future... and have faith that you will continue to say the words I need to reassure me.


Duke Orsino said...

High Maintenance is fine, as long as the return matches. As in all things, balance is crucial.

Tom Allen said...

How many other ways does he have to find to prove that he loves us? What will it take for us to believe, to relax, to trust?

We become 'High Maintenance'.

Wow. Totally insightful, Cake. I'm gonna steal this one.

bittersweet me said...

best wishes, my dear, and good luck for 2008 xx

Loving Annie said...

May your trust be rewarded, Cake.
Loving Annie

Flowering Jasmine said...

I love the 'interference of our minds'! If only they wouldn't interfere, then we could just enjoy all the good things in our lives for what they are and stop pulling it all to pieces. x

Z said...

I have on record somewhere a transcript of a conversation between a friend and I about this very subject. The sad thing is that what we see as lack of reassurance often represents stability to him. He's laid the groundwork, said what he wants to say, and convinced you that he means it... so now it's time to just get on with the relationship. meanwhile from our end, and particularly if we're not used to the initial level of attentiveness to begin with, the slacking off just makes us doubt ourselves. It becomes more of an issue if we're not in close proximity to the person, as well, as then we also miss out on the other little signs that even without the words, we're still in his thoughts.

Sometimes it seems a miracle that we ever manage to have relationships at all :)

Walker said...

Life is full of risks and the biggest rewards go to those who take the biggest risks but they to come with a price and thats failure.

High Maintenence, I don't think it applies to anyone, the question is who is willing to take the risk and pay the price and the price is a double edged sword.
Some gladly pay the price but will they get what they thought they paid for or will the vendor be forced to dish out a refund.

Great post

The Land of Plethora said...

This is so honest, so real, and so well written. Thank you for sharing your soul, you wrote about mine as well.

What I personally don't understand is women like myself, who spell it out for her man, literally step by step instructions to reassure her, make her happier, give what she needs the most....and they still don't make any effort or try any of the lists given. That is what has told me 'It's' no longer there for us, to not even bother trying, knowing the end could be near.

One day, women will quit basing their self-worth off of anyone else, and will truly believe in themselves and what they only settle for what they believe they deserve.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

You've hit the nail on the head as usual Cake. In Ruf you seem to have a man worthy of your trust, and I'm sure he won't let you down.
Happy New Year, I hope it's a good one, and all your dreams come true. BG x

RONJAZZ said...

I practice this on a daily basis, Cake. And even if I were not in a relationship with someone, I pride myself on an ability to let people know that I care. Whether it's love, lust, friendship, business, whatever...trust is an earned entity. A lot of men simply don't get that.

You're a smart one. I always appreciate your sentiments.

Luka said...

A timely post, Cake, given that I am having a day of feeling utterly fucked off that I no longer get the attentive emails and texts in the abundance I used to. I don't give a stuff if that makes me high maintenance, I want what I want. Useless fucking lazy arsed man git.

George said...

Very thought provoking, Cake. But, there is a flip side to the coin as well. How many times have I heard guys say ... she doesn't dress the way she used to, or ... she stopped giving blowjobs the day she walked down the aisle.

I think we both let things slide and that comes with the knowledge and trust we should have of and in our chosen partner. You have to feel the security that your relationship should bring you.

Yes, we will always need to be told, to be hugged, to be touched ... but as long as you are secure, does it need to be done as frequently as it was during the first year?

having my cake said...

Duke O - Hello and Absolutely.

Tom - Im trying to see it from both sides and Ruf is helping me to understand that insecurity is not the most attractive of traits.

Me - Have a fab 2008 x

Annie - Thank you

Jasmine - Deconstruction is the bane of my life.

Z - As you say, real problems come with distance relationships when we cannot even see their face to construe the meaning when they do send a message. Sometimes they've just had a bad day and their response comes across as snitty, but not with you, with life in general altho you cannot possibly know that. Communication is everything.

Walker - High Maintenance can often be construed as 'too much effort' and, as Duke O said, if the reward matches the effort put in, then there could be a problem.

Plethora - I spent 25 years spelling it out to a man who just didnt seem to be able to listen so I hear you there. Sometimes Ruf laughs at the pleasure I get from some of the tiniest things he does for me because he just doesnt understand how much they mean.

BG - In case he's reading and to stop his head from swelling, he isnt perfect... but he knows that. We are both working to try to bridge the gap between my expectation and his delivery :)

Ron - I think that you are in a minority you know... amongst both men and women. I believe that most people, inc myself, should make more time to express their appreciation of others.

Luka - I hope you get what you need. Sadly, I fear that, for some men, time constraints do cause them some problems when it comes to verbalising their feelings on a daily basis. However, I am storing up the phrase 'fucking lazy arsed man git' for future use :) You read it here first, Ruf x

George - You're right. Only today as I donned my too-big but very comfy jogging bottoms for the drive home and Ruf said 'You look much better in those tight ones that show off your arse', I realised that I was guilty of being lazy and not making an effort to look nice for him. Mea culpa and Ruf will be getting an extra blowjob on my next visit for this infraction. However, I dont think it is bad for any relationship to at least hug/caress your partner once every day and in long-distance liaisons, that must mean a token of appreciation in terms of a text or something... even if it's only an x or a :) that appears on the screen.

Effortlessly Average said...

So do you believe that the one seeking this emotional gratification is directing her/his efforts in the wrong way? I think a balance is vital. I love hearing words of affirmation from my spouse, but not because I have no love for myself; it just feels good to know you're special to someone. When that someone acts no differently toward you than any of the dozen friends she has, does it make the partner wrong or insecure for feeling "disposable?"

Lazy Philosopher said...

Beautiful post! Love it!

Anonymous Boxer said...

I prefer to think of it as merely "relationship maintenance"

"High Maintenance" just means they aren't up for the job.

Happy New Year Cake, I look forward to more Cake in 2008.

Naughty K said...

I don't think that there's anything wrong with high maintenance.... it's a way of life around here!

Peach said...

I find it so hard not to get used to that early display that of course it looks like they're waning off when they're actually settling down... but frankly I'm in love with being in love, anyone I am with needs to be that way too, as well as in love with me of course...

Selfish Me xxx

upset waitress said...

This is exactly why I love on myself. All the time! :) My OWN dog gets more lovings than I do these days. Sheesh, what is it with men and dogs anyway?

toby said...

Ooh! You've touched a nerve there, Cake!

Most men don't seem to want/need so much reassurance. They certainly don't seek it from their friends!

I can't imagine being with a girl who has to "spell it out for her man". It's fun to learn about the things which she appreciates but life's too short to be weighed down with too many instructions.

If I'm not doing it right, I should be doing it somewhere else :)

having my cake said...

EA - I think that's exactly it, if you dont show the other person that you care, you just leave them feeling 'disposable', as if they dont matter, as if the sex is the only thing that's important.

Lazy Phil - Thank you T

AB - That's a far better way of looking at it.

Naughty K - Well if you're High Maintenance all the time, your other half must like it that way :)

Peach - It's not selfish. It's just the need for reciprocation.

UW - Im never getting a dog. Little Sis and I always say our mother loved the dog more than us. Im not sharing my man with one!

Toby - Possibly a dangerous philosophy methinks in the light of so many female comments on the subject :) And I dont think the ladies are saying that the men are doing it wrong per se, more that they do it really really right for a specific period of time and then they suddenly seem to stop... and we're just wondering why... because we really really like it when they're doing it really really right.

toby said...

Lol! Living dangerously! Sounds good to me :)

Of course, I have no experience of a properly long relationship so I shouldn't comment. But I watched my parents 20 year marriage disintegrate and they were both equally to blame. She expected more than he was able/willing to give.

having my cake said...

But Toby, your parents' example is the whole point.

If you are in a relationship where your partner shows you masses of love and affection both in public and in private and has explained to you that s/he needs to receive the same in return, why would you not make an effort.

Why is it perceived as High Maintenance or even 'too much effort'?

It's as if they would rather lose their partner after years together than show them that they care/give a damn because they're too idle or too embarrassed.

And Im curious whether this is something that occurs in both genders...

Effortlessly Average said...

Cake -

That last of yours is exactly what happened in my case. I'm passionate and loving and enjoy showing it. It doesn't have to be grand displays or overly elaborate means. But it would have always been nice to feel as if I was special to her. A great many times I felt like I could be just any other guy. I continued to tell her how much it hurt me that she never seemed to do/say anything that made me feel as if she felt the same, but instead of trying to make permanent change (or communicating to me how difficult is was for her) she left. Like you said, in the end I -or our marriage- was less important to her than not having to express herself emotionally. And it's taking a lot for me to learn how to cope with that.

Gypsy said...

This was a great post Cake. I think sometimes men don't realise that even a small thing like sending you a text can mean the world of difference to a lot of women. It means that for that moment in time they were thinking of you and who wouldn't get a buzz out of that when you are in love with that person. It really doesn't have to be a lot of work, just demonstrate what you were already thinking anyway.

Ro said...

You have a habit of touching nerves!

As George said, and as you've already acknowledged, women can be guilty of neglecting a relationship too. Been there, done that ...

I sometimes feel it's the biggest single cause of relationship breakdown nowadays, underlying all the more obvious things such as unforgivable infidelity. I think of it as Cinderella Syndrome: we're so often indoctrinated with the idea that you find your prince/princess, settle down and you live happily ever after.

Suddenly you no longer need to make an effort, no longer need to remind the supposedly significant other that they are special to you. This is now "love", it's "forever", it'll take care of itself. We can turn to other aspects of life safe in the knowledge that our partner will always be there because, naturally, he or she knows how special he or she is.

Yet there are times when we all need to be made to feel that we're more than just a shoulder to cry on or a wallet to empty or someone to cook dinner and clean or a body to screw or the otherwise insignificant figure that completes the traditional setup of home, partner, child(ren), car, two weeks holiday in the summer, etc.

And when that reassurance isn't forthcoming, when the partner's mind seems elsewhere, when his or her heart seems as inaccessible as Jupiter ... that's when things start to fall apart.

Sorry, a bit of a rant there ... I said you touched a nerve!