My best friend told me to quit obsessing. She says she’s sick of watching me get dumped on. She says that relationships are based on mutual respect and that I spend all my time jumping through hoops trying to make my boyfriends happy when I should be thinking about taking that sketching class I’ve always talked about.
She’s happily married. I love her. She’s usually right. But well… I just don’t know. It feels natural to me to wonder what a guy’s thinking and worry about his dental appointment and make him taglietele from scratch and maybe sew him a button or two and to be totally content just to have him there, next to me, on the sofa, watching The Top 100 Greatest War Films of All Time. Or Mad Men. (But mostly it does tend to be the war films.)
I mean, can I help it if I’m too loving?
I saw a programme on dog training recently in which an expert explained that if the owners wanted their dogs to stop chewing their handbags and humping their mother they needed to stop being such nauseating, indulgent dolts. They’d hand-feed their dog chicken livers, blow dry its ears, and then wonder why it was running around acting like the king of the world!
What they needed to do, the trainer said, was regain their pooch’s respect. So no more cuddles in bed, no more illicit treats, no more dressing the bulldog as Yoda and taking it trick or treating. You could tell the owners were secretly thinking, “Well, if that’s how it is, I might as well just go out and buy a nice lamp.”
We humans love to dote. Unfortunately nothing will fuck a thing up like a good spell of doting. It’s an actual law of physics that the more energy you devote to a person, the less respect you receive in return until one day you’re asking if they’d like an extra pillow and they’re looking at you like something they scraped off the swing bin.
Of course, your friend is right, (Find out where she got so clever, I’ll bet there’s a badly behaved dog/ex/dad in her past). To stop your boyfriends crapping in your shoes – metaphorically speaking in all but the worst of cases – you need to train yourself out of that mantra of ‘where’s he going, what’s he doing, how’s he feeling, what’s he thinking?’
This is not easy, given that an entire generation of women believe a constant feeling of queasiness is a signifier of true love. But if you do it, two things will happen:
Firstly, the previously insouciant – sniffing independence – will turn suddenly worshipful, whereupon you notice they have rather unattractive shoes. (This is a whole other column.)
Secondly, you will regain a large amount of time and energy which you can dedicate to the much weightier task of making yourself happy.
Or you might want to get a dog.