I don’t know about you, but for me, “high maintenance” is about the worst insult you can give me. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the image that comes up when you say those words that just makes me want to gauge my eyeballs out.
I’m thinking How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days…
That’s what I’m thinking when I think high maintenance.
Lately I’ve been wondering if, in my effort to be, well, not that, I’ve let the pendulum swing too far, to the other end of the spectrum. Especially when I was dating. I liked to play the “don’t act too interested, don’t-call-too-much, don’t-let-your-cards-show” game. And now, looking back, I realize that it didn’t make me low-maintenance as much as it just made me really confusing.
Even now that I’m married, I think I’ve carried some of these habits over with my husband. It shows up in different but similar ways.
Like not asking for help when I need it, not admitting that I’m wrong.
Like my tendency to arrange my life so that I don’t have to depend on him for anything.
I can’t tell you how many conflicts we have that end with me, blubbering, like an idiot, “I just don’t want to be a burden to you!”
Finally, the other day, he said, “Go ahead. Be a burden to me. I dare you.”
The thing I’m learning is that, when a man loves you, even your most outlandish request doesn’t seem like that big of a burden to him. In fact, I watch my husband come alive when I make requests of him.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for selfishness, or saying you should be a spoiled brat.
I wasn’t raised to think I was a princess and I’m not a fan of the “buy-me-a-pony-or-else” kind of attitude.
But here’s the hard truth about relationships. They take maintenance. Believe it or not, you take work to maintain. You do. So does your significant other. And if you try to be too low-maintenance, one of two things will happen.
The first option is that you’ll grow resentful. You’ll pour everything you have into what you’re building — because that’s what relationships take, all of your resources, your assets, your energy, your time — and you’ll get nothing in return, because you didn’t ask for it.
You’ll burn out. You’ll feel tired and angry and resentful.
Or, you won’t feel any of those things, but your relationship will wither and die.
You won’t invest anything (after all, why should you? You’re not getting anything in return) and your relationship won’t flourish, won’t deepen, won’t grow. Relationships don’t maintain themselves. They take maintenance to grow.
Either way, when you pretend like you don’t have real, practical needs (for human touch, respect, love, gentleness, affirmation, etc) those needs don’t get met, and your soul starts to suffer.
What are you so afraid of about needing maintenance anyway?
Are you scared that you aren’t worth it? That you won’t get it? That you’ll be rejected? That you don’t deserve it? The truth is, you don’t.
But that’s the beauty of real love. It gives freely what you don’t deserve when you need it the most. You don’t have to earn it. Can’t, in fact.
Real love delights in giving it to you.
So go ahead. Be more high maintenance. I dare you.