Over the years we’ve all picked up magazines and read through articles online, and we’re all very aware of the house-wife tradition that seemed to loom over us for a bit too long, and despite a lot of old traditions waving goodbye to us, there’s one that I keep seeing mentioned mostly throughout social media: Putting your mans needs before your own.
Sitting at my computer as I started to write this, I began thinking about all of the times I’ve been in a relationship with somebody, or I’ve been seeing someone or on a flirty level, that I’ve found myself neglecting my needs and putting theirs before my own. I’ve hushed on my opinions or even altered them to fit to what the person I’m dealing with thinks, and I’ve had a pretty tragic Bridget Jones-esque lust life too, which has always, in some way or another, managed to leave me feeling a little bit neglected and needy.
I will admit, there is a part of me that is a massive people pleaser, think Detective Charles Boyle from Brooklyn 99 levels of people pleaser. So, a part of myself has had a tendency to get lost in whoever I’m dating, because at a time, I could never bring myself to unleash my full personality and simply disagree with someone or tell them when I didn’t feel like doing something.
However, I spent a while just being single. Not thinking about dating, not getting flirty with anyone and not even considering getting a boyfriend. I was bored of how stressful my previous relationships had seemed to be and I wanted to learn a little about myself, and find who I really am. I learned to be a little bit selfish, I learned how to say no and I learned how to express myself, and thankfully, found someone who loves me unconditionally even when I’m being stubborn and annoying. This is something that I don’t think that I would’ve been blessed with had I not had a tragic love life beforehand.
The old me, the Detective Boyle, could never have imagined saying “No I don’t wanna,” or even strongly disagreeing with my S/O on certain topics, the old me would’ve been a yes woman and would’ve put up with being extremely bored and extremely muted. This is a mentality that is toxic, draining and just plain and simply: Stupid.
First things first: If someone loves you, when you say no and when you disagree with them, they won’t mind because they love and respect you no matter what. This goes without saying. If you’re being shamed into just saying yes or you feel as if you can’t express your true opinions around them, whether it’s because you’re too afraid of their reaction because they’ve shown themselves to react poorly to said situations, or if it’s because they tend to be a little bit more stubborn and argumentative than you are, and you CBA with that noise, you first need to question: Is it them, or is it me?
This is because it can go one of two ways. You disagree with them, and they explode. They are the problem and they can’t fathom the fact you said no and disagreed with them, they become condescending and insulting, leaving you feeling emotionally drained. That is their fault, they are a toxic person and you don’t need that in your life. But, if you’re just simply afraid of disagreeing, because it’s not something you’re used to, the only answer to finding out how it can go is by being honest with both yourself and with them, and you may find that they don’t mind it if you don’t feel like going to the movies or if you think that their celeb crush isn’t all that hot!
I definitely agree with the fact that it’s okay to be selfish every once in a while, or even, more often than you’re not depending on the circumstances, because once you’ve been single for long enough, when you find yourself having a relationship, it is a special bond with someone you genuinely really like, after a long time of self discovery and understanding your own needs, and you’ve learned enough about yourself to want to stand your ground, to want to accept the fact that they’re probably going to shoot you down and you’re probably going to shoot them down on their crappy movie suggestions or when you suggest a really boring chick flick, it’s gonna happen. Even if you’re a serial dater, you may find yourself in a situation where you know exactly what and who you want, without feeling the need to please their every single need because you’ve read about it all of your life.
I find myself questioning myself though when I read these Twitter threads from young women talking about how their man is their main and only priority, and that if he says no then the answer is no. I feel like I’m being guilt tripped actually. Should I stop being stubborn and start to “Yes,” my way through my relationship because it seems like the socially acceptable thing to do, or should I stand up for myself and let him stand up for himself, because it’s okay to disagree?
Obviously the latter, but that’s the affect social media, and at one point, all of these magazines have over us. It’s the reason why being the ideal woman, the ideal wife and ideal mother even became a thing to begin with. If social media starts sticking it’s acrylic nails into my back because I said no to my partner, just like these women’s magazines once did, then sod it, I’ll stick up for myself! Why shouldn’t I be equals with my partner?
My partner and I are on an equal level with each other at all times, he can speak his mind to me and I can speak mine to his, and because of this I always go to him for his opinion on something first before I do it. This isn’t because he’s controlling or because I’m a damsel in distress, but more like, if he says “I don’t like that,” then it’s because he’s feeding me a genuine opinion that isn’t kissing my ass to hurry me up so we can go out, and when he says “Yeah I really love that, do it!” it’s because he genuinely feels that way, and again, not pandering to me to make me hurry up. I value his opinion the most, because I respect him and I respect his taste – and I am my own person, if he tells me that dress is dreadful but I like it anyways, I’m gonna get it regardless, but it’s nice to hear the honest opinion from someone else – not putting my needs before theirs.
This isn’t 1945 or even 2007, this is 2018 and I definitely don’t need to be putting anyones needs before my own, whether it be my partners or some stranger in the street. We’re either equals, or nothing at all.