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Girl Talk: He’s Not The Problem — It’s Your Unreasonable Expectations

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You think he’s an idiot. He thinks you’re a nut case. You insist he doesn’t understand you. He insists you’re a nut case. You get angry and maybe even cry. He shrugs his shoulders, assumes it’s a personal problem that has nothing to do with him, and chalks all it up to you being an overly emotional irrational nut case.

Sound painfully familiar?

I’ve been let down in the dating world. A lot. But after much thought and consideration on the topic – on top of some painful soul searching – I’ve realized that often, it comes down to expectations. It’s not that he is failing to live up to them; it’s that NO ONE CAN because they’re unreasonably high!

I guarantee if you relax and stop holding people to standards you could never meet yourself, everyone will be much happier.

Even my husband agrees and we rarely agree on anything.

Stop trying to “decode” a guy’s behavior. 

In other words, it is what it is.

Women try to interpret what guys do as though it means something more. They’re simple creatures, but when they do or say something we don’t particularly like, we go one of two ways,  depending on our relationship status. If we barely know them, we give them the benefit of the doubt and THEN SOME. If we’ve been in a relationship with them for years, any little thing they say or do that isn’t exactly WHAT we want to hear WHEN and HOW we want to hear it, they’re an asshole who doesn’t understand us and our relationship is a mess.

Med Student Graham and I had been dating for about a month and the chemistry between us was electric. The first time we attempted to take things beyond making out on his roommate’s couch, however, Med Student Graham couldn’t rise to the occasion, so to speak. Up until this point, there didn’t appear to be any issue. We usually had to pry ourselves off of each other. I had a million explanations; he’s stressed out about med school, he has exams coming up, he’s tired from studying all day, he has a heart problem so maybe he has blood flow issues (suddenly I was a cardiologist). Turns out, he didn’t find me all that attractive and even admitted I was “not super hot” to him. Which certainly would make it hard to get turned on.

When it comes to longer term relationships however, forget the benefit of the doubt. We immediately get upset and assume he’s callous and doesn’t really care about us.

My poor husband is a perfect example. We were away on vacation and I took about an hour to get ready for some leisurely sightseeing. Excessive? Probably, but I wanted to look nice for him. As we left the hotel, he said, “You don’t need to spend an hour doing your hair and makeup. You’re already an 8 in sweat pants. Why bother spending an hour for another 2 points?” I burst into tears and sobbed, “I spend time making myself look good for you and you don’t even appreciate it and if you have the mindset that it’s ok to just walk out the door without a second thought for how you look then you don’t care about yourself or your appearance and you’re taking our relationship for granted and you’re going to stop making an effort with everything!”

The look on his face was priceless.

My husband said I look good without trying hard. That’s a compliment, right? Yes and any rational person would agree, but apparently I heard something entirely different, got insulted, and then extrapolated it to the point that our entire relationship was in jeopardy. That’s crazy, right? Yes.

Truthfully, I blame Hollywood (why would we blame ourselves? Please that’s just ridiculous) which brings me to my next point. 

Accept the fact that your life is not a romantic comedy.

Thanks to lame movies, we have a completely warped sense of what relationships are supposed to look like. Pick any pinnacle scene from any romantic comedy and you have a scenario that any woman would love to experience firsthand. Sadly, we live in reality but have yet to accept it.

Ladies, it’s time we wake up.

Your best friend since elementary school, for whom you suddenly realize you have feelings beyond just friendship, is not going to show up on your doorstep in the pouring rain on the eve of his wedding to tell you he is really in love with you and not his perfectly lovely fiancé who recognized him for the amazing guy he is from the moment she met him.

Your current friend-with-benefits is not going to wake up one day, realize he’s madly in love with you, and propose to you on a mountaintop in the Swiss Alps with a 4 carat diamond ring by Neil Lane.

Your heartless ex-boyfriend, who you thought was “the one” until he dumped you for his secretary, is not going to chase after you in an airport to catch you before you leave on a plane to finally meet the guy you’ve been Skyping with since you met online six months ago.

Sigh. If only!

… but I guarantee at some point there was a guy who bought you flowers or wrote you a love letter (a sticky note that simply says “I love you” counts!) or put some thought into the date he planned for you. Why isn’t that good enough?

Hollywood.

It’s hard to accept the fact that our lives will never resemble what plays out on TV thanks to a team of producers, script writers, and actors. They all look so happy! Everything always works out in the end! I guarantee no matter who you are or who you’re dating, your life will never look like the TV show you watch religiously on your couch in your pajamas with your thin crust pizza, bottle of Pinot Grigio, and pint of ice cream while your friends live Tweet running commentary.

Your life will never be perfect. Your relationship will never be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect. That’s ok! Now, get over it.

You can REFINE him; you cannot CHANGE him.

Speaking of the imperfect, your man is a great example. I warn you, there’s a fine line between “subtly improving” him and “making him into a different person.”

Telling him how handsome he looks with a decent hair cut in hopes that he will never go back to the Flowbee – refining your man.

Opening him up to the joy and comfort of sleeping with sheets – refining your man.

Convincing your husband to go out and get a job even though he prefers to spend all day in the basement playing video games and eating Cheetos – changing your man. On a side note, maybe you shouldn’t have married a man who’s mentally equivalent to a 15-year-old boy.

Persuading your boyfriend to deal with his gambling problem – changing your man. Not that I can speak from experience or anything but you’re better off liquidating your assets to pay his bookie. That’s assuming you have any assets left and he hasn’t stolen them and emptied your bank account while you were away on a much needed vacation after you finally broke up with him.

So ladies, there you have it. Three simple suggestions.

Listen to what he’s saying. Don’t interpret. The amount of slack you give to a guy should be directly proportional to the amount of time he’s put up with your crazy antics and stuck around anyway … probably because he truly loves you.

Focus on what IS working in your relationship and all the things that he’s done for you that have made you think “I’m such a lucky girl.” Post it on Facebook and make your friends jealous and your guy reluctantly proud.

Finally, accept him for who he is. Chances are he loves you for who you are and doesn’t want to change a thing.

I know … all this is far easier said than done.

Kate’s Dates is a column that runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. Read her previous columns below.

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