don’t be that girl

when i moved to Nashville, Craig had already lived here for a year and a half.  he knew everyone, i knew no one.  i started introducing myself as “Craig’s Wife” like it was my name.  it was what everyone called me anyway.  which actually didn’t bother me at all.  have you seen my husband?  totally hawt.

but it bothered Craig.  not because he didn’t want people to know i was his wife, but because i have my very own, very specific identity that he happens to be pretty proud of.  he didn’t want people to think i lived in his shadow.

…until people started recognizing me first and i had to start introducing him.  now he let’s me use Craig’s Wife again.

kidding.  sort of.

it was very different for me when i was in high school though.  i was Jack’s* Girlfriend.  that was not only my name, it was my entire identity.  for a year every move i made, every decision i would make, every plan that was hatched was all tied up in WWJD, What Would Jack Do?  or more importantly, what would Jack want me to do?  i wouldn’t breathe if i thought he wouldn’t like it.

i gave up opportunities for travel and a paid summer internship because he was upset at the thought that guys might hit on me.  what he wanted or needed was always first.  no matter what it cost me.

but that wasn’t his fault.

it was mine.

that’s not power he took from me, that was power i willfully handed over.  like the idiot i was.

girls have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the guy they are dating, they forget there are two people in the relationship.  sometimes the guys don’t even know it’s happening.

and girls, unless they are jealous control freaks, they don’t want it to happen.  good guys don’t like the cling-on.  in fact, it’s more than a little sexy when you maintain a part of your life where you don’t need him at all.  just ask him.

not sure how to do that?  i, of course, have made a list:

1.  schedule play dates –   go out with your girls.  do not ask him if it’s okay, do not collect $200.  well, okay, take the money, but only to increase the good time you will be having without him.  you do not need his permission to maintain your friendships.  if he makes you feel as though you do, get out.  run far and fast.  a good man will encourage this, a controlling jerk will make you feel like you’re doing something wrong.  you are not doing anything wrong.  you are keeping a firm grasp on your own identity.

2.  set the trophy on the mantle –   be freaking proud of what you’ve accomplished.  own it.  you are capable with or without him.  a quality guy will be proud of you, a guy that needs to be kicked to the curb will make you feel as though it’s not enough or that you should be embarrassed.

3.  “it’s not my thing” – you do not have to like everything he likes.  you don’t even have to like most of what he likes.  *GASP*  no!  yes.  it’s true.  let him watch Dumb and Dumber with his idiot friends.  you don’t have to pretend to enjoy it.  just like he doesn’t have to like line dancing or 2-for-1 appletinis.  those examples were absolutely not taken from my own life at all.

4.  stick to the plan – if you have set a goal, chase it.  follow through on your plans for that degree, or writing that book, or getting that promotion.  a man worth keeping, will only encourage you. 

there was a you long before there was a him.  you do not end where he begins.  together is awesome.  i’m all for together.  but together is so much better when the individual parts are strong and whole in their own right.

decide who you are and be her.  he will love you better for it.

any other thoughts on how to maintain your own identity in a relationship?

guys, am i right?

*name has been changed to protect the innocent and to make the WWJD thing work


7 comments on “don’t be that girl

  1. H.E. ELLIS says:

    I like this. Every guy I’ve ever met has said something to the effect of, “I’d take a seven with her shit together over a perfect ten any day.”

  2. Tim Thurman says:

    You are SO right! Most guys I know, me included, hate a “clingy” girl. It is awesome when a woman has her own interests and her own life.

  3. Wise words. I see this often. So sad. I admit I was this girl in my younger years, but no more. And yet, I’m the still the single one. Makes me wonder. Haha. Gotta roll with the punches I guess. And most girls learn quickly that not having a life is no fun….and they go back to having a life!

  4. I think you’ve done very well here. And I’d also say guys should remember that they can be “that guy” too. I’ve definitely known guys who were more defined by their relationship than anything else.

    I’d add an addendum to #2. Know the difference between asking permission to go and keeping him informed. But be honest with yourself which you’re doing. If you’re just jaunting to the mall on your lunch break, he likely doesn’t need advance warning unless you have a standing lunch date or something. If you and the besties decide to go to the lake for the weekend, though, you might wanna let him know you’ll be away with the girls and out of contact. Nothing ruins a good homecoming like a busted front door and cops on the lawn because he got worried when you didn’t answer your phone for three days. 😉

    If you do make your jaunt to the mall for lunch, and you mention it in conversation with him later that day and he flips out? Big red warning sign right there. With alarm klaxons.

    Insecurity is often the root of “that girl.” A relationship identity feels more secure and/or important than her own because she’s insecure about herself. The opposite of “that girl”, the “that girl doppelganger” if you will (TGD?), is the girl who lives to prove that she doesn’t need a man. She’s just as insecure, and continues to “prove” it because she doesn’t really believe it herself inside.

    Guys, if you find yourself with “that girl”, encourage her in the things she’s good at, genuinely, and see if she blossoms. On the other hand, if you find yourself with TGD who wants to prove she doesn’t need you, be helpful and self-preserving enough to go far, far away so she can test her theory of not needing you from a safe distance out of your life. 🙂

    Here’s a question for you, Sharideth. From the guy’s side: if you find yourself with “that girl” clinging to you, what are some ways to encourage her to blossom? And what are some ways to end it kindly but definitely if it comes time to do so?

  5. Larry Hehn says:

    Right on, Sharideth! My wife and I will be celebrating our 21st anniversary next week (yikes, I don’t feel that old!). One of the things that has helped our relationship last is that we have maintained our own identity. We don’t restrict each other. We complement and encourage each other. Sadly, we have seen relationships crumble for the exact reasons you note above.

  6. JBen says:

    Yep. Truth. One of the things I love about my Fiance is how capable she is and how much she doesn’t need me around. She loves having me around, to be sure, but she just moved to my city and knows more cool places to go than I found in 6 years.

    And yes, I think that is totally hott.

    A girl like that actually wants to be with me? Sign me up!

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