On behalf of all the women out there, I will admit it.
My name is Caitlin Bishop and I am low-maintenance relationship wannabe.
We all do it, right? You’ve started seeing someone. Everything is super chill, no pressure. You even impress yourself with your relaxed “yes-that’s-fine-I’m-going-to-do-my-thing-too-and-I-might-see-you-after” mentality.
You are playing it so cool, you’d even date you because, if there’s anything you hate, it’s neediness.
Secretly though, the hot-mess side of your personality is bubbling away in the shadows.
Don’t get me wrong. You’re not being fake – you actually do feel relaxed, easy-going, low-maintenance. Because you’re happy and your needs are being met.
But this satisfaction is impossible to maintain over the long-term. Sooner or later you’re going to need something and even your easiest, most laid-back self won’t be able to compromise. What’s going to happen? You’re going to flip shit, and it’s going to be awfully shocking for the person you’re dating – because they have no idea how Uma Thurman Kill Bill crazy you actually are.
Thankfully, we are all the same. Everyone. Men and women.
We’re all in love with the idea of a low maintenance relationship but it is actually impossible. A psychologist says so.
“I like to say that all people are ‘annoying’; there’s no such thing as a person not being annoying,” Dr Stan Tatkin author and psychologist told Your Tango. “And there’s no such thing as a low-maintenance person up-close. They may look that way from across the room, or in an affair, but you get to know that person very soon that person’s going to become high-maintenance. If people understood that, people’d be a lot happier.”
But what about all those irritatingly-envy-inducing couples? The we-never-fight-and-I’m-just-so-happy relaxed pair who always look like they’re on vacation?
Sure, they might have an ‘easy’ relationship, where both people in the couple communicate in a similar way, and have similar needs, desires, plans, etc. But even easy relationships should have conflict, and issues and occasional ugliness.
“There are ways to have an easier relationship, not that that doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict or issues to work through,” said marriage and couples counsellor Samantha Burns. “We all have our own priorities and needs and preferred love languages. When you choose a partner who has similar needs or priorities or love languages, it can just feel easier because you want the same things.
Those relationships generally feel easier, because you’re aligned in what you both want. You can still have conflict. But it feels like you have less tension and you’re not always compromising.”
If there’s no conflict, there’s likely a hot-bed of repressed frustrations and hidden contentions.
“I think about the mother-infant relationship with ‘easy’ babies,” marriage and family therapist Dr Sue Mandel said. “We overlook ‘easy’ babies sometimes, because after all they’re so easy and we think they don’t need much.”
Relationships require maintenance. For relationships to last, there needs to be the tough conversations and the ridiculous fights. Why? Because all the stupid little arguments, or the stern conversations about things that aren’t really a big deal, prepare you as a couple for when shit really does go down.
Otherwise, when you’re thrown into a tough situation, you’re going in blind. You have no idea how to handle the situation together. Sure, you’re great at sorting things out individually, but it will only work until a point. Relationships should be hard work (not all the time, but work is involved). Most importantly, they should be hard work together.
“There’re a lot of myths making it harder for people to adjust to the idea of a committed relationship,” Tatkin said. “We like thinking that relationships should be easy, not hard. But that’s another myth. Marriages are hard work. A relationship is two nervous systems being able to regulate each other.”
That’s right, two nervous systems. Most of my nervous system is easy-going and low-maintenance. But there’s a very good reason for the Uma-Thurman-Kill-Bill portion of it too.