“I don’t want you to do the dishes… I want you to WANT to do the dishes.”
Let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that you’d want your man to bring you flowers more often. You know, try a little harder… actually woo you. So you say, “honey, why don’t you ever bring me flowers?” You might have a talk about it and, lo and behold, the next day what does this oh-so-thoughtful man do? He brings you flowers.
[studio audience]: Aww.
As much as you might want to believe that this was purely an act of attentive consideration on the part of your beloved, you may be plagued by the nagging feeling that he just got you flowers because you asked him to. Wholly unromantic.
This is the crux of the whole deal. Most women want their men to be thoughtful enough to act on their own… and when they aren’t, they muster up the courage to mention it or have a “talk.” Doing so, they risk giving up the element of surprise, which was the whole point of the thing in the first place, and suddenly the gesture doesn’t taste as sweet.
Ladies, we know as well as you that if you nag us enough we’ll eventually cave and do what it is that you’re nagging us to do. But that isn’t what you really want, is it? You want us to WANT to do things for you. You want us to be considerate of your feelings, to be thoughtful, and put your happiness above our complacency. Courtesy of movies like The Breakup, here’s how that conversation goes:
“Babe, can you help me with the dishes?”
“Sure… just let me finish this (level, quarter, inning, afterschool special)”
“Please, honey? Let’s just do this real quick and you can get back to your thingy.”
“Ok, just give me a minute.”
“If you help me now, it won’t take as long and you’ll be back before you know it…please?”
“Yeah… why don’t you get started, and I’ll pop in when I’m done.”
“Fine. (sigh) Forget it.”
“No, I’ll be right in, ok?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“No, really, just one minute.”
“Ok fine, I’ll do the farking dishes…”
“No. I don’t want you to do the dishes.”
“You just said you did.”
[wait for it…]
“I don’t want you to do the dishes. I want you to WANT to do the dishes.”
Guys, at this point, just shut the hell up. What most of us don’t realize in this situation is that it’s a Lose-Lose. The damage is done. You cannot possibly win this argument. It’s true, nobody really wants to do dishes. But what she’s asking is for bigger than dishes. She’s asking you to care about her enough to want to make her happy. It’s a big-picture thing that applies to the big things as well as the little things.
I find myself, yet again, in the stereotypical female position of all things romantic. Having been recently burned by love, I’m reluctant to get into any kind of romantic relationship right now. The woman who did the most recent singeing has thrown herself on the mercy of the court and wants me to give it another try. After calmly yet firmly explaining my position to her, she replied:
“What do I have to do…?”
Ahhhhh…. so. The plot thickens. I’m not gonna say I wasn’t tempted to make her hop on one foot and bark like a dog… a really big dog… but I digress.
I could run down the laundry list of things, in an almost Survivor Challenge way, that might bring me back to the table, but basically, it boils down to: You shouldn’t have done what you did.
Bottom line: I don’t want her to do any of those things. I want her to want to do those things on her own. Or maybe more accurately, I want her to do things not to win me back, but as a statement to the universe (and to herself) that that’s not who she is anymore; that she regrets what she did and that she genuinely wants to square things with the universe first, knowing that by doing that she is putting faith in a world that will eventually bring her to where she wants to be.
Or, she could build herself a time machine, go back, and talk some sense into that girl who was on the verge of fucking things up with possibly the best guy she’d ever date.
As a parting gift to both the ladies and the fellas, I offer this suggestion:
When she brings up the talk about getting her flowers, resist the urge to do it right away. Get out your calendar/palm pilot/blackberry and write it down a week, and then a month, from the day she brought it up. Let some time pass, let her forget (a little bit) about the conversation you had. Better yet, don’t even make it flowers. Make it something that shows you know something about her that no one else knows. Most importantly, let her know that you are capable of surprising her on your own.
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