It’s hard to be a woman. We know this. As a single person, friends and family and strangers tried to fix me all the time. As if singleness is something to be cured.
And now, as a woman in love, I realize that things are not rosy on this side of the street either.
People have stopped trying to fix me, but they’ve replaced those conversations with new projects. It’s not enough that I’m in love.
Now, they would like me to make “next steps.” Now, they have expectations on what a woman in love should look like.
I know for a fact that my boyfriend is not being asked these questions. I know that he’s not getting pressure from outside sources. I know he’s not being told how to keep me around or keep me interested or any of the other exhausting narratives that people push on me.
So, we should talk. Here are things to avoid saying to a woman in love.
Please stop asking about when we are getting engaged.
I know that people mean well. I also know that our little human brains like to categorize people and relationships into boxes.
You’ve been together for a year? Well, it’s time to ring shop.
They don’t even ask me if I want to get engaged at all. (I do, but that’s not true of every couple in love.) They are simply trying to remind me that there’s a next step that I may have forgotten.
And, because I’m in my early thirties, they also want to remind me that I have a biological clock that is ticking.
Thank you for bringing attention to my egg supply, Aunt Linda.
The truth is that my relationship and my fertility is not your business. If I want to talk about it, I know where to find you. Otherwise, can we just talk about what’s good on Netflix?
Please stop trying to tell me how to “keep a man.”
Again, good intentions, but Aunt Linda, you’ve only met my boyfriend once and you keep calling him by the wrong name… so, what do you know?
Women love to tell other women how to conduct their relationships. They think that their experiences need to be shared in order for you to not make “the same mistakes.” But the truth is that their advice means nothing.
Everyone has a different story to tell. Don’t text him at work, one says; text him every couple hours so he knows you’re thinking about him, the other says. The conflicting advice is exhausting.
And only you and your person know what your relationship needs.
Oh yeah… and if I need help, like real help, then I will find a good therapist. Or I’ll ask you. But probably not.
Please don’t give me unsolicited sex or financial tips.
It’s amazing what topics people don’t consider off-limits. Like money. And sex.
If you think about asking any of the following questions, I urge you to reconsider:
Have y’all had a conversation about who is the spender and who is the saver?
Be careful of the new relationship weight gain. I’d recommend a set of dumbbells!
Make sure you’re making time for each other… you know time for each other… in the bedroom.
I’m having conversations with my boyfriend about money and sex and health and all of the things that you want to tell me about. But, thank you for bringing an added and unnecessary perspective on the subject.
The stakes are high for a woman in love.
As a woman in love, I’m expected to twist and bend and clean and please and strip to make sure that I don’t lose the oh-so-coveted man in my life. I’m expected to tiptoe around his stress. I’m expected to wait until he has time in his schedule. I’m told to be careful with my words.
As a man in love, my boyfriend is asked how I’m doing and nothing more.
The rules are unbalanced. The dialogue around women in love is toxic and controlling, while men are left alone.
So… can we stop? Can we stop telling women that they have to be afraid in love? Can we stop telling women how to navigate their love life on stilts? Can we just give women a break and let them make their own decisions?
It won’t change quickly. I know that. But maybe it will change a little at a time.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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