By: Alessandra Conti, Matchmaker
For as long as I can remember, it has always been bad to be high maintenance. As a young girl, it was drilled in my and my girlfriend’s heads that being high maintenance was a major turn-off for our boyfriends-to-be. We were taught that it was always best to seem like you didn’t require much at all… especially in the beginnings of a relationship.
The problem here is that if you are anything like myself and the Bachelorettes that I Date Coach every day, we were taught to strive for fabulousness in all aspects in our lives. The career that we choose should fulfill us, the city that we decide to live in should be filled with life and exciting activities, the friends who we choose to spend our time with should be fun and enriching, our bodies should be healthy, slim, yet strong, our hair and makeup should be blown out and contoured, and our apartment should be gorgeously decorated and homey. Essentially, we are taught to be high maintenance with our lives. So, I can’t help but wonder, why is it that women are encouraged to make every effort for greatness and even pressured to achieve perfection in every aspect of our lives, but when it comes to relationships, we are taught to lower our expectations?
Society has vilified the term “high maintenance” to a point where even writing it feels taboo let alone advising women to embrace it. As women, we must reclaim the phrase and utilize it in terms of its actual definition: needing a lot of work to keep in good condition. But here’s a little secret that I have learned through all of my research and experience as a young Beverly Hills Matchmaker: the women who are in the happiest, most successful relationships have one thing in common… they are high maintenance.
For women, it is essential to have certain standards that you uphold with each and every man who you date, or you will end up in an unfulfilling relationship or even worse, in an unfulfilling marriage. One of my latest reads is The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, PhD. Dr. Jay writes about how many of her 20-something patients feel as though their 20-something years don’t really matter or count when it comes to dating… that it is somehow a “dress-rehearsal” for the real thing. The problem with having this mentality is this: what part are you rehearsing for? If you are the “easygoing” girl who doesn’t need to go on a real date, is fine with not hearing from the guy that you have been dating for months for a few days, and painstakingly avoids the DTR (define the relationship) talk, like it’s the Ebola virus, what kind of stage are you setting for your future life-long relationship?
I believe in the #HighMaintenanceMovement. We must band together as women and start setting the bar higher than fro-yo or take-out at his place (I literally just received a text from a friend going on a first date who proposed just that), or my favorite, “watching a movie”. If all women elevate our expectations, guys will have no choice but to raise the bar. Guys are capable creatures who, when they need to, can and will, step it up.
The first step is identifying what you like. During an initial interview with a Bachelorette that we are welcoming into the Bachelorettes of Beverly Hills, I always ask: What does your ideal relationship look like? Many women need help answering this question. I challenge you to take out that old journal on your bedside table and write down a list of things that you would like to experience from your next relationship. Do you want your guy to bring you out on dates? What kind of dates? Daytime rollerblading sessions on the beach? Nighttime rendezvous at a jazz club? How do you want to be treated? Do you want him to hold the door open for you? How often do you want to communicate?
*Keep in mind, I am taking things like being exclusive as a given. I guess my inherent high maintenance is shining through.
What I have learned is that a man will treat you how you treat yourself. If you don’t take time out of the day to pamper yourself and your body, why should he? If you don’t treat yourself to lovely dinners or vacations, why should he? If you accept negative treatment from friends or co-workers, why should he treat you well? Men take the cue from how to treat you based on how you treat yourself and allow others to treat you.
It also goes the other way. If you do not treat him well, if you are ungrateful, rude, selfish, or take his gentlemanly gestures for granted, he will become bitter and spiteful. The trick is to take notice of when he does something wonderful and show genuine appreciation. When he opens the door for you, makes a reservation at a lovely restaurant, or even texts you to ask you how your day is, let him know that you are impressed. Thank him, give him compliments, shower him with affection. Let him know that you appreciate that he is stepping it up for you… and that you can’t resist a gentleman.
I highly recommend making your expectations clear early on. You can specifically tell him how much you value a man who is a gentleman, that you love to hear from him every day, and that you enjoy going on fun, romantic dates. Men ultimately want to be appreciated in a relationship, and often, do not understand what it takes to make you happy unless you express it in clear terms. Men are competitive by nature and like the challenge of a woman who holds him up to a high level of behavior. Be assertive. It shows confidence and, from what a large majority of the men who I match up have told me, is extremely attractive.
You will find that once you allow yourself to revel in your inherent high-maintenance, you will see relationships with more clarity than you had before joining the #HighMaintenanceMovement. That said, when you know what you want out of a relationship, have expressed your expectations, and you feel like he is not stepping up to the plate, get out early on. Let me be your little petrie dish: I have tried it all. I have been ambiguous with what I wanted, I have lowered my expectations, I have given second chances when I thought I was being too pushy, I have done it all. I learned from personal experience: if you accept too little, you will receive just that.
I absolutely understand and empathize with you ladies, it is much easier said than done to simply walk away and cut him off. But, the kicker here is that studies have shown that the more time you spend with a person, the more you grow to like him, and the more attached you become to him, even if he is not treating you the way you deserve to be treated. The fact is if you accepted crumbs, you will end up in a crumby, frustrating relationship. If you are low maintenance, you will be treated as such. We are all guilty of it at some point, but I am happy to report that your expectations will fit perfectly with another guy’s expectations, so stop trying to make it work with a guy who is on a completely different chapter than you are. If a guy wants to be in a relationship with you, he will do what ever it takes to make that a reality. If you feel like you need to push this in any way that feels unnatural after you have asserted yourself, #mournhisdeath. It may be painful at the time, but long term, you will save yourself an immense amount of heartache.
Why? Because you deserve it. You will need to work at it each and every day and make a concerted effort to hold yourself in a higher esteem than you have in the past. You may need to consistently work on it, and that is ok. I think back to some of my fondest dating memories when I felt confident and comfortable enough to let my natural high maintenance shine through, and they are filled with romantic adventures. Even if the guy wasn’t ultimately for me, I will never forget many of the beautiful experiences that I had with him. The guys who I dated were not some kind of anomaly; they were normal guys who understood that I had higher expectations for how I wanted to be treated during the courting process and ultimately the relationship experience. My friends were always bewildered that I consistently went on so many beautiful dates. Why me? Because I’m high maintenance. Join the movement @MatchingUpLA.
Alessandra Conti is a Matchmaker at Matching Up in Beverly Hills. This 20-something girly-girl loves traveling, LA nights out with her girlfriends, chandeliers, rollerblading, sunbathing, TedTalks, and everything 90s. Her Starbucks drink is steamed soy with Vanilla Bean powder and her favorite Disney Prince is Aladdin. Alessandra specializes in high-profile, celebrity Matches. She has published multiple feature articles about love and relationships on FoxNews.com and has been seen on MTV, E!, and Fox News. Follow her on Instagram @MatchmakerAly & Twitter at @MatchingUpLA #LifeOfAMatchmaker. Book a Date Coaching Session with Alessandra or have her find you love here.