“Women are work!”

by Dating Goddess on October 13, 2009

He said this with exasperation. He was weary from his last relationship being more effort than he would have liked. He thought it should be easier.

I told him most relationships were are least some work. They could be easy breezy, but there was some “work” involved — one of you had to initiate contact, you had to be willing to work through any hiccups. This could be considered work by some. And when romance is involved, expectations quickly escalate.

I’ve heard similar laments from others — mostly men. They didn’t want a relationship to be work. Which usually means they want to do what they want when they want and not have to be responsible for their sweetie’s expectations. Which is what got my friend into his “women are work” funk. His last lady expected him to call her regularly and initiate outings — after dating only two weeks. He then had to deal with her angst when she got upset that he wasn’t behaving as she wanted. “Work” indeed.

I believe that a healthy relationship should be minimal “work” yet it needs constant attention. “Work” says that it’s above and beyond what you find pleasurable. You have to do too many things that you’d prefer not to do. Every romantic relationship requires some compromise, some adaptation, some doing what you’d not choose to do on your own.

What’s your experience with “work” in a relationship? When is it too much? Too little?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Samantha October 13, 2009 at 10:49 pm

An online guy said, “you want a serious relationship.” He went on to say that a lot of guys don’t want to make the effort for this kind of thing.

maria rose October 14, 2009 at 5:27 am

so let me get this straight we as females have to be nice, appreciate the man for showing up, dress up to please him,be happy whenever he calls you(on his version of time) but they should not have to “work” on doing anything to please you by getting to know you. I think something is wrong with this picture. Relationships are a two way street you Both have to give something to make it work.

aclear October 14, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Everything worth doing is worth doing well. I love my work and people who don’t work usually bore me. How about thinking of relationship work as we do our career work? It’s a life and a lifestyle, not just a job.

Mark October 15, 2009 at 1:43 am

“His last lady expected him to call her regularly and initiate outings — after dating only two weeks.”

Ok, that’s way too needy.

It’s really a matter of expectations, isn’t it? If one person expects something and doesn’t get it, he or she may be unhappy.

It’s never work if it’s what you want to do. If a woman expects me to call or email every day that’s not a problem for me if I’m into her to that extent. If I’m not, then it feels like work.

Likewise, a woman taking extra time for dressing up for me may be eager to do so if she really likes me, but if she’s lukewarm, it may feel like work.

I bet that if we are early in a relationship about which we are unsure the whole thing feels like work, because that’s what it is — we’re working at it in hopes more passionate emotions arise.

Edgar October 15, 2009 at 5:33 am

“It’s never work if it’s what you want to do. If a woman expects me to call or email every day that’s not a problem for me if I’m into her to that extent. If I’m not, then it feels like work.”

mark hit the nail on the head. It’s only work if you don’t feel like doing it. When there are very specific expectations, then there is always going to be disappointment. My current girlfriend is like that and there is a fine line between her being happy and merely content.

Mitsy October 15, 2009 at 8:50 am

Interesting topic. I will say that it also summarizes a lot of what I found with the men online. They did not want to make any effort to get to know me beyond the minimum. And for the woman who expected a guy to call her and stay in touch, well that’s kind of normal if you are supposedly SEEING someone on a regular basis. The first 2 weeks is still in the new stages and if the guy is not giving it his best, then he’s just not into her or he’s leading her on. I think that most people know if they want to continue the relationship after a date or two. The guy who acts fickle and then blames it on the woman as “work” is lacking a lot in the maturity dept. He needs to just admit that he’s not ready for a relationship or at least he’s not wanting to pursue the woman he’s currently seeing.

Too many times, the woman feels like she’s said or done something wrong & that’s why the guy balks but that is such a common scenario that it strikes me that a lot of men really don’t know what the hell they want. Sure, they just may not be a match but a lot of times the guy is not being truthful about wanting a relationship from the start. He’s not honest with himself to admit that if he wants someone to treat him well, he has to reciprocate and make the effort himself. Otherwise, he will remain single and play the game for the rest of his life. I’m sure there are women with the same M.O. out there, but I’ve heard far worse stories from the women who tried to date these men who played a lot of games.

Mark October 15, 2009 at 9:47 am

I think the first two weeks are still in a very casual stage and it’s a bit much to expect more than a few calls or emails unless both parties want that much. I’ve had relationships where things get hot and heavy in a week, but it was clear on both sides that there was that kind of interest.

What are we guys supposed to do, exactly, when we’re interested but the interest is still mild? We may want to continue to see her because we hope our feelings will grow, but too much email and phoning early on may send the wrong message — that our feelings are deeper than they really are or that we are a bit too desperate.

Finally, it’s 2009 and you’d be surprised at how nice it is for me as a man when a woman I’m in the early stages with demonstrates her interest in me by initiating an email or calling me. I certainly don’t think it’s forward. It makes me feel good. Oh, she does like me, I think. It encourages me to do the same — email and call her.

Mark October 15, 2009 at 9:57 am

“When there are very specific expectations, then there is always going to be disappointment. My current girlfriend is like that and there is a fine line between her being happy and merely content.”

I had a girlfriend like this. She called me every evening because our time together was limited, one date a week, and that was because of her schedule. So she called me every night and that was her way of giving me more of her time. It was nice. It made us both happy.

However, it did create an expectation and a kind of burden. I know there were nights she called when she really wasn’t in the mood but felt she had to. I think if I had to do it again, I’d discourage her from calling every night. After a few months, it got to be too much, and when it got to where things were tapering off a bit and she didn’t call every night, I’d feel bad on the nights she didn’t call.

And I sent her an email every morning. I’d send her one before work, and that got to be a burden too. Some mornings I had nothing to say, and you can’t have too many emails where you just say hi, how are you doing today. That doesn’t work after awhile.

Maybe this is a different topic, though. Maybe this is more about avoiding romantic burnout. How do you transition from the hot and heavy phase early on where you can’t wait to see each other and sit as close to one another as you can when together to the phase where you sometimes think, dang, I wish I had tonight to myself?

Mitsy October 15, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Mark, you sound like a decent guy and I don’t put you in the same category as the average online dater. I think the communication issue is a huge issue because it does play into the whole dating game scenario. I know what you mean about the first 2 weeks–you don’t want to give too much but don’t want to act like you’re not interested. It’s hard to know the happy medium.

Likewise, a lot of people think that the romance that starts off hot & heavy doesn’t usually end up as a long-term relationship or marriage. It’s possible, but I think the odds are stacked against a couple when they give too much too soon and don’t have a lot more to look forward to as far as physical intimacy. I think for a lot of women, getting to know someone before there is physical intimacy helps insure that the relationship won’t fizzle out too soon.

It’s hard to come up with a formula that would work for everyone or even most people. But, my general belief is that there is a happy medium somewhere about contacting and acting and staying interested in the other person. There is no way that either person can be a mind reader. But, if someone says they will call, then I think they should (man or woman). I don’t think communication needs to be one-sided. Likewise, I think people can get bored rather easily. Your letter sounds like one or both of you in your past relationship got bored with the contact and communication with each other–maybe because it was expected. And perhaps, you were not matched for the women in question. What is perplexing in the world of online dating are the men who ACT so very interested and then just drop the ball with no explanation. It seems like some men love the chase but don’t want to make the effort later. I’m not saying that is what you have done, but that has been my experience with some guys in the dating game.

artsywahine October 15, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Relationships die if they are not tended. People will find a way to have their needs fulfilled. If he’s just not that into you – you will know. If he expresses himself in the relationship it may not be candy, flowers and phone calls, but it might be connecting as friends. There is so much advice in so many different places but no one has figured out how to force love. It grows, is tended and blossoms.

Mark October 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm

I think, from a male perspective, it only makes sense to appear interested initially, even if it means feigning a higher interest level than is really there. And I’m not talking about trying to get a woman into bed, but just trying to move the relationship forward to see if something more develops. No one wants to waste time, but when do we really know it can’t work? Sometimes right away, but aren’t there stories of people who fell in love over time rather than right away? If you see good qualities in a person, like her, find her attractive, but that spark seems to be missing, do you bail out or see if that spark can be ignited? It’s a tough question for me, and I’m facing that right now.

I agree that if man says he is going to call, he should call. It’s rude and thoughtless not to. I guess I’m wondering how often a man should call or email? Once every few days in the early stages? Once every other day? Once a day? That’s where expectations need to be defined by communications.

Karen October 17, 2009 at 5:30 am

This is an interesting discussion!

Definitely, everyone seems to come into this with expectations. I think people’s expectations (male and female) are determined by their past experiences–and men and women who are less experienced dating (ie recent divorcees) may be particularly prone to giving the wrong signals.

I’ve dated 2 men since my divorce who liked the “phone call every night” thing–and I agree with Mark, it seemed forced and like a burden (to me), even though I was serious about them. I have small children and I found I was watching the clock and trying to get the kids into bed in time for “that” phone call–and that was an unwelcome burden. I would also be pretty exhausted myself after my kids were in bed–it wasn’t a great time to talk. However, I appreciated the calls as indicative of these guy’s serious interest in me and the effort they were putting into our relationship. I just wish it wasn’t so “formulaic”. The symbolism of “the call” is also heavy and somewhat oppressive, ie if you “miss the call”, it’s all about “OMG! what does this mean?!”

In a serious relationship, I prefer daily or every other day connections that are more spontaneous feeling–like for example, the guy could call me at work or during the day for a quick “hi” (and maybe he could welcome a call from me, too, during the day–take note, workaholics!). Or maybe the guy could stop by my house early on a weeknight to have dinner for an hour with me and my kids–no big deal, just hanging out.

My current BF is perfect! He calls and emails and stops by my office or my house frequently, but it feels natural and not like he’s following instructions set in stone about when we should contact each other (whew!).

Interestingly, for the first few months we were seeing each other, he wasn’t very pro-active at all about contacting me at all. Because of this I was convinced he wasn’t seriously into me, and I just about wrote him off. For several months we would have a great time when we saw each other, but then I wouldn’t hear from him for a week, and then I’d run into him and he’d be very nice & chatty but he wouldn’t ask me out again at that time. So then I’d wonder what’s going on and then I’d write him off, but then he’d get back in touch, and etc. Finally after 4 months I wrote him a long email basically asking him what his intentions were and angrily telling him off about how his hesitancy felt to me like he was jerking me around. (I’m not sure that that would be the best approach in all situations, but my personality is pretty direct, and I was ready to call it quits with him anyway if he didn’t make things clearer because he was driving me nuts). Fortunately, my email prompted a series of open and honest conversations about what we were doing seeing each other and our mutual expectations etc. Turns out he was very interested as well as serious–he was just trying not to blow it by appearing over-eager or by being a pest. And he hadn’t dated much since his divorce and wasn’t sure what might be expected these days, etc. So you never know!

Mark October 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Yeah, we guys worry about appearing over eager. It makes us look needy. I can very easily go overboard and write long, passionate emails to someone I’m interested in. I’ve learned to rein it back a bit. It’s been a learning experience for me since the breakup of my marriage.

I think when two people are good for each other, it will be natural. Daily contact is nice and it’s even better if it seems spontaneous, sort of a “Hey, I was thinking about you so I wanted to say hello” kind of thing.

Basically, if it feels like work, something isn’t quite right. That’s what happened to my 2008 serious relationship — it started to feel like work to her, which was really a way of indicating that she didn’t have the feelings for me she needed to sustain the relationship.

Shae November 16, 2009 at 1:52 am

I’m currently seeing someone who has been through a divorce recently. He contacts me either by phone or text about every 4 days or so. I don’t mind that he calls when he can and I don’t want it to feel like work for him. However, when you tell someone that you like them, they are beautiful, you want to get to know them and see where things go but then don’t call when you say you are going to it sends mixed signals. I’m confused.

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