My girlfriend just returned from a weeklong business trip. I was so happy to see her that I hugged her hard, and exclaimed: “You really need to leave home more often.”
OK, maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase it. She obviously thought I could have handled her return differently, because I then was forced to spend the next hour explaining to her what I meant.
Although I may not act like an adult, I am defined as one in terms of years and experience. As an adult, I often find the constant presence of another adult irritating.
I like to make my own decisions. I don’t like to be told what to eat, what to wear, how to drive, who to hang out with, when to go to bed, how much to drink…well, you get the picture. I like to do whatever the hell I want, whenever I want, and to drink as much as I want while doing it.
So, romantic relationships aren’t very easy for me. I like the sex part, but I struggle with the “you-now-must-consult-another-human-before-making-any-decision” stuff.
My first reaction to any suggestion about my day-to-day life is “No.” It doesn’t matter if the suggestion actually would make my life better or easier—the initial response is always “No.”
At first, this caused terrible problems with my girlfriend. She’d make what she considered to be a helpful suggestion—e.g., that I not eat cookies before dinner, or that I wear a hat on a below-zero day—and I’d respond by eating the cookies, and not wearing the hat.
This would result in stupendous fights, with her demanding that I explain my irrationality, and me sputtering about oppression and evoking names of great, rugged individualists, but only succeeding in sounding like a stubborn jerk.
Instead of walking out of the relationship (which I’m sure she has lived to regret), she decided to change tactics. She started using reverse psychology. Now, when she wants me to do something, she’ll suggest the opposite. Because I’m not very bright, this method works beautifully.
Recently, though, she has become very busy at work, and has not had the energy to manipulate me. She has returned to making “helpful” suggestions, and I’ve resumed being a resentful baby.
Then, she told me she was leaving for a week. I was delighted! “I’ll show her!” I proclaimed, as she pulled out of the driveway. “I can get along just fine without her.”
That night, as she predicted, I didn’t bother to make dinner for myself, nor did I microwave the meals she thoughtfully had prepared for me. Instead, I ate a hunk of cheese, and drank a bottle of wine.
I watched a marathon of the reality TV shows she routinely deletes with disgust from the DVR, and then, I passed out on the couch. I woke in the middle of the night, shivering, and wondering why no one had covered me with a blanket. My stomach and my head hurt.
Things went downhill from there. I forgot to set the alarm. I forgot to brush my hair. I forgot to feed the dogs.
I woke up every morning at 3 AM with the sinking feeling that I had lost something. It took several days to realize exactly what I had lost, or, rather, what I had found—someone who cares about me more than I do about myself.
So, when she got home, I was thrilled to see her. And then, I told her to go away more often, because, like most adults, I know that people don’t change. I soon would be taking her for granted again. And it would be in the best interest of both of us if she occasionally reminds me of how lucky I am.