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What if She’s “High Maintenance?”

We’ve gotten this question a number of times. “What should I do because my girlfriend is high maintenance?” Or, “She’s so high maintenance, I don’t know what to do about it.”

So the first question I always want to ask is, “What does that mean, ‘high maintenance?'” And what I find fascinating about the answer is that very often, the answer is actually more about the person who is asking the question, than it is about the girlfriend who is supposedly high maintenance.

Let me give you an example. I was chatting with a woman recently, who started out explaining that the woman she was dating was high maintenance. So I asked for a specific example. She said that she had spent some time making a delicious dinner for her, but she didn’t seem to appreciate it, and she didn’t know how to please her.

So a little bell always goes off in my head when someone says “she didn’t seem to appreciate it.” So I asked, “what made it seem to you that she didn’t appreciate it?” She replied, “she was quiet the whole evening, and didn’t even kiss me goodnight when she left.” (They weren’t being sexual yet.) And I asked, “did you ask her what might have been going on?” She replied, “no, I could tell she wasn’t happy about what I’d cooked.”

Anyway, finally, we got to the core of things. She continually made assumptions about what her girlfriend’s behavior meant, but never asked questions when she wasn’t sure. And her assumptions were always “I can’t seem to please her,” or “she wants more than I can give,” or things of that sort. But in fact, she doesn’t know. There are a lot of reasons the woman she was dating might have been quiet – and many that don’t include not appreciating the food, or wanting more than she can give.

So, on one hand, it’s really important to make sure you aren’t making assumptions about the behavior of your girlfriend or partner.

Now in some instances, there are women (who might be called “high maintenance”) who might be quite vocal about wanting more, or not being happy with how things are. And sometimes, they are the ones making assumptions that the actions or words (or lack of actions or words) mean certain things – like their girlfriend/partner doesn’t care.

So in general, “high maintenance” almost always means someone is making assumptions. And assumptions will always get us in trouble. If you have a question, ask. If you want something to change, make a (self-responsible) request.

These are skills you can learn.

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