How eavesdropping made me think about my relationships and the story it inspired.
I'm sitting in a beautifully eclectic #French bakery in the art district of my city, getting ready to take the first bite of my salted caramel brownie; when I overhear a woman behind me establishing her, I’ll say, non-negotiable’s. She’s on a date, I say to myself, savoring the first bite of sweet decadence. I settle into the antique wooden chair to enjoy my brownie and silently cheer her on for being vocal about her standards: I require honesty (yep), consistency (good one girl), must love family (all right now). In between her statements, I could hear the man agreeing with ease.
Just as I was about to finish the last bite, she gave her final requirement — “Must attend church with me every Sunday.” There was a quick but deafening silence from him. Holding the corner of my brownie, I slowly turned around to peek over the chair in time to see his response, “Every Sunday?” he asked slightly raising his eyebrows. “Every. Sunday,” confirming with an assertive nod. I twist back in my chair to enjoy the last bite and wonder: are my “non-negotiable’s” really #non-negotiable?
During his pause, I knew some of what was traveling through his mind at rapid speed. What if I want to stay home? What if I work? Maybe I want to play ball with the guys on Sunday? What if Sunday is my only day of rest and I don’t want to spend it in church all day. Or what if I feel more comfortable talking to God amid taking naps all day? Okay, that last one was all me. However, the point is she made me wonder how adamant (or lenient) I’ve been with my own expectations and how well I hold other people (men in particular) accountable.
I left the couple with their conversation hoping they would find a middle ground (should be easy, right?) and asking myself two things, Do I really need another brownie? And Have I been sitting on the roller coaster of rigid and pliable standards for too long?
Whether or not her requirements were unreasonable is relative (maturity being a factor) to each person. However, to impose one’s personal wants on someone else can sometimes, if not often, be unrealistic and selfish. Everyone wants the best for themselves, and no one wants to settle, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit that some of those “non-negotiable’s” are, well, dumb.
To answer my questions, yes. In trying to give a person the benefit of the doubt and being empathetic to one’s situation, I have, sigh, compromised my standards so much that I almost drowned in regret. I have also been extremely insistent with my wants and needs to the point I became selfish and disregarded my partner. Eventually, pushing them away. In either case, I remain single but aware of one of my many faults. For that — I deserve the heaven-sent brownie. “May I have one salted caramel brownie to go, please?”
It’s better to find the balance between the two; circumstances can easily have you stuck on either end of the spectrum. If you’re already there, BRA-VO! That means you’ve let go of the “Hilary Banks” expectations and hold tight to those that are most important. For everyone else, I implore you to take an honest look at yourself and your standards. Self-revelation is…sweet.
While I wait for my second brownie, enjoy the story below.
Therapy Session: One
I want you to call me before 8 pm to properly ask me on a date. Don’t tell me where we’re going, just tell me to wear something nice. I like surprises. When you arrive, you must come to the door and knock. I’m old school, sending me a text message saying you’re outside won’t do.
When you knock, I will not answer immediately. In fact, I will probably wait five minutes to answer; anticipation is key. When I open the door that is when you will start showering me with compliments; starting with my perfect curls, designer dress and my perfectly pedicured toes to show off in my stilettos. It is also imperative for you to open the car door for me. If not, I will go back inside my house.
If it’s raining, I will reach over and unlock your door, however, I suggest carrying an umbrella as I am not always inclined to provide that service. You will engage me in small talk on the way to the restaurant. The restaurant must be four-star equipped with a valet, coat check, and white tablecloths. Once seated and the waiter comes over, I expect your wine choice to be exquisite. None of that cheap Moscato stuff.
I will order something expensive which will not include dessert; I want to save the caramel Dulce cheesecake for later. A conversation is vital at this point, so I hope it’s better than the small talk in the car. Before the waiter comes over with the check, I will excuse myself to the ladies room. I don’t want there to be a misunderstanding on whose paying the bill. At the end of our date, you will get a good night hug; I don’t kiss on the first date. These are the terms under which I will accompany you on a date.
If you agree, then I will gladly give you my number.
“Did you say that?” Dr. Ivan asked me. “Absolutely,” I said smiling proudly. “And his response?” Dr. Ivan asked ready to take notes. “I’m still waiting for one.”