Dear Baroness, Why do men always seem to over promise and under deliver?
I need your advice. Here’s my situation: I keep meeting men. Nice men. Online and in real life. Sometimes we just chat, and sometimes we actually meet in person. A few I’ve gone out with several times. And one guy I actually started dating. I think. I would call it dating, at least.
The problem is, I keep meeting these nice men who seem to think it’s important to make these promises, or drop these hints. They say things that make me have expectations, like, “We should go away together for a weekend.” Or “What kind of perfume do you like?” and, while window shopping, “Which one do you want?” (referring to jewelry, or lingerie or clothes, whatever).
It is weird that I get my hopes up? That I actually look forward to a trip away or a gift? And then, when it doesn’t happen, I get really disappointed. Like a little kid.
Do all men do this? Or just the ones I meet? Because these are not isolated incidents. It seems like more and more men are promising things and not putting their money where their mouth is. Is this a pick up artist thing?
I know that in the scheme of things, this is not such a big deal, but it’s really bothering me and I’ve talked to some other girlfriends who are feeling this way too.
What’s the deal? Should I lower my expectations or find better men?
Hopes up Hillary
We’ve all done it. Over promised and under delivered. It’s with the best of intentions, really, you must admit. When someone says they want to do something for (or to) you, it’s usually because they really do. Some people (not just men) are indeed manipulative and have ulterior motives and are just trying to throw you off your game or make you feel less secure, not unlike the concept of negging (a topic for another day), but on the whole, I would say, that most people are good and well-intentioned.
I had an old boyfriend who told me he needed to use ‘expectation management’ with me, because I got my hopes up when he thought he was merely throwing out ideas or mentioning things that would be fun. I did not like that; being told I had an issue with expectations. But it did make me stop and think. We still joke about it, years later. I even bought the domain at one point and was going to have a brilliantly clever website called www.expectationmanagement.com, though I really had no clue of what I was going to make of it. So of course, that idea – an idea begun with the best of intentions, at least for me creatively – was thrown out with the bathwater. The domain is up for grabs last I knew. Someone please purchase and do something with it. I implore you.
When I did the Baroness’ Sexy Holiday Gift Guide, I had several gentlemen allude and straight out tell me they were going to get me something from the list. It’s now January. Christmas and Hanukkah are long over. And I’m still waiting. Are they jerks? No. Did they have good intentions? Yes. Were they leading me on? No. Not intentionally. Might they have been teasing? Perhaps. Am I hurt? No. I didn’t really take any of them that seriously. But, I will say, that there is a part of a person, that when told they may receive a gift, lights up and does naturally have a level of expectation. It’s only human, don’t you think? Some just handle the disappointment better than others.
Having no expectations is something I’ve tried. I still try. And it can work. The problem with this is that it seems sad. Like you’ve future-sabotaged your own potential joy. Well, that might be a bit dramatic but you get the point.
It’s tough too, I think, because of the media. In movies and TV, men buy women extravagant gifts. They send them dresses to wear with notes attached saying “Put this on. Meet me in the lobby at eight, gorgeous.” So Pretty Woman. It reeks of the whole Cinderella complex, the idea that women are just sitting, waiting for a man to come and make everything better. And the way he can make everything better is to buy her things, take her places and rescue her from her humdrum existence. Ugh. How turn of the century (not this one). Whether or not we want to admit it, most women have this desire lurking somewhere down deep, because we grew up with it. We watched all these fragile women characters, who were always beautiful and perfect, and helpless, pine for a man, and eventually one showed up and fixed everything. And she never had to think or do or be anything other than beautiful and agreeable and thankful for the rest of her years (in a castle, of course).
Here’s my advice. Expect less. Buy your own damn jewelry and lingerie and sex toys. Take yourself on trips. Don’t wait for a man to rescue you, BUT when one does treat you, buy you a gift or the like, you can be happy and thankful and feel spoiled and appreciated, even loved - not because it’s from a man, but because it’s a gift from someone who actually cares about you.
Don’t get me wrong. I still swoon every time Cary Grant enters the frame, and dream of him wooing and sweeping me off my feet, and likely appreciate chivalry and manners and etiquette much more than the next gal, but that doesn’t get you anywhere other than being at home alone on a Friday night, dressed to the nines, just waiting for the phone to ring. And that ain't no way to live.
Manage those expectations, Hillary. And if it’s that important to you, be straight. Say to the dudes, “Hey, do you mean that?” “Are we doing gifts?” “Shall I pack a bag?” Etc… It may seem less romantic than a man being able to read your mind and whisk you away, but it will save you a lot of headache and heartache in the long run. I’m sure of it. Oh, and you’ll also be acting like a self-sufficient grown up. Which is a good thing, I’m told.
Until then, I’ll be thinking about my Valentine’s gift list (which is coming up in a mere month!) and will make it perfectly clear what I want and from whom. Which is not at all romantic, I realize. See, I too am still trying to find the happy medium. I welcome ideas and comments. Really. Do send them along. How can we have low expectations, without just losing hope? How can we still believe in romance and surprises if we’re constantly disappointed? How can people mention things in passing and not be held to the assumption that it binds them to an action? So much to think about . . .
Under promise and over deliver. I’ve been working on this for years. Not so easy, surely, but with practice, one can get quite good at it. Surely a good motto by which to live.
Now go buy yourself a bauble. Just think - at least you’ll be sure to get the perfect one and not have to take it back . . .
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