A close friend sent me a screenshot of a twitter post this morning. It was about a woman who was telling her experience of once being told by a boy that she was so smart he felt he couldn’t keep it up, with a sad face on. She believed he was doing this expecting her to turn herself down. Instead of doing so, she agreed, and fucked his friend. She believed that when a man tells a woman she is too “x” to keep up with, it’s usually a trick to encourage her to bring herslef down falling to his mediocre level. In my case, the “x” is intense. “You are too intense” is possibly the most heard sentence of my dating history.
I am constantly told by the men I meet – most don’t even dare to date me- that I am intense, demanding and I have high expectations. But what does having high expectations even mean? Am I too intense to date?
My dating history is extensive and complicated. It ranges from self-destruction, guilt and feelings of dirtiness to self-discovery, enjoyment and empowerment. This is all dressed with a hint of anxiety and mild OCD, a bit of insecurity and some PTSD. The perfect mix.
When I meet someone new, they seem to like my intensity. They seem to like how quickly I respond to texts -I think this makes them feel appreciated and liked, basically it inflates their egos-. They enjoy that I am quite snappy and blunt. They seem to like that I don’t play games and I am very forward. They find it refreshing. They like that I move quick. They like that I am passionate and very easy to talk to -no social awkwardness with me-. They seem to like my confidence and how I am very clear of what I want and what my priorities are. However, I soon become “too much to handle”.
I have dated men from most races, backgrounds, age groups, classes and religions and all of them would agree on the following statement: she is too intense. With most of them I don’t even reach a second date. And apparently it is because I expect too much and therefore I come across as demanding and pressuring. I am still unsure of what “too much” is.
Challenge me, please
When I start seeing somebody new I expect them to pay attention to me. To my likes and dislikes. I expect them to talk to me. I expect them to do stuff with me. I expect them to have discussions with me and to listen to what I have to say – which is a lot-. But mostly, I expect them to be willing to challenge me, and be challenged.
I don’t see romantic relationships as a walk by the sea in summer and some cuddles by the fireplace in winter -although of course I will do that too, but that’s not the goal-. I don’t want a man to sit down with me watch a movie and talk about how the day has been. I see relationships as growth, learning, admiring, connecting. I want a man to be able to discuss the interaction between trans activism and feminism. I want to be with someone that is able to argue over whether veganism is sustainable or not. I want him to tell me the latest challenge he has joined at the gym and encourage me do it too to see who achieves it first. I want to get drunk with him and discuss the cinematography on Andersen’s movies. I want a man to get fitter, smarter, wiser with. I want to see in my partner the person I want to become. And in order to grow and learn you need to be challenged. So the sooner I start challenging them, the better.
For most, this is horrifying, and within a week they are “unable to cope”. They don’t want to be challenged. They are happy living a mediocre life. And that’s ok. It is valid. But it is not for me. And I shouldn’t be apologetic or turn myself down.
If you can’t handle, it isn’t my problem
My friends and I have had the same discussion over and over again for the past seven years. “You expect too much from people. Not everyone is as involved as you. Not everyone is willing to give that much all the time. You need to understand it”, – they say-.
At times I have blamed myself for most of my failures in my dating history. Maybe I am too intense, maybe it’s my fault, maybe I should lower my standards? –I keep thinking-. But, why would I if my goal is to find real love -whatever that means-?. Surely the person who actually dares to date me, will be the person who is willing to take that challenge and to challenge me. That person will be a man who is able to embrace that intensity because he isn’t afraid of the challenge or “unable to handle it”.
I am intense. I am demanding. I have high expectations. I am too fast, too much, too hyper, too passionate. This translates in answering texts immediately, in not bearing unpredictability and the lack of planning. This comes across as demanding, pressuring and exhausting. But those are precisely the characteristics that have allowed me to be where I am professionally, academically, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I wouldn’t have got where I am now without being too fast, too much, too hyper and too passionate.
So maybe next time a man tells me “You are too intense, I don’t think I can keep up with you”, my response should be: “I know”. And fuck his friend.