Stop Telling Amazing Women They're "Too Much" and to "Be Less." Instead, Tell YOURSELF You're "Too Little" and to "Be More."
I'm not too much. You're too little.
I don't normally get into relationship stuff on my blog. But today, I'm going to talk some shit about my last boyfriend.
To outsiders, he was fun, sporty, and easygoing.
But to me, in private, he was obsessed with keeping the peace, never rocking the boat, and not causing any social tension, EVER.
For example. This crazy girl (one we'd considered a friend) tried to kidnap our dog once. As she clutched our dog by the neck and sobbed and screamed insults at me, I calmly but firmly told the girl she needed to let go or I was going to call the police.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, was so terrified of causing "social tension" that he was willing to hand our dog over to someone who was clearly not stable. As I tried to navigate this bizarre and dangerous situation, he kept looking at me and saying, "Eva... just let her [take the dog]. It's fine. It's fine. Just stop. It's fine."
It is NOT fine. It's like I wrote in If someone's touching your kid weirdly, CONFRONT THEM. IMMEDIATELY. RIGHT IN FRONT OF your kid:
To this guy, keeping the peace was more important than our dog's literal safety.
We obviously should have broken up then and there. This guy clearly is not father material. But, as I wrote in What I Put In (Newton's Third Outlaw), a lot of relationships go on a lot longer than they should.
But this is an extreme example.
A more regular example would be, every single time we hung out with friends, he'd pull me aside to remind me to "be less," to "try to match everyone's energy level," to "stop being so silly."
I didn't listen to him, because I didn't agree with him. It didn't seem like everyone hated being around me because I was laughing and playing and having fun. It seemed like he was just extremely hypersensitive to what other people might maybe be feeling.
But what I wish I'd told him all those times was, "Fuck you. Don't you dare tell me to be less. Why don't you be more?"
Instead of telling me to sit quietly and hold still and have less fun, why not chime in, "Yeah, guys! Let's dance!"
No worries. I'll find my own dance partner.
Instead of telling me we should waste our lives watching some boring movie after I've suggested a wresting tournament (not arm wrestling, but real wrestling) or a night hike or karaoke or a swim, why can't you say, "No takers? Fine! I'll wrestle you!" Or, if you're afraid to accept the challenge because you know I'm going to put you in a cradle, why not counter with, "How about leg wrestling?" or, "Have you ever tried Fisticuffs?"
Once, again, No worries! I'll find my own wrestling partner. Image: The Happy Talent
Instead of telling me to "match the mood," why don't you tell everyone else, "Y'all look like you need some coffee or vodka Red Bulls or something!" or, "Come on! Live a little!"
Here's someone who always matches my energy level! Image: The Happy Talent
Or maybe the problem is that I'm "too much."
Too much what? Too much happy? Too much excited? Too much opinionated?
Yes. I have been told (to my face and behind my back) that I'm "too opinionated."
Which obviously reeks of sexism. No one says any of my guy friends are "too opinionated" or "too harsh" or "too abrasive," and I've got at least one male friend in mind who is 500% more vocal, opinionated, and offensive than I am.
People still love him. People still invite him everywhere. And people NEVER tell him to be less of anything. (Not even less of an asshole, which he kind of is, but we love and cherish that about him. See also: Girls Don't Like Guys BECAUSE They're Jerks. They Like them IN SPITE OF It.)
But also, if you can't deal with the fact that I express strong, evidence-based opinions about the things I have opinions about (I don't have strong opinions about things I haven't researched -- ambivalence is way underrated in today's world), whether it's keeping males out of women's sports or defending myself against male violence or swimming with whale sharks or using GMOs to save the planet... don't tell me to be less.
Just stop being friends with me.
OR. Figure out a way you can be more.
But don't ever ask someone else to be less for you.
In the wise words of Jason Robert Brown, who just might be a better lyricist and composer than I am,
I will not be less because you can't be more. So don't even ask. If you can't deal with how much I am, then leave.
What inspired me to sit down and write this post (other than a cold front that totally messed up the dive conditions today) wasn't a random, newfound desire to shit talk an ex.
It was an exchange I had last weekend with someone who's twice the man that ex ever be.
We'd just pulled a crazy all-nighter exploring Fort Lauderdale by foot and truck and boat. The sun had come up and he'd missed his flight home so we and another guy went out for breakfast.
Even though we'd been up all night, I was still bursting with joy. I was out with friends on a beautiful day in a wonderful city! I was going to swim with sharks later! I wanted to sing and dance and make bawdy jokes...
And this friend said to me, "Bring it down a little. Try to match the mood."
So I told him what I should have told that lame ex all those years ago.
"Why don't you try to match my mood?!"
Then I got up and started salsa dancing in the parking lot with our other buddy.
When we returned to the table, breathless and smiling (but with slightly sore backs and a possible concussion), my friend looked at me and said (these are his exact wordsâ I asked him to write it up for me):
I have to tell you something. While you were dancing, I apologized to the people at the other tables that you were being too much... and do you know what they said?
"You don't have to apologize! She's living and loving life! I wish I were having that kind of morning!"
And it made me realize something. Jeff and I constantly surround ourselves with people who do what we love for a living, yet for the most part we just show up in blah moods and just go through the motions.
I get that energy kick on stage, but normally, we're just existing, instead of living.
I don't know when I lost that spark. As a kid, I was always off the walls and loving life. At some point, I think I became afraid to be my true self, to attract attention, or to interrupt the world around me. This has been an issue for a long time.
I need to stop existing, and start living and loving life.
It was a pretty huge apology, and I accepted it. More importantly, I hope he finds it in himself to be "off the walls" and love life again. (For me, though, there's no issue with "interrupting the world around me." I'm usually so immersed in what I'm doing and the friends I'm doing it with, that I don't even realize there are other people around. Which, as I wrote in 3 Proven Ways to STOP Caring What People Think and Live a Happier Life, is a sign that you've achieved a psychological state of flow.)
Read it. It will change your life.
I would love it if more people could find it in themselves to be more, instead of asking others to be less.
Yes, it is harder to be joyful and playful and silly (and occasionally, confrontational and assertive) than it is to sit around and exist and be passively entertained.
But I promise you. Living a joyful, happy, adventurous, and silly life is 100% worth the effort.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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