Do you worry that you’re “too much”? Concerned that if you place too many demands on someone you’re dating, you’ll scare them away? Maybe you worry that if you set boundaries like
- having contact X times per week
or state your needs
- “I want us to meet each others’ friends”
- “When you sleepover I don’t want it to be just for sex”
- “I want you to text me back”
they’ll think, “This person is just asking too much, I’m outta here!”
Maybe as a result, you decide to be chill, to not show how much you care, to pretend that things just slide off you. You’re not making a big deal out of anything, not pushing anybody to do anything that might be outside of their comfort zone. You’re less likely to scare anyone away with your demands if you don’t have any.
The Costs of Being Too Chill
Unfortunately, faking chill can backfire, for three different reasons.
1. You’re Being Inauthentic
When you’re faking chill, you’re not being yourself. The person you’re dating does not get an opportunity to get to know the real you, because you’re putting forth a dishonest portrayal of yourself. There is a psychic cost to living an inauthentic life, putting on a “face” so that someone will like whomever it is that you present to them. You’re wasting their time, and even worse, you’re wasting your time, because you don’t know if they like the real you or the chill you.
2. You End Up Resentful Because You’re Not Asking For What You Need
Say you’re holding back expressing what you really want in a relationship. You want to be monogamous. You want near-daily communication over text on days you’re not seeing each other. You want to do activities together outside of sex. You want this to turn into a serious relationship, but the other person appears to be OK with the status quo, or does things that irritate you but you think if you have a conversation about your pet peeves, they’ll think you’re more trouble than you’re worth. You start to feel resentful. Maybe you let out passive-aggressive jabs, or you “forget” certain things. You find yourself acting more cold than chill. You wish the other person would know what you want when you send out hints, and get angry that they can’t read your mind, or appear to ignore your subtle signals.
3. Being Chill May Backfire
Being chill may appear to work as a strategy at the beginning of a relationship, when the stakes feel low and you are concerned that pushing for your needs will be met with resistance or dismissal. But if you appear to be just shaping yourself for another person — reflecting back to them who you think they want to see — there’s nothing for them to hold on to. They might come to the conclusion that you’re a pushover, someone with no strong opinions. How can they know the real you if you don’t say what you need? Eventually, they may feel like they don’t want to move forward with you because they don’t respect you or can’t get a strong feeling for where you stand.
The Middle Ground Between Chill and Difficult
You can state your needs without being perceived as someone who bitches and complains, someone who’s high maintenance. Just communicate clearly and directly about what you need. Don’t say, “You never do X, Y or Z.” Say, “I would feel more valued if you texted me a few times a week to ask how I’m doing. I feel like I have been the one initiating contact, and the lack of reciprocity leads me to feel insecure about how much you think about me when we’re not together.”
Disregard rules and timelines. If a feeling is eating away at you, it’s beyond time to talk about what you need. You don’t need to wait for X dates or Y months together to bring something up. Some people want to get married before they have sex, other people are fine having sex on a first date as long as safe sex is practiced. Both are demands. You get to decide what you need to feel ready to go deeper.
If after clearly communicating your needs, the person you’re dating reacts as if you’re being unreasonable or dismisses your needs, ask yourself what’s more important: your self-respect, or to be with this particular person? You may not want to be alone — or being with this person may have certain benefits you don’t want to lose — but if you have core needs that will help you feel
- a sense of reciprocity
and the person you’re with is not even willing to entertain them, you’re ultimately doing harm to yourself by allowing yourself to stay in this kind of relationship.
Be yourself. It’s better to know in the beginning if the person you’re dating doesn’t want to be with you. It’s their loss.