Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Starter Girlfriend

He sat on my bed with his back to me. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was crying. “You’re the one who’s been in relationships before,” he said. “Can’t you tell me how to fix it?”

A part of me wanted to help, to reach over and hug my boy, and tell him everything was going to be okay. But the other part of me (the part taking over lately) was exasperated, fed-up, and wanted to march around town in stilettos and hot pants to find herself a Real Man. I can’t lie: I want cowboys and firefighters for lovers, brawny arms and rescues from burning buildings. I don't want to be someone’s mom or personal relationship coach anymore. I’m getting a little tired of being the Starter Girlfriend.

Some women break horses. Others break in shoes. I break in men. To clarify: I don’t break them. In fact, I make them: Many go on to fulfilling relationships after me. They come out so well in fact, I should start charging for the service. Take Steven. He discovered religion a year before we met, wore wool tartans, and was dazzled by the philosophical depth implied by my signature Tom Petty ensembles – short-sleeved collared shirt, skinny tie – as well as my love of the Pixies and Pulp. I shrugged and gave it a shot. Four months later, Steven and I broke up and he went on to date Karen, who sits in the pew next to him at church. They play chess together and have dinner with Episcopalians every Thursday night.

They are perfect for each other, and very happy, and I’m still waiting for my thank-you note. I was Steven’s first “real” girlfriend. Near the end of our time together, we sat on a grassy, sunny hill on the University of Berkeley campus, facing the crowds of similarly clueless college students. Steven took my hand and said, “Just tell me how to make you happy. I want to learn how to be a good boyfriend.”

So I told him: Listen to me, and talk to me. He learned – so well, in fact, that he and Karen have now been together for eight months.

So why do women like me end up Starter Girlfriends and never permanent ones? According to Dr. Bella DePaulo, author of "Singled Out ," we can credit our smartypants ambitions for this one again. We're getting married later, becoming self-sufficient earlier, and pursuing advanced degrees and travel before even thinking about having children. So a less-experienced — maybe even significantly younger — man can seem like a low-maintenance alternative to a time-consuming, adult relationship. But, of course, many women find out too late that he’s the exact opposite. ... click here for more


Anonymous nick said...

I think the title this entry must be change First Girlfriend.

12:47 AM  
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12:07 PM  

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