A while ago I came across a Twitter post that made my entire soul eye roll. A man (or boy) was complaining about inviting his girlfriend over to his place for the first time and intentionally leaving the house dirty to see if she would clean it. When she didn’t take the bait, he proclaimed: “I thought this one was actually wife material but she entirely failed this girlfriending test #fixitjesus”
Let’s quietly gloss over the very obvious concern that we all should have for an adult man whose home looks like this. We’ll also casually ignore the not-so-subtle misogyny and inference of female subjugation to men as it pertains to being domestic, though everything about that is problematic. Still, the most gear-grinding part about this “test” is that it’s very normal for men to play games like this, unbeknownst to us, and, in my experience, take you out of the running to earn your “GF” or “MRS” degree.
And women do this too. “Forgetting” wallets, lying about someone seeing him somewhere with another girl. I even know a woman who broke up with a man because he didn’t finance her latest salon visit. Absurd!
Somewhere along the line, dating has rapidly devolved into a single player video game sequence, a la Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where one must be of a pure heart (or in this case prove worthiness) by meeting an inconceivable list of requirements that haven’t even been communicated. And that, dear friends is stupid. I am not naive to the fact that there are certain compatibility benchmarks you look out for in a potential partner. I do however think it is incredibly rude and obnoxious to set booby traps and “tests” to see if one passes them as a prerequisite for coupledom. The only tests I care about are your standard annual physicals and STD screenings.
The last time I was in a relationship, I fell prey to this sort of thinking. I was told by my boyfriend at the time that he felt like he couldn’t marry me because I never offered to do laundry or clean his apartment when I came over. The “pick me” complex kicked in and I began jumping through all the hoops to prove I was worth marrying. In fact, I became your quintessential Stepford wife archetype. I was the girl with a difficult 9-5 job who came over to his place every day after work, pie in hand, packed lunch in the other, and new lingerie under my clothes. Essentially, I was playing house with a man who would never come to marry me.
The adult thing to do would have been to initiate a conversation along the lines of, “Hey, I notice when you’re over you don’t offer to do x,y,z, why is that?” Instead, people get a sick sense of enjoyment from deliberately setting blind tests to prove eligibility. Relationships aren’t marriage applications, they’re partnerships. Ideally, partnerships built on mutual effort, communication, and respect. We are all well within our rights to set whatever standards for a partner we may. However, it is selfish to ask things of someone that you cannot give yourself. If you cannot keep a clean home, you really have no merit in asking for a neat spouse or girlfriend. Setting tests only goes to prove that you see potential partners as commodities and not actual people.
It took a while, but I shed the pick me complex. I realize that self-worth and value in the context of a relationship is being coupled with someone of equal or complimentary effort. Games and tests are for children. It’s 2018, we’re leveling up and dating grownups now.