Moises: What to do with a high-maintenance partner

@IRKED: Hi, Singlestalk. My girlfriend refuses to go swimming with my family. She doesn’t want to get her hair wet or wash her makeup off. We hardly have quality time. She’s always taking her selfies, rearranging the food on the table, editing her photos so she can update her IG. She has to always look like she just stepped out of a salon. Camera-ready, whether it’s a date night or we’re just going out to buy corned beef. Our relationship is also too one-sided. She’d call me three or five times a day just to check. When not working, she hangs out at my condo. If I tell her how her behavior is bugging me, she can’t take them without going on the counterattack or getting defensive. We’ve been in a relationship for three years now. She’s been asking me why I am not proposing yet. Is that even a question? I think she’s too high maintenance. What will I do?

DJ: The struggle is real. Okay. It looks like she’s too caught up with her own image, wants, needs and desires. Based on the number of ticked boxes, your girlfriend may indeed be high maintenance. Her biggest pro is she must be hot. She seems bullet-proof obsessed about her appearance. It’s sad if it doesn’t show. The biggest con? She can be too much to handle. Why such behavior? Well, if she believes she’s God’s gift to mankind, then she’s probably used to getting what she wants. She’s blessing the earth with her divine presence. Men like you should be content to serve her and make her happy. But are you happy? Now what?

I suggest you decide what you can and cannot manage. We all have quirks. But if her overall demeanor is bothering you in a major, major way, is it already a deal breaker? It’s normal for a couple to bring up areas for improvement. Now if they all come back to you like a boomerang, can you still handle things? Try using “I” statements to express your thoughts. Like “I need space” instead of “You’re too clingy.” Yeah, they can mean the same. I feel you. But at least the former sounds more like it’s you rather than her. Sounding accusatory will never yield good results.

Set the boundaries. If you stay lax, she can keep working her way into your psyche. Tell her directly how deep and how wide the space you need. And keep bringing them up every time she crosses the line. It’s hard to be aware of what other people are feeling if she’s operating with a sense of entitlement. Everything is about her. And all she asks is just one thing—for you to understand. Go forward with much strength. Don’t give up your power. Perhaps what she needs is to be with a man who is strong.

Figure out if what’s bugging you are just the little niggles or are they already the non-negotiables. Even when we love someone, we’re not going to like everything about them. For a relationship to go the distance, we need to learn not to sweat the small stuff. But don’t ignore the red flags. Your email is a litany of what you don’t like about your girlfriend. Hopefully, she’s got more positive qualities than all those. Otherwise, you might have already been blown away by the high price you’re paying for all that beauty. Some men find this too expensive. What about you?

It’s easy to get dazzled by her looks in the early stages of the relationship. You have a show stopper on your arm. But underneath all the superficiality of her IG posts, can you see a good heart? Mutual respect and paying attention to each other’s needs are important to relationships. Otherwise, one ends up becoming a drain while the other is running on empty. It’s a tough patch if left unmanaged. That’s my opinion. Aside from its potential to be a good tweet, patience truly is a virtue. You can take up running too or whatever sport that will relax your mind. And if she still keeps pushing your needs to the back after giving the relationship your best shot, maybe a shot of whiskey will help you see the future. Can you still see her in it?