“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”
– Amy, Gone Girl
That passage was so chilling when I read it. I still remember the first time I decided I wanted to be the “cool girl”. I was playing vanilla WoW, and we were about to go and do a dungeon (I think it was UBRS, back when you needed a small raid group). Gravemind, our shaman, suddenly said, “sorry guys, I have gf aggro.” This was back when world PvP was more of a thing, and I thought that he was being attacked by griefers. So I moused over his name to see where he was so we could go and help him, but it said Orgrimmar. I was pretty confused, as unless you PvP flag yourself, or have just come out of PvP, enemy players can’t normally attack you in our home town.
Not long after, raid chat had messages like, “bl dude” and “just buy her some flowers afterwards”, the most memorable being, “just get her to blow you under the desk while you play”. He left the raid group and logged off. By this point, I had figured out that “gf” meant “girlfriend” (this was the first time I had played an MMO where people actually talk to each other, so I was still trying to catch up on the lingo, cut me some slack!), and I was astonished at the reaction of the other people in the raid. The thought that my partner could be speaking to other people about me in this way crushed me so much. So I decided I didn’t want to be that person. OK, so I guess it was a desire not to be the “uncool girl” rather than wanting to be the “cool girl”, but I think the two desires are at least unidentical twins.
I can’t say that I went and picked up a bunch of hobbies purely for the purpose of trying for male attention, and that part I am glad of. However, I do think it changed the way that I saw relationships. I wanted so badly not to be seen as the crazy clingy girlfriend, so if we didn’t talk for an entire week, well, that’s cool, no big deal. Even though internally, I was thinking, “What did I do wrong? Is he cheating on me? Does he find me boring already?” When he did finally message me, I’d force myself to wait at least an hour before replying – because only clingy girls check their phones constantly, right? He wanted to jet off to Spain for a couple of months? No problemo, bro! I’ll just…. sit at home and hope that my tier 2 robes finally drop.
Thinking back, I feel like a lot of that was my fault for not wanting to be the “uncool girl”. Early on in the relationship, I was giving the perception that all of that stuff was OK with me, and then getting angry about it afterwards, which to be honest, is pretty unfair. I was secretly keeping a tally of all the times I had let him do what he wanted to, even though I was unhappy with it. Then, when I finally made a request of him, and he said he didn’t want to do it, it made me so angry. From my point of view, I was thinking, “WHAT?! I’VE LET YOU DO THOSE 29 OTHER THINGS AND YOU WON’T EVEN DO THIS ONE THING FOR ME?” Now I understand that from his point of view, “Hmmm, do I want to go and see this girly movie? No, not really.” He’s evaluating this decision independently, but I’m evaluating it while taking into account the 29 other “sacrifices” that I have made in the past.
In some miracle utopia where everyone is empathetic of everyone else’s needs, I could expect him to realise that I’ve made what I consider sacrifices, but that’s not the real world. As long as I continued to pretend that I was the “cool girl”, I would keep having these cycles of being calm and understanding, and then bursting out in rage. Perhaps this aligned with my monthly cycle, I don’t know, I never kept track. I imagine that’s how he rationalised it to himself though, “Yeah, she’s cool, except during that time of the month, y’know?”
Since then, I have tried a lot harder to stop keeping that secret tally. I think it caused a lot of the earlier issues between me and MrFodder, and while it does pop up every now and again, it has reduced dramatically, and I can usually catch it before it becomes too bad.
I don’t know if I can ever get rid of that, “Do whatever you want” mentality, as it seems like such a fundamental part of who I am, but I have gotten a lot better in uncoupling my feeling of self-worth from the actions I feel my partner should be performing. A big part of that was learning about the five languages of love, and that different people can show their love in different ways. I was getting upset that he never did one thing, while completely ignoring the other things he does to show he cares about me. MrFodder has never bought me flowers. A few times, when seeing other people get flowers, I feel jealous that I’ve never had that. But then I realise that I don’t even like flowers, and we don’t have a vase, and they make me sneeze, and they’d just go in the bin or get regifted anyway. So is the reason he has never bought me flowers because is lazy/unromantic, or because he knows me so well?
I’m going to guess it’s the latter, and it’s not just because I want to be the “cool girl”, because I can never be her. And that’s OK.