One For Me, None For You: Relationships and Compromise


Compromise

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If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that relationships are all about compromise, I’d be writing this on the third floor of my winter villa in Rio.  By the way, I couldn’t use the first floor since it would be in use as a working recreation of a Starfleet holodeck, and the second floor would be flooded for reenactments of ancient Roman navy battles.  My point is, muphuckas are always preaching about the virtues of meeting in the middle.

It’s not that I’m arguing with the precept.  My problem is that, more often than not, men are the only ones actually expected to head down shitty old Compromise Road.  On the other hand, our girlfriends and wives just stand there, barely stepping foot on the path themselves.  It’s like we’re characters in a Looney Tunes feature and our ladies are the wascally wabbits.  “She switched the signs, dummy!  That’s not Compromise Road, that’s Her Way Highway!  It leads to a…cliff.”  Womp, womp, wooooooomp.

Here’s a real example to clarify my meaning, based on a conversation with a past girlfriend:

Me: “By the way, I’ve got plans on Saturday night.”
Her: “What plans?”
Me: “Well, I’m supposed to meet up with some friends for drinks.”
Her: “Uh…but I wanted to go dancing on Saturday.”
Me: “OK, but you didn’t tell me that, and I already made plans.”
Her: “Yeah, but I should come first.”
Me: “You do come first, but we’ve spent every day together except one since Sunday, and it’s Thursday.  I have other friends, too.”
Her: “But I’ve been studying all week!  That’s not quality time!”
Me: “Any time that I spend with you is quality for me, moon of my life.”
Her: “OK, OK.  Let’s just compromise.  Why don’t you go out with me this Saturday, then hang out with your friends some time next year.  That’s cool, right?”
Me: “Dear, sweet, lovely woman…that’s not a compromise.  That’s you getting your way completely.  Isn’t there some other way that we can both be relatively happy?”
Her: “FUCK YOU!  Your mother sucks cocks in hell!

Or something like that.  The bottom line is that we both wanted something, but she totally got what she wanted and I got jack.  And it sucked.

Even so, it’s not like I think that women are inherently manipulative, self-centered creatures who will stop at nothing to see men trapped beneath the weight of their thigh-high boots.  On the contrary, I believe that this inclination to promote their own needs at the expense of their partner’s evolved as a defense mechanism, a means of combating their relegation to second-class citizenship in a male-dominated society, and it’s realized through artful appeals to chivalric principles.

As I’ve said elsewhere, chivalry is an insidious institution, and I propose that this is yet one more way that it damages our relations with one another.  Having been instructed that a gentleman caters to the every want of his lady, women have come to use this teaching as a blunt, but immensely effective weapon to help even the odds in the battle of the sexes.  Turn weakness to strength: relentlessly question a loving man’s commitment to your emotional well-being and you’ll win the day more often than not.  The Tzu brothers, Lao and Sun, would be proud.  (Note: if you believe that these ancient Chinese men were actually related to each other then you are ignorant, racist, or both.)

So, most men succumb to the browbeating, acquiring the conflicted, cartoonish demeanor that TV husbands have displayed on every sitcom from “The Honeymooners” to “Modern Family.”  Sure, we talk a good game, stomp around the house, and on occasion even dare to challenge our better halves face to face.  As a result, 15% of the time we may get our way.  Still, 75% of the time poker night gets canceled, there’s no boys’ trip to Prague, and you can forget about buying the full-scale replica Iron Man suit with a functional wee-wee hole.  All the while, us menfolk sit stewing, wondering when in the name of Al Bundy we surrendered our gonads.

Yep.  Guilt and an overactive desire to please eventually give way to resentment, and that brings us to the 10% of the time for which we have yet to account.  Care to hazard a guess as to what happens then?  That’s right: rebellion.  Appearing to acquiesce, sheepishly nodding our heads and avoiding eye contact, we slink into the shadows…biding our time.  Our moment may come later that day, it may come next year, but rest assured it will come, and when it does, not an iota of guilt will accompany our transgressions.  No, we’ll rest easy on a resplendent throne, our smug visage pressed firmly against the flowery bosoms of an exotic dancer named Passion as the DJ replays “Bandz A Make Her Dance” for the third time.  After all, revenge is a dish best served from a strip club buffet, and years of compromise have made us very, very hungry.

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