What exactly do we mean when we say that someone is Girlfriend Material? Now when I say we, I’m not including myself in this as I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase in a non-sarcastic way, but I often hear it bandied around. So what does it mean? The only image that I can conjure up is of a woman who always has a boyfriend, who merges her life with her partner’s after five dates, and stops seeing her friends for months at a time whilst she shapes a new life with her significant other. Did that sound bitter? Well it was, so that’s why it sounded that way; job done.
I am not bitter because I am not Girlfriend Material (the jury’s still out on that one. In fact, they should have been back years ago. Where are you jury…), but because I am the friend that has lost many a friend to the apparently full time job of girlfriend. As far as I understand it, the salary isn’t great but there are other perks? I don’t know, but I know that my singledom these days makes me the exception and not the rule. But this isn’t really about my hurt feelings as the left behind friend; it’s about being a girlfriend. Or not having the potential to be one. Again, all drawn from my own experience so I suggest you take it with a truck load of salt.
I think that in the general sense, I am not Girlfriend Material. I think I come very close, but I cannot quite put up with all the things other people can. Once I was seeing this guy and I knew something was off, but he was willing to play the game as long as I was. Then one day we had a conversation about having kids as soon as you’ve gotten married. I was saying to him that the expense of weddings could mean that maybe this wasn’t a good idea, and that I would rather be in a good financial position before starting to have kids so that they could be properly provided for (see how sensible and logical I was? Terrible.). He disagreed and told me pointedly that that’s what benefits were for.
Was I a bad girlfriend for deciding that I didn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore from that one sentence? I don’t think so, but I’m me, so maybe that’s why I’m not Girlfriend Material, because I didn’t believe that I could just change his mind about some of the things I saw as fundamental flaws in his character in relation to me? Hmm, maybe not. But how about this next example.
I was once with a guy who I did not kiss until our seventh or eighth date or something like that, because I didn’t want the sexual tension to impact on my feelings about him. I now realise how misguided that was, and how it did not reduce but rather increased the sexual tension between us. And I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t waited so long, I might have realised sooner that he wasn’t the one for me. Who can say. Anyway, after we had kissed and things got hot and heavy, it was all go. And then just when I had cooked an amazing meal and we were about to, you know, he tells me that he recently discovered his ex was pregnant with his child, and he probably can’t be trusted.
What’s hilarious about this is that that wasn’t even the point at which I walked away. But you get it; it was not a good sign. Girlfriend Material stays and tries to work it out right? Girlfriend Material doesn’t wonder too much about why he chose that particular moment to tell me, or why I felt terrible for the next short month of our relationship? Girlfriend Material makes him the man she needs him to be, right? Or maybe Girlfriend Material doesn’t do any of those things and she actually just walks away. How the heck would I know?
OK a final example. I was dating this guy for a few months and he very quickly inducted himself into my life. This was all fine, but I realised after maybe two months, that I had never seen his place or where he lived. We made countless plans to rectify this which were always cancelled by him at the last minute. Something was up, and when I challenged him on it, he made up a pretty weird excuse about family living with him, that he’d not previously mentioned. After much discussion, it was clear that he didn’t want me seeing his home for some reason, and started omitting details about lots of things. He became secretive and edgy, and that was that really. Now should I have sat around and waited for him to reveal his truth whilst he continued to be dishonest in the interim? Was I a bad girlfriend for not waiting?
The answer obviously is this; who cares? Waiting around for something to change in all three situations does not good Girlfriend Material make. Those relationships didn’t work because they didn’t, for various reasons that I think would have been further negatively impacted by me suddenly acting in a way that I thought a girlfriend should act. I would list here what kind of girlfriend I actually am, but I think I’ve sullied my good name enough for one day.
My real concern is finding someone who I consider Boyfriend Material. Like everything else in relation to the disparity between men and women, I rarely hear people talking about men as Boyfriend Material. But if I had to pick, they would be everything I’m not and love everything that I am.
It’s really that simple.
Image credit: Unhappy Girlfriend by Gan Khoon Lay from the Noun Project