I was driving home from Atlanta late the other night, changing stations with my deft never-miss-a-beat male fingers, and one song played three times within an hour. It is called “HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMAN”. Since I am always looking for topics that fit under the umbrella of mental health and relationships, I felt that this was a sign from the universe that this topic needed to be addressed. Actually this topic is often discussed in relationship counseling. (Another motivating factor was that many men got really defensive about my article a couple of weeks ago asking men to quit “fixing” or “improving” their wife and, thus, they felt their wives needed to be under the microscope as well)
In my research I found many descriptors of a “high maintenance woman”. Most have common threads. One writer, Madeline Murphy (note I am using a woman commentator here to illustrate my non sexist bias). To quote Ms. Murphy: “High maintenance women are like high maintenance sports cars. They’re lots of fun when you’re out on the town together, but for every hour of showing off, there are another ten spent on upkeep and repair behind the scenes. … Broadly defined, high maintenance women are those who need many things (money, material goods, affection) to be happy. These women love dressing up whenever possible, and are obsessed with all aspects of their personal appearance and grooming in general. This almost obsessive attention to detail usually extends beyond their person, to their homes, pets, and even to their men. They tend to be perfectionists.”
According to Ms. Murphy there are pros and cons regarding the HMW:
Pro: She looks like a million bucks. Their fascination with their own looks means that whenever they step out of the house, they look perfect.
Con: She knows she looks like a million bucks. She’s never met a mirror she doesn’t like. She may blow huge wads on things like manicures, self-tanning, and keeping up with each and every trend. She also may take herself too seriously.
Pro: She’s a challenge. For men who like to be challenged on a daily basis, the HMW girl is the
perfect choice. She likes attention, compliments, and fancy dinners, and she demands the best of these things. She will keep you on your toes.
Con: She can’t be satisfied. She is like a ravenous beast, always wanting more of everything. She will find fault in all your best efforts.
Clinton Bland, author of AMERICAN EPIDEMIC: HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMEN, lists five characteristics of such a breed:
1. Hard to please: she’s never satisfied.
2. Center of attention: she has to have the spotlight at all times.
3. Can’t distinguish between needs and wants: she’s irrationally demanding and confuses what she wants with what she actually needs.
4. Won’t take responsibility: she never admits to being at fault but is quick to blame. She depends on others to meet her needs.
5. Plays hard to get: she prides herself on being a challenge; because it puts here in control. She takes more than she gives.
Bland feels “high maintenance habits stem from a need to fill a void or soothe insecurities.”
The emphasis in this article is not to judge, but rather to describe a certain type of woman. My desire in all articles is to raise awareness at to what exists, evaluate the findings, and change whatever may be deemed suitable for optimal functioning and healthy relationships. May the focus of this article on “high maintenance women” help women look at themselves and men assess what they may desire, or not.
P.S. I am so grateful that I am not married to a “high maintenance” woman!!