Superwomen (1/4/06)

Dear Zelda,

Hello. I'm dating a man who I've been with for four years now and things are just fine, except that he constantly counts on me to be there. He wants me to handle his money, he wants me to be with him all the time, he wants me to help him with his everyday life routine. I mean, he depends on me for everything. How can I stress to him that he needs to do this stuff too? I can't do it all. How do I tell him without hurting his feelings?

Sincerely,

Lost Puppy!

Dear Lost Puppy,

I read your letter twice just to make sure you described your relationship as "dating," and not "working for!" Puh-leeze! Love may make the world go round, but it doesn't clean the house, pay the bills, or do the laundry.

Sit that man down and break it to him firmly but gently. You are not his mother. You are not his maid. And, you are not his accountant (unless of course you really are his accountant). These are BAD habits to get into, and if you see this relationship going anywhere, you need to redefine these roles before it's too late. Before you sit down to have this talk, come up with a list of specific examples of things he should be helping out with but isn't, and stand your ground when he pulls out one of those threadbare old lines like "I'm tired after work," or "You're so much better at [blank] than I am!" You're his girlfriend and his partner, and you have, well...yourself to take care of on a daily basis, without having to be entirely responsible for him as well. Four years is quite a long time to let something so consuming become routine, and chances are he may get stand-offish and assume the worst. He may take this as a sign that the relationship is not going so well, and think of this "talk" as the beginning of the end. You'll need to reassure him that this "chat" is the beginning of a better "you," which ultimately will translate into a better "him," which will hopefully bring everything full-circle to a healthier and happier "us."

We can't expect people to change over night, and you shouldn't be disappointed if, the morning after the talk, you don't wake up to the sound of the vacuum cleaner, the smell of fresh-brewed coffee and home-made waffles, and the sight of a dozen roses at the foot of your bed. Just start small, and ask that he pull his own weight in a couple areas most important to you. On the off chance that he doesn't respond, be prepared to put your foot down and be the bad guy, even if it means having a few arguments in the process. In the end, you'll be steering a much healthier course for the relationship.

We superwomen may be faster than a speeding bullet, but it doesn't mean we don't appreciate a break every now and then.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I see that your column is on "Superwomen." I want to be one! What is "it" that makes a woman a "Superwoman"?

Mere Mortal

Dear Mere Mortal,

For everyone, not just women, this is a great question. Without a doubt, I would say the "it" that turns mere mortals into superwomen is "confidence."

Sure there are numerous other factors that go into the making of a "Superwoman:" intelligence, charisma, drive, determination, etc., but without the confidence to convey those factors, the traits of a Superwoman may lay dormant, never to realize their full potential. A woman who walks into a room without confidence is merely that... a woman who walks into a room. Give that same woman a confident walk, a confident look, and the inner confidence that radiates like an aura around her, and that woman becomes a "presence." A Superwoman doesn't leap tall buildings, she enters them like she owns them. A Superwoman doesn't stop a speeding locomotive with her bare hands, she stops traffic with a walk of easy confidence. The most powerful superpower a Superwoman can possess is that she doesn't have to be all things to all people. She has the confidence to know when enough is enough without guilt or reservation.

The main misconception most people have about Superwomen is that they DO everything (and I know some who do), but what's really important is not necessarily that they DO everything, it's that they know they CAN do anything. It's easy to be intimidated by the world, by the skills of others, and by our own doubts, and it's hard to remember just how capable we are, and the things we can accomplish when we set out minds to it.

You wonder what "it" is that will make you a Superwoman? You already have "it." You just have to learn how to embrace "it" and exude "it."

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I'm not sure if this question fits for "superwomen," but I'm hoping you can settle an argument between my husband and me. We're about to get our first dog and I think female dogs are far superior to males and of course my husband thinks the opposite. Who's right?

Girls Rule

Dear Girls Rule,

It's a perfect question! We dogs are superwomen too! For starters, I have to say you are both right. I realize this doesn't solve your argument, but the truth is, there are a lot more important factors out there than the gender of your precious pooch, like breed, background, and disposition. Depending on why you want a new pup (breeding? guard dog? lap dog? a guard dog for your lap dog?) your next decision should be based on these hugely important factors. Superiority isn't based on the gender as much as the breed and the temperament of the individual dog. Do you want a dog that's docile and timid? Do you want an aggressive bouncer and night-watchman? Or, might you prefer a somewhat pudgy, but nonetheless ador-a-bull, extremely photogenic bulldog? These are the real issues worth debating with your hubby.

That said, most breeders will tell you that female dogs are requested more than males. The overall perception is that female dogs are less temperamental, and therefore less aggressive. But let me tell you, it's not all roses on this side of the fence, and even if I am always a picture of poise and composure, I live with a couple of girls (I'm not naming any names!) who definitely know how to "throw the bitch switch." Both females and males have an inborn sense of who's the "alpha dog," and more often than not it is the female who gets aggressive when other animals are present. On the other hand, training may be a little easier with females due in large part to the fact that males retain their puppy-like qualities well into their adult years (sound familiar?), whereas females tend to be more reserved as they get older.

Raise a puppy right, treat it well, and it will be a great dog, male or female. Beyond that, who cares what the sex is? With all this love, good socialization with other animals, and proper training, your dog is bound to be a "super dog." Finally, if there are no plans to breed, making sure that your dog is spayed and neutered is a great first step, not only to being a responsible pet owner, but also to ensuring you have a more even-tempered pooch free of superiority complexes.

Love Rules!

Zelda