A few months ago, I found myself on a road trip with my husband and a (male) friend. We hadn’t traveled 10 miles before falling deep into conversation, as only the open road inspires, and before long I was venting to the guys about the self-inflicted pressure we women endure, which “they could never understand.” At the time, I was planning two bachelorette parties, one baby shower, a three week-long trip, and pushing through a gruesome fitness challenge. The one thing all those commitments had in common? I elected to do every single one of them.
At my age, I’m getting big news every week. Engagements, weddings, babies — yay! It’s all so wonderful, but why is it that my immediate response to hearing that news is: What can I do? Is anyone hosting your shower yet? Do you need help with invites? When can I bring over dinner? I shared this with the guys in the car that day, and confessed that I don’t exactly find every one of these volunteer opportunities to speak to my love language, and in fact, in many cases they’re incredibly draining. Enter, stress.
Contrastingly, I see the way my husband nurtures his friendships. Believe me when I say, there is none of that. He and his friends are there for each other emotionally when needed, they hang out just as much as I do with my gal pals, but are they bending over backwards to buy each other’s kids birthday presents? And worst of all, guilting themselves when they drop the ball? I think we all know the answer to that.
The problem with all these rituals is how cyclical they are. We all participate, and when it’s our turn to take center stage, we expect it from others. But if we all have different personalities and interests, why is it that we’re all expected to relate to this kind of ceremony? If I acted each time I thought about showering a friend with a gift or an event, it’d be a full time job. And of course, for many women, it is.
I suppose the reason I mention any of this is to simply pose the question: Are we addicted to overcommitting? Does it cause more harm than good? And the biggest question of all, why don’t men do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.