html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I'll still cook for <i>you</i>, though.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'll still cook for you, though.

I cook, and I host, and I arrange things, and I help people move, and bring food when they have babies and write something here every day. I do all those things ‘cause I like doing them. But I also do them because part of me knows that no one will like me if I don’t. I mean, why would people have me to their parties if I don’t bring apple cake? Would I get invitations to dinner parties if I weren’t throwing them*? I don’t really expect people to come to my dinner parties for me, but as long as I can keep the good food coming, I’ll have guests.

Other people also have this attitude, but they are patently wrong. I suspect Justin got into his woes with his girlfriend because he initially offered to do all sorts of things for her so she would like him. That may, in fact, be why his girlfriend likes him, but I think Justin’s great and he’s never done a thing for me. I adore Justin just because his tone is so distinctly, relentlessly him. I had another friend make a terrible comment that all he was worth to me was helping me be handy and introducing me to his single friends. I was shocked at that, because he has never done either of those things, and yet I always like to spend time with him. Had he not noticed? Worst and most heartbreaking is that I get Google searches nearly everyday asking “what can I do to make my boyfriend love me”. Oh honey. Honey, I’m sorry. In the first place, I obviously do not have the answer to that one. But second, honey, there’s nothing you can do to make your boyfriend love you. He already loves you for who you are, your person and your self and nothing else, or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, you cannot cook enough food to make him love you. I know that one for fact.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten over much of this attitude. I’ve stopped a lot of the one-sided doing for people. It makes me tired, but more than that, it makes me resentful. People who don’t view friendship as an ongoing exchange of small gifts and chores and hospitality will simply never reciprocate in that vein. I cannot control their gratitude for another batch of cookies, (which they likely never valued as much as my company and thoughts and smile), but I am in charge of my resentment. When I feel like I am giving away more of myself than I am getting back, I simply stop. The fallout comes where it will. But mostly, it doesn’t come. People still want to play with me, even if we don’t go back to my house for mac and cheese. I go to parties empty-handed and they let me in! I had to change, and it has been a tremendous relief. It is nice not to be so driven. It is nicer that my friends like who I am.

*The answer to that is no, but that is a combination of two things. First, you slackers don’t throw dinner parties. Second, some of you throw dinner parties, but then you only invite other couples. Single women notice this, by the way. I will not be accepting your invitations when I have a boyfriend. There are exceptions (looking at you, Tall Chris and Anthony), and they are much appreciated.


Anonymous VR said...

Personally, I find it exhausting to be around people who are constantly trying to win my approval, doubly so for people that already have it. For one, it makes me sad for them, and sad for myself that they believe I am the sort of person who buys and sells friendship for favors. Secondly, I feel this incredible amount of pressure when a relationship turns in to a quid-pro-quo relationship. Instead of just relaxing, hanging out, enjoying each others company, I worry that the scale is slightly unbalanced -- she baked me cookies, so now if I don't bake her cookies back, I'm the worse friend. I had a friend like that once, and every little thing I felt like I would gain or lose points - if I didn't call her one weekend, I'd have a surge of guilt, knowing that I (even unintentionally) tipped the friendship scale the wrong way. That's what happens when friendship turns in to a buying/selling thing.. and it's exhausting.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

You look at your incoming google search queries every day?

You might want to add that to your list of "things not to mention on the first date".

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say the bigger problem are the people who have no problem asking for favors, but aren't so happy to reciprocate.

I really have no interest in getting people to like me. As a matter of principle I do what I can for my friends and girlfriend, because that's just how it should be, and that's what I'd like from them. As self sufficient as I can be, it's just easier to get some things done with help.

And, I don't keep track of trivial things like, I gave him a soda, so he owes me one the next time I'm at his place. But, the bigger things, if I help someone fix their car all weekend, then need a ride to the airport a month later, I really expect the help without question.


2:28 PM  
Blogger ScottM said...

I've done the cook, host, arrange things-- it can be very nice, and it can be a drag. You're wise to dump it when it becomes a drag. My situation with dinner parties is similar to yours; I was the only person interested in hosting that way, for a long time.

Fortunately, the rest has followed your path too-- I realize that it's not the brownies I make that make me invited. Hmmm... this seems like a huge "me too" post.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Oh Justus,

I'm ashamed to tell you how often I check Statcounter. But it is so interesting to see how you get here. And what you read.

2:47 PM  
Blogger susan said...

I too am a Statcounter junkie. You're right though - plenty of interesting info to be gleaned.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

I got here directly from

4:16 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Sometimes. Sometimes you come here directly from

4:29 PM  
Blogger capella said...

Most well-meaning people give to their friends in whatever manner they are capable of that they think is wanted/needed - the problem seems to come when what they offer goes unnoticed or, worse, unwelcome.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous jens said...

Not that I've done a dinner party in years, but NOT invite singles?


One of the most fun parts of a dinner party is to invite two singles of appropriate sexes that you think ought to know each other.

The fact that this almost never works does nothing to reduct the fun of speculation.

9:24 AM  

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