Recently, the Switcher* lost her boyfriend suddenly, tragically, and oh-so-unexpectedly. When I called to offer my condolences, she told me about what a great guy he was, and how he treated her so well, yada, yada.I realize this sounds very blase, but it isn't. I'm really sorry and sad for her and I hope that she's getting through this tough time as well as can be expected.
The things she was telling me were the things that, realistically, shouldn't have been all that special. He did things like actually taking her on dates and calling when he said he would and telling her how much she meant to him.
These things started making me think about The Boy and why I am so fond of him and how well he treats me. Because he does things like picking me up from the airport and refilling my glass without being asked and cooking me dinner and giving me a crapton of music when I want new stuff.
And then I started to think: are The Boy and The Switcher's Boy really that awesome, or have our standards just gotten incredibly low based on our past experiences and the experiences of our friends? (My conclusion: Yes for The Boy and undecided for Switcher's boy, because I never met him). I mean, Bestie's ex, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, pretty much never did things like that. When she came to visit me, instead of taking her to the airport, he made her take the subway and like 2 bus transfers. Because that was the kind of shitty boyfriend behavior that I had vicariously (and somewhat from my own previous shitty boyfriends and boyfriend-like-things) become accustomed to, when The Boy took me to and picked me up from the airport for Cupcake's bachelorette party, I gushed my thanks. Repeatedly. It was actually pretty ridiculous. Granted, he did have to come get me at midnight, and he had to leave a lab meeting early to take me to the airport, but it wasn't that big a deal, objectively. After the 500th time I told him thank you, he said to me, "I really need you to stop thanking me. It's making me feel like you didn't expect me to do this for you." But to me, it wasn't a small thing. It was a big deal that he wasn't selfish. It was a big deal that he was willing to use his gas to come get me in the middle of the night so that I didn't have to pay for parking and drive home after spending 7+ hours traveling.
But also, I think our standards have just gotten really low. I think it's important to be grateful for and acknowledge when our SOs do selfless things, no matter how small or insignificant, but at the same time, I think that we all need to start expecting a certain degree of selflessness from our partners. I'm not saying that we should all take advantage of the people we're dating or that we should subjugate ourselves, but I think some courtesy on both people's parts is pretty important. It shouldn't be surprising that my boyfriend is willing to pick me up and drop me off, because my boyfriend and all of my friend's boyfriends should just do those sorts of things. And if they don't do those sorts of things, we should kick them to the curb, because their selfish asses do not deserve the lovely, selfless people that we are, and I think that tolerating that sort of behavior not only harms us personally, but harms relationships everywhere. If my boyfriend's friends all treat their girlfriends like crap, and their girlfriends don't leave them, for whatever reasons that girls have for not leaving their shitty boyfriends, eventually my boyfriend might learn that that sort of crap is acceptable, and it so isn't!
*Best friend from Middle School