A long time ago in a galaxy far away (college), a guy I was into at the time called me this in jest. "You're so high-maintenance, Femi". Though it was meant to be harmless, upon hearing his assessment both my stomach and heart went hurtling towards the floor. I appeared to take it in stride (at least I think I did?) but inside I cowered in shame. High-maintenance? It made me question myself, feel like I needed to shrink, to be less...me. But now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure the term "high-maintenance" is some misogynistic bullshit and imma tell you why.
"High-maintenance" feels to me like what a guy says when a girl either enjoys putting effort into her physical appearance, refuses to settle for his baby bullshit, or both. And men have been taught to use this phrase as a sort of litmus test, as though if within the first few dates the “high-maintenance” box gets checked, you gotta throw her back dude. Not only that, RUN FOR THE HILLS because we all know “high-maintenance” is just a dog whistle away from “crazy”. I say Fuck That with every fiber of my being.
First of all, examine what you think being "high-maintenance" is — I can almost guarantee that your definition will unravel in real life. Listen, if we're talking about someone who is emotionally immature and/or unaware of their anxious attachment style (#psychology, look it up) then that's something different, and we should call it what it is. (Also, those traits are not relegated to women. Might I point out that nobody calls a man "high-maintenance" when he makes his partner do most of the emotional labor in the relationship. *see gif below*)
But if you're saying a woman is high-maintenance because she wears "too much makeup", or won't spontaneously go swimming with you on a date after she spent maybe close to an hour perfecting the artwork that is her face, you're an ass. If she's high-maintenance because she asks you questions about your feelings and seeks to share her own with you, you're an ass. Did she call you frantically one night because you went out with your friends and never came home or let her know you were okay? That's called looking out for someone you care about, and if you think she's high-maintenance because of it, you're an ass.
Second of all check yourself: are you using this as some sort of ill-formed metric by which to measure the women you're dating? Let me tell you right now, that’s ridiculous. It's bullshit like this that developed the "chill girl" persona. You know the one: a girl who never wants to stir the pot, or bother her boyfriend with trivial things like her thoughts or personality because she’s trying to be as “low-maintenance” as possible. Listen, if you want to be in a relationship with an actual human being, it’s going to take a good amount of maintenance. It’s going to take taking the other person’s feelings seriously, making them feel safe to share, and being courageous enough to be vulnerable with your own. If you think some women are "high-maintenance" I'd challenge you to a) unpack what that really means to you b) ask yourself if you’re being an ass, and then c) stop it.