Taking the High Road on Being ‘High Maintenance’

There are a few memes going around on social media lately (such as this one which has been all over facebook) where people are given suggestions to choose from, with a point system to match. The higher their result, the higher they are on the High Maintenance scale.  

Now, I say people, but really, it’s aimed at women, if you look at the options provided in the meme.  

Well, as with a lot of things like that, I think it’s bullshit. 

I actually don’t consider having a standard of dress and presentation to be high maintenance. Some people aren’t into it, and others are, that’s all. But I do encourage my clients to find their own special standard that they can try to maintain so that they’re happy with themselves- regardless of the perception of others. 

I definitely advocate people setting their own standard for dress, and doing what they can to maintain it if that makes them feel better about themselves, and more able to face the world. 

Besides, one person’s ‘high maintenance’ is another’s ‘low maintenance.’  

It might sound crazy to you that I’ll spend an hour on my hair once it’s dry, if you can do yours in 5 minutes. But that’s your standard and I have my own. That hour I spend on my hair, saves me time every day until I wash it again- which can be 5-6 days later- and that saves me time over the week. Equally, for someone to have permanent make up applied can be a time saver for them, and it’s something that they’ll never have to spend effort on again.  

Some women get their nails shellacked once a month and don’t have to worry about them until the next time. But others might do it every week. It’s all about personal choice and what works for them. 

In life, we have a lot of influences telling us how to be and how to act, what’s appropriate and not. Sure, there are some rules of society which we need to abide by, but in all of that, we have to be ourselves. And for that to happen, we need to know who we are.  

Part of knowing who you are is how you present yourself, and what feels good for you, and what doesn’t. How you choose to represent yourself is the external aspect of that.  

As much as some people try to deny it, first impressions do count, and so the way you present yourself will go a long way toward whether people are drawn to you or not. It can help you win jobs, friends and hearts- or lose them. 

Memes such as this diminish the importance of a person’s personal standards, and you allow that to happen if you count up your total, and then start to wonder about yourself. Have fun with it, by all means, and count away, but leave it there. Judging yourself isn’t necessary, when you would otherwise have been happy with yourself.   

When people make a comment about someone being high maintenance, it says a lot- about them. 

The context can vary, as can the reason, but mostly it’s about them, not you.  

It could be that they’re saying: 

  • you put more effort in to your appearance than I do mine. 
  • is there more to you than your appearance? 
  • am I doing enough to present myself in life? 
  • you clearly have standards, can I live up to them?  

From a dating perspective it could be, ‘you put so much time and effort into your appearance that you won’t have time for me.’  It could be a fair assessment, as quality time together is important. They could be foreseeing their future with you, and thinking you’ll be busy with your appearance rather than using that time to be with them.   That’s their fear, based on their history and predictions and what they want from a relationship. It doesn’t have to encroach on your plans for yourself.  Frankly, if they’re a stranger and they’re commenting on you in such a negative way, you should consider whether you’ll keep them around.  

It’s not just in the dating world though. I’ve heard of employers who’ve not hired staff because they thought they’d be spending more time maintaining their appearance than actually working. Their motivation isn’t always purely professional either, but it doesn’t matter, once the judgement is made.  

So you see, someone’s thoughts on ‘high maintenance’ say more about them than the person to whom they’re referring. Guys think it’s a question they should ask, like asking which footy team you follow. But it’s quite a revealing question, and if they don’t want to be misinterpreted, and so that they get an answer they can actually use, they might want to rephrase the way they ask it. 

Another person might admire someone for the amount of time they spend on their appearance because they value self respect, and appreciate that such effort is a huge part of that. If it’s important to both of you, then it’s something which will bring you together, as it’s common ground.  

No matter what your relationship status is, or intentions are, you should dress for yourself and the person you want to be.  

I put effort into how I look, but I’m also able to work, be active and maintain plenty of friendships, knowing that I’m consciously presenting myself. But if you just went by my score below, you’d think I was incapable of living a happy and fulfilling life apart from shopping and being at the salon.   

High score or low, make choices for yourself that you’re happy with, and whose repercussions you are willing to live with and are capable of handling.  

If this post helps you, or you know someone who gets judged for being high maintenance, share it with them! Leave a ♥ and if you have experience with this, leave it below.  

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