If I could, I would probably eliminate the word "should" from the English language. It causes far more problems than it is worth.
In the past several weeks I have encountered an abnormally high number of situations concerning female entitlement, in which the word "should" is either implied or outright stated by women regarding the behaviors of their male partners or targets. "Should" happens when our view of a just world is in direct conflict with the actual world we see before us. And rather than attempt whatever is in our power to change it for the better, we decide merely to complain about it since we are "right" and it is the world's responsibility to change to suit us. The inherent irony however is that being "right" is often a miserable experience, since we are then stuck in a world that isn't the way we want it, and the only comfort we have is our indignance.
Ladies, I could agree with you about your "shoulds," which is often what you want me to do... you will sit there with me and you will want the typical girlfriendly compassion that involves me saying, "You're right, he SHOULD do that. He SHOULD behave that way. Shame on him. What a bad guy." And then we will sip our cosmos and snarl at any guy who approaches us at the bar.
And maybe, if an objective and impartial system of justice existed in the universe, maybe you WOULD be right. Maybe in an objective reality, he really SHOULD do whatever it is you think he should do. But I wouldn't be doing you any favors by commiserating with you and encouraging your indignance. You would still be stuck in the miserable situation of being "right" and being mad about it.
So instead, I turn to you and say, "Okay, so what are you going to do about it?" And you get mad at me because you think that I'm implying that it's your fault that your man is behaving in this awful way (as if there is such a thing as "fault" in the world, or, if there is, as if it's at all useful to us in any way). Well, I'm not -- but wouldn't you feel better overall if you could believe that you were capable of taking control of the situation in order to get the results that you want? (I know I do. That's why I do what I do.)
There's a tenet in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) that goes like this: The meaning of your communication is the response that you get. This means that whatever sort of reaction that you get from the person you're communicating with (verbally or nonverbally) is a direct result of the message you've put out there. If you don't like the response, change the message. If what you're doing isn't working, do something else -- anything else -- until you get something that's closer to what you're looking for.
Trust me, once you let go of your desire to be "right," you will open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities and empowerment.
Alright, let's get to some examples. These are the most common "shoulds" that I hear from women about their guys:
1. Sexual Entitlement: "He Should Want To Sleep With Me"
"He has a penis; I have a vagina. All men want sex. Therefore, he should want to sleep with me, and if he doesn't, something is wrong with the world." I have heard this horror story more times than I'd like to recall. I even heard a story of a woman who, in attempting to sleep with a guy she liked, literally pounced on him and had to be pushed off. (In my mind's eye, I always picture him behaving like a cat that doesn't want to be held, when it straightens its arms out in order to avoid contact -- "Nooooo!" -- and her then falling off the couch. And then I laugh, a lot. Ladies, don't let this happen to you.)
What's particularly awful about this is what an awful double standard this is. What if men felt this sort of sexual entitlement regarding women? What if a man physically pounced on the girl in the above story, expecting sex from her? Right, that'd be called attempted rape. Yet we so often allow ourselves to subscribe to this kind of misandric entitlement that allows us to feel wronged at sexual rejection. (Just as an example of what a double standard we have these days, have you even HEARD the word misandric lately? Do you even know what it means? I know I had to google "opposite of misogynist" in order to find the right word.)
Rather than that, why don't we take some responsibility for our own sexual attractiveness? And I don't just mean the typical mores that women are probably going to immediately think of -- go to the gym, lose more weight, go out wearing makeup, dress nicely -- although seriously, those don't hurt -- I mean taking responsibility for creating a persona and an environment that are conducive to sexual seduction. I've long thought about the multiple strategies that the aforementioned woman could have taken to achieve her goal far more effectively than pouncing... remember the previous entry where I talked about patience? Yeah, that.
2. Exclusivity Entitlement: "He Should Be My Boyfriend By Now"
It's like there's this unspoken contract that women expect when they start seeing a guy: "Alright, we're dating, and I'm putting out, gee it's been a few months now, isn't he my boyfriend now??" Time and exclusivity do not necessarily go hand in hand. Often a guy thinks to himself, "Hey, we have a good thing going here, why ruin it?" Yet all of a sudden the girl he's with starts making the assumption that they are no longer seeing other people, even though there has been no spoken negotiation about it.
Know this: one of the most appealing things about sex is novelty, so if a guy has the option of having a woman by his side for support, confidence, and consistency, while still having sexual access to whatever nubile young thing crosses his path, he will probably take it. (In my opinion, this is not always a bad thing -- in fact, stay tuned for my next entry where I'll expound upon my thoughts on monogamy, lack thereof, and everything in between -- but I understand why women want exclusivity and so I'm prepared to teach you how to get it.) If this is not the arrangement you want, you're going to have to work on adding enough value and creating enough leverage to where you are able to set the terms for the relationship.
That's right, it is YOUR responsibility to be wanted by him enough for him to be exclusive with you. Also, let's do the math, ladies -- as strictly a numbers game, if a guy is seeing several women, he can't be ALL of their boyfriends by the time they each hit the three month mark. If you want exclusivity from him, you're going to have to go out of your way to create something that he wants and wants alone.
3. Relationship Entitlement: "He Should Do XYZ Because He Is My Boyfriend"
But he isn't, and your solution is to... complain to your girlfriends about it? Whatever it is that you want out of your relationship, you have to be prepared to set your terms once you've created enough value and leverage that he is certain he wants to be with you. Then you must be able to clearly state those terms and explain to him what they mean to you. If he is a stand-up guy and if he cares about you, chances are he will comply with most of your reasonable demands, as long as you know how to communicate them without placing blame or throwing a hissy fit.
If he doesn't, then you have to be prepared to walk away -- at least if what you're asking is that important to you. Yes, walk away -- because if you are willing to stay no matter how someone behaves toward you, then you are setting the standard that they get to treat you however they like and still keep you. You have two choices, and three possible outcomes: The first choice is to stay with him and decide that whatever you were asking wasn't worth sacrificing the relationship. The second choice is to decide that you do not want to be in a relationship without whatever you were asking for, and to leave.
The three possible outcomes then look like this: 1.) You stay, and you don't get what you want, but you accept that and decide that you can be happy without it. 2.) You leave, and you find a new relationship with someone who freely gives you what you want. 3.) You leave, and he comes back, realizing that you were serious, offering to give you what you want if you'll stay.
But complaining about his behavior is going to accomplish none of those things.
* * *
When in doubt, it does you no favors to use the word "should" or to complain about being "right." Taking responsibility for the reactions you get around you will put you in a place of empowerment and allow you to create the situations around you that you want.