Okay, so, full disclosure, I came into this read via an essay critiquing it. However, because I make a habit of giving both sides a read before reaching any conclusions, I naturally came here right after reading said rant. I’ve also read some of your other essays before having ever come across this one. I’ve enthusiastically clapped for some of them and have even highlighted some quotes for later referencing. That said, this present essay is, in my opinion, well-meaning, yet biased. (Though to be fair not nearly as offensive as I expected, based on its aforementioned critique.)
Now, the reason why I feel this is biased is, it presupposed stuff. My main issue, personally, is this here assumption: ‘foster girlfriends’ (and maybe that's a rather offensive term, as we’re quite different from hopeless shelter animals other humans have abandoned), are at fault for their own status. That’s often just not the case.
What of the opinionated, successful heterosexual/pansexual/bisexual woman (which I’m noticing is the main demographic here, despite this being subtitled to also include men) who just happens to intimidate a lot of men by means of her outspoken views and her outstanding career accomplishments? What if said woman simply happens to have met a string of insecure men who found her success undermines their own comparatively more modest achievements? What if her assertive nature simply happens to intimidate a lot of men? Sometimes, men quit dating determined women who threaten their ‘masculinity’ and go on to date and subsequently marry the next more 'traditional' woman. Which is, of course, perfectly fine on all counts, aka simply a matter of better compatibility. Would it have been appropriate for the ‘foster girlfriend’ to undermine herself in order to not bruise his fragile ego? Is such a mismatched relationship truly one worth nurturing?
I’m only asking these questions, because I, too, used to think ‘it’s me’. I, too, once believed I was broken, that I was destined to be ‘a foster girlfriend’ because there’s something wrong with me and the way I approach relationships. In some ways, it was true: I didn’t bring up long term plans, nor did I veto my dates thoroughly enough to make sure our priorities aligned – and in this respect, I believe your advice to be completely on-point; both parties deserve to not waste one another’s time on misaligned goals. But.
- Finding a partner who values my career and isn’t intimidated by said pursuit was quintessential to my wellbeing;
- Finding a partner who’s equally pragmatic was essential in my not having to pretend to be more invested in ‘the romantic part’ than I actually am;
- Finding a fellow introvert who values their alone time equally as much as I do was paramount to my mental health;
- Finding a partner who prefers a night in playing co-op strategy games to ‘effortful dates’ was just overall a relief.
Six or so years ago, I wanted to be in a long-term relationship. I also wanted to, well, all of the above. I wanted to continue being a challenging, personal-milestones-driven, opinionated introvert, without having to resign myself to a life alone. And it was, as it turns out, all possible, alongside the right person. It wasn’t me, all along. I just hadn’t found the right partner to vibe with all of that.
I think this essay could’ve been really solid advice. It just could’ve done with a more thorough definition of the highly specific problems it’s looking to help solve. As well as, maybe, a less dehumanising term than ‘foster girlfriend’. My partner and I have fostered many cats; there’s a huge difference between them and pre-long-term-relationship us, and that significant difference is our autonomy as individuals, which sadly the aforementioned abandoned cats did not enjoy.
I respect your work overall, and hope I’ve managed to contribute a bit of a different perspective, rather than having simply come off as an aggressive jerk.