Being high-maintenance is such a bad thing, right?
Hear me out on this one: Being high-maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean adopting Mariah Carey-levels of diva-like behavior. (“I only eat strawberries picked by virgins in the moonlight!”) In most cases, it just means putting a priority on having your needs met. And given how hard it is for us do that sometimes, what is often considered “fussy” is really just self-loving, self-assured behavior.
Consider this: What’s the opposite of high-maintenance, exactly… low-maintenance? And what is that? Easy? Convenient? Those sound like words you’d use to describe a refrigerator or a boring haircut. And you’re neither of those things. You’re a unique human being.
I’ve been called high-maintenance once or twice (OK, maybe more!) and I’m cool with it. In fact, when I hear it, instead of feeling bad about myself, I feel sad that my high-maintenance moments are considered outrageous to some people.
In my cases, I’m saying what most people might secretly want. They just don’t ask (and alas, don’t get). For instance, I’ll always say, “I’d like the OJ only if it’s freshly squeezed; otherwise, water is great!” And when I say something I really want, the number of echoes I hear after—”Yeah, I’ll go for that too!”—is proof to me that we settle a lot of the time.
And I’d love it if more people settled less. Because high-maintenance types not only fulfill more of their desires, they actually give other people permission to have their desires satisfied too.
Here are some healthy, high-maintenance examples I love:
1. Be honest about what you want.
I have a friend who really wants a baby, and she’s dating a guy with two kids who says he’s “closed for business” on the child front. What’s she waiting for? I advised her to be upfront with him. She was, and he said he won’t change. He called her selfish(!), and I wanted to show up at his door and punch him for shutting her down in such a hard way.
Being honest does one of two things: It can either get you what you need (check!) or get you outta something unsuitable, fast (also check!). There’s everything right about honesty—even when it doesn’t jive with someone else.
2. Turn stuff down.
Someone asked me recently if I could attend an event in the fall, and I said I would if I could but not to wait on me (I hadn’t yet decided if I wanted to be home in the U.K. around that time for my mama’s birthday). He said, “Why can’t you just be easy about it and show up?”
Because I can’t. And that’s cool. I’m a people pleaser, and it’s hard for me to not automatically say yes to others, but I’ve learned the hard way it’s better for everyone to commit to less upfront.
3. Socialize around a workout schedule.
I have a friend who will almost never cancel a dance class. She loves it SO much, she organizes dinners, work, mini-trips, even out-of-town friends and their get-togethers around it. And you know what? Good for her. She’s healthy and in great shape (not to mention, she looks way younger than she is). What’s it to anyone else, really?
4. Prioritize your grooming.
I get eyelash extensions every 3 weeks or so. Yes, it takes 3 hours total (including getting there and back), but it means I get away with not wearing makeup most days. And that’s actually low-maintenance when you think about it. Same with regular mani-pedis, waxing, etc.
Being consistently beach-, date-, whatever-you’re-doing ready feels good and speedy. Punctuating your calendar with appointments investing in how you look isn’t vanity—It’s just taking care of you. Because looking good feels good.
5. Sleep enough.
I sleep nine hours a night on average. When I don’t, I’m not as bubbly, upbeat, or creative. I don’t have the energy. I’m happy to cut out of a party late (“Sorry guys—I’m tired!”) or say to my husband, “Whatever you do, don’t wake me in the morning.” I also don’t do yoga or take meetings before noon if I can help it. Being rested is better for not just you, but every single person around you too.
The most successful relationships, businesses, and life experiences flow when people are honest about what they need. Being high-maintenance, for me, is synonymous with being truly myself. It’s efficient, too, because more often than not, I get what I want the first time around.
Being high-maintenance can actually make you more chilled out in a lot of ways too. Ever thought about that? It eliminates complaining, confusion, and secret resentments. There’s less gossiping about how much you hate the restaurant, how exhausted you are, how you never get to choose the movie, or that you’re always last in line.
Being clear about your needs just puts what you expect out there. And if you’re respecting others along the way, there’s no reason for you to not receive what’s good for you. In fact, there’s everything right about that.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!