Mr X: “Hey you! Planning to go out at all this weekend?”
Miss Z: “Going out on Sunday for an early dinner and drink. You?”
Mr X: “Nice! Don’t know yet, maybe something tonight.”
Miss Z: “Fair enough, enjoy.”
Mr X: “Yeh, you too.”
Being the long weekend and having been dating Mr X for a month my girlfriend expected Mr X to spend time with her. It was rational and reasonable. He had three days off and he had not made any solid plans, so why not take some time to replicate a scene of a romantic comedy for her? Except all she got was a measly “You too”.
The skilled dating gamer would let it go, pretend not to care and dismiss it as his loss. But my girlfriend’s ego was at stake. The witch was lighting it aflame and she was ready to fire-fight that s*^t.
Miss Z: “Are you seriously not going to make an effort to see me this weekend?”
Mr X: “I don’t know if your attitude works with other guys but with me it doesn’t, it makes me think you’re unpleasable company.”
OH HELL NO!
NO HE DIDN’T!
Miss Z: “If you think I am unpleasable company I suggest you don’t waste your time.”
He made a vague apology and revived the situation by saying he’ll see her Sunday.
It was late Sunday and there was no phone call, text, email or Facebook message in regards to their supposed Sunday night plans. My girlfriend had accepted that the only way this Sunday date was going to happen was in her dreams, which involved her breaking his fingers so he have a legitimate reason to not get in contact.
6.45pm and there is a Snap Chat from Mr X.
Maybe this was a sign?
The picture consisted of alcohol bottles and a bag of weed, captioned: ‘It’s gonna be one of those nights’.
It was a sign alright.
A sign that she was being e-maintained.
It was only at the start of this year that I became aware of this e-maintenance craze. It seemed like everyone was doing it and everyone was having it done to them. Blogger and writer Yashar Ali sums e- maintenance up nicely “In order to keep women happy, women need to be maintained. Men are socially conditioned to behave this way to prevent women from becoming hysterical. In their mind, they are keeping her satisfied electronically with inconsistent, rapid and short bursts of texting which bared little or no substance”.
In a generation of indecisiveness, we have become obsessed with this idea of keeping our options open; of having multiple maybes rather than a definite yes. I would be lying if I denied my participation in the craze. At one point I was enjoying e-maintaining two men. It became evident quite quickly that I was not going to have a career in juggling. I did the sensible thing and quit before I embarrassed myself and got fired from a job I didn’t really want in the first place. Upon reflection I wonder why I felt the need to e-maintain and came up with a few plausible explanations:
- I didn’t want to put my eggs in one basket. The logic was if one egg was off then at least I had another one I could crack open and poach.
- I wanted to eat my cake and have it too. I experimented with this idea and guess what? If you eat your cake, you eat your cake. You just get left with some shitty crumbs.
- I thought I should show loyalty to my R’N’B roots and adopt that playa-playa lifestyle. Only Joe sang a song about how he didn’t “wanna be a playa no more” and I thought it be best if I took his advice.
E-maintenance was about having a back-up plan. That if everything fails in the game of dating and love, you had someone to fall back on and someone you can continue playing the game with. For me, the idea of e-maintaining and playing the game was too simplistic, immature and one directional. It involved minimal effort and maximum expectancies. You pay $2 for a meal that took $35 to create. The entire problem with this e-maintenance epidemic is you fail to make any meaningful connection and commitment. The mentality that you need a back-up plan already sets you up for failure: If you’re already thinking about it not working out, how can it work out?
E-maintenance was just as much about effort as it was about ego. E-maintenance decreases the chance of direct rejection therefore minimalizing the bruising of the male ego. If that was the case, is that why calling had been replaced by texting? To avoid direct rejection? I dread dating a man that can only use his pretty little fingers to type a text rather than dial my number. If I am unable to hear your voice, I am unable to know you. Regardless of such ideals, I went on a date with a guy who was obsessed with texting, almost as if he couldn’t exercise his fingers enough. After a disastrous date my girlfriend called me out on it, “Honey, he e-maintained you. He invested the lowest amount of effort and received a higher amount of return”. Then there was the other side of the scope, how it made someone feel when they realised they were being e-maintained. Vividly I recall the realisation that I was being e-maintained, my ego was deflated. I felt like I was the runner up in a competition that I didn’t know I was even in.
I currently have a friend who is being e-maintained by a guy who has a girlfriend. After months into their friendship, when my friend decided she had invested feelings, he surprised her with the “I have a girlfriend…” line. Sensibly she did the right thing and distanced herself from him. He must have taken this as her playing hard to get because he suddenly upped the ante on the e-maintenance. There was a sudden surge of texts, the occasional phone call and request of catching up (one that he always backed out of last minute). It was quite clear what he was doing. He was queuing her and she was unconsciously lining up for take a ride on the rebound train. She was engaged in a new phenomenon that is becoming more common in this non-committal world. Yes I said it! The world has become non-committal. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but in the world of non-committal e-maintenance the only way to survive is to be honest with your intentions, it’ll save you from headaches that’ll require popping a Panadol or two.
I’ll end with a little advice I got from a self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo: If he is e-maintaining you, then he is just not that into you.