The Situation: Good Girls sacrifice themselves to rescue others from their feelings and this sacrifice costs them.
Years ago, I was dissatisfied with my haircut. I wanted something different, and my current stylist, Jane, tried but couldn’t deliver. A friend suggested I go to Susan, another stylist in the same shop who did great cuts and used all natural products that wouldn’t harm my hair or the environment. I wanted to try Susan and I felt extremely uncomfortable with leaving my current stylist and going to someone else in the same shop. I felt guilty of disloyalty and betrayal. She will be offended I told myself, I should find another shop. On the other hand, I thought it should be OK to choose who I want to do my hair. Does one have to commit to a lifetime with one stylist?
I scheduled with Susan when Jane wasn’t available. I loved how she did my hair. She explained the quality of the products. I made my next appointment with Susan. When I got to the salon, I asked if I could talk with Jane before I went in with Susan. I saw the receptionist ask and her and she shook her head no. When I sat down on Susan’s chair, I noticed the hush in the salon. Stylist were either whispering to their clients or not talking at all. The tension was palpable. I felt Jane’s rage from across the salon.
Before my next appointment with Susan, I wrote a note to Jane explaining that I just wanted a change and thanking her for doing my hair for the time she did. I dropped it at the salon for her. I don’t know if she every read it, but she never spoke to me again.
This was a bad breakup. I broke the “good girl code” by doing what I wanted rather than putting up with what I didn’t want to save Jane from her feelings. I regret that I didn’t try to speak with Jane before showing up for Susan. Still, I had to talk myself out of the feeling that I did something wrong because she treated me as if I did. I evaluated her reaction as extreme. I reminded myself I get to choose who does my hair and who doesn’t. I have a right to decide who I spend my time with in general. I have a right to decide who uplifts me and who doesn’t and choose those who do.
Jane also had rights in our relationship also. She had the right to be angry, but I would say she didn’t have the right for her anger to spill out and contaminate the atmosphere in the salon. I would assert that it is unrealistic for any service professional to think that any client will stay with them for ever and take it out on others when the client leaves for any reason.
I’ve noticed other women who want to break up with their stylist, or their financial advisor, or someone who provides a service for them and are reluctant to do it. I can hear hesitation in their voices. I hear them making up excuses rather than just moving on to get the service they have a right to or telling the provider what they want and seeing what they can deliver.
Even when they know that they can get better service for less money, women still hesitate to break up. They have more concern for the feelings of the inadequate service provider than they do for themselves and their own needs. They are literally too good for their own good!
“Good girls” worldwide are taught to put the needs of others above their own. This is a societal norm across societies. It is the expectation of women by men and other women. It is the patriarchal norm. Women instinctively know this, but they aren’t always conscious when they are involved in perpetuating it.
This norm keeps women stuck in situations and with people they would rather not be with – a hair stylist, a “friend” who drains them, a husband who beats them. Continuing to be in relationships that don’t serve and uplift, keeps women serving rather than in mutually enhancing relationships. These relationships literally cost women energy and sometimes money.
I respect women who concern themselves with the feelings of others. It is admirable and makes them great relationship partners. However, if they are doing so at their own expense, if the relationship is costing them, the relationship isn’t mutual and fulfilling and needs to go or at least be minimized so it costs less.
Are you a woman who wants to break up and feels too uncomfortable to do it? If so, here’s how:
- Determine why you want to break up? Do you need a service you aren’t getting? If so, you may want to ask for it. Do you know where you can get the service you want and are ready to move on? Do you have a restless vague feeling that you can do better or that you are dissatisfied? In any case, the more you can excavate about why you want to break up now the better.
- Make a two-column chart titled Pros and Cons of Staying. Then list all you can think of including the obvious like pricing and the more subtle including how you feel when you think of staying. Writing things down and being able to see them, often making the covert overt, will be helpful in making your decision.
- Decide if you want to try to get what you want from your current provider. If so, craft the message you will send or deliver in person. Be very specific about what you want and ask if they can deliver it. Evaluate if you want to give them a try or not. Either way, you have the right to decide your next move.
- If you decide you want to move on, you can either tell your current provider or not depending on the service. If you go to a new shop to get your hair cut, you don’t have to announce it. If you plan to go to a new financial advisor, you may have to ask for a summary of your current plan or investments or other information. Or maybe not. Perhaps the new advisor can access your information or has a way to mitigate the situation.
- Ask yourself why you are delaying your departure? Do you have doubts about what you want? If so, what are they? How will you figure them out if you don’t know? Are you feeling disloyal or as if betraying the service provider?
- If you are putting their feelings before your own feelings and the right to feel satisfied and even joyful about the service you receive, remind yourself you have rights too and your right is equally important to their feelings.
If you can’t seem to bring yourself to cut the cord, talk to someone who can help you. If you continue to stay stuck, it will be a distraction in your life – something unfinished, some thorn in your side, a constant irritation. Too many of these lead to anxiety and depression in women and impede them from having the confidence they need to develop their talents and reach their goals