If You Think I’m a Bitch, Call Me a Bitch #atwys

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Alexisbitch
Comment: I am absolutely tired of hearing mean say “You must have high standards”

After they ask me what I do for work this is the response I’ve received from nearly every single guy I’ve met in the last 3 years.

Once I hear those words, I’m completely put off by it and don’t entertain any more calls/texts/messages from them regardless of how I may have met them to begin with (online dating, mutual friends, or out & about)

Why do they say that? I work with a non-profit organization helping low-income populations gain access to a variety of resources throughout the community. I just don’t understand what part of my career path screams “high standards”. I’m in an industry to help people.

Honestly every time I hear that come out of a man’s mouth it’s like nails on a chalkboard. And then I wonder “Well do you have any standards for yourself at all?”
Age: 32
City: San Diego
State: CA
I think you might be connecting the wrong dots. I’m not sure a comment like, “You must have high standards!” is related to your profession. I think it’s more likely a comment about your attitude and disposition. If that many men truly develop that kind of first impression about you, then you’ve got  a problem, and it’s not your job. It’s in your presentation. Even the tone of your letter makes you sound rather reactionary. You sound like you get huffy quite easily, and over things that aren’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

I was listening to a podcast recently, and the male co-host introduced his female co-host by saying that she was quite outspoken and opinionated. Later, he said that he assumed the role of spokesperson for the duo because “he was a bit more diplomatic” than his female co-host.

Translation: She’s tempermental and mouthy because of all The Feels and she’ll say something stupid. The worst part was that she just sat there and said nothing in response to him. Not only was he being completely patronizing, but he was essentially putting her down. To her face. In public. Oh, did I mention they were married? Good times. For the record, being described as “opinionated” is not a compliment. It’s a nice way to say that you shoot your mouth off. A lot.

Personally, I have zero problems being called a bitch. I like it. I take pride in it. But I don’t like being called opinionated, especially by a man. I’ll take passionate. I’ll take outspoken. But opinionated? Nope. That’s a very volatile word right there, especially when being used to describe a female. Opinionated, in my opinion, when used to describe a woman, often means “pain in the ass.” It has a very different connotation when applied to men. People LOVE Alec Baldwin, but they HATE Anne Coulter.

As we discussed yesterday, people aren’t going to come out and tell us certain truths. The reasons why people dump us or never call or lash out at us typically aren’t even the real reasons why they are doing so. To be that honest takes a level of vulnerability I’m not sure many people are capable of. Instead, they are going to dance around it. What these men are saying to you, Alexis, is that you come off difficult. They’re just not saying it directly. They’re using code words, like the guy in the example I gave. What they’re really trying to say is in the subtext.

The subtext of the feedback you’re getting, Alexis, is that you come across unpleasant in some way.



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20 Responses to “If You Think I’m a Bitch, Call Me a Bitch #atwys”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I agree that the OP comes off a bit hysterical in her letter. So “high standards” could be code for “high maintenance.” Or maybe these guys aren’t that articulate and they are erroneously using “high standards” to mean “lofty values” which could definitely relate to her choice of career.

  2. The D-man Says:

    Yeah, “high standards” seems like a non-sequitur for a discussion about your career. Are there other topics that come up? Or maybe you present your career choices in a dramatic light?

  3. Nicole Says:

    I have a similar “do-gooder” type job (I teach special needs, low-income kids) and I’ve never had anyone make a comment about my having high standards. Moxie’s right, trying to connect one to the other doesn’t even make sense.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been called a bitch and a snob by plenty of guys on OKC, usually for the high crime of not responding to their message in five minutes or less. But when I tell people what I do all day, the typical response is either “that’s great” or “wow, that must be really hard”.

    If this reaction always happens when you bring up your work, it probably has more to do with HOW you’re talking about your career than with your actual job.

    • C Says:

      I used to be in a very competitive field and no one has said that to me either.

      I once interviewed a group of candidates for a position and while two of the candidates were well qualified really more like over-qualified for the role, one of them was a very mellow and easy going guy, and the other (yes it just happened to be a woman) was very intense and in your face. Needless to say, I didnt chose the woman. She could have done the job well but she would just have been endlessly frustrated and frustrating to others.

      My point: its not the job, its the personality.

  4. Kyra Says:

    I’m really confused how someone could reply “You must have high standards!” to someone who says “I work in non-profit organization [blank] as a [blank].”

    We’re obviously not getting the full story hear, and the letter writer is trying to make herself seem like Mother Theresa. Either tell the truth, or don’t bother, since we can’t give proper feedback to a fabrication.

  5. Chris Says:

    If a neutral phrase irritates the shit out of the OP, she probably has temper issues.

    ps – Being opinionated is a good thing.
    It implies that you can think and then form an opinion on a wide variety of (ok most) issues.
    So much better than being a dumb tool that can never make up their mind about anything, never takes a stand and is a highly influenceable sheep.

  6. D. Says:

    1. Re: the OP and the phrase “You must have high standards.”

    What’s wrong with having high standards? I think the more important question is why the OP takes offense at that. I mean, to my way of thinking, the appropriate response is to laugh and say “Yeah, I guess I do.” As long as you’re comfortable with high standards meaning that most people won’t meet your baseline, and you’re cool with waiting until you find what you want, go for it. Own it.

    My guess (and this is, admittedly, a pretty substantial guess based on not much info) is that the OP does have high standards, and is worried that her standards are unrealistic and keeping her from finding whatever it is she wants. That ends up being highlighted each time a guy says this to her, because the implication is “I don’t meet your standards, and I doubt anyone else does.” And the scary part is believing the second half of that — that nobody else does meet the standards. That’s something the OP will have to examine more closely. Are her standards too high? Are they unrealistic? I don’t know, but it’s up to the OP — and nobody else — to determine that and make peace with it.

    2. Re: “Opinionated”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I far prefer people — men and women — who are opinionated. As in, they have opinions, often strongly held, and based on experience and information they’ve gathered over time. People like that are interesting. People who have no opinions are boring. So, I don’t see a problem with being opinionated in the slightest. To the contrary, I think it’s a strength.

    On the other hand, being rude, tactless, or otherwise shitty to other people, that’s a whole other kettle of fish, and people like that, I tend to avoid. But I don’t call them opinionated. I just call them rude.

    3. Re: Alec Baldwin vs. Ann Coulter

    This strikes me as a bit of a false dichotomy, since Alec Baldwin’s primary mode of making a living is acting. Comedically, dramatically, whatever. He may say obnoxious things from time to time, but that’s in his personal life, rather than in the roles he plays. Ann Coulter, on the other hand, basically makes a living by saying the most outrageous, antagonistic things. She is, in essence, a professional troll (in the internet sense of the term). She says shit to get a rise out of people, and that’s how she puts food on her table. So, to my way of thinking, two very different kinds of people. For all I know, Ann Coulter is a wonderful, kind, generous, and perfectly pleasant person in her personal life. I have no idea, because all I see is her public persona.

    Also, I’ve never heard anyone use the word “opinionated” to describe Ann Coulter; they use a very, very different word for her. (Or, rather, for her public persona.)

  7. C Says:

    Very well put.

    The only point I would disagree with is this:
    “People LOVE Alec Baldwin, but they HATE Anne Coulter.”

    People also hate Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Rielly, and Michael Moore. Strong opinionated people are only fun if they either agree with you or are diplomatic in their disagreement.

  8. bbdawg Says:

    Like many others have said, there is a part of the puzzle missing from the letter. What I would guess is that the OP comes from money or brags about her schooling in some way that makes her seem demanding/difficult or hard to deal with. Is the OP also vegan/gluten-free, I wonder.

    Or it could be that she is Gwyneth Paltrow-y in that she has the perfect diet and is also saving the world, Being Better Than You, making kale chips, exercising 3 hours a day, and stuff like that.

    The OP needs to give us more information. Something is missing from the picture. It can’t possibly be about her job.

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      Mary Poppins people; practicably perfect in every way.

      Most folk wouldn’t want the burden of living up to that.

  9. Donnie K Says:

    What struck me about this letter is the tone. The OP sounds like…a bitch.

    As other posters point out, something’s missing.

    I think the answer’s obvious. If the OP is coming across on her dates the same way she does in her letter, guys are put off by her lousy attitude, not what she does for a living.

  10. LostSailor Says:

    Must agree with the commentariat that the OP isn’t “connecting the wrong dots” because the dots she mentions don’t connect at all. If she actually hears men say “oh, you must have high standards” they are reacting to something other than her job. I can’t imagine anyone actually saying that without some real provocation.

    And Moxie is quite right about “opinionated.” Folks who are championing being opinionated are not understanding the word. It’s not about having an opinion on a topic or a variety of topics. Being opinionated is generally declaiming one’s opinion as the only possible opinion and asserting one’s opinion as fact. Being opinionated usually involves being loud, rude, obnoxious, and boorish. Generally the behavior of people of low character, not high standards…

  11. Noquay Says:

    I too work with underrepresented groups. However, my work and my life are two separate entities. I’ve been called intense, passionate, about things I feel strongly about. And yep, when it comes to dating, to life, I have high standards. We all should. Allowing oneself to be marginalized is on us. We all need to be the best we can be and not stand for disrespect in any form.

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      Actually, we don’t need to be the best we can be.

      Really, that attitude is not necessary at all.

      • Noquay Says:

        I respectfully disagree. Yep, many folk choose not to live up to their potential whether it be being a good citizen, being responsible, break free of the behavior patterns associated with having a bad family, bad upbringing, not taking care of themselves. Fine. You cannot expect anyone to invest in you as a partner/spouse if YOU are unwilling to invest in you. The world owes us nothing, is not going to give us a break; it’s up to us to do the hard work of self improvement.

  12. Sarah Says:

    As other commenters have noted, there is a bit of a disconnect here. There’s a reason you’re getting the same comment over and over, and it may or may not have something to do with your job.

    As an experiment, maybe try a first date where you say very little about your job. I’m sure it will come up, because people are boring and predictable, and there’s little else to talk about at that point, but try to just answer that question without editorializing, deflect as subtly as possible, and move on. If you’re able to do this, you might get a clearer picture of what’s provoking the comment. If you don’t get the comment at all, then you’ll know it’s job-related.

    Most people on first dates are hyper aware of negativity, and it’s a turn off. But, most people have some critical things to say about their workplaces, so it could be the case that you’re saying too much, too honestly, too soon. That old slogan, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” which was probably on a dandruff shampoo commercial or something, rings especially true in the age of online dating. You get one chance to present yourself in a positive light, so any critical thing you say will be perceived as representative of your whole personality, attitude, and outlook.

  13. Dave Says:

    Ten years ago, a woman said on her dating profile that she was 51% sweetheart, 49% bitch! I responded to that interesting line and it led to a short relationship. Her profile was indeed correct, but the bitch part was what made the sex out of this world because of the emotional drama. I say this because bitchiness is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Where this OP is concerned, I would say she is not a bitch. Rather, I think she is a person that is very difficult to get along with to the point of being a pain in the arse. Guys who are giving her feedback have already concluded that as much.

  14. Lily Says:

    I have high standards and that is expressed in my online profile. I have to work very hard to find a man I want to date. My current boyfriend is very smart, holds a graduate degree from an elite university, is articulate, is very kind and sweet, is fit and is an amazing lover. He told me on our first phone call that he recognizes that I am very selective but that I might be perfect for him. At our first date, I noticed his hand shaking a little bit. I tried to help him relax but found it endearing that he was anxious about our date going well. So it is OK to have high standards. Finding a significant other, though, can be very hard work, I am in my mid 50s and life’s too short to waste time on false starts. I prefer okcupid because a lot of the questions are deal breakers for me (I am not going to date someone who neither loves to receive or give oral sex. I am highly sexual and was badly mismatched sexually in a 30-year marriage.) Go for what you want. Like anything else worthwhile, you will need to sacrifice short-term comfort for long term gratification. I haven’t met anyone who loves online dating! It is a frequently frustrating means to an end. Hello? When I have stated specifically in my profile that I will date up to age 59, and I am thin, smart, sexy and pretty and you are 69, overweight and with either uncontrolled rosacea or a big drinking problem, yes, it is just one more chore to either politely reject you or delete your message. Same thing for the 20-year-olds. Ugh.

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