Love, Relationships

The Girlfriend Report Card – Deborah Tan

I pride myself on being great in many areas of my life.

Many of the people I’ve worked with have said I’m a supportive boss who leads by example. Over the years, friends describe me as a loyal person who would not hesitate to stick my neck out for a pal. While I may not be the best sister or daughter, I definitely value family ties and make it a point to be present at gatherings and important dinners.

The one thing I don’t actually do very well in – to be honest – is being a girlfriend.

No. I’m not being harsh on myself.

One of the most common complaints my boyfriend has of me is that I’m a “miserable git”. You see, he’s one of those “annoying” people who wake up in the morning with a big, bright smile on his face. He really jumps out of bed with his arms wide open, as if ready to embrace the day ahead. I, on the other hand, would moan, groan, roll out of bed with the duvet tangled around my legs, crawl to the bathroom, and let out a cry of agony at the sight of first light.

“Good morning!” He never fails to greet me cheerfully each day. Then he would smile and look expectantly at me.

“Urrrrrghmmm …” would be my reply.

“Oh, c’mon!” he’d say. “SMILE! Don’t be a miserable git!” And proceeds – laughing – to the kitchen to make his morning smoothie.

How does someone muster up so much cheerfulness in the morning?

I tell myself – and sometimes him – every day that I’d be more pleasant after I’ve had some food inside me. Or, that I’ll be able to smile once 12pm rolls around. I tell him that I’m not a morning-person.

Actually, I’m not a morning-person, an afternoon-person, and an evening-person. He would skip and hop to the car as we make our way to our respective morning appointments. I would skulk. He would meet me for lunch and talk about stuff. I would nod and grunt. When I get home in the evenings, he would be contentedly playing on his Playstation and upon seeing me, ask, “Hello! How was your day?” What do I do? I look at the kitchen sink, and I go, “Why are there so many dirty cups?!?!?!”

Don't let Love slip out of your hand

Don’t let Love slip out of your hand

On the Girlfriend Report Card, I fully deserve my fail-grade.

It’s not that my boyfriend makes me unhappy. Or, that I’m unhappy with him. Sometimes, when he isn’t looking, I would be observing how he seems so capable of amusing himself with antics like peeling a sticker off an apple and pasting it – with meticulous care – over my fridge magnets, and I would smile.

He has an almost childlike disposition about him that never fails to lift the grey clouds over my moods. And to top it all off, he is affectionate and never fails to want to give me a hug or a kiss. I, on the other hand, would go, “Leave me alone! It’s very hot today!!!” And, to make me feel even worse, he would good-naturedly say, “Be nice! At least one of us is being affectionate in this relationship.” Then proceed to try to drown me in another bear-hug.

I really wish I am not such a miserable git.

I’m not even going to try to make any excuses or attempt to explain away why I’m such a lousy girlfriend. I’ve never been the sort who likes hugs and cuddles. The first thing I think about once I am fully awake is going to my computer to write. And really, once I’m in my zone, I resent any attempt by anyone to drag me out of it.

Of course, I feel guilty.

And I make it up by letting him “torment” me every couple of hours. Whether it be allowing him to practice rugby tackles on me, or allowing myself to be dragged to the playground for an hour of kettle-bell workout, I try my best to do something with him.

I am lucky to have a man who doesn’t stop trying to make the relationship work. I count myself blessed to have a boyfriend who is so good-natured, who has such a great sense of humor that he sees the funny side of my not-so-good side.

With the launch of Material World, I’m definitely working longer hours and the worst thing is, the line between home and office has blurred even more now that I have a workdesk set up in my apartment. Where does work end and home-life begin? How do I stop being an overachieving workaholic and start getting my act together as the under-performing girlfriend?

I realize that I have to buck up.

Because, if I continue to take this man for granted, I will lose one of the most important things in my life and, I will regret it.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of  Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and hopes to meet Steven Tyler in person one day.