Years ago I had a boyfriend who described the ongoing conversation girls have about relationships as being like mission control of a highly secret but crucial military operation. ‘I bet you have a hidden room in your house filled with uniformed women and ticker tape coded messages and a large map spread out across a table that you move figures around to mimic all your manoeuvring.’
I thought it was very funny at the time and renamed my housemate ‘Mission Control’ in my phone – a title she still holds.
Women are good at strategic relationships analysis. We can talk about them for hours, pick up nuances and assess subtleties, advise and make intricate battleplans to embroil ourselves or to disentangle ourselves from romances.
Men, on the other hand, generally confine their analysis to disussion of Saturday’s match.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want or need a mission control. My mum advised me to make myself my boyfriends’ mission control – I assume so that I then could control the game. I never quite mastered it, but I have got myself in trouble by being mission control to boys who I’m not dating.
This is trouble on two possible fronts. Either, through the intimate nature of sharing personal information about emotions, you fall for them or they fall for you.
If you fall for them bitter experience has taught me that invariably you’ll be the person who sorts them out for their next girlfriend, someone similar to, but not actually, you. And then they’ll drop your friendship because they don’t need you to be their mission control anymore. Having a girlfriend means mission accomplished.
If they fall for you, and you’re just trying to be a good friend, then you become the evil woman, who led them on with all that emotional intimacy, but with no intention on following through. And personally I hate it when a guy thinks I’m an evil woman. As Elizabeth Bennett once said: ‘I can’t bear for him to be alive in the world and thinking ill of me.’
Being mission control for a guy who’s not your boyfriend – It’s a lose-lose situation – and therefore one to be avoided at all costs. Good advice doesn’t come for free, so don’t give it away for nothing but trouble.