Why the phrase high maintenance is a red flag in the dating world

What do you think when you hear the phrase high maintenance? Do you instantly think about somebody who puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into their appearance? A person who expects a high standard of living and can ultimately be hard work to date? Some would say, a ‘princess’.

And let’s face it, you’re probably thinking about a woman. A recent article over on The Conversation points out we rarely come across the term “high-maintenance man”.

Looking into the use of the term high maintenance on dating apps, the author Lisa Portolan found that many single ladies end up treading a fine line of identity management, by wanting to look attractive on dating apps but not too ‘perfect’ as they worry they might scare prospective matches off.

Her research found women worked hard to ensure their dating profiles did not come across as full of traits and images that were viewed as coming across as high maintenance. Instead, they wanted to convey their image as being “pretty” but “relatable”, concentrating on portraying themselves as expectation-less, fun-loving, easy-going, and capable. Low maintenance, in other words. Their intention is to ensure they don’t “intimidate” a potential match through their images and behaviour by appearing high maintenance.

Lisa’s research led her to conclude that the use of this sort of language to “reign themselves in” perpetuates a certain invisibility on online dating sites, where women are effectively dulling their shine and shrinking themselves to stereotypes of how women should act to appease men.

What do people think when they hear the term high maintenance?

High maintenance is a term that is often thrown around in the dating world in a derogatory fashion. As The Conversation article points out, it can be a slippery term to define, with the traits that constitute high maintenance usually centred around appearance and behaviour. The stereotype of high maintenance centres around women who are unapologetically demanding, with unreasonable lifestyle expectations of their partner. They are loath to split the bill on a date, like the finer things in life and put a great importance on material status.

The internet is full of articles explaining how to “manage” a high maintenance woman, portraying them in a negative light and asking whether it is worth the reward to date somebody who has a profile which screams “high maintenance”. It’s no wonder the single people who featured in Lisa’s research strived to avoid these sorts of definitions.

Other experts are keen however to point out the problem may actually reside with the person who is throwing this term around. Over on Medium, a recent article points out using the term high maintenance can be a form of manipulation, indicating the person you are dating wants you to comply with their wishes. It can lead to women doing just that, just to avoid being labelled with the title of high maintenance.

The article points out that if a man says you are high maintenance, this reflects more about them, not you, and demonstrates the person using the term ultimately doesn’t value you. It creates an imbalance in your dating journey, where your expectations don’t line up to their preconceived ideas of what a relationship should look like and the effort they should be putting in.

Other experts in the dating world agree, saying the term has become weaponised against women to shift responsibility when a man refuses to meet your emotional needs in a relationship, instead labelling you as the problem. Using high maintenance as a way to degrade or berate somebody is often with the intention of making them feel like their relationship demands are unreasonable and that they are a bad person for having them. A massive red flag, in other words.

Don’t dull your shine

The valuable lesson here is the right person will respect who you are and be prepared to put in legwork to really make a budding relationship work. A good partner will understand and respect your needs in a relationship as well as their own. It can be all too easy to dull your shine in the dating world, with recent surveys finding many daters admitted they were conscious of behaviours thought to be off-putting to men including appearing too clingy, being too forward or coming across as genuinely interested. However, by being yourself your date can get to know the real, amazing you. If you are both authentic and upfront with each other, it’s so much easier to establish whether you have a genuine connection. The right partner will love all the quirks and traits that make you the person you are (even if you do make you both late for every night out because you like to dedicate plenty of time to getting ready!). If you come across somebody that isn’t prepared to put in the effort to really make a relationship work, then it’s time to forget this person and move on.

Are you looking for somebody who will really value who you are and share your goal of a long-term, committed relationship? Here at Ignite Dating we’re experts in helping you with an enjoyable and stress-free dating journey, providing you with hand-selected matches you’ll really share a connection with. Contact our team today and find out how we can help you find true love!