Ban the Big Chill: Since When Does Being Honest Mean You’re “Crazy”?

Amelia Diamond | March 23, 2016

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Taking-Back-Crazy-Man-Repeller-3

A brief and incomplete list of people who are crazy: anyone who enjoys the DMV, anyone who loves dogs but specifically hates golden retrievers, anyone who thinks I’m not getting a side of bacon.

An even briefer list of people who are not crazy: You.

In my almost-28 years — an age that in no way commands wisdom yet has collected experiences like soggy leaves in the blue plastic netting of a pool rake — I have started to realize that the worst thing one can do in a relationship* is replace honesty with being chill. What this does is perpetuate the idea that having expectations, wants, needs and feelings of any kind is nuts.

It’s not nuts.

*Before we continue, allow me to define “relationship” (in the context of this essay so millennial I can hardly believe it’s not a list nor an open letter) as:

– A thing between two people.

Acknowledging the downsides of acting chill or cool is not a revelation. Unscholarly pursuits have led enough different people to the same conclusion for it to be true. In 2012, Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl was published and with it, the female lead’s diatribe against the elusive “cool girl” — she doesn’t exist. In 1999, the emo band Saves The Day titled their sophomore album and 11th track, “Through Being Cool” — popularity’s a societal myth.

We know this stuff. We’re smart. We get it.

Yet we continue to use The Big Chill in relationships as an emotional crutch.

Let’s assume (we’ll be asses together) that The Big Chill evolved out of everyone’s BS. In the mass migration toward keeping it casual — read: having less responsibility for another’s feelings while retaining certain perks, an ice age took over that rendered us incapable of saying how we really feel for the sake of ruining an otherwise perfectly good situation.

For example:

You like a guy, don’t want to freak him out with the boyfriend talk, so you act chill.

You’re mad that your boyfriend hasn’t texted you all day, you don’t want to seem clingy or needy, so you act chill.

You’re pretty sure the guy you’re seeing (and really like!) is being sketchy, but you don’t want to look paranoid, so you act chill.

This can be platonic, too. You’re furious about something a friend did but you don’t want to seem psycho, so you act chill.

You’re fine. It’s cool. You’re cool!

…But are you getting any of the results or answers you want? No.

So why do we do it?

A quick quiz: What would you rather be called? Bitchy or crazy?

I polled 100 girls this weekend and everyone agreed, “Bitchy.” It’s a condescending word with misogynistic undertones, yes, but it also connotes a sense of control and power. Add the word “bad” before “bitch” and you’ve just turned the put-down into a compliment.

Crazy, meanwhile…that means you’re unhinged. Erratic. Hysterical. Diagnoses like these could get you locked up in an institution in the nineteenth century (now we fear these words tag us as “alone” forever; same thing?) so it makes sense that keeping one’s cool has remained at a high premium when it comes to public perception.

But the act isn’t working. It’s not getting anyone what they want. Not really.

My mom recently said to me that when it comes to relationships — friendly, romantic, professional — you have to clearly state your expectations. Otherwise, you cannot expect others to meet your expectations. They likely won’t. And while you can theoretically get pissed at whoever you want, you can’t expect anyone to understand why if he or she never got a rundown of your Bottom Lines. So state them.

Here’s my thing for the next relationship I’m in, for the next fight with a friend or general human disagreement: no more “chill” if its repressive. Just honesty. And if that comes off as crazy? Cool.

At least we’re on the same page.

Collage/illustration by Emily Zirimis featuring stickers by Anya Hindmarch.

man-repeller-bar-dating-at-27

 

  • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

    you are always so right. i need to work on this. do you think there’s a difference between acting chill to seem chill and acting chill because you just don’t feel like dealing with it? are they as equally harmful?

    • Amelia Diamond

      If depends on why you want to “seem chill.” For yourself, for another person? Acting chill because you don’t want to deal with something is procrastination, but it can also be a form of self-protection. You might not be *ready* to deal with something. But it’s putting off the inevitable. I also don’t know that either are HARMFUL, but both are apathetic and unhelpful and unproductive.

      • http://adeliberateimagination.wordpress.com/ CJKEYS2

        yes very true. SO unproductive.

        • Effie Hammond

          I am getting a salary of 6700 dollars each week. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and no bank credit ..etb Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 58 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine. Why not try this.

          Look here for details
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  • Lebanese Blonde

    Not to Internet-bear-my-soul, but today is the birthday of a person with whom I attempted to act “chill” and ended up more “heartbroken.”

    It’s an apt reminder to not pretend to be Cool Girl when I’m SO obviously not.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Today sounds like an excellent day to celebrate YOUR half birthday? Quarter birthday? The fact that it’s a Wednesday?

      • Lebanese Blonde

        I had a Earl Grey latte and a Belgian waffle to celebrate Wednesday! Also it’s so sunny! Life is good!

        Repeat! Repeat!

  • http://bontobewildblog.com Bonnie

    Amelia this resonated so well with me. It reminds me of the book I read and Ted talk by Dr Brene Brown, called Daring Greatly. It’s all about how vulnerability transforms our relationships for the better. The reason why MR has such a following is because there is no chill factor. There’s a lot of feeling and emotions behind every post that relate to us as the MR community

    • Cameron McRae

      Bonnie – thank you so much for sharing! Just watched the Ted talk and subsequently went on a Dr Brene Brown quote Pinning-spree!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I think Leandra recommended this to me once as well — she wanted to do a round table vulnerability, if I’m remembering correctly? I’m going to check this out, and thank you so much for saying that. We have zero chill! But that’s good because we can run around yelling about how much we <3 you guys.

      • http://bontobewildblog.com Bonnie

        Well she certainly harped on the topic in her 9th monocycle titled, Vulnerability. That was definitely an MR game changer.

        • http://fashionparadoxes.com/ Passant Adel

          Yes she did, god I love monocycle…

  • Esabella Tobïas

    this is so good

  • ReadER451

    Amen, Amelia. Whenever my friend gets in an argument with her boyfriend, she shares the story with our close group and then explains that in the end she was just being crazy and/or was on her period. I let her know everytime that she is not crazy and she cannot just blame an argument on her period. It frustrates me everytime.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Yes!! Validate each other! If you can’t say it in a group chat and leave it there to fester then where can you?!

  • Quinn Halman
    • Amelia Diamond

      You would have Sister Act I gifs at the ready.

  • Celeste

    Yess! This is perfect, and so needed. Spot on.

  • Senka

    I myself can attest to reversed psychology. Every time I acted chill it ended up bad, and I ended up hurt to some extent. I hate the powerplays, but the more bitchy and demanding I was, the more I got from people. Attention, craving, love, desire to prove themselves. I don’t say either is normal or desirable, but is it, and how is it possible to strike the proper balance?

  • Jamaule Williams

    Very open-ended and congruent piece simultaneous^

  • Klouseau

    Could agree more!! Well said!

  • Klouseau

    Oops sorry meant COULDN’T agree more!!

  • hheh

    I really needed to read this today.

    After 6 months of acting “chill” (when I am not that type of person whatsoever) with the guy I’ve been seeing, I’ve finally decided to stop acting “chill” and lay it on the line. I’m clearly stating my expectations tonight, and if he doesn’t like them, see ya later.

  • Kerstin

    This is absolutely true. We are constantly encouraged to feel, to put ourselves out there, yet only to a “chill” extent. Feelings are not crazy! It’s crazy that we have to stifle our feelings to be considered cool. Being chill is just confusing for all parties involved. Basically, I wholeheartedly agree with you. AMEN!

  • MT

    General rule for social interaction as an adult: don’t “act” anything. Except for “not homicidal” when your boss talks over you. That you should pretend to be even if you’re not.

    Otherwise, tho, quit playing.

  • Sarah

    God, I’m sick of “doormatting around” (stick that one under the list of phrases I need to be utilizing more frequently) the uncomfortable. We throw out “I’m fine” like *fine* is the umbrella for all human emotion that we want to keep buried inside. I think there’s absolutely a difference between being ~chill~ for the sake of mutually moving on, and being ~chill~ solely for the sake of pleasing others.

    • Sarah

      And who gets to decide what makes a “cool girl” anyway! Be your OWN cool girl and relish in your idiosyncratic cool-girl-glory, because you and you alone have the power to rise above.

      • Amelia Diamond

        I love that you are quoting Blair Waldorf. Also, yes to this “We throw out “I’m fine” like *fine* is the umbrella for all human emotion that we want to keep buried inside.”

      • http://www.instagram.com/kaylahedwall Kayla Hedwall

        YAAAAS to the gossip girl reference hahhaha

  • Tara Jayne

    I’m currently dating a guy who I once upon a time acted ‘chill’ with. One day we were out for a walk and he said “you know, there’s no conflict here and that’s strange to me. I’m worried there’s no conflict because you are just covering it all up so that we get along perfectly. And that worries me, because I don’t want to fall in love with the girl who never gets upset, I want to fall in love with you”.

    I stopped acting chill immediately. We then entered a period of unrest, followed by a period of learning how to fight with one another, followed by a period of intense vulnerability. Followed by love, and all that comes with it.

    This is wonderful advice.

    • Mariana

      That guy is a keeper!!

      • Tara Jayne

        I know I know, but I’ll tell him the internet said so too. 🙂

  • Elif Nimet

    YES.

  • http://www.writethroughlife.com Amber Hunter

    In my last relationship I was acting “chill” with my bf sometimes when I really shouldn’t have, because I didn’t want to seem crazy. What you said in the beginning of this article, that the behavior “perpetuates the idea that having expectations, wants, needs and feelings of any kind is nuts” resonated with me so much because I could relate much more than I wanted to haha. I sent this link to a bunch of my girlfriends whom I’ve talked to about this exact subject. I feel like everything you talk about is so important in today’s dating world (or lack thereof in college…). Basically, my rambling self is trying to say: this is so good & needs to be shared.

    • Amelia Diamond

      thank you!!

  • Alessandra

    100 100 100
    You have a whole lotta wisdom, miss Amelia. Keep writing.

    • Amelia Diamond

      🙂

  • soniadelvalle

    Okay, fine, I will loose all my chill and see what happens.

  • http://www.ohbigwoop.com Lauren

    “Let’s assume (we’ll be asses together)”

    s’great 🙂

  • Aydan

    This is the truth! I too have decided that honesty is the best way to go! Regardless of what my expectation are, laying them out for the other person is just such a good idea (if it backfires, fine, I’m not wasting my time) and if it works, then it works! If someone wants to call me crazy so be it, but I believe the right person will be able to deal with my brand of crazy and if not, they’re probably not a keeper!

    • Amelia Diamond

      yes, they will. a lid for every pot!

  • Sloane Smith

    I just went through this! Love this advice so much, and eventually reached this conclusion with the guy I’ve been seeing for the past two months. Ended up recognizing that my needs weren’t being met, and that didn’t make me crazy–so I broke it off and never looked back!

    • Amelia Diamond

      BYE

  • openlyandrea

    I’ve always been the type of person to speak my mind. (I’ve been called rude, and crazy several times). But honestly, it doesn’t bother me. It’s super important to speak your truth. I’ve embraced the crazy. We all should.

  • Kenzie

    Yes Amelia you just totally nailed what I am currently going through right now! A guy I have been seeing is being very sketchy but in attempts to remain ‘cool girl’ I am not getting anywhere and am just upset, ignored, and annoyed.

    A main topic on the table at a lot of ladies’ wine nights, is there such a thing as being ‘too cool’??

  • Capone

    Thank you for writing this! One of the most heartbreaking relationships of my life was when I was with a guy who I felt forced to act “chill” with for months out of fear of losing such a seemingly-perfect connection. Obviously, when I stopped acting chill and decided to call him out on his BS, we broke up soon after. But looking back, I’m so glad I stood up for myself — I can’t imagine being stuck forever in a relationship where I was constantly stressed out and paranoid but pretending everything was fine.

    I’m so lucky to now be with someone who I don’t have to be “chill” with, who loves me even though sometimes I scream when I’m upset and call him out on things he does and have breakdowns in crowded subway cars.

    • Amelia Diamond

      Exactly. Look, for sure this whole theory – in non-platonic relationships especially – has high potential ends to things earlier than their chill lifespan would have allowed. And if you like someone, that’s very tempting, because you’re like, why risk ruining a good thing? (Have been there so many times.)

      But it’s not really “a good thing,” is it, if what you need to feel emotionally supported is the potential catalyst for an end point? What you need to feel emotionally supported should be the catalyst for a start.

      • Andrea

        so true. I’ve learned that I’d rather be single than feel sick to my stomach about an unsatisfying relationship. It’s very unmooring to feel so incapable of expressing my feelings and so misunderstood – or worse, not cared for very much – when I’m usually so confident and bright and independent. (But I’m fortunate to have such wonderful girl friends! we slice slice slice all day long http://www.theawl.com/2014/04/ask-polly-how-do-i-make-my-boyfriend-listen)

  • mollie blackwood

    Girl… so true. And that’s why I’m 31 and have been dating my boyfriend for EIGHT years. I’m just chill like that. UGH.

  • Natalie

    UGH, just what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it. Getting in formation now.

    • Amelia Diamond

      o k ladies

  • N

    Wow. Obviously I know every sentence of your essay to be true –through experience… Yet so hard to not attempt the ‘chill’ vibe. I guess the hook is that there’s always the fear to come off as ‘bitchy’ too early on. You want the time for someone (everyone) to get to know you, so that the ‘crazy’ doesn’t scare them off. And yet.
    I have no solution. Just a sad story. A guy ghosted me after 4 dates for 3 months. Puff. Out into outer space he went. He then called back, and I -of course- played it ‘chill’. I played it so chill that we dated for 7 months after that. We traveled together I met his sister and a cousin, etc. All the while, still being pretty ‘cool’ with things like him having me on a ‘need to know’ basis on his whereabouts when I didn’t see him, not introducing me to any close friends in those 7 months, and really never saying anything remotely close to I love you. Alas, the time came when -and I swear this is true- we broke up because he woke me up. It’s a long story, but he woke me up accidentally, and I said I wanted an apology. He said no, because he wasn’t sorry. I threw a tantrum. A week later we ‘agreed’ we were not compatible. We hadn’t really even tried. Not really. I was trying to be ‘chill’, and he hadn’t even tried at all. Lesson learned and 11 months wasted.

    • Amelia Diamond

      “We broke up because he woke me up” is such a deep life metaphor, dude. IF I AM GOING TO GET DEEPER IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU WOKE YOURSELF UP.

      • N

        I hadn’t thought about it that way, but YES!!!! Amelia, KEEP WRITING!

  • http://www.roarintwenties.com/ Aleda Johnson | RoarinTwenties

    AMEN. I always felt like unless I’m doing something truly unhinged, when another person calls me crazy, they recognize that my actions or thoughts may be a little different from theirs, and they just don’t feel like listening to my point of view.

    We don’t have to agree. I don’t have to change your mind. But when you call me crazy, it means you believe my thoughts or actions to be unworthy of your consideration, so you just brush it off.

  • http://instagram.com/shypony Josie Fillat

    WORD

  • http://routethirteen.blogspot.com/ marialdinca

    I definitely think I suffer from the ‘acting cool’ syndrome because I hate feeling like I’m inconveniencing people. Definitely working on that – raising my expectations has felt so good when I’ve done it recently. No more cool girl.

  • Ashley

    Hits too close to home stop it

  • Allie Fasanella

    I LOVE THIS I HAVE ZERO CHILL

  • Taylor

    Did you ever read this article from last year? If not you’ll like it! https://medium.com/matter/against-chill-930dfb60a577

  • http://www.twitter.com/georginawootton Georgie

    I’ve spent the last two weeks working out how to tell him Being Chill isn’t working for me. It’s so hard though! Particularly as we are both so busy with work/school that we see each other like once a week.

  • Joanna

    You’re like my internet fairy godmother

  • http://www.nuunablog.com/ Emma Burton

    ?????? so good & so true ??????

  • Lorena C

    Defo agree Amelia. This millennial “chillness” has me sick to the bones! In for the braveness, at least you won’t lose your time.

  • http://www.refinery29.com/ Maria Del Russo

    You are literally speaking my truth here, Amelia. I’ve recognized this recently, and it’s especially women are told to keep their actual feelings on the DL because they don’t want to appear “crazy” in romantic relationships. So we go along, we keep things casual even if we don’t want to because our partners want it and we’re afraid we’ll look nuts if we demand a little more. And then a think piece comes out about how everyone is afraid of commitment, and we freak out, but WE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE DONE IT TO OURSELVES.

    That’s why I’m always upfront with my feelings now, and the stress has pretty much completely melted away from all my dating scenarios. I’m looking for a dude whose interested in seeing if what we’ve got rocking can turn into something more serious. You’re against that, because you’re not looking for a relationship right now? Cool. Thanks for the drink and I hope you find what you’re looking for. On to the next.

  • Alexis Thomolaris

    PREACH!! Is being “chill” just a nice way of saying you’re a low-key non-emotional asshole, or you’re trying super hard to be one? ‘Cause its starting to seem that way. Which brings me to Lorde addressing this phenomenon in her song Tennis Court: “Its a new art form showing people how little we care.” But what if I think its waaaaay chill and super cool to care? Love this Amelia. Thanks for making me feel a little less crazy for not being so chill <3

  • brendacr

    It’s called being real.

  • Joanna

    You’re like my internet fairy godmother

  • http://www.thekeyitem.com Nathalia from The Key Item

    Wow! Just want I needed to hear… I had to read it 2 twice just to be sure I apply this ASAP!

  • Michele Misitano

    I think the key is definitely to stop trying to act chill when we don’t FEEL chill. My last relationship was with