I started dating my boyfriend about a year ago. We actually met at summer camp when we were eight or nine years old, but hadn’t seen each other since we were 15.
We both went to our camp for eight years, sometimes for as long as six or seven weeks at a time. I can’t speak for my boyfriend (we call him Campfriend; he hates it; we do it anyway), but my memories of summers there are some of the best ones I have. Hiking, waterskiing, sleeping under the stars (not to mention dances, campfires and French kissing) are amongst some of my favorites, and if my life hadn’t gone in the direction of places like Manhattan and dating guys who said things like, “I hate sunlight; if it were up to me, I’d never go outside until dark,” I probably would have kept doing those things. (OK, fine, I kept French kissing. Thank God it got less slimy and disgusting as I got older because seriously? That first time was DE-SGUS-TING.)
Obviously, all of those outdoorsy things are stuff Campfriend and I had in common (you know, one of the reasons people are compatible besides, “Oh, your penis fits nicely inside my vagina”), so shocker (!), when we started seeing each other, we also started doing those things together. Finally, I was dating someone who wanted to go snowboarding every weekend, go camping in new places and take off for a few hours on a Saturday to go surfing.
But this isn’t about my awesome boyfriend (barf). Rather, this is about the constant stream of friends and co-workers who’ve come up to me in recent months and said things like, “Wow, you’re so outdoorsy now that you’re with Campfriend,” Or “Gosh, Campfriend really got you into nature.” It’s like they’re giving Campfriend all of the credit for this new “good” life I'm leading.
When they do that, I push back. I mean, I’m not going to let Campfriend take credit for all of the adventures we’ve been on, especially since I planned almost every single one of them.
“I was always into this stuff,” I remind them. “I just didn’t have anyone to do it with before.”
I guess the thing that really bothers me is that, as a woman, it’s already hard to get credit for my accomplishments. Now I can’t even get credit for my passions? I tell someone I love football and they ask if a boyfriend got me into it. I brag about hiking to granite waterslides and the person praises Campfriend for taking me there. I start riding a bicycle around the city and people are like, “Wow, Campfriend’s such a good influence on you.”
But those were my decision. My interests. My ideas. Am I lucky to have someone to share all of it with? Of course. Is it okay to demean me by patting me on the head and saying, “It’s so cute that now that you have a boyfriend who looks kind of rugged because he has a beard, you do things that are athletic and outdoorsy”? Absolutely not.
Maybe (probably) I’m overreacting, but I guess I’m just sick of people (especially girl friends) assuming I only do the things I do because of a dude. It’s never OK to assign credit to someone else for your friends’ accomplishments. I don’t care if their significant other is the one who encouraged them to overcome their fear of heights and jump out of a plane. Instead of saying, “Wow, good for Bob for finally getting you to do that,” maybe say, “Wow, good for you for being so brave.” Just a thought. (Order.)
You tell me. Has this ever happened to you? Do people try to credit the men in your life for showing you the way? Share your stories in the comments and then we’ll light a fire, roast marshmallows and sing Kumbaya.