Every girl loves to be called smart. Hilarious is a good one too -- and even pretty, when done in a non-creepy or catcalling kind of a way. But when a guy calls you "cool" -- now, that’s the biggest compliment of them all.
But is it?
The "Cool Girl" is who every woman aspires to be -- and whom every man aspires to be with. This specific type of female was perfectly characterized in "that passage" of Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl:
"Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she's hosting the world's biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want…"
Cool Girl seems like the quintessential lover. Especially since society has an affinity for pigeonholing most women as "crazy" (aka emotional, honest, and expressive). But here's the thing: Cool Girl doesn't actually exist. I should know -- I used to pretend to be her.
Being a cool girl meant being an easygoing doormat
I've always been an innately easygoing partner in my romantic relationships, which I still consider to be one of my best qualities. I truly don't care whether we go out for sushi or Mexican, and I'm A-OK with bae going to Vegas for the weekend. But it took some experience and self-reflection to discover the difference between "easygoing" and "doormat" -- and why, as a woman, having feelings (and voicing them) in a relationship doesn't make you crazy. It makes you human.
My first heartbreak was courtesy of a guy who dumped me over Skype (yes, seriously) while I was studying abroad. "It's just because of distance," was his lame excuse. "But you're the coolest girl I know, so I hope we can stay friends." And even though I was too sad and still too infatuated to be his buddy, I continued to answer his messages for months and helped him pick out a Mother's Day gift. Because above all, he thought I was "cool." And a Cool Girl is always understanding; she knows how to compartmentalize her pesky emotions.
Then there was the guy who lived to push my buttons, just to see what it would take for me to crack. I eventually did -- after a year of keeping quiet and ignoring a multitude of selfish actions (ditching my birthday party to go skydiving and frequently saying he didn't picture us long-term both come to mind). As he dumped me, I finally burst into tears. And he was absolutely shocked. "I'm sorry," he stammered. "I don't know what to do because I've never seen you cry. You're always playing it so cool."
In reality, he made me cry ALL THE TIME, but only behind closed doors. I never spoke up. Because a Cool Girl lets her man do whatever he wants, whenever he feels like it. And a Cool Girl doesn't approach conflict head-on because that would rock the boat. And only crazy chicks do that. So instead, I swept it under the rug.
My "cool factor" was finally stretched to its brink with a cowboy I dated long-distance. As if the time zones between us didn't make it hard enough to nurture a relationship, he texted me this bomb one evening: "I'm getting dinner with my ex who's in town tonight. It means nothing, but I wanted to be upfront with you. I know you won't care, though, because you're so cool."
Cool. There it was again.
I was breathing fire as I reread his text over and over, my heart slamming through my chest. Why did he want to see this chick if he was truly happy in our relationship? How dare he tell me how I'm going to react as if I'm some sort of android? And most importantly, on what planet would I not care about my boyfriend playing whiskey-induced footsie with his ex 2,000 miles away from me?
Because after all, I am human -- and humans care about things! And that's when I realized that being called "cool" wasn't even close to the compliment I'd always thought it to be.