“Something happen?” I asked.
“No.” She waved my concern aside. “It’s just … well, something a friend of mine said.” She twisted the beanie in her hands.
I knew Jamie well enough to know that nervous gesture meant she was getting up the courage to talk about something painful.
“Okay, let me run this past you.” She frowned. “When I’m in a relationship, I really want to be good to whomever I’m with. I want to take care of him. I want to do nice things for him and make him happy.”
I nodded. Jamie had a kind, loving heart. It was only a matter of time before she met someone just as loving as she was.
“So I was talking to a friend of mine about how I did so much for my ex—and he never acknowledged any of it—and she told me…”
Her voice quivered. She took a deep breath.
“She told me that men don’t like doormats!”
She glared at me defiantly. “James, I’m not a doormat, am I?”
Now, let me pause my story for a moment here and ask you, what would YOU tell her?
It’s the one piece of dating advice that keeps cropping up again and again:
Don’t be a doormat. Don’t let men walk all over you.
The intention behind this piece of advice is good. It’s a reminder to value yourself.
But a lot of things get thrown into doormat territory that don’t belong there.
Like serving the man you love. Compromise and sacrifice. Loving someone as you would want to be loved.
Doing nice things for the man you love is NOT the same thing as being a doormat.
So let’s tease out the difference and see if there’s a way to be kind and loving without getting taken advantage of.
First of all, what is a doormat?
In a practical sense, it’s the mat you place in front of your door so that people can wipe their feet before going inside.
A doormat, then, is someone who allows other people to walk all over her. She wants people to “come inside” so badly that she doesn’t mind taking on all their yucky stuff.
For the doormat, it doesn’t matter how dirty a man’s shoes are. He can come in anyway, because she’ll clean his shoes for him. The dirtier his shoes, the more useful she feels.
Clearly, that’s not who you want to be!
You want to be the one standing at the door, looking at him eye-to-eye, deciding whether you’ll let him in.
If his shoes are filthy, you’re not going to clean them. You’re going to stand at that door until he cleans his own shoes.
That’s why I sometimes suggest that the opposite of being a doormat is being a hostess. Hostesses are awesome. So let’s talk about what that means.