If i am being honest I would be hard pressed to find a girl who hasn’t tried to play “The Cool Girl” to impress a guy at some point in her life.
In case you are like me and are only just now seeing the movie or haven’t seen it yet, I am referring to the now infamous speech from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl that the main female character Amy Dunne gives in regards to her disdain for what women go through in order to please and keep a man.
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool 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. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl
“Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, co-workers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.”
This speech has caused the same female backlash that Fight Club created among men. Men finally found their hero in Tyler Durden, and women found a heroine in Amy Dunne. Sure Tyler is a psychopath and imaginary, and Amy is as textbook psychopath as it gets. Maybe it takes that fictional extreme to shake up our own expectations of ourselves and to take an honest look at our habitual choices.
I am calling them habitual choices, the choices we make out of habit and don’t think very much about them. I think this is how The Cool Girl came to be- she wasn’t thinking very much after a while.
I think the first time a girl decides to change who she is to align more with her man’s interests it is a very intentional choice. She wants to be liked so she observes his behavior and his friends’ behavior and adapts to become more like him. In a way, it is smart. Psychology says that we like people like ourselves, so we would want to keep those people around.
But it is very false, the girl is pretending to be something that she’s not. And over time, as she goes from boyfriend to boyfriend she begins to lose pieces of herself. She starts to think she is that Cool Girl, it becomes her personality in between boyfriends too. And some day, perhaps many years in the future, she has a breakdown because she doesn’t recognize her own life, she doesn’t know who she is or what she wants. Sometimes she is so far down her path with a marriage, kids, house and a job it seems hopeless and too late to make a change. She is trapped and desperate.
And completely relatable. We women know that confused “How did I get here” feeling.
I spent many years in my twenties doing this. I actually watched some girl friends of mine, the ones that the men loved to hang around. I tried to be more like those girls. Those were the Cool Girls. They were chill and laid back. They drank beer, had a football team that they cheered for. Their clothes were form fitting enough to reveal curves. They were runners and played on the social sports teams in the park. Yep, pretty much text book Cool Girl.
So I tried to do that. It has never worked, and it never became natural. Thankfully at the same time I also went into a phase where I read a ton of business and self development books. And what I kept hearing over and over was that I needed to be myself, that people would be attracted to my authentic self.
So you know what I found? I really hate those social sport teams. I really do like good beer. I like health food, and I turn to junk food when I am stressed. I like to find a balance between extroverted and introverted and my alone time can be extremely precious. I must read the Sunday New York Times or my week starts on a bad foot.
I will be honest that I have been trying to adapt to what other people want from me most of my life. It extends beyond what a guy wants, I do it for everyone. I am a people pleaser. That is very natural to me, to assess what someone is looking for and to become that. But that doesn’t mean I actually get to be myself, I become whoever they want me to be.
The Cool Girl doesn’t exist. Well, 90% to the Cool Girls do not exist. There are a few girls out there that are the kind of chill, beer-loving guy’s kind of gal. But we should all stop faking it, stop forcing something that we’re not, stop trying to fit a single mold. There is someone out there that thinks you’re cool just as you are, even when you are the farthest thing from cool.