Monday, June 23, 2008

The First Boyfriend Syndrome

"Where are the hopes?
Where are the dreams?
My Cinderella story scene?"

The Best Damn Thing (2007) by Avril Lavigne

I find that a lot of girls who have never been in a relationship with a guy before to have very unrealistic ideas about what sort of animal a boyfriend should be. I blame the fairy stories which their parents read them when they were little, the crappy dramas they watched on the telly daily and the generic romantic comedies which Hollywood rolls out every other week to appeal to dickless movie-goers who forced their boyfriends, who unfortunately have dicks, to watch with them (probably thinking that their men would pick up a thing or twelve from those impossibly suave and cute douchebags who play the male leads in these drivels). So from an age when a girl is still wearing diapers to about the time they go through their first breakup, the Dogma is consistently hammered into them by all these media. I call it the Dogma because it is the indisputable standard-operating-procedures which all girls seem to think all relationships ought to follow in order for it to be successful - at least, what the girls consider to be a success anyway.

So what is this Dogma anyway? The short answer is that it's a belief system which involves the expectation of a boyfriend to be.... oh, I dunno, perfect? The long answer is; he is never thoughtless, always has time for his girlfriend, knows precisely the way to act on any given occasion (particularly PMS) and says the most appropriate stuff at all the right times - which means that a guy has to be able to read minds, given the fact that girls are almost never straightforward about the things they want. Case in point; when a guy asks a girl if there's something wrong, the answer is usually "nothing" and if the poor bloke takes her word for it and continues blasting zombies on his Playstation 3, oh boy is he fucked. I really don't need to elaborate on this. If you've ever read one of those stupid, retarded, rainbow-fonted e-mails circulating about which details a list of things a guy should do for a girl, you pretty much know what I'm talking about already.

Most boyfriends are thickheaded, insensitive morons, which is just another way of saying that they are male. I'm sorry to report that they lack the ability to cause orgasms in women with their every action and every word like those romcom guys because they simply don't come with a script already built in (sorry to quash that misconception ladies but there it is). They are humans too and have their own needs and wants, and the instincts which determine how they act in every situation is wildly different from what the female sensibility expects. When a girl fails to distinguish a real live guy from the fictitious, one-dimensional ones before she gets into her first relationship, she'll almost always definitely suffer from The First Boyfriend Syndrome.

Of course, the one who actually suffers is the first boyfriend himself. For the sake of argument, I'll use a fictional couple to explain it. Let's call them, um, Sue and James.

Sue has this preformed idea in her head of exactly what her boyfriend's going to be like and how he's going to show his love to her. Throughout her childhood, she had thought up elaborate fantasies of how her first love's going to be; how he confesses, how their first date's going to pan out - y'know all the usual clich├ęd etceteras and their whiny distant relatives. So you see, there is already a boyfriend sized hole in her life long before she actually has a boyfriend.

Along came James and Sue hooked up with him. Well, James is shaped like James and there is no way he can fit into Sue's boyfriend hole model of a perfect boyfriend. He has a life aside the one he shares with Sue, his own pastimes, aspirations and friends. He has a personality - one which is far from perfect (but who does aside from chick-flick douchebags anyway?). Sue was dismayed but heck, she isn't going to let some half-assed guy mess up her first love fantasies without putting up an epic fight. Arguably, she can ditch James and get a better edition but she knows that that isn't a valid reason for breaking up with anyone. More importantly, the very act of splitting up with James would totally fuck up her happy ending in the first place. She has had high hopes for this and as first loves go, everyone in one thinks that they are going to last forever, to cherish and to hold till death do us apart and split us asunder and all that jazz. That's the dilemma: Sue's not happy with James. Sue can't break up. So Sue proceeds to fit reality into her fairytale Dogma.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is The First Boyfriend Syndrome.

The first and prime sign of a girl succumbing to the Syndrome is her perfectionist obsession with how her relationship ought to be like and (especially) how outsiders see it. She insists on comparing her own relationship with all the couples she knows. A simple way of putting it would be to say that she wants other people to envy her and her relationship with her boyfriend. She felt that she must, at the very least, put up an enviable front for everyone to see. This is when the relationship becomes more important than her boyfriend and the love itself. A girl once told me how men need to be trained using Pavlovian conditioning, just like dogs. Say if he doesn't give her flowers every other week, she'll throw a hissy-fit (cue the "What's wrong, baby?" and "Nothing!" dialogue here). The well-meaning, clueless boyfriend would then try his best to find out precisely what "Nothing!" means and after much pain, she would reveal that it's because he hasn't been giving her flowers lately and she thinks that he doesn't love her anymore. When the boyfriend finally goes out to get her a bouquet of dismembered botanical reproductive organs posies, she'd quickly react with great delight (or more likely, remains pissed off anyway because he didn't do it on his own volition). Through this regiment of positive and negative reinforcements, a guy would soon be conditioned to intentionally buy her flowers on a regular basis for no particular reason at all, just to stave off the dreaded psycho girlfriend phase.

That's just an example, by the way. A girl can conceivably apply the same formula to anything she wants her boyfriend to do. She can make him talk to her in a specific way in front of her friends, have him perform preordained rigid rituals which gives an illusion of thoughtfulness to onlookers or even (I'm speaking from experience, this) stop him from slouching when he stands or walks just because she thinks that it looks ugly. Yeap, you bet that the perfect boyfriend she 's been dreaming of has perfect posture. I agree that there's a certain level of performance which can rightfully be expected from all guys by their girlfriends but think, where is the line? At which point should a girl stop manipulating her boyfriend's free will? At which point does a boyfriend cease to be a real person and become just a shoddy Pygmalion project with etiquette prostheses glued on? More than that, does she love him for who he truly is? And most of all, is he happy?

Is she?

This is the danger a lot of girls can run into in their first relationship - the preference of a fantasy over the real thing. In their dream of an amazing, flawless, scripted first romance, they lost sight of what love is really all about. It's selfish and mean. And it hurts.

This is why a lot of first loves don't work out. They stop working when the guy goes, "Fuck it, I'm ditching this shit."

And somewhat related, how many girls actually care about what a guy wants, instead of just giving him what they think he ought to want and then expect him to give them what they think they want? Mull on that a little for me, will you?

P.S. Girls who suffer from The First Boyfriend Syndrome share some eerily similar traits with Bridezillas; brides so obsessed with her wedding as her perfect day that she disregards the feelings of the family, bridesmaids and even her groom in her quest for the perfect wedding. There are some really good horror stories about bridezillas in this site HERE.

P.P.S. Not every girl will suffer from this. My first girlfriend was pretty delusion-free. There's a First Girlfriend Syndrome for guys too but that's another post (if I feel like writing it, that is).

Was first boyfriend twice,
k0k s3n w4i


bevE said...


comment later


senorita.. said...

from what u wrote, i can see that u understand girls pretty well.. u'll go far in life, Mister.. =)

on camera, so it's the normal Panasonic Lumix digicam? i have one too... and man,i took such awesome pictures with just that? i need to start utilising my camera alrdy

senorita.. said...

i mean 'U took such awesome pictures...'

michellesy phames-fangurl said...

Dear James,

After such a long hiatus from commenting on your blog, I think it is high time I asked for your forgiveness. So, forgive me? I'll even throw in a pretty please, if that will help? =)

I am so exhausted from work, it's not even funny. And I'm starting to hate computers, and possibly everything related to computers, including the *gasp* Internet T___T

As for your post though, if Sue's who I think it is, then I have this (very unladylike thing) to say: fuck her.

God knows James, she put you through a wringer. And she was horribly, horribly bad for you.

I am so happy that you and Phoebe found each other, James, because finally, you each what you deserve, you two lovebirds: each other *beams*

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Ahahahahahaha, this is hillarious.

I pity my First Boyfriend now. Oh the shit I put him through. No wonder we broke up.

Ah well.

thirteen said...

I feel like it's not so much of a syndrome where the girl or the dogma is at fault, it feels like, to me, that's just how things work in life. People live through heartbreaks and become wiser, both of them, not just the girl.

You do have your points of course (; I personally prefer having a girlfriend who has been through at least one relationship.

Oh but the main reason I wanted to comment was because. Well, I love the way you write, and sometimes feel god-damned envious. Sincerely. It's just that I've seen it a couple of times on your blog and I just can't stand it any longer. haha... That "I'm suppose" is supposed to be "I'm supposed". That's all! (=

Do correct me if I'm wrong. (;

fubi said...

how's 2nd boyfriend workin out 4u so far? *beams* :)

voon said...

Hi K0k
Welcome to my world.

voon said...

It fricking sucks.
Sigh, what a bad way to learning something.
On the very bright side, you're one of those excellent examples that I can use to remind myself that 'change is good'. Just realized recently the choice for happiness is really nobody's but mine.

senorita.. said...

do u reckon the problem is also because of the 'princess-like' attitude of the girl.. that xpects everyone to behave tha way she wants them to be?

minwi said...

hahaha senwai i must congratulate you, you have a fantastic understanding of e female mind. so why so angry? like you said, it's not our fault, really. blame it on fairytales, on movies, on mills n boon (i must say tho tht i nv read any of their books). we were brought up to believe tht there exists a perfect gentleman tht is exquisitely attuned to our every want n whim, n so when reality hits, it's not totally our fault if we over react n turn into fanatical, obsessive gfs hahaha.

i admit tho. girls have pretty unreasonable expectations. n i am sure tht somewhere, buried deep within e female brain, we are aware of tht fact. it's jst 99% of e time emotions rule, therefore e hissy fits n cold shoulders haha. during tht 1% of time when suddenly our thoughts are crystal clear n we are capable of being rational, all of a sudden it seems so ridiculous to expect prince charming to appear w a snap of e fingers, some1 who'd know how to anticipate every subtle change in emotion n says e right things at e right time, turns up at our doorstep unannounced w flowers in hand, pays e klcc guard so tht e lights in e towers are turned off/on in such a way tht a big fat heart is displayed for e whole kl to see, while you're sitting down to a romantic candle light dinner w said prince charming in e revolving restaurant in kl tower w a 1st class view of klcc.

hahahahaha. unbelievable. i admit i am guilty of such fantasies :)

Evelyncyl said...

So true. Still, you can't blame girls for having such fantasies of their first love right? After all, a girl's first love is where she actually learns the ups and downs of a love life. She learns to love, and be loved. So it's no wonder that many makes mistake somehow (ie the First Boyfriend Syndrome). After the first heart break, I'm sure many have learned a great deal from it, and so, being more successful in their next relationship.

Guys are definitely guilty in this First GF syndrome. Do write about it. Have been a fan of kok blok for a while now. Keep it up! :)

~YM~ said...

admit it. It's not totally the girl's fault since it needs two hands to clap. The girl wants to indulge in her fantasy, so why would the guy obey like a lap dog?

The key is, everyone has a fantasy. I always find it stupid when the guys obey and lick the boots just to please the girls. Of course, there are also girls who behave that way for a guy. Maybe we shud just name it First relationship syndrome.

If we can analyze every single thing a female does, that female is definitely not a female. For those lap dogs out there, wake up and start being rational.

From: A twice 1st BF too.. :P

Jia Hui said...

I'm actually a silent avid reader =) (don't call me a stalker la ><) and seriously, i think you are damn good in writing posts about relationships. It's like you just have that writing style thing in you. *snaps fingers* Just like that. =)

gaL said...

Some guys prefer to be first bf so that they can be the one that guides the girl in becoming a person to love and to be loved. If you get what i mean.

U seem like u understand women err.. almost 70% more or less. COngrats. lol. I hav a shirt which says only two men understand women, one is crazy one is dead. And u're neither. So all the best. hehe

k0k s3n w4i said...

beve: what's this? LEGS?

senorita: funny, i remember my ex telling me that i'm completely clueless about girls. a princess attitude is a prerequisite for this syndrome. I mean, how can they be in a fairytale without first thinking themselves as princesses? Lumix rocks! u dunwan use gimme please.

michellesy: awww, ur a working woman now. s'okay if u dun comment so much or read anymore :) but i have to say i missed your insights. and be nice, mitch. I said fictional couple didn't I? xD (actually, I meant it as an in-joke for all the regulars :p).

the constantly dramatic one: repent o dramatic one! (my post is funny o_0?)

thirteen: yeah, i'm all for girls who've had their dreams and fantasies quashed. save myself a lot of heartaches. I didn't outright say that it's anyone's fault - this is just a... erm... dissection of an aspect of relationships. thanks for the grammar heads up, by the way. Phoebe checks them for me, but she misses some sometimes - and frankly, my grammar stinks. the one u found was a typo tho.

fubi: like heaven :P how's third gf working out for u?

voon: step up and come into my world then. we got happy on this side xD when something is broken, don't fix it. a new one's better :p

debbie: nah, not angry. when i write posts like this, i tend to get a bit vehement. helps with the writing momentum. i wish girls run on reasons more often but oh well, girls will be girls and that's why we love 'em. if they are sensible all the time, who shall we pamper then? KLCC? what are you smoking, woman? gimme some now.

evelyncyl: well, i did say i blame the media in the second sentence of this post xD. that's the importance of a girl's first bf, i guess. it's his job to bring her down to earth. and thanks! flattered pink, i am :)

~ym~: the guy indulge in his girl's fantasies because he loves her. there are irrational fantasies, and then there are those that are certainly doable. a guy can't be perfect all the time, but he must at least have his moments :). if you truly love someone, you'd go a long long way to make her happy. *high five*

jia hui: comes from experience, i guess. my track record isn't exactly bump-free >.< i started this blog to keep myself in practice actually. i like writing :)

gal: wah, 70% very high d. i think it's cos i don't hang out with guys a lot (since my pastimes differ greatly from theirs). and quite a number of girls have confided in me about their relationship problems, so i guess i picked up some stuff that way.

The Faux Fashionista said...

Whoa, its eerily similar to my feelings and emotions when I first started dating! Glad I'm not that dellusional anymore. Good job picking us girls apart and analyzing every whine and complaint ;) *thumbs up*

senorita.. said...

minwi is a high maintenance chick... and k0k, she's breathin the air of Malaysia, that's y high.. erm, i mean so happy... lol

and yeah, every girl has the princess side in them.. no matter how much she denies it

minwi said...

klcc is like #1 msian landmark what. no meh. i mean, if i used, say, menara pan global, a lot of ppl would be scratching heads n wondering where e hell it is. then how to look for big heart if dont even know where e building is?

chaborkia said...

LOL you did good in this post.

luckily i am aware of what i'm doing to my bf (we're both firsts) and not go too far. yes, maybe i'd succumb into the teachings of the Dogma once in a while, but common sense plus exceptional love to my darling made me come to my senses and not expect other-worldly behaviour just to please me.

some girls simply don't understand that, sigh...

calvin said...

It is so damn true.
That's all I will say here.

k0k s3n w4i said...

the faux fashionista: just doing a service for all my man-friends out there xD

senorita: i heard xD well, a lil' bit of princess can be cute :)

debbie: i expect if ur boyfriend actually paid off some security guard guy to do that, he'd at least take the trouble to drive u there innit?

chaborkia: thoughtful girlfriends are so nice. it makes us want to do sweet things for them just becos we want to make them happy. but of course, not all guys are savvy enough...

calvin: i feel u, dude *fist-to-heart*

fubi said...

s'ok la xD *giggles*

fubi said...

i din miss. My line is wonky so i couldn correct it T^T I go correct sum posts nao

Voon said...

Lol thanks k0k. Let's toast to all new things good and shiny. Hehe

sharkling said...

2 weeks ago was my birthday and my then bf could hardly remember it nor gave me a gift. We'd been together for half a year. Needless to say, I had a hissy fit of epic proportions. I called him the "shittiest bf ever" and that "i deserved better". I believed and still believed that my expectations were realistic and the 'proper' way for a bf to act in the circumstance of his gf's birthday, and that is to just give a material something as a token of acknowledgement of her birthday. Sigh, one fight led to another with a lot of other deep issues in between (eg. how I myself wasn't meeting his expectations by being proactive in dealing with my long-standing depression), and we split up a couple of days ago.

That silly incident over not getting a gift on my birthday boiled and bubbled over to result in this, and it hurts so goddamn much. Especially when not so long ago he really did love me. Honestly, I don't know what went wrong *cries*

(Spotted your comment on's and here I am. Great blog)

k0k s3n w4i said...


I get so many of my readers from pinkpau I think she'll start charging me for commenting in her blog soon.

First, let me just say that your expectations aren't unrealistic. It's alright to expect your boyfriend to at least bother to give you a present on your birthday - and it's also perfectly alright to feel bad when he didn't. I think love is always about being happy when the other person's happy; so I got to wonder at just how much your boyfriend wanted you to be happy. But that aside; is it worth the pain of bringing it up and berating him about it? Is it worth your pain?

Secondly, depression is a very real illness and if you find that it's affecting your life, chances are a psych evaluation can do a lot of good for you. I was posted in the psych department in the hospital here for awhile and I have met many patients with intractable depression - and they improved greatly with a bit of counseling and cautious use of antidepressants. I have also been through a very bad break up a year ago and I was depressed for the longest time - till I met phoebe. In a way, I have never felt happier and I realised that it wasn't my fault that I was depressed all the time when I was with my ex. my ex just isn't that person who can make me happy. Maybe, just maybe, your boyfriend wasn't that good for you either.

Don't cry :( *hugs*

Anonymous said...

This article is so damn fucking TRUE. All of a sudden I have this urge to just post this up in facebook (or any social networking sites) or start forwarding it like those stupid chain mails you mentioned and let all ladies in this world know this.
hmm.. is there a way to let single girls know about the misconception that they are having without having them go through a real first relationship? Because sometimes it's pretty expansive to make such a mistake in a first relationship.... especially when the boy friend is a truly good person.