How Being The “Chill Girl” Held Us Back In Dating – & Life

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In March this year, 22-year-old PhD student Maalvika Bhat posted a TikTok video declaring the "death of the chill girl". Encouraging her followers to shed any attempt at being coy or overly agreeable in dating, the now-viral video started a conversation online about the "chill girl" narrative being an outdated ideal that doesn’t actually serve women. "The chill girl was invented by men to give them an excuse to be low effort," said relationship creator and author Nikki Dawes in response to the video. "She puts up with everything and she does it with a smile on her face." 
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In our patriarchal society, women have long been encouraged to be agreeable, catering to the male ego, the male gaze and the male agenda. Historically, this has been encouraged by law (think voting restrictions and even the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade). While feminist movements have undeniably made progress when it comes to women’s rights, the pressure to be a "chill girl" shows the roots of misogyny rampant in today’s dating climate. The "chill girl" agenda can range from Andrew Tate calling a "high-value woman" one who's "ride or die" (aka has no hard boundaries) to less overt relationship advice videos encouraging women to be a man’s "peace".   

Wanting to be 'chill' does not allow women to hold men accountable. This goes beyond a romantic setting, with young women not taught to advocate for themselves in professional settings, academic settings – even doctors' offices. 

Bhat says she herself used to attempt to be a "chill girl". "No shame to chill girls. For a long time, having a guy I was interested in thinking I was 'cool' was everything to me," she says. "I would talk softer, sit differently and not speak up about the things that lit a fire in my belly. I would suck my tummy in. I would nod, smile politely, agree, agree and agree. Never again." Bhat says that wanting to be "chill" never allowed her to hold men accountable. This goes beyond a romantic setting, with young women not taught to advocate for themselves in professional settings, academic settings – even doctors' offices. 
After Bhat shed her own attempts to be considered "chill", she noticed many people her age asking the same questions: How do I figure out if he’s seeing other people? How do I get him to date me? "It felt so evident to me that for so many young women, casual sex was not working and was actually incredibly detrimental to their mental health and self-esteem," she says. "These boxes of 'chill' and 'crazy' are just keeping us from figuring out what we really wanted and then enforcing those boundaries."
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The revolt against the "chill girl" has risen alongside similar trending online conversations like the reclamation of being a "crazy" woman and the critique of casual dating, with some women calling heterosexual hookup culture a "scam" that serves men more than it does women. With today’s teens having far less sex than previous generations and instead declaring their urge to be "lover girls" or "lover boys", it’s clear the casual nature of modern dating leaves many feeling like their emotional needs aren’t being met.  
Jeff Guenther, a licensed professional counsellor in Portland, says that in order for people to have their needs met in dating, they need to abandon their attempts at being "chill". "If you abandon yourself and focus on your crush then you’ll be able to meet their needs but you’re not showing up as your authentic self so that they can develop feelings based on who you really are," he says. "Nobody is actually 'chill' and if being 'crazy' means fully expressing your emotional experience in a relationship, by all means, call me crazy." 
Guenther says that while people have gotten the message that being easy-going is attractive and desirable, we should instead strive to show up as our most authentic selves in dating and stop trying to be the things we believe will make us more attractive. "Many women have gotten the message that they’re too 'needy' or 'clingy' so if they shut off their emotional needs they may be viewed as more lovable," he says. "We should feel safe enough to be ourselves in a relationship so that someone can get to know the real you."
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White women can post TikTok videos of how they pursued their partners in bizarre and unethical ways to a soundtrack of Taylor Swift's 'Mastermind' while Black women are stereotyped as confrontational.

At a base level, being yourself on a date so that your potential partner doesn’t fall in love with your "chill" alter ego seems obvious but our dating culture encourages casualness and performance. Dating in 2022 can feel like navigating a minefield of undefined situationships, breadcrumbing and ghosting. This can leave women feeling like they need to announce that they’re "insane" for asking for basic sexual health conversations and a certain level of respect. 
There’s no denying that the "chill girl" has to go and that reclaiming being a "crazy girl" might help some people get to that place but like the feminist movement itself, women have different access points to reclaiming a level of "crazy" that’s socially acceptable. It’s why white women can post TikTok videos of how they pursued their partners in bizarre and unethical ways to a soundtrack of Taylor Swift’s "Mastermind" while Black women are stereotyped as confrontational. "I still have issues with the label 'crazy'. It'll never look the same on me or any other woman of colour," says Bhat. "Also, anything I would call myself crazy for, a dude would call himself normal for."
Bhat’s initial video "went viral almost immediately" and she still receives "people's anecdotes, miseries and accolades" today. Her favourite message so far is "this made me realise I didn't have to be passive". Clearly there are many women who are tired of feeling like they have to participate in this performance but the purpose of collectively retiring the "chill girl" is not to further divide women into self-proclaimed categories but instead free us from the patriarchal burden of overanalysing how palatable our needs are. With this in mind, Bhat thinks young women need to "raise the bar for crazy". "If we each tackle what's considered 'too much' in our own dating lives, we can make the dating scene as a whole so much healthier," she says.

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