In Defense of High Maintenance

“High maintenance” has such a negative connotation. When it refers to a thing, such as a product, a house or a car, it’s almost as bad as a white elephant, it means that it takes too much money and effort to sustain, causing more hassle than its worth. As a trait attributed to people the term could mean that they are clingy and needy whiners, arrogant and controlling type A types, or attention-hungry and spoiled divas.

But couldn’t it all be a matter of perspective? “High maintenance” could be a dirty word that mediocre people spew out when faced with excellence, folks to make excuses for themselves, or to make themselves feel better, a label that lazy people place on hardworking ones because they don’t have the desire nor the perseverance to keep up.

t could just mean that they’re damn near perfect, and that such perfection demands certain responses and behavior. There must be some show of appreciation for being in the presence of prime specimen of humanity, and some effort to give said prime specimen the time and attention due. There also must be some kind of recognition that such near perfection does not come by easily. It takes diligence and resources to maintain – no excuses, no slacking off. A beautiful physical appearance means getting acne treatment before the need for it becomes desperate, long before one has to stand in a Mardi Gras float in Baton Rouge, and a liposuction before one descends to porcine levels, even if one has to drive to Phoenix to get it. A beautiful mind needs the stimulation of intelligent discourse, whether it’s face to face, over the phone or via chat or email.

Or perhaps these “high maintenance” types hold themselves to very high standards and, rightly or wrongly, expect others to do the same. If anything deserves to be done, it has to be done well. Good must be great, smart must be brilliant, and nice must be phenomenal. No flings, just relationships that one throws all the chips in. Jobs must be stellar. It means clean must be spotless, and that tasty must be ambrosial.

So watch yourself when you’re calling something “high maintenance”, you might not be belittling it, but yourself.