Should I let him help?

Tully Zygier
I am fiercely independent. I like to have control of some things in my life for as long as I can. It is easy to get used to being dependent on others when you have a chronic illness or disability. One of the things I want to keep doing is lifting my frame in and out of the car. But when I go out with men it causes a problem. They are not sure whether to help. I wonder whether I should let them help. It would show I trust them. But where would it lead to next?
Posted by: 
Tully Zygier on 18/11/2011
A red walking frame on wheels with a black cushioned seat

He offered to help me and I rejected him

Chivalry isn't dead. It's just on hold.

I met a man last week after parking my car outside my house. I looked across the road to see a man leaning under the hood of his car. He was playing around with something. As I struggled with lifting my walking frame out of the back seat of the car, I asked if he needed some help. I didn't see the irony at the time. I was just following my gut instinct.

He offered me a smile as he rejected my offer. We swapped a few jokes about me not knowing much about cars. I wished him good luck before I wandered into the house after a long day at work.

Another incident

The moment passed and I forgot all about it. It was just another incident along the journey of life. But little did I know that I would meet him again a week later.

This time he was walking past as I was taking the frame out of the car. He offered to help me and I rejected him. He mentioned how he felt bad that he hadn't offered to help the last time. I just laughed and said that most men do. He laughed back and went on his way.

Being dependent

You can get used to being dependent on others when you have a chronic illness or disability. You can even get so used to it that you become passive. You can tend to wait for someone else to take the initiative. I am one of those people, I suppose. But I am fiercely stubborn and independent when it comes to a few things. I like to have control of some things in my life for as long as I can. One of those things is lifting my frame in and out of the car. No wonder I have such amazing arm muscles!

My stubborn streak has become an issue over the last year. When I go out with men they often walk me to my car because that's what most men seem to do. They want to make sure the woman makes it safely to the car. Or perhaps they are dragging out the goodbye for as long as they can. Whatever the reason, after we exchange goodbyes they typically stand around watching me lift the frame into the car. I often notice from the corner of my eye that they look around and shuffle their feet, unsure what to do. Do they offer to help me? Or do they stand there and potentially look like a jerk?

Let them help

After I finish some of them say sorry for not offering to help. Others say that they are sure passersby think they are bastards. I know we are meant to be in that feminist era where we are supposed to strive for equality. And I know that I have that whole independence thing going on. But I can't help but feel like maybe I should let them help.

By letting them help I am allowing them to take away my independence. But on another level I am showing them that I trust them and feel comfortable with them. I am even showing them that I am willing to let go of my principles for them. But if it starts with helping me with the walking frame, where will it lead to next?

Readers comments (4)

I admire your wanting to be as independent as possible. But I do not think that it is easy to get used to being dependent on others for help to do things. The actual change from a "Miss I Can Do" to accepting assistance is not always one we all find easy to do !
Men have walked women to their cars or to their front doors for generations. It's a "male thing"! Keep your independence by lifting your frame but maybe you could at least consider that some of them are feeling unsure of what to do. Make sure you tell them why it is important to you to keep doing it!

You shouldn't need to feel obliged to accept offers of help: men (in general) like to do these kinds of things for themselves, and there's no reason why women shouldn't have that choice as well!

A further comment. It's an interesting one..... it's only been in the past few years that I've really become aware that a lot of women even nowadays like to have men assist them (even strangers) just because they are men! And there are a lot of women like me who hate it. I was thinking just the other day when I had to lift my bike over a bloke's bike to get past, and when he came back I had lifted it over but he assisted me to lower it to the ground (he was in his 50s or 60s so certainly of a generation when boys were taught to be "gentlemen)..... I was thinking of how if a *woman* offers (or gives unasked) un-needed assistance, she's more likely to get told "I can do it myself"..... certainly a gender tradition thing!

I can totally relate to this article. Generally since I have had the wheel frame I let people help because it is heavier and more awkward but unless I am tired or sore I prefer to do it myself just for independence. If it was a date I would let the guy do it though, it's a good sign he can be caring and helpful.

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