Stephanie Smith in the midst of another sandwich creation. Photo: Rene Cervantes (New York Post)

Stephanie Smith in the midst of another sandwich creation.
Photo: Rene Cervantes (New York Post)

For the past few weeks, the digital space has been up in arms over New York Post reporter Stephanie Smith, who has gone public with her 300 sandwiches project. Every morning her boyfriend, Eric, an excellent cook and the primary provider of meals in their household, would request a sandwich from her, but because she was not a strong cook, Stephanie never provided one. Until one day she did. And as he sat enjoying Stephanie’s delicious creation, he blurted out, “Honey,  this is the best sandwich ever! You’re like 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.” So Stephanie took on the challenge and documented her journey with a blog, 300Sandwiches.com.

As Stephanie’s story went viral, the attacks on her became vile. Deranged, desperate and dumb were all adjectives used to describe her. Twitter even made her into a trending topic as they accused her of being a pawn in her boyfriend’s game and expressed their disgust with her archaic actions of cooking her way to a ring. Personally, I didn’t get the outrage…at all.

Stephanie with her boyfriend, Eric Schulte. (New York Post)

Stephanie with her boyfriend, Eric Schulte.

Yeah, when you take the statement literal and look at it as woman making sandwiches in order to get an engagement ring, it feels petty, desperate and ridiculous. But I never took Eric’s “300 sandwiches away” comment as a stipulation of their relationship. I always figured it was a comment said in jest after his girlfriend did something nice for him, after he’d finally received something that he’d been desiring in their relationship.

I think we all have similar, seemingly meaningless, desires that excite us if and when our partners fulfill them. For example, let a man pump my gas or take out the trash without me asking. I swear, I would love that man forever. And it’s not that I wouldn’t marry a man who didn’t do these things because these things are in fact small in the grander scheme of the relationship. However, both are something I imagine my dream man doing. And if…when #HeyBoo decides he’s going to do just that, I will be oozing with gratitude.

I’m the first to condemn manipulation, tricks and games in relationships, especially when we’re talking marriage, but Stephanie’s sandwich making didn’t feel like this to me. “It’s not just, sorta, a girl making all this food to earn a man’s love,” Stephanie shared with NPR’s Michel Martin on Tell Me More. “This is a journey between the two of us as we continue on towards engagement, and I don’t think I’m less of a woman or [less of] a hard charging career woman because I want to do something nice for my boyfriend.”

More after the break:

At some point, we lost our desire to do nice things for our significant others. We’ve gotten so caught up in what society tells us we should and shouldn’t do, that we are allowing pseudo-causes and faux-values to prevent us from bringing a smile to our partners’ faces. Asking for a sandwich isn’t pushing a woman back into the kitchen to remain there barefoot and pregnant anymore than me desiring a man to pump my gas and take out the trash deems me less of an independent and self-sufficient person. Yes, I can do those things, but I don’t want to. And the sooner my man learns those are my sweet spots, the happier he will be in the long run.

And for the pessimists out there who still aren’t buying it, enjoy one of my favorite TI songs: