“I don’t need a man.”
I have always found this statement rather disheartening. It’s a phrase that is often expelled from the lips of a spiteful woman.
Its roots are in the wake of a feminist movement that saw many women left abandoned. Wives and mothers who dedicated their lives to family, only to be left without a career, their own money, and their husbands often withholding child support in order to control and manipulate.
I get it, the “breadwinner” marriages of the mid-twentieth century had few winners. Patriarchal relationship structures communicated the role of women to be one of servitude. “Dedicate your life to your man and your family, and he’ll take care of you, meanwhile you’ll compromise everything, including your own identity.” Sounds like a crap deal to me.
So, here we are, in the wake of a necessary feminist movement, with messages that swung the pendulum in a totally different direction. Men and women, who experienced and/or observed the devastation from relationships of the past, communicate to their daughters messages of strength:
“Never depend on a man.”
“Never need a man.”
“Take care of yo’self”
It’s important to honour that these messages are absolutely necessary and important. However, when these messages are not clarified, they are left to be interpreted by the receiver… unfortunately that receiver is often a child who lacks the intellectual maturity to ask questions and look for more direction.
Left unexplained, what we often hear are messages like:
“Never open up to a man.”
“Never depend on anyone.”
“If you ever feel like you ‘need’ someone, you’re giving too much.”
And of course, with these messages comes the conundrum:
We are all human, so, inevitably, we fall in love.
And, in turn, we want to give ourselves to the relationship, but there is just something holding us back and we begin to feel the devastating consequence of a message of strength gone wrong.
We live our relationships from the place of:
“Never let your man feel like you need him.”
And that’s where we are today, in a space where often (not always) women are taught to not need a man and when they’re in relationships, they are incredibly scared to do or say anything that could communicate they are vulnerable and want to depend on their partner.
Although that fierce independence is brilliant and inspiring, taken to the extreme it has negative effects on an essential component for relationships:
If our partners don’t feel like we need them, why would they stay? Why would they want to feel vulnerable and give themselves to the relationship?
Men are creatures of purpose. We want to provide and have a role in a woman’s life. We want to be able to love our woman. And when that woman communicates either directly or indirectly that she doesn’t need us, it hurts.
What we hear is that we don’t fit. We have no purpose in her life.
In addition to that, a large percentage of women are out-earning their partners. The role of man’s purpose as a provider in the relationship has shifted. A man’s success and identity have been evolutionarily rooted in being the provider, and when that role is no longer available, men seek to find another role in the relationship and/or in other areas of life.
Let’s be clear, it does not rest on the shoulders of a woman to create purpose for a man. However, it is important that each person create the space for their partner to find and experience purpose, even if that is within the relationship. The challenge is that we need to develop the awareness to step past all of the messages and identities we’ve been taught of what it means to be a “man” and an “independent woman”.
When we adopt these identities we often have an incredibly hard time gaining deep and connected long term relationships… because most men are still driven and rewarded based on archaic ideals, and most women have moved past old roles and into the role of the masculine… leaving no space for a man to love and appreciate his partner, because she’s now the provider, the parent, and she doesn’t need no man to take care of her.
There’s no space for a man, because women are being that man.
So what do we do? Women are the new men, and men have no clue what the hell to do. Where does that leave relationships?
This isn’t about just women. This is about what messages, identities and roles we’re creating and subscribing to as humans. It is our responsibility to take control of our own hearts, and together, regardless of the combination of gender, we need to create relationships that work for us.
We need to step outside of what society, culture and religion have taught us, and create relationships and identities that align with who we are as individuals, and how we want show up to the relationship.
We need to stop trying to be so tough and actually let people in. Men and women need to create space in their lives for each other. And although it is so empowering and beautiful to observe women so rooted in their purpose and taking over the world, women can do that and still be loving and maternal. Falling and being in love doesn’t give a woman’s power away, it actually makes women more powerful.
We need to see our relationships in the same way we see businesses. Much like a corporate culture, we design our relationship environment, including how we want to feel and who we want to be within that partnership. Relationships today are partnerships, and partnerships require shared agreements and intentions. By discussing and coming up with these agreements and intentions together, we allow ourselves to create the relationship we want. We become the creators of our reality.
And at the end of the day, if we want great love and great relationships, we have to let people love us. Again, we have to let people in. Till we do that we’ll always be loving with half our hearts. And I don’t know about you, but I’m too full of life and love to waste it settling for “safe” and “comfortable”. I want to be able to depend on my partner, and her feel needed as well.
Let’s get better, together.