Since I can remember, my mom raised me repeating “you have to be independent! You can love a man, but you must never need a man.” So, throughout my life, my focus was always to do everything I could to be self-sufficient in an effort to never need anything from “him” or anyone. My thought process: “Do well in school because that would ensure a good job.” This meant I’d make my own money and buy my own things! So again, I would never need to ask for money, ever, from anyone, especially from a man… Are you noticing a theme?
So I did just that, as best as I could. I went to school and worked one, sometimes two jobs to self-fund all my wants and needs. When I finally moved out on my own at the age of 23, I was able to pay rent for my own apt. I never had a roommate outside of college and my ex-boyfriend was the first person I ever lived with outside of my now husband. As my ex and I cohabitated, I paid a majority of the bills. This was not because I made more… even though I did 😉 but because I never wanted him to hold the apt over me or throw anything in my face (talk about a lack of trust). There’s a hidden message in being super independent: “trust no one, but yourself.”
How Independence Can Translate to Lack of Trust
It’s obvious that independent women want to raise independent daughters. However, sometimes the intentions of that message get misunderstood. Being independent doesn’t mean you should NOT be vulnerable, that you should not trust anyone, or that you must be the “man” and the “woman” in the relationship. Unfortunately, many women become so self-sufficient they close the opportunity for a partner to ever take care of them… and we all need that.
I’m writing about this topic because I have struggled with this in my own relationship. The battle of control, lack of trust, and the need to always do it myself has pained our relationship for some time.
Let me elaborate on the above line on lack of trust. I trust my husband in the emotional sense regarding fidelity. My mistrust is in getting things done or doing them as well as I would (i.e. calling the plumber for the leaking toilet, paying that bill on time, or feeding the kids a meal and not ice cream… it’s happened! Lol). My doubts are in allowing him to do these things the way he would… which has caused much conflict. I can’t even count the amount of times he’s yelled, “do you want to be the woman and the man in this relationship!?” Ummm not really… but I guess my actions were telling him just that.
There’s something that comes with being vulnerable with your partner that frees you and fulfills them. But maybe you don’t want to reach out because it will make you look desperate… needy… or even powerless. Or maybe you fear that it might make you indebted to someone or lower than them in some way? I know subconsciously I was feeling just that. I have slowly come to realize that I can continue being independent and my best self without making him feel like less than his best self… which brings me to my next point. When you’re so independent and you doubt your partner, you begin to lack respect.
When Lack of Trust Leads to Lack of Respect
As women, we are so wrapped up in doing everything for ourselves that we are not easily impressed. As a result, when someone (especially your man) does something we can easily do, we don’t applaud him or thank him which in turn shows we don’t respect their effort. You figure, “shit, that’s not a big deal, you should be able to do that!” In doing so, you are not able to do something a man needs which is making him feel appreciated (yes, they also need to feel valued). When he’s looking for appreciation, no matter how small his gesture, in most cases he’s going to internalize it as you’re being ungrateful (especially when it’s done out of love). The cycle begins again: He’s angry and then you get angry.
Another fault of us independent women is that we tend to approach “him” and every situation aggressively. Nothing is ever good enough because it’s not the way you would do it so your reaction is combative and unattractive. We, as strong women, must also learn to manage our expectations. They WILL NOT always do it the way we want or the way we would, but we must allow them to do it regardless. Constantly crushing his manhood will be an indicator for him to fight you to get it back.
To My Fellow Super Women, Don’t Misinterpret my Message
I am in no way saying that you should not continue to be independent or strive to be the best self you can be, alone. What I am saying is that once you are in a relationship, learn how to balance being independent as well as being the “right woman” to your partner. There is a big difference between codependence and interdependence. It is absolutely possible to be in a healthy relationship that involves sharing your lives and giving and receiving support to one another without forgetting who you are. So, it’s important you’re making the choice to be with someone because of what you have to offer instead of what you’re hoping to receive.
Great relationships consist of two independent people who recognize and embrace the value of their partner. They allow themselves to be comfortable and willing while still appreciating and depending on each other.
Giving your man his place or position doesn’t change yours. Like a wise person once told me, “both our tree’s need to be watered because otherwise, your shade will not allow me to grow.”
Every day, we live and learn!