It’s Independence Day in America, so I thought I’d take a moment to address the idea of independence. You see, most of us ladies wear our independence as a badge of honor. “I don’t need a man. I can handle myself.”
And it is a badge of honor, to a certain extent. We independent women work hard for what we want. We earn it. We deserve it. We don’t need to have it given to us. We have persevered. We don’t settle for things we don’t want. We are hard on ourselves and we are hard on others.
We’ve also been taught that men like independent women. Guess what? That’s not true! A man saying he wants an independent woman is really just a code word for wanting a woman who isn’t emotionally needy. And by this, I don’t mean women who don’t have or express emotions. I mean women who expect one man to meet their every emotional need.
(There is a huge difference, and I’d be wiling to bet you aren’t the woman he’s trying to avoid. But to be honest, in your efforts to not be emotionally needy, lots of you have stopped expressing emotions in front of men, which is one of the things they tend to like most about us – our access to emotions, and our ability to feel. If you aren’t expressing your emotions in front of a man, chances are he won’t stick around too long, or you’ll quickly enter the friend zone.)
Love & Sex Are Non-Negotiable
Well, I hate to break it to you, but that business about not needing a man…? It’s not true…at least not for very long. It is innately human to want love and connection. Hell, it’s even part of Maslow’s Hierarchy – the third rung on the pyramid, to be exact. Humans need to love and be loved – both sexually and non-sexually – by others.
Hold on. I’m not saying that means you need to find the first guy willing to say yes and march down the aisle with him. (I find marching down the aisle to be overrated, but that’s for another time.) Love (sexual and non-sexual) comes in so many different forms. And sometimes taking time to be with and get to know yourself is really valuable as well. But I see so many women denying that wanting love is even on their radar.
Instead, you say things like, “I’m too independent to be in a relationship.” Saying that you are too independent for that is really just a way to not have to admit that it feels vulnerable or scary. And sister, I’m here to call bullshit on that. I’m here to say that it’s totally fine to be scared shitless of being intimate with another human being, or to be afraid to lose who you are because you want to be loved so badly, or any array of reasons that has you scared to actually find love.
But by denying that you want intimate connection in your life, you are actually cutting yourself off from a critical component of nourishment.
I’ve been there. I know it well.
Once I stripped off the layers of independence, I realized I needed touch, I needed love, I needed sex. I cringed to admit those things at first. I cringed because in the past, having those things came at a cost to me. The cost was I forgot who I was. (And no amount of love was worth that, because it made me hate myself.)
So, I started to wonder, what if? What if I could have touch, love, sex, intimacy, without giving myself up? And that’s when the magic happened. (Ok, it wasn’t entirely magic, I had to put in some work.) But when I actually acknowledged that I wanted those things – and I wanted to keep myself intact at the same time – I saw so clearly all the things I could do differently to have that be possible. I didn’t have to fundamentally change who I was; I just had to treat myself just as importantly as I did the guys I dated.
I now know that real independence, true independence, is when we don’t abandon ourselves for something outside of ourselves (in this case, a man). We learn how to share in relationship with another person while we are in the most committed relationship we’ve ever had to ourselves. We listen to the voice within. We speak up. We connect first to ourselves so we can have the most true connection with someone else. That is real independence, my friends.