I have an ex who became a friend. Years later, we still hang out on a regular basis and on occasion, the question of “Why didn’t we work out?” comes up in our conversation.

His reason? I’m too independent. My reason? His issue with my independence.

He says that he prefers a more submissive woman, and I’m not it. I can’t disagree. Submissive is never going to be a word that describes me.  All this time, and the  thing that I have never quite understood is, what the hell does submissive even mean? Years and explanations later, and I’m still confused about the concept.

In fairness, I don’t think he, and many others for that matter, understand what independent means either so I’ll use myself as an example.

I’m in my early 40s and have been single for most of my adult life. Add to that, the fact that I grew up with a single working mom, was in charge of taking care of siblings, and you get a woman who’s learned to take care of herself and her household.

In my 20s and maybe even the early part of my 30s, I thought of being in charge as survival skills that I only needed until I found the right man to take over. But now, it’s a source of pride, a badge of honor if you will. The knowledge that I can take care of any problem that comes my way, not to mention hang my own curtains–I own a drill–makes me feel accomplished.

Couple that with being intelligent and funny AND on paper I’m a great catch.

Not so much, I’ve learned. My experience (mind you, I’m saying MY experience) has taught me that men want to be needed as much or more as they want to be wanted. They want to hear a version of Renee Z’s line from Jerry McGuire, “You complete me.”

But reality is that no one can complete you. I used to think they could. I used to believe that two people came together as halves of a whole. Now I believe that a successful, healthy relationship requires two people who are whole all by themselves. They come together to add to each others’ lives, not to fill some empty space. Looking for someone to “complete” you is dangerous. When you give someone the power to fill an emptiness inside of you, you also give them the power to leave you empty again. No! Not okay in my book.

So here’s the thing, because I think I’m rambling, how do we get others to understand that want is better than need. That while I may not need you to hang my curtains, I would sure love that you would want to and would probably let you. That while I have strong opinions on many a subject, I also have an open mind and a love of long talks and intelligent discourse. That while I certainly don’t need you, I can flatter you with the knowledge that I simply want you. Isn’t that a better feeling?

Not sure how to go about it, but in the meantime, there’s no settling, so I’ll just keep waiting…


One thought on “Dating and the independent woman

  1. Amen, sister! Instead of “completing” I started to say “compliment.” As in, “We compliment each other.” I think it’s a better understanding of what a relationship should be.

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