Let's Stop Saying "I don't need a man"
* Note: This article is not for women who are genuinely happy living alone, this is for self-aware and emotionally intelligent women who yearn for a connection, but hide behind the facade of not needing a partner due to feelings of shame of not being able to find a reciprocal connection. There is no shame in needing to be loved -- it's a basic human need.
Let's replace "I don't need a man" with "I need to be seen and heard"
"I don't need a man" is usually code for "I have been hurt many times and nobody cares about me". I understand why it can feel more comforting to disengage from the world of men after having endured many years of rejection, along with being used, ignored and treated as an option. Not to mention that we've had to be there for ourselves through thick and thin because the men we had in our lives couldn't show up for us. Our past experiences have enabled us to grow into strong self-aware and emotionally intelligent women and so we have a clearer understanding of what real healthy love looks like, but we struggle to find an equal. However, instead of denying our need for deep and fulfilling relationships by writing men off completely, we need to start asserting what it is that we need, setting our standards in place and start enforcing them!
It's too easy to let men off the hook by turning into hermits rather than making our needs loud and clear. Not only does saying "I don't need a man" deprive us of affection, it doesn't give men any incentive to self-reflect because they will simply continue to engage with the same unhealthy behaviours, either because they are consciously unaware of it, or out of pure selfishness.
Why We Need to Set Standards
As women we have been conditioned into a masculine way of dating and courtship under the guise of "feminism" that makes us believe that our vulnerability and assertiveness about wanting commitment to be needy in the eyes of men, and so we shy away from stating our needs early on. If a man is not capable of open and honest communication that is an early sign that you might want to tread lightly before getting emotionally invested.
We are failing as a society when it comes to romantic relationships because there aren't really any collective rules or standards in place that are being enforced and I feel that there needs to be mutual consensus and honesty from both sexes on what it means to be a grown mature adult in the dating scene. We need both men and women to step up and be better people.
Based on past experience, I believe the basic necessities of a healthy partnership include:
2) Emotional Intelligence
3) Ability to communicate in a healthy way
4) A willingness to solve problems
5) Independence (ie. non emotionally dependent, having interests and friends outside of the relationship)
7) Mutual Effort + Consistency (ie. A shared purpose for the relationship and commitment to growing together as individuals)
10) Shared values + Beliefs
Men, like women, come in all different maturity levels with different tastes and preferences and so we need to stop painting all men as villains, because when we do so, we may miss out on a good one!
When any of these ten areas are lacking or at least not being proactively worked on, it causes relationships to suffer. Being aware of our strengths, weaknesses and fears is crucial before entering a serious relationship. Being self-aware means acknowledging that you are accountable to bring these things into a relationship and work on them proactively. When one partner is unwilling to hold up their end of the bargain, unfortunately, I believe it's best to move on. There needs to be mutual effort and consistency and most importantly a discussion early on about expectations. That's what a mature relationship looks like!
The reality is that if you don't put in the work, you don't get to reap the rewards. Try going to work and doing nothing and see how well that goes down! Odds are you'd likely get fired, so why would partnerships be any different?
Why We Need to Understand that Life is a Journey
We seem to forget that life is a journey on all fronts. Just as we progress from kindergarten to university and proceed into the workforce, or into a trade, our personal development is also a process that is often neglected due to our heavy focus on externalities that mostly revolve around school, work and friendships. While these things are important in our development, it often negates our fundamental need to be in touch with our inner selves first and foremost, which essentially fosters our intuitive abilities and our understanding of who we are. Our inner selves align us with what's best for us, not what we think is best for us.
We envision our career as a mountain that we have to climb to reach the top, which requires hours of dedication and hard work, but when it comes to developing ourselves and our partnerships, we don't give it much thought. Dating in the modern world is more of a "let's give it a shot and see where this goes" that is usually based mainly on superficial qualities such as appearance, common interests and chemistry. But, what if that's not the right formula for finding our ideal partner? What if finding a deep, meaningful and lasting connection requires that we first get deep and personal with ourselves?
I have noticed that the reason women like me have faced years of rejection, is not because there's anything wrong with us, it's because we remained authentic to who we are. Women like me find themselves wondering "what's so wrong with me that nobody will commit?" and the answer is nothing is wrong with us --- the truth is that the more emotionally evolved and self-aware we are, the harder it becomes to find a match because at the deepest soul level most still haven't learned what true love means, nor do they have a clue of who they are or what they want out of life. I believe that we endured short-lived encounters that acted as stepping stones to get us to the top of that self-discovery mountain. I have no doubt that there are men who have been on this rocky singlehood road as well, and that's who we will meet at the top!
Others go through this exact journey, only instead of being in a state of singlehood they are partnered or married and later divorce, once or several times. Some will come out of those partnerships and focus on themselves, and the rest will go on as usual with no downtime to develop their inner-selves. This is why I am led to believe that our self-discovery is really the precursor to the development of deep and lasting healthy relationships. Hence, on a collective level, I don't think most have gotten there yet, which explains why so many suffer, because we're currently operating from ego, selfishness, codependency and fear. Some people have a deep sense of self early on while others take longer to make sense of it all, and that's fine because we're all on different life paths. The purpose of dating is for us to learn more about ourselves and others along the way.
I would like for us to move past "I don't need a man", to being honest with ourselves and admitting that we have needs that we deserve to have met. We don't need men to validate us because we are self-aware and emotionally intelligent women; however, I want us to stop putting ourselves down because of age or any other factor that stifles our mind into thinking that "it's too late" or that "we'll end up alone" because there are as many good men as there are women, and odds are we just haven't met them yet. Nothing good in life ever comes easy, and that includes romantic relationships.
Why the Dating Scene Needs a Renaissance
I believe that many things are wrong in the dating landscape at present, and in many ways our lack of human connection has a huge role to play in it. We don't openly engage in honest conversations with people on the street or even our neighbours, and so it becomes a chore for us to go on an app and have to plan dates like they're work meetings.
If we were able to form bonds less formally by for example having physical coffee shops dedicated for singles it could encourage a renaissance in dating! Think of workplace relationships as an example, most don't start off with any attraction to their workmates, but as time passes they grow a liking to them simply because they are in close proximity and they get to know each other bit by bit everyday. Any initial distaste in physical appearance eventually fades as we draw a liking to the person's personality and other qualities. Dating apps are the opposite, where the first criteria is looks, followed by a meeting and then potentially "dates" that follow, but on average most are not consistent because of the plethora of options available.
We also have to acknowledge that nothing in life is guaranteed and yes people can disappoint us, but does that mean we should stop yearning? Absolutely not! Life would be boring if we had nothing to yearn for, in fact our brains are hardwired to want MORE! We need to stop burying our heads in the sand and start taking more risks on love. We won't change the dating landscape overnight, but we have to be cognizant that the change we want to see is in our hands to enforce. We either settle for living alone, or we make our voices heard to provoke more meaningful and lasting relationships by encouraging a culture that invests in personal growth and facilitating more community engagement.
My Advice for Women
Next time you are dating someone I want you to remain authentic to yourself and vocalize your needs early on. The longer we prolong expressing both our light and dark sides, the longer we wear masks, which keep us in the "honeymoon phase", only to have the illusion shattered a few short weeks/months/years later when the masks fall off.
Reflect on the following by jotting it down in a journal:
1. Acknowledge what you need
2. Admit to yourself that you deserve it
3. Don't shy away from verbalizing and seeking your needs because your needs are valid and you are deserving of love. It's okay to admit to being hurt in the past and it's okay to admit that you want better treatment from men. Anyone who can't handle that is not meant for you!
Simple Rules for Evolved Dating
1. Always approach dating with an optimistic outlook.
Don't allow past experiences and negative beliefs to affect your mood.
2. Communicate what it is that you are looking for.
If you want long term commitment, make sure you're clear about it and enforce it. If you crave a deep connection, say so! It's the easiest way to filter out those who are not aligned.
Contrary to popular belief, dating is not just about our "good side", we have to be able to openly talk about our past and things we've overcome, early on in the dating process, because that's what allows for a deeper understanding of the other person. It allows us to connect beyond the physicalities.
For example, while dating you can say:
"I consider myself to be a deep person and I like to be open and honest about my past and what's brought me to where I am today. I really value conversations that span beyond the mundane because we can learn so much about each other. Are you comfortable sharing those experiences with me too?"
To expand on the above, you can say:
"In general, I believe that solid mature partnerships require open and honest communication, mutual effort, self-awareness and a level of emotional intelligence to be able to work through the bumps in the road. Do you agree?"
An emotionally evolved man would be comfortable with this and those who are only dating to play games will get tired very quickly and likely bail before anything serious comes of it, which will save you the hassle! A man can say "yes" to all of these things, but it's his actions that will determine whether he is being truthful or not.
*Reminder: Vulnerability, authenticity and accountability from both parties are the key to deep, meaningful and lasting relationships, which is why they are so hard to attain and maintain!
The above is a great way to make it clear that you have standards and it sends the signal that you don't tolerate immaturity. The most important role you have to play is to follow through on upholding those standards, if a man is flaking on you. Please walk away sooner than later. Have the courage to live by your words, otherwise you will be taken for granted! In this case, our solitude is more deserving than those who can't handle maturity.
However, we have to keep believing that we deserve love and allow ourselves to be open. Please understand that struggle is a natural part of life, which is why we have to befriend our obstacles, make peace with them and keep moving forward. Always remember that we're all struggling in one way or another and often times most are consciously unaware of their unhealthy habits.
Also, I must add that even if you're not extremely attracted to someone at first but they are able to get deep with you, please give them a chance. It's the ability to be vulnerable that bonds us; it's vulnerability that makes us human; and it takes strength to bare our souls to complete strangers. Let's start focusing on how people treat us and make us feel and less on the superficialities. If they listen and they pay attention to you -- that's worth investing in!
It's time for us to set the dating standards, ladies! The more we assert our needs and act on our boundaries right away, the clearer it will become over time that immaturity has no place in the dating scene.
3. Mirror the amount of effort your date is putting in.
For example, if he texts you once a day, do the same. The more we give without reciprocal effort, the more we find ourselves being taken for granted. Mirroring is the easiest way to gage a man's interest -- if they're interested, believe me you'll know because they will flood you with attention!
It's time we assert our needs and stop shying away from them because in the end we're only hurting ourselves. Let's allow ourselves to be vulnerable and see who is willing to step up to the plate! Emotionally evolved men are the new "it guys" of our generation, and we need to make it known! Next time you catch yourself saying, "I don't need a man", do yourself a favor and remind yourself that you deserve to be seen and heard <3
Photo by Sidnei Maia