MO AND PHINDI | It’s okay to be independent and still need a man in your life

Not every woman wants deep, romantic partnership but there's no need to demonise men as unnecessary

Mo and Phindi Relationship Thursdays
It's part of your human make-up to romantically attract and be attracted to other human beings.
It's part of your human make-up to romantically attract and be attracted to other human beings.
Image: 123RF

“I don't need a man, I just want one”, is a statement we hear a lot more often from women than the inverse of it from men. We've seen a lot of, “a successful relationship is one where you don't need each other, but just want one another”.

This brand of shallow feminism is more than annoying and disappointing at best. And we truly believe this is faulty thinking, and for many, a self-sabotage.

Yes, the idea of not needing a man was once an empowering, necessary message in its specific context of financial autonomy and emancipation of women as independent individuals who are equal to men and have their own identity. But now, it’s been generalised into an isolating advice that comes with the steep price tag of abdicating one of the most fundamental, basic human needs: The need for true and committed love.

More often than not, the statement communicates a negative emotional baggage:

• Either a hurt or bad experiences in previous romantic life;

• Influence by other people's relationships (friends, family etc.);

• Someone so affected by social injustices against women that they’ve concluded that men are basically a waste of time and that all women must be in solidarity against men; or

• Simply someone we believe is educated wrongly about heterosexual committed relationships.

Whatever the reason, the “Girl, you don’t need a man” brigade generally has an anger-driven agenda that basically takes specific experiences and generalise them into normative male behaviour. They also, in protest, often opt to put their energies on things, like career, financial success, education etc. — in spite of their deep-seated desire to find true love.

These “things”, important as they are, don’t match the overall fulfilment and satisfaction that comes from finding true love and genuine commitment in a mutually respectful relationship.

If a woman declares her need for work, close friendships, creative pursuits, money, sex, etc, she can expect to receive support. It’s considered completely okay to honour your needs for all the aforementioned endeavours. In fact, not just okay, but essential to your holistic health.

If you neglected one of these needs, like work for example, it goes without saying that you’d likely be less happy and you’d probably walk around with a chronic sense that something was missing. But if a woman declares her need for a man, she might be encouraged to take some alone time and learn how to make herself happy.

The narrative being, it’s okay to feel a void if you don’t have a job you love, but it’s not okay to feel a void if you don’t have a man you love. Because independent, successful women shouldn’t need men, right?

This myopic view of independence pathologises romantic love for women generally. The pathology is internalised, leaving so many women thinking there’s something wrong with them for feeling like they need to give and receive love.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to love and be loved — and enjoy interdependence with a best friend, your parents, your children, your pets and, yes, your partner — who happens to be a man.

And there’s also nothing wrong with you if you don’t extract your primary fulfilment from a romantic relationship. It’s okay if travel or your work or your children or your art or your friends or your own self are the most important points of focus in your life. Not every woman wants deep, committed intimacy and romantic partnership, but for the majority that do, let them. You don’t have to demonise men as unnecessary.

Needing someone for purposes of romantic love doesn’t make you a sell-out to the struggle. Genuine feminism isn’t a wedge-driver and doesn’t make enemies between men and women. A feminist needs a man for romantic purposes too.

In addition, needing a man doesn't make you a weak or subtract from who you are as a complete, fulfilled and happy individual. It makes you human.

You are naturally a relational being, and it's part of your human make-up to romantically attract and be attracted to other human beings, and instinctively desire a lifetime commitment with at least one person. It is not good for you to be alone.

Furthermore, needing someone also doesn't mean you can't live your life on your own without a man and be totally happy. You need your legs, but you can survive without them. You can have prosthetic legs or be in a wheelchair, and life will go on.

Similarly, the fact that you can survive without a man in your life doesn't mean you don't need one. Needing a person in your life doesn't mean you can't get along in life without them. I want my spouse to need me. And I want for them to know I need them. And that doesn't diminish our value.

Repeating that you don't need a man, but just want one, is a sure way of running them away from you. Who wants to be where they're not needed, and are an option of sorts that could be tossed anytime?

Needing a man is not a sign of incompleteness or lack of self-confidence. It doesn't define you. And we get that you may not be desperate to be partnered up. Actually, desperation is a sign of unpreparedness to be partnered up.

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