Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is it wrong to be independent in a relationship?

Question: my bf says i'm too independent and there's nothing wrong about needing someone. how do i make him feel needed and still be able to stand on my own at the same time?

My answer: Independence is essential when you are single. But when you are in a relationship, you are a member of a team. Maybe at first it is okay to maintain your independence since you don't know if the relationship will last. But eventually, you must be able to shift from independence to interdependence. Anyone that cannot make this shift will fail in their long term relationships.

It's too bad so few people realize just how important it is for a man to feel needed... It is a lesson well learned by today's modern independent woman. For a man to feel like a man, he must feel like he has accomplished something, that the important people in his life find value in what he DOES, not just in WHO he IS. This is a fundamental difference between men and women I think. A man that doesn't feel needed isn't going to be able to provide the emotional attachment that YOU need.

It doesn't take much to make him feel needed. Just let him do things for you. Ask yourself why you feel the need to be independent. Is it a fear that you will be disrespected? I must admit that I sense it a bit, or you wouldn't have said that you wanted to stand on your own. Imagine how much internal strength it takes to acknowledge that you need someone. You have to give up your pride. There are two kinds of pride. The emotion and the state. Feeling pride, and being proud are different things. I am proud of being a decent salsa dancer. That is good. You should take pride in your ability to care for yourself. To be able to take care of your car, your finances, your job. To be able to mow the lawn. To be able to handle situations that women wouldn't have been able to handle 50 years ago. Take pride in that ability. But beware. Do not let your pride become proud. There is another form of pride.. a damaging kind. Being too proud to open your mind. That form of pride is equivalent to fear. And fear is weakness. Humility is STRENGTH! If you can wrap your head around that, then you should feel PROUD to let people help to make your life easier. That's the good kind of pride.

You can also consider what your man can provide that you cannot. Perhaps security? Let's consider your boyfriend walking you to your car at night. I know. You might carry mace, or a gun. You could be a black belt. You might be a tough as nails kick boxer. It's true. But the guys who prey on women don't know. The guys who prey on women don't respect women. The guys who prey on women look down on women. You being a bad@$$ isn't going to keep them from attacking. But these evil men respect men. Or at least they give more respect to men. Right? So if a woman is walking with a man at night, a stalker is less likely to attack. Sure, the man might not prevent the attack, but the chances are greater that the stalker won't attack. And even if you are able to take care of yourself, even if you could shoot the stalker dead, wouldn't you rather not be bothered with it? Wouldn't you rather have a pleasant walk with your boyfriend than beat up a stalker? Sometimes it's just easier to give up some of the pride and give up the independence and let your boyfriend take charge.

Read my question...
If men and women are equal, and one takes leadership of the other, what does the other person receive?

The answer is that if done properly, the leader gets to lead, and the follower gets taken care of. Independent people don't get taken care of. You have to take care of yourself. Wouldn't it be nice if your boyfriend took care of you?

I like to say that if you are independent, you can only count on yourself. But if everyone relied on one another, then you can rely on EVERYONE else to help you when you need it. Would you rather have one person you can count on, or the few dozen closest friends and family in your life?

A truly equal relationship will utilize both of your strengths. Maybe you are a good organizer. Maybe he is a neat freak. Both can be useful for similar tasks. Well, let him wash the dishes and you take charge of the packing for the vacation. You pay the bills and let him wash the clothes. Or vice versa. You have to strike a balance. You have to be willing to compromise. Both of you. Him too. You need to figure out which roles both of you will play in your future relationship. You cannot expect yourself to take charge of EVERYTHING. You HAVE to be able to let him take charge too. In fact, you SHOULD let him be the default leader. But that's the Christian in me. Still true. But take it that way. If you do that, if you let him lead, then YOU will be the person who is taken care of, as you should. Then you can dedicate your energy to more important things.

If you lead, AND you are taken care of, then what does that make your boyfriend? Your slave. How can he be your equal if you lead AND you get the benefits of the leadership? The person leading must use the leadership to benefit the other person, or the relationship is not equal.

Yes, there are times in which both of you can or must equally share responsibility and leadership. Choosing a vacation spot. Taking care of kids. But in any relationship, there will inevitably be a time in which ONE single person MUST take charge. If you don't believe that, then you are only deceiving yourself. Ask ANYONE who has been happily married for any length of time. There IS a DEFAULT leader! It should be him because you expect to be taken care of. The default person to take charge should be the person that can put their interests LAST. Is that you? Or your boyfriend? I know that it can be extremely difficult to put that kind of trust in someone. But if you can't trust the person that is now or will one day become the most important person in your life, then you will never be able to trust anyone. Do you really want to live your life without being able to trust anyone? ESPECIALLY your husband?

Please take the opportunity to really think about what is going on here. I know it will all work out okay for you.

Sorry about the long-winded reply.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Independence and insecurity

I had a revelation as I was writing this. I began thinking that most, if not all selfishness is a minor form of contempt for other people, thinking that you somehow deserve more than the rest of the people of the world. I realize now that this isn't true. I think I see what independence is now. It's fear based. Independence and most selfishness related to independence is based on fear of inferiority, not a belief of superiority.

I offer a bit of self examination to all of you, being somewhat independent myself. Although I am struggling to cure myself, because I think that independence is both a symptom of society's ills as well as part of the problem. So while I deal with my own independence and selfishness, perhaps you might discover some of these truths in yourself.

Indepenent people's approach to cooperation is often, "what do I have to do to get them to give me what I want?" If they do act selflessly, they do so agaist their nature. They are after all, independent, which means "focused on themselves." I see a bit of myself in this, which is why I try to focus on helping other people, even while I am thinking to myself, "how am I going to benefit from this act of altruism?" I try to suppress the selfishness, while at the same time recognizing that the answer is not to remove my help. I should offer up help because it's the right thing to do, not because I get something out of it. The problem isn't that I'm helping. The problem is that I relate it to myself.

No doubt, many don't want to believe that the only reason they give is to get what they want. They believe the opposite, that independence is simply not wanting to bother other people with your problems. But why? This is simplistic and rationalization. If you are one of these people, ask yourself this: "Aren't I just afraid that if I put myself out there, that I ask for help, or I offer help without thinking how it relates to me, that someone will think lower of me? Or that I think low of myself for needing someone. Or that I lose something of myself? Or if I do help or offer my services I won't be able to do a good job? They are better off without my help? Or that helping will cost me something? These thoughts are all self serving. They are self-ish, but it is understandable. At the same time they are protective.

The degree to which someone is independent can actually be measured in terms of selfishness. But it's not pure egoism. It's a protective sort of selfishness. It's self preservation. In fact, what I have found to be true is that the most independent people are the most insecure. They are very quick to tell you that they can "do it on their own." And this is rather ironic since independence is usually used to communicate to the world that you have high self esteem. Independence is a shell designed to give the illusion that you are strong. But in reality, the only person you are fooling is yourself. Everyone knows that independent people are insecure, because everyone is insecure in some area and recognizes its symptoms. Your insecurity reads loud and clear when you act independently and selfishly. If someone else ridicules you because your help was somehow flawed or inadequate, or that you are less of a person because you need help, then they are too self centered themselves. And you can see how selfishness starts to snowball and to create an independent world. Their self-centerdness helps to reinforce yours. Their insecurity feeds yours. Our world is not only independent and selfish, it is also increasingly insecure. When you begin to recognize your own insecurities and begin to deal with them openly rather than internally, you will automatically open up and begin to be more cooperative.

Am I insecure? Sure! We all are in one way or another. So what do we do? Most people do the opposite of what they would do if they embraced their insecurity and put their insecurity on display. But doing the opposite REALLY highlights your insecurity. Most actions like this are unnatural. Independence is actually unnatural. We are meant to be cooperative, not selfish.

So I urge you all to examine your own insecurities and to recognize how you deal with them. Do you react opposite to how you would otherwise? Can you see how your response to insecurity exposes your insecurity to the world? Isn't it then smarter to embrace your insecurities and to let other people help? Or to help other people and to risk finding out that your help will possibly be inadequate?

You need to ask yourself this: Which is worse, exposing that you aren't good at something? That you are inadequate. That you aren't perfect? That you don't have it all figured out? That your life isn't perfect and in order? Or is it worse for the world to know that you are insecure? Insecurity gives the illusion that you are ALL of those things and more! While you are probably only a couple of those things. If the world believes that you are insecure, they think that you believe ALL of the above. If that's not true, then it's better for you to let them in on the couple of problems that you have. Since everyone has skeletons, then they would be hypocritical to ridicule you of your flaws.

And if someone exposes their own weakness to you, be careful that you do not highlight the weakness. Help it. Give the person help to fight the weakness. Give them advice. THAT is the proper way to deal with each other's weaknesses. Helping one another with weakness creates true strength. They become stronger, as does your relationship with them. And the world becomes a little bit better because of it. Thank you.