The 20th Century has seen many changes ranging from wars to uprisings. However, one of the biggest social changes, the ripple effect of which is still palpable today, has been seen in the role the women play in the society. With women joining workforce and universities, the role of the Woman has dramatically changed. We are no longer “just mothers, just wives, just housekeepers” (though each of those jobs require women to be nothing less than a Super Woman), but rather we have taken on the role which solely used to belong to the men of all generations before – that of a breadwinner. The emancipation of women, which essentially created this New World, where both sexes are equal, has put the men of this world in a position where they find themselves, seemingly until today, in quite of a pickle.
It’s not that we have stopped being wives and mothers. However, we have taken the opportunity (being quite frankly forced into it by two wars and a rapid decline in the manpower) to fight for our own survival, our own living, our own bread and thus decide our own future. When a woman manages to follow her dreams and achieve things she wants to achieve she needs to accept two things: this may and quite often is a lonesome journey, and, unless she comes from a very wealthy family like Gertrude Bell, she will need to finance her endeavours from her own pocket. Thus she continues and pursues higher education, career and becomes the new kind of a woman, unknown to the mankind of even two Centuries ago – the Independent Woman; the one that would have been scorned by the society of old, but is celebrated in the new society… or is she really? A small, quiet, dependant and agreeable kitten turned into a tigress and, not surprisingly, men in general, struggle to keep up with its new identity.
Being in the dating scene on and off for a while I found out that one thing remains constant: men enchanted with the idea of an independent woman and, at the same time, not being able to actually be in a relationship with one. Living by myself for a little over eleven years has consequently exposed me to many different people. I have probably been exposed to more men that I would have normally been exposed to having remained at home with my parents: my highly successful mother, who has an absolute “no bullshit” attitude to life and used to look down any at potential admirer of mine, who even attempted to approach me and my highly successful father who, being also a well-known person in his circles instilled an instant fear in every possible man before the thought of courting me even sprang up in the mind of the latter. My father might have had as well owned a rifle, safety off, ready to shoot.
My exposure therefore has not been coloured by my parent’s protective parasol, and perhaps that’s the reason I have possibly met all sort of people that exist out there in the world. Very little surprises me these days.
Therefore, having researched the matter closer, I have concluded that when the majority of men claim that they like independent women they do not actually mean that they want to marry one. They don’t mind dating one, that’s for sure. Why is that? Well, that’s because:
1. Independent women care about their careers.
Translating that into the relationship dynamics it means that they are concerned about building their own lives in order to secure their futures. It means two different things to two different types of men.
To the ambitious ones it means that they can also focus on their careers avoiding a situation in which their girlfriend calls every 10 minutes asking how their day went. It also means that she understands the term of “work colleagues” meaning that she doesn’t get jealous when you meet up with them, because she’s doing the same thing. It also means that you have two separate circles of friends so you can decide if and when you want to allow them to meet. It also means that she is financially independent and thus a man who is dating her is, in a way, dating his colleague: the one with similar interests, hopefully quite gorgeous, who is dividing her time between her work, him, further development, her family, hobbies etc, not necessarily in this order.
To the lazy men it means that an independent woman, if he manages to get her fall for him, won’t demand from him to change his employment for a better paid one. She’s doing well so she’s not concerned about her well-being.
If any of those couples wanted to actually marry, in the first scenario, something would have to give and the question would be how far both parties would agree to compromise to both retain the level of independence they are used to and at the same time invest in having a family, shared finances and shared future plans. This is the moment many men who say that they like independent women, take off to find someone less independent not wanting to sacrifice their dreams, but still wanting a wife and a home. They are looking for someone who will agree to have her life alongside his, by living her life in a non-challenging for him way, filling the void that his career creates.
In the second scenario, the man is more than happy to stay with an independent woman. The type of men that fall into that category are those that are perfectly happy with their jobs and just simply want to enjoy life; they want to be with someone who is always behind the steering wheel. This category also includes toy boys, who use the good-looking card to slide through life.
Independent women may not have tons of money stashed away in their bank account most of the time, but with time they had learned to be resourceful and thus, even though the wallet may be empty in the morning, it would be full by the nightfall. This means one thing for a man – she is not dependant on him for sustenance.
This in turn means two different things to different men: those that lack their self-esteem, or, may have very high self-esteem, but don’t know exactly how to impress the woman, will try to use their money to do so, assuming they have it in the first place. Those that don’t have money and don’t feel they have anything to impress the woman with, don’t even attempt to say “hello”; they fear being turned down on the spot. That’s for courting.
In terms of dating, a man has an opportunity to find out if he is comfortable with a woman making her own financial decisions irrespective of his desires most of the time. When people say it all comes down to money, well, it kind of does here.
If a man decides to marry a woman who is financially independent, regardless of his personality and the depth of his pocket he needs to brace himself for a life-long ride with twists and turns, high-drops and lows, for better and for worse, because a woman who has her own finances chooses to listen to a man, but she doesn’t have to.
3. Lower expectations.
When men attempt to date independent women quite often it happens that they automatically have lowered expectations with regards to themselves. If a man was to marry someone who’s been a dependant her whole, he would have to consider the living arrangements, his salary, maintenance of his wife and his own future family. It’s, in a way, easier for a man to decide to marry a woman who’s been always dependant on someone, because he knows pretty much what to expect. He is the man of the house and she is his wife. This is the story.
If a man decides to date an independent woman, then that initial feeling of idyllic sense of security vanishes in a second. She’s not his dependant so she doesn’t have to worry about him providing the food or secure living arrangements. She may expect it however, but that’s a different story. She’s not at home to tend the children and run the household when he’s away winning the bread for the day. He doesn’t feel therefore that he has to fully provide for the household. He doesn’t have to think about everything. This creates a much more laid back atmosphere, economically speaking, to be in. During the time of dating she will pay for her own meal, her drink, she doesn’t cost much – she is, in a way, a “cheap date”.
This dolce vita ends with the decision to involve in the arrangement of marriage and establishing a home together. Here is where the friction comes in – who’s going to raise the family? The woman should, but how can she sacrifice all of her time, if she also wants to work? Is he going to give up his career? That takes us back to the point number one: the need for severe compromise or an exit through the back door.
4. Independent women equal feminists.
This is a common misconception actually. All women are feminists, because they all want an equal share in life. What men read into it is thus: “women don’t want us to be men like we used to be so there is no need to go out of our way for them”. There is no need to pull out a chair for her to sit on. There is no need to open the door for her. There is no need for presents (“What for? She has more money than I do!”). The romance, my dear readers, is on the verge of dying.
By the time the men who are dating independent women realise that there is a beating heart under their suit, a flaming desire to be able to express being a woman without being packed away in a box for having no brain and the desire to be in an actual relationship with a man, not in a business partnership, the bubble has burst, the reality struck. The romance with the man is over while the relationship she learned to have with herself continues on where she strives to pursue her dreams until she encounters another potential mate and decides to perhaps give him a chance.
Note for men: the world isn’t going to go back to what is was, the economy won’t allow for it for all that we know, which means that if you want to be lions, you need to step up and be lions. It won’t just happen by itself.
It is true that the Neanderthal courting system has become obsolete, but does that have to mean that men will become extinct like mammoths? Do we, women, actually want a society where we can have our own children without men? Is love, romance and men really the thing of the past? Who knows?
The tale of the Woman continues.