It has become almost impossible to undo the complicated entwining of a woman’s identity with the relationships that she finds herself a part of. We feel like ‘someone’ when we are loved. Considering that for decades women were little more than the belonging of a man, passed from her parents into a man’s possession, who a woman ‘belonged’ mattered. Today, it has become inextricably apart of who she is.
In many cultures women lose their identity in relationships. Women relinquish their last names, and at times their career for marriage. They become a wife, or maybe a mother, slowing taking on the form of someone new.
As the song goes, you’re nobody ‘til somebody loves you. But no one feels this truer, or more deeply, than women.
No matter how far it feels we have come in society, the desire to belong, and more so to belong to someone persists. Although marriage is on the decline the desire to be married has not waned.
In countries, such as Japan, where gender inequality seems etched in the law, and encoded in their DNA, women are rebelling against the traditional identity of the ‘married woman’. Women take care of themselves financially, and have the ability to meet most of their needs without a man. And for the needs that go unmet, there’s porn. It’s understood that women are not balking at love, but at the stereotypical gender norms required to be loved.
Still, the lingering narrative that single women, can’t possibly feel fulfilled without a man is pervasive and damaging. This idea keeps many women in relationships, and situationships longer than they should be. In the back of their mind, whether they admit it or not, is a feeling that they can’t let go, because, ‘then what’?
Aren’t good men hard to find?
Women want to be loved but unfortunately, the same system that created the guidelines of what it means to be loved, has failed to update the requirements. It was easy to be loved for who you were when women were nothing more than a wife, with no life or identity of their own. Albeit 18 years old and with no time to have built anything worth protecting.
Today, women spend more time becoming someone, making the death of that identity hard to bare. But also finding a man who respects that identity difficult. This is why dating is so stressful for millions of unmarried women. You now have to choose a partner who will match the identity of who you trying to become.
The sad reality is that women are still tied to the damaging narrative that despite who she becomes, her greatest accomplishment will be who loves her.
When the stakes are so high, being loved by the right person keeps many women single later than in past generations. In a general social survey, studies found that the share of non-partnered Americans is highest amongst the unemployed — 54 percent, up from 44 percent in 2016. Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to not have a steady partner: 51 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively. And just under a third — 32 percent — of employed adults report not having a steady partner.
Not only are Americans struggling to marry, they aren’t even coupling. The pressure to be loved by who we deem the “right” person has superseded our standards of what love should be. The conflicting question, ‘what does this say about me?’ keeps more women tethered to terrible relationships than legal marriage, or financial constraints ever have.
To maintain your identity, and find a loving partner takes more than meeting the right person. Choosing from the people that you meet is the challenge.
Investing Beats Interest
We all want to be rich, but scared money never made no money. A man who is interested in you is flattering. It can make you feel good about yourself, and the courtship can start off very exciting but the biggest difference between interest and investment is risk. Without risk, there is no investment. There are varying degrees of risk but it is the quintessential factor of investing. When a man readily gives you his time, attention, and is vulnerable to loss of his personal value, he is investing. If a man gives his time, attention, and is vulnerable only to losing you, he is paying the cost of dating you, and that is not enough.
Right and Ready are Mandatory
Dating coach, Matthew Hussey says, the right partner is someone who is ready to commit. They can’t be right for you, if they are not ready for you. This goes against our belief of ‘true love’ and ‘soulmates’ but truth has a way of being contrarian. Relationships are foundation. They are the beginning of discovery when it comes to love and compatibility. The decision to be in a relationship is just the start of what’s to come for a lifetime. Any man that isn’t ready to start that discovery is not the right man for you. We treat relationships like the reward instead of the race. Relationships are deeper, and longer exploratory missions towards lasting love. If you don’t have a partner willing to start the journey with you then move on, and quickly.
Choose a Partner Not a Provider
Love is an investment. It is the potential for something so much greater, and more rewarding that how it starts. It is the seed, the caterpillar, the embryo that grows with nurturing and deliberate care. Would you rather a man who is a good provider, or a good partner? For decades the idea that a woman could have both was unheard of. It was expected that a man would provide financially, but lack emotionally.
A man who could be a partner is an evolutionary concept only now demanded by women and necessary for marriage. No matter what a man has to capacity to be, it is only who he is – and more importantly thinks he is – that will determine his ability as a partner.
Women no longer need providers. This has been eliminated by access to equal education from elementary school to college. No longer are girls ushered into Home Ec, and boys Shop class. For two generations parents from helicopter moms, to soccer dads have encouraged both sons and daughters to excel. This making the provision attitude strong in both genders.
Never before has the choice in who to marry been so evenly divided between men and women. The right to choose already being a novel concept, the ability to choose still catching up. If you let yourself be defined by who loves you instead of that feeling of being deeply loved, you will it difficult to meet a man that matches your requirements.