Men Don’t Know if they Want a Submissive or Independent Woman

Make up your mind, please.

As a woman, if you offer to split the check at dinner, carry your own groceries or fix the leaky bathroom faucet, you’re deemed too independent. So, you try to make yourself softer. You allow men to foot the bill, wait for them to open your car door and otherwise lead in the relationship, but now you’re too needy and don’t contribute enough. I used the word “allow” very intentionally here. This is speaking to women who can handle themselves, take charge and carry their own financial weight, yet choose to step back and let a man be a man sometimes. Whatever that means.

Many men have old-fashioned values based on traditional societal gender roles. Which is fine if both people are on the same page. They want a woman who is submissive and lets them make all the decisions. They want her to do womanly things, nuture them, cook and clean like their mee-maw did when they were kids. In turn, they take on the responsibility of the customary male role. They pay for everything, fix everything, pump gas and keep their little damsel safe from danger. That is, until they grow tired of it all and that cape gets heavy. Then submissive looks weak and clingy.

Other men decide that this is a new, more modern age. These men say they want a woman who can hold her own. They believe everything should be 50/50 with each person pouring equally into every aspect of the relationship. They want to split the cost of trips and alternate who pays for outings. I’ve even seen some who defiantly buck the system and refuse to do things most would simply consider being chivalrous or a gentleman, such as opening doors. The thing is, in having a woman who behaves as an equal, many of these same men start to feel emasculated. Some part of them that wants to protect and provide goes unfulfilled.

Women are expected to be a little of both personas, but not too much of either.

From my own experience, what I’ve seen and the recounts of other women, I’m convinced that a large majority of men simply don’t know what they want. They think they do until they actually get it. Or, they put women into whichever box they find undesirable at any given time as an excuse to move on without feeling bad or acknowledging their lack of self-awareness.

What’s worse is when none of this is communicated and men allow a woman to believe, or perhaps even convince her that she’s somehow inadequate. Most women would have no issue with pitching in on expenses if asked by a man with whom they truly want a serious relationship. The problem is that the request is often never made. Information about how one feels is withheld. Before anyone says, “he shouldn’t have to ask,” when wanting to deviate from a precedent that has been set you absolutely need to make that known. You can’t basically chastise a woman for pulling out her wallet at a restaurant, imply that you feel as though financial responsibility is yours, and then expect her to suddenly start offering to pay for stuff down the line.

Women aren’t mind readers. Use your words. All it takes is a mention of feeling as though things are imbalanced and you’d like them to be more equal. As a man, if you feel like you’re exhausting yourself trying to please a woman, say that. If you want her to let you take care of her and be in control a little more, say that too. At least give the woman a chance to comprehend and respond. You have to remember that she’s operating based on the pattern that YOU’VE established.

I developed the ability to stand on my own mostly out of necessity. I didn’t grow up with the luxury of being taken where I wanted to go or given what I wanted. I had to get it myself. I learned to practice self-care, to be resilient and persistent. My autonomy became a strength. So, I guess I am what many men would describe as an independent woman.

Contrary to popular belief, as such I still want to rest sometimes and have a place where I can lay my burdens down. I’m perfectly fine with an alpha male who wants to take the lead. I love it, actually. As long as it doesn’t cross over into being controlling.

An area where my independence has hindered me is that I’m uncomfortable asking people for help or anything else. So, it’s nice to not have to because you’re with someone who takes initiative and just does what needs to be done. It’s nice to be able to relax, let someone else do the planning, and not have to handle every situation on your own. I enjoy being pampered. I’m more open and relenting than I have ever been. Or maybe I’m just tired.

Either way, I’m done trying to figure out what any man wants — and definitely not going to stress myself out trying to be whatever it is with each whimsical change. Part of the problem is that we even attempt to be a certain way for a man. It’s because historically, women have been led to believe that having a man is the be-all and end-all — even above being happy. So, we do whatever we think it takes to land one. My advice for the ladies who endure this ball of dating confusion is to just aim to be authentic. The right one will love it.

I must say that I’ve met plenty of men who know exactly who they are, what they want, and communicate both clearly. Cheers to you, sirs. You are appreciated. There are also men who value a woman being who she chooses to be, instead of trying to put her into a self-serving package. I recognize this. You are revered as well.

For the ‘others,’ I’d challenge you to figure it out from the inside. Usually, when we don’t know what we want it’s because we don’t know ourselves. Learn what you like, what you need and the person that you are underneath all that you’ve suffered through and been taught. Just don’t practice on the hearts of women while finding yourself.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

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