Dear Date Advice Guy,
I’ve been told that one of the reasons that I am still single is because I tend to come off as TOO independent. What exactly can be done about this? Surely I am not the only woman who feels that having a boyfriend isn’t a NECESSITY to being happy. And while I feel that it would be nice to have a special someone around, I don’t want to settle for just any Joe Schmo that walks my way. However, I’ve been told several times that I come off as a bitch simply for being attractive and standing tall/proud at a social gathering. Do we honestly live in a society where women must lower their self-esteem, standards and independence just to have someone fall in love with us?
– The Modern Elizabeth Bennet
Dear Modern Elizabeth Bennet,
Thanks for your question! Yes, you are certainly not alone in your plight, and certainly not the only woman with these frustrations. Your question is one of several societal, psychological, and emotional factors that I wish I could discuss at length, but I’ll do the best I can with this short article. I will answer both your societal question regarding the idea of the independent woman in the dating world, and the issue of being perceived as “too independent” in the eyes of the men in your life.
First of all, congrats on your confidence and independence! I must first state that I believe modern women are every bit as capable of independence, confidence, and success as modern men, and it’s great to hear a woman express such self-acceptance. It’s definitely a great thing to feel this way about yourself, and you’re correct that having someone special in your life is not an absolute necessity to happiness (though it can certainly feel that way in lonely times).
NO ONE (men or women) should ever have to lower their self-esteem, standards, or independence in order to find a successful relationship. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite:
In order to build and maintain a happy, successful relationship, one must ALREADY be a happy, independent person.
Yes, this means that you must be a complete and happy person ALONE before you can function in a successful relationship.
A key component of any successful relationship is interdependency, which is the concept of a group (or couple) being happier and more successful together than they are as individuals. But before any group (or couple) can be successfully INTERdependent, each member must be fully INdependent and capable of sustaining his or her own individual happiness and success.
In other words, the ideal situation in your love life is that both you and the person you are with are already happy and fulfilled people on your own, and that this happiness and fulfillment is simply increased (not driven) by being together.
When the opposite situation occurs, meaning one or both members of a relationship looks to the other as “filling a void” in his or her life, it can be a real danger. It puts unfair pressure on both people. In the most extreme cases, this is where you hear of someone making threats such as suicide if his significant other leaves him. These people are completely dependent on the actions of their significant others for their emotional well-being.
There will always be letdowns (including breakups) in anyone’s love life, but that’s ok, because when you are truly independent, your individual happiness does not depend on the actions of others. You are independently happy.
Now let’s discuss the issue of being perceived as “too independent” and potentially turning men off.
As I’ve discussed before, one of the two reasons a man is attracted to a woman is because she is good for his ego. In a very summarized form, this means that the woman must demonstrate qualities that her man finds “brag-worthy.”
Naturally, being physically attractive and carrying yourself with confidence are two important components of driving this type of attraction within a man. It sounds like you’re on the right track in that regard.
The problem is when these traits are taken too far. When a man sees a woman as “too independent,” it means that she seems to be so proud of herself and satisfied with her single life that she wouldn’t even appreciate what he has to offer. He feels that there’s nothing he can do to impress her or get her excited about the possibility of dating him.
Call it immature, but us guys like to know that we have a certain “wow” factor in her eyes. We want to know that she’s excited about us and that she appreciates our manly traits.
And of course, we want this feeling from a woman who drives both types of attraction within us.
The key here is balance between being a confident, independent woman, yet still showing your man that you truly appreciate him for who he is and what he has to offer.
So how do you achieve this balance?
1. For starters, do whatever you can to accept yourself and build your own confidence.
2. Once you’re there, devote yourself to exercising humility at all times. Be proud, but don’t brag. Make great impressions, but don’t behave as if you think you’re better than everyone else. Be satisfied with yourself, but still express appreciation what others have to offer. Be confident, not arrogant.
And here’s a bonus tip to help you exercise some humility if it’s a particularly new concept to you. Think of some talents, skills, or areas of knowledge that you would like to brush up on. When you meet a guy that you think has some potential, bring these things up in conversation. If you’re lucky, he will have this particular bit of knowledge and will offer to teach you. This is a GREAT way to make a man feel appreciated and manly, and it’s a sure-fire way to make him feel that he has the “wow” factor I mentioned earlier.
Good luck to you!
– The Date Advice Guy
Send feedback or submit a question at Questions@DateAdviceGuy.com!