Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Side Effect of Being Independent

Despite its horribly GQ title which almost prevented me from reading it at all, this post got me thinking about how being independent has affected my relationships.

So, okay.  I'm confident and independent and some might say that I have an unjustifiably high self-esteem.  Blah blah blah.  Boys were intimidated by me in high school.  Having that ball buster type of reputation never bothered me much though, because I always figured that one day I'd meet my match, in both senses of that phrase.  But still, lots of guys in their 20s are intimidated by smart, confident, independent women who have their act together (or at least appear to).  So when I graduated from law school and moved to New York, I thought, well shit.  If I wasn't already intimidating enough, now let's layer on top of that a J.D., a lot of disposable income and a job at a place with a scary-ish reputation.  I totally bitched about how unfair it was that when we graduated from law school, my male counterparts suddenly became five times more desirable to the opposite sex whereas I became five times less desirable.

Now, I could relay a million horrifying little anecdotes of what my single lady lawyer friends and I have experienced while dating in New York (maybe later).  I certainly dated guys with chips on their shoulders who made me feel like I had to apologize for my money and my success.  But I've also dated plenty of guys with whom none of this was an issue (or at least if it was, they didn't show it).  Being a self-sufficient, independent attorney hasn't had nearly the chilling effect on my dating life that I initially thought it would.

But even though being independent hasn't significantly affected my ability to get a date, it has had a chilling effect on what happens after those first few dates.  It has affected my ability to let someone in past the superficial level.  For me, being independent isn't just about not having to rely on someone else for money, it's also about not having to rely on someone else for happiness.  All my life, I've striven to never be that needy, clingy chick, to never be the girl who was only happy if she had a boyfriend, to never let my happiness become intertwined with anyone else's.

And the result of all these years of emotional independence?  Fear.  Fear of the idea that in a relationship, my happiness will no longer be just in my hands but in his too.  Fear of the idea that one day, my decisions won't just be about what's best for me but what's best for us.  Fear of the idea that one day, I will have to depend on him, not for money, but for support, love, happiness.

And as much as I do want to depend on someone else for all of these things, there is also the fear that I will never be able to rely on someone in quite the same way that I've been able to rely on myself.


  1. You'll come around one day. Despite the strength of our walls, they almost always come tumbling down, and it's not always a bad thing. =)

  2. It's funny b/c I was a serial monogamist from the age of 16 - 22, and then I was obsessed with another boy for 2 years, and then I fell in love with a gay man, and now here I am. Totally and completely boy/crush/obsession-free for over a year, and it feels fantastic. I've never ever been happy independent of someone else.

    I think every woman has to be on both sides of the equation at some point in her life. And then eventually, we find that balancing point. You will get to that other side, I know it.