Can you handle a strong woman? And why would you want to?
Dating, going out with, or being married to a “strong woman” is not for the faint of heart. The concept of a strong woman conjures up all sorts of stereotypical images and thoughts. Why don’t we first examine some core elements of being a “strong woman:”
- She knows what she wants
- She speaks her mind
- She is able to give and receive love
- She stands up for what she believes in
- She has a sense of right and wrong (i.e., morals)
- She has self-esteem
- She knows who she is
- She can be both dependent, independent, and interdependent
- She can access her wisdom
As I look over this list, it seems to me that these qualities are gender neutral. I wouldn’t mind having these attributes myself. Would I then be a “strong man?”
Often when I hear men talking about a “strong” woman they are not discussing her in a positive light. She is seen as, “independent, self-reliant, not needing a man, strong-willed, and a motherly or matronly take charge person who tells people what to do and takes no nonsense.” Bottom line, this is someone to be feared. Kidding, sort of. Brings up mommy issues, feelings of dependency and individuation challenges. Deep stuff but we will leave that for another time.
How often have you heard someone say, “Hey, Bob, I want to introduce you to this ‘strong woman’?” I don’t think so. Most guys are probably backing up big time at this question. The concept of a “strong” woman goes against a lot of our cultural programming. For example, if someone said to me, “Hey Steve I’d like to introduce you to this really caring, sweet, loving soul,” – oh, that sounds good. Which means, not threatening.
When someone talks about a strong woman, it sounds good for helping lift furniture or running a company. Doesn’t sound so good for an intimate relationship. Why? Because she is going to give me a lot of grief. How so? Ah, . . . and now we loop back up to the qualities listed above in the bullet points. In other words, she will have a mind of her own and I may have to justify myself (ideas, beliefs, desires) and she will not go along with me just because I think she should. Gasp, you mean she is an independent life form with a mind of her own?
Sometimes I think men would like their women to be like obedient dogs. When these men discover that they cannot control women, they think that marrying, for example, a South Asian woman will do the trick (boy are they in for a big surprise), you know, someone who is totally in alignment with your will, reads your mind and cooks your meals on time and just like Mom did. Can you see the irony of that one?
Some men still think this way. Hard to believe, I know, but I talk to them in therapy every day. They are like people who complain about immigration, not willing to deal with change in a constructive manner. And women have changed, becoming more vocal about who they are and what they are not willing to put up with.
What kind of man are you? Do want a compliant Barbie doll or a real and strong woman? Let’s examine the Cons of going out with a strong woman?
- You will be held accountable for what you say you are going to do
- You will have to pick up after yourself
- You will be expected to be as invested in the relationship as she is, and show it
- You will have to treat her as an equal
- You will have talks – possibly long ones
- You will be expected to engage her when conflict breaks out – not just run away or go silent
- You will have to take her concerns into account when making decisions (joint decisions)
- You will have to accept graciously when she says No to having sex
- You will have to learn how to negotiate with her
- You will have to communicate and express your feelings in a responsible manner
This is starting to sound like work and it will take a serious effort if you are not used to going out with a strong woman. There is an upside to going out with a strong woman. A strong man does not see the cons as cons at all, but as opportunities to grow and become more than who he is.
Here are the pros for going out with a strong woman.
- You have interesting conversations
- Because you treat her with respect, she will appreciate you and return that respect. This will lead to a happier relationship and more sex
- You will not have to coddle her as she can take care of herself. That doesn’t mean you will not support her, or her you. It just looks different and is not an everyday occurrence because she is acting weak, dependent or trying to bolster your ego
- You have a real and equal partner in life
- You will grow in many areas of your life because anything less is just being lazy and you want your partner to feel proud of you
- You can ask for advice and not feel less of a man
- You will feel her strength and groundedness which will make you feel stronger and more secure
- You will have someone you can count on to share the challenges of life
- You won’t have to do all the talking at parties
- You might learn something from her
Depending on where you are at in life, the pros of being involved with a strong woman is either a daunting proposition or an exhilarating vision.
I have experienced many types of strong women over the years. Some were creative types, some business women, some stay at home moms, some single working moms, some were Grandmothers and they were grand indeed. All of them were inspirational in what they did and how they conducted themselves.
I confess, I am biased as you might have guessed. For me, it is a “strong” woman I want to be in relationship with. It is work at times and challenging, but it is more than worth it. It keeps me awake and alive.