I Can Be Strong & Independent, And Still Want A Relationship

independent and want a relationship
Image by Emil Jarfelt

Apparently, if you believe in equality you have to renounce all romance, hate the opposite sex, and be a beacon of fierce independence. Because believing that sexism has no place in our society means that you are dead inside. That’s right, your righteousness should keep you warm at night.

Where did this come from? Why can’t I be a fierce badass, but still gush over Pride and Prejudice? I didn’t realise at feminist orientation day that I had to hand over my heart to prove my dedication to the cause.

You can be whoever you need to be; believe in women being independent and free and strong, and still want romance and/or a relationship.

However, let me clarify a few things. I do not mean a damzel-in-distress-I-need-saving type of romance. I am not a damsel, although sometimes I may be in distress, but that’s life. What I mean is, the healthy kind of romance. The hundred small ways that someone shows you they care about you. Not grand gestures and expensive gifts. I’m talking about the good stuff; the stuff of the heart.

I have always struggled with admitting that I would like to be in a relationship. Because I have always felt that this is a weakness; that I shouldn’t need anyone. I’m happy on my own, and whilst I have learnt to enjoy my own company, I still want to share my life with someone.

Life is hard enough as it is, so why is it so bad to want someone to join you for the ride?

Someone who will make you laugh, someone who will offer you comfort, and someone who you will probably want to kill ninety percent of the time.

This isn’t a weakness, it’s human nature. As humans we crave companionship and affection.

But I still feel this guilt in the pit of my stomach. I also feel like there’s this expectation of me to be independent and not care.

When I tell people I’m single they sometimes say, “Well, you’re a career girl aren’t you?” or “Well, you don’t need a man anyway.”

What does being ambitious have to do with finding love? Does it have to be one or the other? And are we still believing the narrative that strong women scare men away?

I’ve been told for years to reign in my personality so that I don’t scare men away. But come on, it’s the 21st century, sort your shit out. I don’t breathe fire and make daggers rain from the sky. I have opinions, and I’m sure they can handle it. And if they can’t? They can’t handle me.

I know I don’t need a man. But isn’t it much better to want one of my own free will than to need one? I need oxygen, but I want salted caramel cheesecake. Which one do you think I’m more likely to spend all day thinking about?

The absolute worst is the sympathy though.

The head tilt, the softened voice, the reassurance that I’m a nice girl and I’m bound to meet someone soon. I’m single, I’m not dying. I know this is mostly meant with good intentions, but it makes single people believe they are incomplete.

I’m thirty, and I’m just getting started. There should be no prescribed timeline when it comes to love, or anything really.

Of course, there are those who are kind and just express their surprise that I’m single because they think I’m an amazing person. But it’s the question I always dread coming up in a conversation; because I know it’s always going to go one of the above mentioned three ways.

Here’s the problem: I don’t just want someone. I want someone’s kindness, their respect, and their generosity. I want to feel I can trust another human being fully. And I want to build a life with a partner.

Yet I feel guilty for wanting the traditional set up of a husband and children.

I feel like I have been given an opportunity that generations of women before me were never given: freedom. And sometimes I feel like I’m wasting that by wanting and pursuing what I want.

But does finding love mean that I have to give away my identity, my beliefs, and all my other dreams?

Absolutely not.

I do have a choice; because lucky for me I’m not being forced into marriage. And I don’t have to marry a rich man because I have no income of my own. I’m not an outcast of society because I’m still single.

I can still believe in everything that I believe, and fight for it, and still want or be in a committed relationship.

It took me a long time to come to the realisation that it isn’t either or. It’s not a choice between me and them. It isn’t a choice between what I believe and what I want. They can all coexist together, and I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for what I want. So I’m letting go of that guilt today.

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