Women & Their Needs

As a companion post to ‘Men & Their Feelings,’ I offer you ‘Women & Their Needs.’ Traditionally, woman have been made to believe that they are the weaker sex. Remember that? There was a time in history, and presently in some places, that women were considered possessions.

Men married in order to possess a woman and all that came with her in the marital arrangement formed by two families of origin. These traditions have left  psychological aftereffects in the form of dependency needs. The contemporary woman still struggles to various degrees with the aftereffects of all that control and dependency.

In contrast to the progression for men toward greater sensitivity in love, the progression for women is toward greater independence in love. Traditionally a woman was required to give up her identity and assume the identity of her husband’s family. This transformation reinforced both ideas of possession and dependency. To be independent in love is still an area of difficulty for most contemporary women. Being independent of mind would involve staying yourself, your true self, regardless of who you love and why. Honoring your lover’s strength should not lead to sacrificing yourself as a person. There are clear advantages for both of you if you don’t.

When women were not permitted easy entry into the world of authority dominated by men, they registered their discontent by acting out their unhappiness subtly or on the surface of their lives. If their ambitions were closeted they would ‘rule’ areas of living in ways that often complicated and inhibited love relationships.

As my old analyst used to say to me, you can’t be dependent without resenting the shit out who you need to hold you up. His point was, there is always a layer of underlying hostility connected with having to give up the development of yourself for love. It can start to feel like there is something wrong with a love that forces you to stop growing.

The hard part is envisioning a love relationship where two people are independently in love with each other. If this is not what you’ve been taught, chances are you won’t know how to set up such a relationship. You’ll either under or over react. If you under react you’ll do what women have been doing historically, live with the dependency and resentment as best you can with an occasional expression of your unhappiness in whatever form suits you.

If you over react you’ll be so independent that even the expected needs for love will probably feel too controlling. For those of you brave enough to try something new, an independent love relationship means deeper connection because your independence favors the emotion of love. How can this be so?

You see, independence is freedom by another name. And freedom is one of those human experiences that naturally favors love. When you are free to love, you love because it is there to give and you’ve decided to give it. You are not being forced, or controlled, or limited in any way that interferes with the love you are feeling. Of course, under these conditions love could also leave. If freedom resulted in the loss of love you would have to grieve the loss and move on to another experience of love.

There is no freedom in dependency. In freedom there is growth. In dependency there is little or no growth. Dependency over time promotes dysfunction. Two independent people loving each other and growing together is an experience of matured love. As a woman, working on your ability to love independently, the reward you get for your efforts is a deeper love for yourself and your lover. Practice.  Dr. T. Jordan





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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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