Only a couple of days in and I’ve already forgotten what day of the week it is. Summer break has arrived! I was fortunate enough to celebrate the end of the school year with some friends I worked with when I was last a student in the early 90s. We met while working in various capacities for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. Good friendships were made there and, despite seeing each other only occasionally, we always seem to pick up where we left off without hesitation.
On Friday we discussed relationships, the work they require to be successful, our professional careers, and how to navigate whatever might come next in life. It was lively. Rosé flowed and the evening was a delight. A perfect start to what turned out to be a fantastic weekend.
A topic we touched upon was the appeal of a strong woman. While our context was primarily male/female, I can only imagine that in exclusively female couples the attraction would be similar. Right? Who doesn’t want a strong woman? Wait…what does that even mean? How would you define “strong?”
As I looked around the table, I saw the embodiment of “strong” as defined in my own personal dictionary. Each of the women present were able, and had demonstrated that ability, to make it on their own. All had endured the dissolution of at least one long term relationship. All were mothers. Each was comfortable with her sexuality, not apologetic or ashamed about it. None had escaped the loss of a close loved one or a threat to their own health, yet each had persevered. Political activism and advocacy were important aspects of our lives, yet, despite the serious commitment to social issues we each held, humor was also present in abundance. We’re fun, smart, kind and thoughtful women. We got it going on.
Our conversation, though, was about how men seem to find strong women initially attractive. They claim to admire our independence and ability to take care of ourselves until something shifts…maybe we’re not as available as they’d like because we have our own interests. We maintain relationships with males that make them uncomfortable or jealous. Sometimes we are made to feel guilty because we don’t hesitate to plan a trip or buy tickets to an event without determining first if our significant other is interested or available. How dare we?
We refuse to apologize for wanting as much from a partner as we have to offer and that can be difficult for a guy. Owning our homes, our time and our desire to live full and active lives, seems to be intimidating to some men and not one of us feels that it’s our responsibility to make a man comfortable with who we are. Our strength has been earned, expanded upon with each challenge we have met until it is the thread that holds the richness of our lives together. It isn’t that we don’t want to share our selves with the people whom we love, it just seems to me that being with someone who doesn’t match your strength and seeks (consciously or not) to bring you down rather than lift themselves up, is a situation that can not be maintained, no matter how strong we are. Our ability to recognize that may ultimately be one of our greatest strengths.