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The "Independent Woman" - A Recipe for Disaster

Dear Dr.,

I am utterly confused. I met this 44-year-old bachelor a number of months ago. I was not looking for love but he was charming and it just happened. We went very fast because after 20 years of marriage, I did not know how to be a girlfriend just a wife (I am 38).

We fought a lot during the first months mostly because he was trying to control me and being an independent woman I fought him. One day when I said I had it (which I did many times before out of fear I would say that so I could protect myself) he accepted and let me go.

Three weeks later he called and asked me out to dinner. He said he wanted to be my best friend. Over the next 6 months...he has taken me out to dinner usually once a week...he threw me a surprise birthday party inviting all his friends (I am new so I do not have many friends) ... went on vacation with me and my children.....calls everyday.... but no sex during this period except for once during vacation. Two months ago he pulled back -- calling me everyday but refusing to see me. He gave me many excuses why he wasnt seeing me.

He doesnt invite me to parties with him anymore (although he never tells me he is going to one he says he has business meetings) and doesnt invite me to hang out with him and his friends. After a month of not seeing him at his request, we finally saw each other and spent a wonderful night together. He stayed over but no sex! He said he is not rejecting me, and that its him (whatever that means).

Do I just let this friendship continue and see where it goes? The problem with that is that I have a deep longing for him. I will not date or sleep with others while we have a chance because that is not the person I am. Please help, how can I tell he loves and cares for me as a women without asking him? Could he care like this as a friend?



Ah yes! The "independent woman syndrome. Frankly, my students know to look (or listen) for this and to run for the hills when they see it coming. "Why" you're probably asking? Because it's simply a manifestation of the current "feminized society" - one in which many women have bought into but frankly, it's also the reason that so many women are reporting the greatest dissatisfaction with their relationships of any time in history! What does this have to do with your situation?
Read on...

By espousing the fact that you're an "independent woman" you're also saying that you don't need anyone in your life to be happy. Guess what that mindset does to you and your relationships? It actually makes it come about! Now, I can't read this guys mind to know exactly what he's thinking, but I'll bet it has something to do with this attitude! Not only is it artificial (obviously so to those that understand it), but also dangerous. In effect it's the backlash to another unhealthy attitude/psychological issue, that of co-dependence.

Here's another way to think: what about being "inter-dependent"? My new book talks much more about this concept, but in short; it takes your greatest skills and combines them with your partners greatest skills to become a real "power couple". Neither person has to fight for "independence" or worry that they aren't self-able. Instead, these two choose to be together and to draw off the strengths of the other to make themselves and their relationship something truly unique.

Much of what you've described about your relationship sounds like your boyfriend trying to get enough distance to re-grow his own testicles and to find a relationship in which he can be the man. Do you think that your attitude here is conducive to him feeling sexual towards you?

There's a lot of speculation in this response, since I don't know you or your situation. However, I've seen this same scenario time and again and it all starts with "...I'm an independent woman..." Interestingly, when you really delve into this statement, I've never seen a woman that wants to be truly "independent" because that simply leads to autonomy and being alone. This obviously isn't your goal.

I suggest that you rethink your position and how it affects your relationship. Being an independent woman is trendy, but not very attractive to most men. Further, you don't really want this guy as your "friend" do you? You want something more. If he isn't able to give that to you - for whatever reason, perhaps it's time to move on and find someone that is. Just be sure you have something to offer your new partner too.


Got a love, relationship or man/woman question? I answer all letters. You can write to me at for answers. For more information about my book, "Being a Man in a Woman's World", visit:

Copyright (c) 2001, Dr. Dennis W. Neder



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