A few years ago, I dated a guy who seemed promising. He was smart and funny. I thought the relationship might actually go somewhere. Things went well the first few months. We talked and laughed. We had a good time together. Then one evening we were chatting on the phone and he asks: “Why did you buy a house… by yourself?”
He sounded incredulous, like I was an anomaly. Then he added, “Didn’t you want to buy a house with your man? If we stay together, what can I do for you if you can do everything for yourself?”
I couldn’t even wrap my head around this response. “Do” for me? I’ve taken care of myself since I was 17. The last thing I wanted was a man to do that. In fact, I liked taking care of myself.
I told him I bought a house because I wanted one, and I didn’t want to wait to get married to do it. He replied, “Now I see why you’re single. You scare dudes off.”
That was our last date.
I’m not dealing with men’s fragile masculinity anymore. If a man can’t handle my successes and accomplishments, they can keep it moving. What am I supposed to do, push myself down and have no goals other than to wait for a man to “take care of me”? No thank you.
I don’t operate this way. The idea of being financially dependent on a man doesn’t interest me in the least. Would that mean I get an allowance since he controls the money? Do I have to ask permission to go shopping? Does he have the final say on everything?
We’re not in the 1950s. Women actually work now. We buy our own homes. Hell, we even control our own finances. Imagine that.
In all seriousness, I know some women are fine with a man taking care of them. That’s great for them. But for women like me, being in this kind of partnership is stifling. It relegates us to the role of a child. And last time I checked, I’m a grown woman capable of making my own decisions.
A good relationship for me contains the right balance between independence and interdependence. I want to make my own decisions, but I also want my partner and I to see each other as equals. Both of our opinions count when making decisions. It doesn’t matter to me who deals with the finances as long as both our opinions are considered. Otherwise, how does the other partner know what’s even going on with the money? Too often, when a husband dies, the wife struggles to figure out the finances because her husband made all those decisions.
Many women feed into this notion too and raise their sons this way. These boys grow up to become men who believe everything other than woman’s work is his realm to control. Paying bills? Him. Purchasing a car or a home? Him. Too often, we’re treated like the maid. We have the responsibility of keeping the house clean and taking care of the children. Why? Because men have convinced themselves these roles aren’t as important — or as difficult— as what they bring to the table, particularly if what they bring to the table is a larger paycheck.
So what happens when women like me come along? The guy I mentioned isn’t special. I’ve heard various responses on this same theme, and each one is perplexing to me. One guy I dated seriously for several months suddenly ghosted on me. I couldn’t figure out why until a mutual friend said he was having financial problems and didn’t want to tell me.
Even before I bought my house, guys made snide comments about my independence. I bought a new car and didn’t bring along the guy I was dating at the time. When he found out, he was convinced somehow I had been hoodwinked because I had gone alone. According to him, I needed a guy there because women are always taken advantage of at car dealerships. Needless to say, we didn’t work out.
Another guy asked me how I could afford to rent an apartment by myself. I lived in Los Angeles, and most people had roommates. I kept a strict budget, and that allowed me to live alone. I thought this was a pretty straightforward response until he said, “I didn’t realize you had bank like that. Damn.” I didn’t. I made a pretty modest salary. I just didn’t spend much on extras. A few dates later, he asked me when was I going to cook for him. I hate this question. So I replied, “I’ll cook for you. But I suggest you don’t eat it.” He didn’t last long after that.
Male masculinity is a funny thing. It doesn’t take much to make men feel insecure. When I make decisions, I don’t wonder if those decisions make me less appealing to men. The men who seek a woman who wants a man to think for her wouldn’t want me anyway. And I don’t want them. I’m not here to make men feel insecure. I’m also not here to stroke their egos or mother them.
I’ve been independent most of my life, and if it crushes a man’s fragile ego, that’s not my problem. Instead of criticizing me, perhaps the guy should figure out why I make him feel insecure. Then either step it up or keep stepping. Either way, I’m going to do me, and that means I control my own life. I make my own decisions. That’s not going to change.