I’ve learned over the years that I’m the only person I can truly rely on. While I definitely believe that I should be able to count on the person I’m with romantically to support and encourage me, I’d never put myself in a position where I fall apart completely if the relationship suddenly ends. I’ve been told by boyfriends more than once that I intimidated them with how self-reliant I was, but I actually think that’s a good thing and I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon.
- I don’t rely on other people financially, emotionally, or otherwise. I was raised on the belief that you should be able to take care of yourself in every way. Not only does it bring a sense of accomplishment to do so but it provides me with somewhat of a safety net if I’m alone forever. I like being able to handle things on my own and it’s always seemed to work well within my relationships.
- I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. By this I mean that I’ll take on something that scares me when I see there’s something to be gained from it. I’ve had to go through some incredibly difficult experiences to earn some of my greatest rewards. That freaks out a lot of people and I used to be one of them. However, I can honestly say that the payoff is worth the struggle. Good things will come if you put in the work, and you can’t hold back because you’re scared of getting gritty.
- I have an opinion and the confidence to back it up. This wasn’t a lesson that came to me easily. Years of being with the wrong people made me think my opinion didn’t matter but now I know better. want to be with someone that values my opinion, and in order to get that, I have to stand behind the calls I make. I have to own them and be proud. This has also caused me to be a lot more thoughtful in my decision-making overall, and that’s helpful outside of relationships too.
- I’m not above constructive criticism. I’m stubborn and I do have some strong points of view. However, just as I expect to have my wants and needs validated, I also deserve someone who isn’t afraid to tell me when I may be going about things the wrong way. I have to be open to change and compromise and that’s a big part of being self-sufficient. It’s got to be an even playing field.
- I can have a life outside the relationship and so can he. I used to make my boyfriend my whole life—everything I said, thought, and did involved him. Now I know you have to keep your own identity to thrive in a relationship. Not only does it give you space but it keeps the reasons you fell in love in the first place more present. My partner shouldn’t be my entire world, he should exist within it. We should want each other to have our own things. Having separate interests and identities has certainly made me appreciate how special a partnership can be.
- I appreciate chivalry. Don’t get me wrong—I may be able to take care of things myself but that doesn’t mean I want the guy I’m with to completely ignore the old school romance factor. Yes, I can open my own doors, and more seriously, I can make my own dentist appointments. But when he’s thoughtful enough to do any of that for me just because he cares, that goes a long way and I’ll make sure he knows how much that means to me.
- I’ve had to take care of partners before and it was draining. I’ve played the role of the savior before—I’m a natural caregiver. I want to make sure that friends, family, boyfriends, all of the above have what they need. Unfortunately, that comes at a price of sacrificing my needs. If a guy is with me because he feels he needs me, that doesn’t make me feel very good. In turn, I don’t want to feel stuck with someone because I don’t know how to change a lightbulb. It’s a hell of a lot more intimate to be self-reliant and still choose to share your life with another.
- There’s a misconception of what self-sufficient really means. Especially lately, there seems to be a ubiquitous presence in the media of the “strong woman.” While I do think that’s exceptional, I’ve found at times it can have a negative undertone. Strong women are occasionally portrayed as harsh, abrasive, aggressive, and difficult. I don’t think that’s true. There’s a big difference between knowing what you want and acting on it and shoving it down every guy’s throat that tries to treat you well. Being self-sufficient is accepting love and romantic gestures, not dictating the relationship in the way that works for you.
- Any self-respecting guy won’t want to save me. I have a pretty clear picture of what I want out of life. I know what that takes and I know how to get it. I want to be with someone that will achieve that WITH me, not FOR me. He should be proud to have a partner that hasn’t completely lost herself and is still her own person. I’d expect the same in my partner. No matter how many times I’ve gone back and forth with this issue, I settle on the same conclusion: I want to have someone to share my life with together AND separately. To me, that’s the ultimate love story.