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Why being independent woman is not all bliss

There is so much talk about the need for women to be independent. Women are gracefully climbing ladders, taking charge of businesses, and making money more than ever, whether as entrepreneurs, typical working-class women, or even as stay-at-home mums.

To a woman, being able to take care of oneself is not only fulfilling but also offers a sense of completeness.

An independent woman is not only financially secure, but knows what she feels, says what she really believes, and lives true to her own values.

For Nancy Njoroge, a 32-year-old woman running her own business, being independent has enabled her to discern the intentions that men have before being heartbroken.

Pros versus cons

“Having my own money means that a man can’t use money or a car to woe or coerce me to say ‘yes’ to him. There are a lot of women dating abusers because they can’t support themselves financially,” she says.

Nancy adds that being independent also saves her from being disappointed by a man after depending on them. “It is great for a woman to be strong, determined, powerful, and at the same time-independent. Independence is a powerful gift that a woman can give to herself and can assist her to reach greater heights and achieve higher goals,” she continues.

But even as she feels great for being independent, there are still challenges that come with this label if not balanced.

“I’ve had people around me think that just because I’m independent, I don’t need anyone anymore. You end up handling your issues alone, as no one believes that there are times when you need assistance. Worse, being independent is a threat to some men, so being in a relationship has been tough on my side. But I’ll still choose to be independent any day anywhere,” she shares.

Psychologist Sharon Kahumbu says relationship trauma is sometimes what forces some women to be independent.

“They become independent to get that control back in their life and this is one of the pros. However, one disadvantage is that one might not accept assistance, and this can lead to exhaustion and even stress,” she says.

While there is healthy independence, psychologists have discovered a negative form of independence called hyper independence where a woman opts to be independent of everyone and it may in turn affect them.

“A woman can be overly self-reliant if she has learnt not to trust others. In this case, she has learnt how to put up defensive walls to prevent her from further harm,” says Timothy Maina, a psychologist.

Timothy further argues that independent women who live by their own values and standards have the ability to set boundaries in workplaces and relationships they engage in.

“They have high self-esteem and are, therefore, able to love themselves as they are without seeking validation from others. They work on finding healthy relationships that won’t inhibit their mental, emotional or spiritual wellness,” he adds.

When it comes to the cons, Timothy feels that to those who may not understand them, independent women may appear insensitive or unsupportive to others as a result of thinking everyone is independent as they are.

Also, the common misconception people have when we say that “she’s an independent woman” is that she is a feminist or that she is someone who doesn’t need a man in her life.

“Independent women face a lot of negative stereotypes such as the belief that they don’t know how to love others, have poor children-upbringing skills, and are seen as a threat to men. They are also afraid to depend on others, thus their partners may feel useless leading to relationship tussles,” he explains.

Relationship expert Allan Lawrence notes that some men love such women since they are assertive and know what they want and need.

“There is no time for drama with such women. Being confident is sexy and it’s amazing being in a relationship with someone who knows what they want and goes after it.

Secondly, men don’t want a woman who thinks that the relationship is a financial rescue mission centre. We want a partner, not a project,” he says.

Relationship matters

He, however, warns that being independent sometimes attracts narcissists.

“Powerful women have everything that narcissists want — confidence, intelligence, influence, and inner strength. A narcissist man believes that if they spend time with an independent woman, they might be able to absorb their partner’s power and make them dependent on him,” he says.

Allan adds that the weakness of some independent women is that with abundant attention, they can easily be persuaded by a narcissist. They become the partner that he has always been looking for just for a while to carry out their charade and get the relationship solidified before they start to reveal their true colours.

Allan shares how an independent woman needs a man who is strong enough to handle her, a secure person to let her shine, pursue her dream and go about her life.

“Those who come into her space should not try to change her but should be there to help her go after her dreams. It might work against her if she doesn’t get a man who is secure and strong to handle her,” she says.

Sharon advises independent women to ask for help when they need it. “They should understand that they are not going to have the solutions to everything in their lives,” she advises.

On his part, Allan says independent women should give men a chance. “A lot of good men are being frustrated since you have built a wall around you. So, allow your heart to feel love again, to enjoy your relationships,” he says.


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