I have always been attracted to strong women. My mother is a strong woman. So is my sister. I can’t think of anything more stimulating and sexy than a woman who is confident, bright, thoughtful, self-aware, and my intellectual equal if not master. I’ve never been intimidated by a woman’s strength. The only mystery in the beginning is understanding whether the strength being displayed is authentic and true as opposed to a cover to mask insecurity and pain. In this case what may look like strength is actually a facade. Beneath the cover is a wounded person who may have great potential to give and experience a beautiful love, but will use her tools as a weapon to strike as opposed to an artisan looking to build something.
I’ve experienced the latter in a few cases. What I perceived as a strong woman was in reality a strong willed woman. There is both a distinction as well as a difference. These women were bright, but they were also competitive within the relationships. Instead of looking to build consensus, they sought to carve out a space and claim territory. They’d dig trenches for the sole purposes of establishing as constitution their own sensibilities. It’s wasn’t easy for me to tell the difference between the strong vs strong willed women in my life. To the untrained eye they look like the exact same thing. It’s only after experiences that require humility, compromise, repentance and trust is authentication revealed. Where there is true strength, humility, compromise, repentance (when necessary) and trust are easy because the goal is beyond self-interest and competition. The goal is for each party in the relationship to win. It’s not to make someone pay for a debt that is intellectually or spiritually impossible to fulfill.
Some of my relationship failures caused me to question my ability to find my own ‘perfect match.’ I’d ask myself, “How do I in essence come up with basically the same (strong willed) chick over and over again?” Logically the common denominator is me! I started to think there was something about me that cause these ‘strong’ women to turn against me. Was I too kind, too graceful, or too easy to figure out?
Being honest and vulnerable early on, even if in limited layers has always been my idea of achieving a pathway to acceptance. Having safe spaces is an important foundation in my humble opinion. I enjoying sharing and being my authentic self with all of my quirks and unusual peculiarities. It can be painful to have your eccentricities rejected, made fun of, or taken advantage of; especially during a dispute. But therein lies an insight into whether one is strong or strong willed.
I see strong minded women (and men) all the time on social media. When it comes to relationships or prospective relationships, there is little hope and much skepticism. I totally understand. The dating game can be so cruel. People are out here seeking ‘whatever’ for so many reasons. Rare are these reasons totally understood even by the person holding them. In any case, when conflict occurs defenses go up and before you know it, a confrontation is at hand.
I am not afraid of confrontation. I embrace it when I know the object is to resolve the conflict to achieve the best understanding. Many times, however, I’ve found that the women I was communicating with’s ultimately goal was to prove a point, or even worst to win the argument. For some their purpose wasn’t to achieve understanding, or establish healthy boundaries, but rather drawing lines that so that they could enjoy a privileged or Powered status. When discussing a disagreement and there is tension, I understand that she may not understand my intentions. She may think I am attempting to threaten or take something away from her identity or value. I soften my approach taking the low road offering a clarification if necessary. Then I wait.
Will she soften as well and show some humility? Or will she relish the victory and keep it moving? If the former, then we may very well be on to something. There is mutual respect as words are chosen carefully to maximize understanding and reduce the tension. If the latter, she’s not looking to build something, she’s looking to have her way. It only gets worse. I learned to distance myself in this scenario. No arguing, just acceptance. We can be cordial, but there is nothing for me to invest in. Soon, I’ll quietly walk away.
There is difference between a strong woman vs a strong willed woman. Though she can be both, a strong woman knows that she doesn’t always have to play her strength card to get things she needs in her relationship. This is of course assuming she has a strong man who wants to give and grow. Instead she is much more crafty and sophisticated in her methods.
I thought about five couples that I respect and admire the most. The women are brilliant and formidable, able to take on most any undertaking. The men are successful yet progressively growing and expanding their depths and potential. The women are the foundation and backbone in the unit. I’ve witnessed them demonstrate the one thing that supersedes Power in any relationship, influence. A strong recognize her areas of influence on her man and she uses it for the greater good.
A man can excel in a lot of areas on his own. But even a greatly accomplished man who doesn’t have the touch of a wise woman to counsel him is going to be a fool in many areas, even if he doesn’t realize he’s a fool. Show me a weak childish and petulant man, I’ll show you a woman who doesn’t influence him at all. (Insert face of the president here.) If you’ve ever seen the Netflix series, “House of Cards,” you’ve identified that the only reason Frank Underwood was a successful governor who parlayed that into the presidency is because of his wife Claire. Frank is the face, standing on the podium with prestige and respect. But Claire is the soul. Her influence, support and counsel were essentially and in advance of any potential successes to Frank’s highly aspired ambitions. Claire embraced her role as the soul and reveled in their ascension as a team.
So when I say, Salute To The Women Who Know Their Place, by ‘place’ I mean ‘role’. And make no mistake it is a role! Why? Because no matter what we (men) do in the marketplace, no matter how many people know our name or sing our praises regarding our exploits or popularity, no matter what kind of car we drive, when WE go home at the end of the day, WE know we ain’t shit unless and until our woman validates us and says we are.
Let’s face it; whether because of necessity through evolution visa-vi social or societal oppression and circumstance, women are often smarter and more intuitive than men; specifically regarding things men tend to be blind about. While we go through life looking to conquer one challenge or another, our women study us and knowing our strengths and weaknesses. They know when we are about to say or do something stupid. They have the ability to see the big picture when we are tunnel visioned. When a man lays eyes on a cake, he sees a cake. An intuitive woman considers the ingredients down to the infinite measurements. It doesn’t matter who makes the most money or who holds the most powerful position in the marketplace either. In a successful relationship, the joint recognition and understanding is differing roles, equal value. Each couple chooses the roles that work for them based on their given talents and strengths.
The woman who operates by influence and uses it accordingly to build her man up, praise him publicly and privately, doesn’t do things to damage his dignity, she has the ultimate power. You see influence IS power but with a soft ‘p’. It is to be shared. But I can’t stress how important it is for men to have the strong yet confidently reassuring touch of his woman’s influence.
Examining how these play out:
Power (large P) Dominates – Influence Negotiates
Power is harsh and rigid – Influence is gentle and flexible
Power commands – Influence suggest
Power pushes – Influence nudges
Power breeds fear – Influence breeds loyalty and respect
Power says, “You must do this for me!” – Influence says, “I want to do this for you.”
Power produces minimum requirements – Influence produces above and beyond
Hopefully this makes sense. I did my best not to appear chauvinistic and I hope the feminist reader (I consider myself one) allows for nuance in understanding my intentions here. I’m not assuming this is a woman’s obligation, or that affirming her man is her ONLY role in a relationship. What I am saying is that I absolutely witnessed though my own life and the lives of others the consequences of the woman who demands Power, and the rewards of ones who dispense influence. It’s like night and day, life and death.