Some women might want to change this question to, “Do I need a man in my life?!”
The answer is, both, yes and no!
This article explores concepts like love, companionship, societal norms, context, and its complications, the pros and cons, and the why’s and why not of why (or why not) you might need a man in your life.
Why You May Need (Or Want) A Man In Your Life
There isn’t a “need” to have a “man” in your life. Needs are much more basic and related to survival, like food, water, air, safety, and connection/ socialization. However, just because it’s not a need, doesn’t mean it can’t be a want. Also, it can be a way to fulfill one or more of our basic needs of connection and/ or safety. Having said that, while having “a man in your life” isn’t the only way to have your needs or wants met; at the same, having “a man in your life” can add much meaning and beauty to your life. At the end of the day, most of us have the choice to decide what’s best for us. We also have the choice to experiment with what would work better for us. The ability to make choices is a skill that each of us must hone for ourselves to have a meaningful, fulfilling life.
Understanding The Basics
Before you can answer the question of whether you need a man in your life, it’s important to understand some foundational concepts:
Our understanding of love is pretty skewed as it’s usually based on two things:
a. What we see/ read in movies &/ novels, and
b. Our relationship blueprints – that are formed in the early years of our lives (usually 0 – 7 years) based on how our primary caregivers interact with us, & with each other.
Movies and/ or novels tend to show us this “ideal” love that doesn’t really exist, because life and love go beyond the 1.5 – 3 hour movie, or a 200 – 1000 page novel!
And most of our relationship blueprints are formed on ideals of what love “should be”, instead of what it is.
In comes the age-old question: What is love?
(The short reel here talks about the biggest reason for unhappiness in love)
In a simplistic way, love is what is left when all expectations dissolve. Love is what is left when you love. Period. No demands. No expectations. No attachments.
This will sound unrealistic to many because it is unrealistic to love like that when our hearts and minds are afraid of rejection, abandonment, & scarcity.
And, so, in defining love as defined above, it’s almost an oxymoron because most of us aren’t ever able to love, we’re only able to attach. And according to the above definition, love is unattached.
Being unattached doesn’t mean being indifferent. It simply means loving the other no matter what they do/ don’t do.
Now, if love is unattached, and most of us are unable to love like that, then what do we do?
We begin where we are – we begin with the understanding that while we’re trying to love in its purest form (un-attached), we’re far from perfect, and we struggle. And in that struggle, we try to find moments where we’re able to love for love, without expectations and entitlement.
Companionship is the sense of experiencing life – a few moments to an entire lifetime – with someone (or more than one) such that it adds (meaning, value, connection, etc.) to your (and the others’) life.
If you were to really think about it, companionship cannot be possible without the element of love. However, courtesy of our stories of love that we’ve been conditioned into, we feel that love must be something beyond companionship, that it must have fireworks, angels singing, and whatnot!
Don’t misunderstand me. One can have fireworks and singing angels all through the lifetime of a relationship. But there’s a secret to that. And this secret is simple – put in the effort to make it happen!
Companionship is the reason why we really fall in love – in the hope of being with a forever-someone with whom we make a family, who stands by us come what may, and with whom we get old.
However, for companionship to work, each party needs to let go of some of their individual ideologies.
3. The Context
Back in the day, when half the marriages didn’t end up in divorces, one of the parties (usually the woman) let go of most (if not all) of their ideologies. This letting go is what ensured that marriages survived.
However, we’re not “back in the day” anymore.
Women have found their thoughts, their voices, and their ideologies. And they’re no more ready to let go!
Katherine Schafler, an in-house therapist at Google, wrote an article in Time back in 2016, stating:
There it was, right there on my Instagram feed. “The smartest thing a woman can do is to never need a man.” It had 272 likes.– ‘Why Healthy, Successful Women Can Still “Need” Men’, Katherine Schafler
She further goes on to say how annoying and disappointing this brand of “shallow” feminism is, and that it represents an “increasingly alarming” trend among millennial women.
It seems to me that somewhere between the patriarchy and the feminist movement, we forgot a few important aspects of life, like love, happiness, and joy!
I’m not saying we should go back in time and/ or subjugate ourselves to men. It’s more nuanced than that, which takes us to The Complication!
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4. The Complication
Hannah Faraday answered a similar question in Quora, four years ago, “Why do I need a man in my life to feel properly happy, even if it’s not a completely serious relationship?” She said:
The truth is that you don’t need a man in your life to make you happy, but it’s understandable that your feelings are telling you differently(…)
May I be so bold as to suggest that maybe it isn’t the man that makes you happy, but their acceptance? I have felt rejected many times in my life, I’ve wanted to be seen, told that I was beautiful, and valued for who I am. Above all I have wanted a man to tell me these things, because in the end I want to spend my life with one. I based my value on whether or not one of these men chose me.– Hannah Faraday, Quora
Do you see from the above how complications may arise?
How it isn’t about “needing” a man but wanting other needs to be met – the need of being loved, of feeling safe & protected, of feeling important & connected, feeling like you matter.
You see, back in the day, women believed that they were meant to be “good” wives and mothers. And so they found meaning and fulfillment in those roles. Having a man in their life, in many ways, helped them meet multiple needs.
Many women today believe that their fulfillment can’t be limited to a man or a child – which is fine – the problem is that most women (and people in general of all gender &/ sexual orientations) don’t really know what will fulfill them!
5. The Masculine
Adding to the complication is the way we’ve created our world today – everything lends itself to masculine energy. Masculine/ feminine is not limited to gender. Each person has both energies – ideally, we’d be able to access and harness both these energies.
However, the way we live today, it is the masculine that is promoted – structured, planned, organized, aggressive, and powering through. Those with these qualities seem to do better in this world.
While the masculine may seem to suit the world we have created, it is the lack of the feminine that leads to the shadow of this world – depression, anxiety, burnout, stress, and many related lifestyle ailments.
Our broken, fragmented world is nothing but the absence of feminine energy. It is the feminine that brings in the flow, emotional wisdom, intuition, healing, and rejuvenation.
Since everyone has honed their masculinity (some more successfully than others), relationships are devoid of the feminine. Love cannot thrive without the soft caress of the feminine (from both parties involved).
The Better Question
So, you see, the answer to this question is much more nuanced than you’d think! And, in my opinion, the better question to ask is: Do I want a man in my life? If yes, why? If not, why not?
I believe, asking the “right” (a.k.a. effective) question is the key to finding the answer you’re looking for. Once you change your question, your approach then has a chance to change too!
The Better Way
The better way to answer the question, “Do I want a man in my life?”, is to:
1. Clarify What You Want
Do you even know what you want? If your answer is a big house, a big promotion, world travel, or serving others, then my next question to you is: What will achieving these feats give you?
If you continue asking this question, you’ll eventually come to something like, “It’ll make me happy/ content/ peaceful/ joyful/ etc.”
If you can work with the clarity that at the end of the day, you want to be happy (or whatever word resonates more with you), then you can begin to experiment with what brings you happiness.
If having a man in your life is one of the many (or few) things that you believe will bring you happiness, then a man it is!
2. Understand Core Human Needs
Now, in order to not get caught up in “The Complication” explained above, it’s important you understand the concept of basic human needs that all humans have.
Everything you do, everything anyone does, is to meet the 3 core needs that all humans have:
1. Need For Safety: This includes basic physiological needs, financial needs, & then something that’s not always tangible – a sense of safety, and security – which goes beyond having food/ shelter/ money; it’s about the mental/ emotional sense of being okay no matter what.
2. Need For Love: Wanting to feel loved and cared for, wanting to love and care for someone, wanting a sense of belonging to someone/ somewhere/ something, wanting to feel a part of a group/ collective – all of these come under the core human need of love.
3. Need For Meaning: While safety and love needs can form a strong foundation, there will always be a sense of something missing unless we find our meaning – whether it’s through contribution to the world, or evolution of the self, or a mix of the two – it’s the 3rd leg of the tripod without which there will always be a certain “wobbliness” in our being.
While these 3 needs could be seen as sequential from safety to love to meaning, it’s more nourishing (and effective) to have them co-exist.
Remember, the 3 needs are like the 3 legs of a tripod – each leg supports the stability of the tripod.
3. Take Your Time
Once you begin to understand the 3 core needs, and your alignment with them, and start building clarity on your needs and wants, then you’ll be in a better place to decide whether you want a man in your life.
There’s nothing good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse in having or not having a man (or any romantic relationship). The judgments of good-bad | right-wrong | better-worse come from our conditioning – from our families, communities, and the world at large.
A healthy, intentional relationship can help us meet all 3 core needs, and can also help us heal our deep-seated wounds. At the same time, an unhealthy, reactive relationship can suck out all our resources, deepening our already deep-seated wounds.
For many of us, we go through life with a hole in our heart hoping to meet someone who will take their place in that hole, and fill it up.
What we don’t realize is that the only person who can truly fill it is us. A healthy relationship can provide immense support in filling this gap, but the gap can only be truly filled in when we allow ourselves to take that place in our hearts.
If I were to re-live my last decade, I’d work on filling that hole in me by allowing Myself to take that place, instead of stumbling into relationship after relationship and repeating the same wounded patterns.
I know that miserable sense of not having “enough time” – feeling like you’re lagging behind in life, like everyone else has found love, meaning, and joy, and you haven’t been able to figure it out!
Guess what – time is a manmade concept. Nature doesn’t operate according to any set standard of time. Nature flows, goes at the speed it goes – neither hurries nor slows, and yet, everything grows!
So, take your time, understand what you really want, how to meet your needs, and then make conscious, informed choices.
4. Be Open
The final piece I’d like to touch upon is something that’s not always easy to practice: allowing yourself to be open, curious, & patient:
Observing whatever is – as is – without judgment;
Learning without the rush toward conclusions;
Being without the restlessness of doing; and,
Trusting the process without the constant act of doubting.
As you practice being open you might start to witness how things, seemingly effortlessly, begin to fall into place!
- You don’t need a man in your life.
- Having a man in your life can help you meet some of your core human needs.
- A healthy relationship can add a lot to you, and your healing journey.
- However, that place in your heart that feels like a hole, can only be truly filled up by you.
- Once you have a deeper understanding of yourself – your wants and needs beyond your conditioning – you’ll be in a better place to make informed choices in life.
As always, I would love to hear from you – thoughts/ doubts/ questions – let them all into the comment box below!
P.S. You might find the article ‘Can You Heal Past Traumas In A Relationship?‘ helpful.