Why does my girlfriend act so independent?
My friends and I have all been having a similar problem. We’re all fairly introverted, “intellectual” men who don’t show our emotions except to those we are close with. All the girls are fairly independent, ambitious, have a difficult time understanding our occasional feelings of jealousy when they casually meet and talk with other guys not making an effort to “be associated” with us, and are reluctant to show any dependency on us in public settings (they don’t really want to be seen “with” us, don’t want to be seen “as a couple”).
Now some of this is why we like them. We don’t like women to be clingy. The problem isn’t that they’re not clingy — it’s that they don’t seem to want to be close. They resist the natural progression that takes place in emotions, so that the man and woman come to depend on each other. They also don’t like us to depend on them (which is curious because in general I think women want to be wanted). Sometimes they let down their guards, but only when not in public. My own girlfriend says she doesn’t like the fact that some of her friends know me only as her boyfriend. She’s unhappy that I don’t have an independent identity in their eyes.
We don’t know whether our girlfriends are going through some sort of phase, or have some deeper problem that will show up in the future and prevent marital intimacy. Somehow it seems to spill over into a lack of excitement about motherhood, which worries me too. I don’t want these things to develop into a life-long struggle. My older, wiser friends don’t have any insight into girls like our girlfriends; their wives and girlfriends are different. Any thoughts?
Just like young men, young women may have lots of reasons for resisting the normal development of a relationship in the direction of commitment — especially fear of growing up, previous bad experience with the opposite sex, difficult or broken families, or confused ideas about manhood and womanhood in general.
Things like that may have something to do with what’s going on here, but I don’t think they’re the main problem. Fear of commitment or confusion about sex roles may explain the behavior of girlfriends who act cool and distant all the time, but they don’t explain the behavior of girlfriends who let down their guards in private, but act cool and distant toward you in the presence of others.
The evidence suggests that these young women are using you and your friends as good-enough-for-now boyfriends, to be dropped when someone better comes along. If a young woman is on the lookout for Someone Better, she isn’t going to want to seem committed when Possible Someone Betters are in the vicinity. Nor will she want to be tagged as “attached” when her own female friends are around. So, she has to treat you distantly when other people are around, and she doesn’t want anyone to think of you as her boyfriend.
If I’m right, then, you and your friends are (a) dating the wrong women, and (b) misunderstanding their character.
You probably think I’m wrong. If you do believe me, you may feel crushed. Don’t. There is no need. Intellectual young men like you tend to be late bloomers, but you do usually bloom. One reason is that, as you grow older and more mature, you grow better at social relationships, and therefore you grow more attractive to women. Another is that, as young women themselves grow older and more mature, they learn to appreciate the qualities of smart men who don’t fit the mold of “cool.”
Unfortunately, the sort of young women who are willing to exploit young men as good-enough-for-now boyfriends are not the sort who learn to appreciate them later.
Be patient, watch, and trust God. By being patient, I don’t mean sticking with these girls; they are the wrong ones. What I mean is that the right ones will come along.
Peace be with you,
Copyright 2006 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Professor J. Budziszewski is the author of more than a dozen books, including How to Stay Christian in College, Ask Me Anything, Ask Me Anything 2, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, and The Line Through the Heart. He teaches government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.