The (Not-So-Surprising) Way Patriarchy Blocks Women’s Spiritual Growth
Lately, I’ve been taking a much-needed break from dating. This reprieve from self-imposed pressure to be attractive and charming (or even social) has given me the chance to really look at my last relationship. It’s been hard to look at. The timing of when it ended relative to other upheavals in my life meant I didn’t have the chance to emotionally process why that relationship went so wrong. More likely, I did have the chance, but I just wasn’t ready to look at my own behavior until now.
When I reflect on our whirlwind meeting now, I see two very lost and lonely people who clung to each other like life rafts, each expecting the other to be the boat. Somehow, the task mainly fell to me. I was the one to chart our direction, to figure our lives out, to plan and execute everything, steering and navigating not only for myself but carrying his unwieldy weight with me.
Over the yearlong course that relationship took, I became all manner of the worst things I can be: controlling, irritable, resentful, critical, at times even crossing into emotionally abusive. As both cause and response, he was (in my opinion) many of the worst things he could be: lazy, withdrawn, reactive, incapable of proactivity or of handling anything.
Again and again, I’d find myself struggling to play the role I wanted to play in the relationship: the nurturer, the caring, receptive, feminine one. I wanted him to play a role he couldn’t: the protector, the leader. Our fights would get so bad, it would get so impossible to communicate what I was missing from him, until finally, one thing got through to him.
I showed him a Teal Swan video about what women need from men in relationships. (Yes, I have complicated feelings about Teal Swan, but on the whole, I’ve found her videos very helpful.) Teal describes that core need as “containment,” a need for the masculine to create a structure the feminine can lean into, by deeply seeing her, intuiting her, and authentically working to meet her needs in a way that allows her to give up the urge to always be in control.
This need is one I know deeply, and it’s one I think can be easily misunderstood, so let’s parse it out more…