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Love, Success, Independence … and Some Help?

Here in New York, summer’s flow was finally official last weekend with BBQs, beach outings and social events in every borough. The buzz created a homie family reunion, filled with ‘Where have you been,’ ‘Congratulations on your ____ ‘ and ‘I heard you two broke-up, but he/she was a total douche,’ which is bound to occur when groups of overworked folks sip frozen piña coladas from styrofoam cups (s/o to the Makossa BK fam!). In the midst of giving people my ‘Why you haven’t seen me in a while’ and ‘No, it’s not because I’m boo’d up, I’m just fucking busy’ stump speech, I overheard something from two women that stuck with me. To paraphrase: ‘Yeah I’ve always wanted a ____, hopefully [boyfriend’s name] does well so we can have one,’ and ‘Totally! You know I eventually want to get a _____ but it really depends on what he’s doing at that time.’

Now, one can look at these statements two ways: The first being that these women are just being considerate of their significant others in planning out the rest of their lives. Or maybe they are realistic about their goals and understand that they may not be able to achieve them on their own. However, the fact that these two women are successful on their own and have the capability to get everything they desire by themselves caused me to wonder: Is it possible that the older and more comfortable we get, all we really want is to lean on someone else to make our dreams come true?

The feminist in me is screaming ‘No!’ while I write this piece. But the worker-bee who regularly wakes at 5 a.m. to get a handle on things doesn’t think that’s such a bad idea, however she doesn’t want to be so public about it. Whenever I’ve daydreamed about my fantasy home, vacation house in Seychelles, Irish Wolfhound and BMW M3, I always see those things being the product of my success — although it would be nice for one of them to arrive with a big red bow and flowers.

Having watched my mother achieve two degrees, multiple homes and all the trappings of a nice suburban lifestyle on her own before getting married, I gained my example of independence at a young age. However, it also is that same independence that has made slightly uncomfortable accepting unexpected gifts from suitors and muse over the aforementioned statements. After all, if we are taught that a good relationship is a partnership with mutual understanding, support and contribution but really hoping that we can just get a little help along the way too — where does that fall in the independent vs. good girl vs. Basketball Wife/GDD equation? Are we screaming/tweeting/posting/talking about how we are ‘Doing it for ourselves’ yet desiring someone else to sign the bottom line for the big stuff to ease the weight?

On the flip-side, I recently stopped dating a guy who was leaning on me a little too much, so before I became passive-aggressive and just plain bitchy, I walked away. In hindsight, other than being revolted at the possibility of procreating with a man-son, what I was really afraid of was that I would be taken advantage of, heart-broken and left with missed dreams and a warped outlook. Sure, I like for people to rely on me, but when it isn’t reciprocated that’s a problem.

So if we are taught that a healthy union requires equal footing, but are secretly hoping for a little fantasy, where does that leave our independence? Speak your piece below and in the meanwhile, I’ll keep my dream of walking out of the dealership with my car one day and blasting this — with my lover riding behind in their own.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington