What’s So Horrible About Needing a Man?

By Michelle Cove

the-ugly-truth-imgIn the past couple of years, I asked many single women whether they believe they need a man in their life to be happy. It was one of my interview questions for my upcoming documentary Seeking Happily Ever After, a film that explores why there are more single 30-something women than ever and whether they are redefining happily ever after. What quickly became clear is that my question makes women agitated. “What do you mean by need,” they’ll ask, or “need as in need?” Many look away confused, some bewildered, several panicky.

As strong, independent women, we are not supposed to need a man in our lives to make us happy. That would imply we are broken. Women can pay their own rent (or make a down payment on a house), fix their own appliances (or find a handyman on Craigslist), recruit others to lift heavy objects and select the perfect vibrator. Women have best friends to talk with about intimate topics, and can fill their social calendar. So, no, women don’t exactly need a guy.

But here’s a question: What’s so terrible about the idea?

Why can’t it be that women are strong and fabulous and independent–and also need a man? Aren’t most of us straight women hardwired to crave male intimacy? And that we hope that a man needs the same? Is there something inherently wrong with needing a partner to hold hands with, cuddle with and maybe take us “to the moon” and back? Why is the idea of needing a man so offensive?

I think in part it’s because we’ve been told by the generation before us that it’s wrong. We should be self-reliant and not depend on men. And so perhaps 30-something women worry that needing a man might make them weak and dependent—put simply, failures. But here’s the thing. Most of the Baby Boom women I interview say that’s not the message they were trying to send. They meant that we don’t need a bad guy in our life oppressing is or keeping us down. They didn’t mean we shouldn’t need men in our lives that support us and are good partners.

I don’t think women need husbands to live well. I think it’s good for women to have man-free periods in their lives so they know they can make a fulfilling life for themselves. I just also think we should be allowed to say we need men in our lives without feeling we’ve sold the women’s movement down the river.

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Michelle Cove is the Director for Seeking Happily Ever After, a feature-length documentary about why there are more single 30-something women than ever and whether women are redefining happily ever after. See www.seekinghappilyeverafter.com. She is also writing a companion book that is “a feel-great guide to being single while seeking your own happily-ever-after” (Tarcher, 2010)

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Watch this “behind the scenes” clip for Michelle’s Seeking Happily Ever After

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