Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Conflict for Strong Women? Dependence vs. Independence

Marcia Reynolds Psy.D, a PT blogger, and former colleague posted a provocative article about the greatest weakness of strong women. Here's the link if you want to read it.

I definitely identified with Reynolds' viewpoint and recalled an old research study, which of course I now can't find, that very independent women often were compensating for deep, strong dependency needs. I'll keep looking, but in the meantime, I commented on the post and Marcia answered.

Women's dependence/independence conflict

Provocative – all over again. We seem to deal with the same issues repeatedly, in different forms and with varying intensity. Maybe it's just that the issues e.g. body image, self-confidence, balancing roles, dependence/independence conflict are always with us but are brought into focus prominently at different stages of life by different women of influence.
Here's a quote from a book by Rosalyn Meadow and Lilly Weiss, psychologists in Phoenix.
"When women have denied their needs for affiliation and 'interdependence' by trying to fit into a man's world, they have severed the roots of their identity."
That may be the problem, but how to prevent it for younger generations of women?

Need for affiliation

Great question Judy. I never equated the issues strong women face with their need for affiliation, though their high need for recognition and their difficulties when people don't accept their ideas could stem from this. Hopefully, as the workplace becomes more collaborative, this will help the younger generations of both men and women. Yet it will impact their need to stand out. I guess the first step is awareness and dialogue.

Bottom line from my perspective is that the whole issue of dependence/independence and gender, at work and at home, produces almost impossible to answer questions — at least not generalizable answers. Every situation is different depending on your self-awareness/approach/experience with the issue of dependence/independence — and the other person's too.

•  If I am open/closed about my needs/wants in this professional/personal relationship with a man/ woman, will it increase or decrease the chances of a good outcome? The matrix of variables, known and unknown, specific and vague, will be too huge and unmeasurable.

OK. I'm not going to pursue this further and I imagine your glad to read that.

Last thoughts on the topic for the day.

 Even if some women have severed the roots of their identity, by either denying their needs for affiliation, or denying their needs for independence, we can reground ourselves if we choose: transplant some thinking, regrow, reroot, and reblossom into a more comfortably balanced hybrid. Women have amazing capabilities of flexibility.

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