I remember the first time a man looked me in the eyes and told me, “I love how independent you are.” Of course, “independent” meant that something along the lines of having a good work ethic. “Independent” meant that he wouldn’t have to worry about being a provider and a breadwinner for me. And though he always claimed to ‘love it,” some part of me seemed to know better.
While I’ve grown up in time that has accommodated the modern career woman, this “love” for a woman in a pant suit always felt conditional. They all tell us that men are attracted to hardworking women, they want women with goals, women who work hard, women with passions. But in the same breath, they tell us to be the housewife type, and the sex-kitten type, the type who cleans the bathrooms, and dresses up in lingerie at the end of the day. Don’t worry though, they’ll still try to reassure us that having our own passions and our own jobs is acceptable, and that they’ll always support us—just as long as the dishes are done, and their emotional needs are met first.
Although, I’ll admit that loving a person whose life is centered around their career and their education is not easy. I will never invalidate how hard it might have been for my boyfriends to watch me type essays in the middle of family parties, cancel plans to study for tests, and fill out Excel spreadsheets next to them in bed. However, it’s these moments that make a career woman, not a pinstriped pant suit. The passion and dedication of these business women comes often comes at the price of limited free-time and a lot of distractions from your relationships. And unfortunately, most are willing to give up said passion and dedication, if it means having someone that puts their relationship at the center of their universe.
But with being this career woman in-the-making, I’ve come to learn that I am genuinely drawn to ambitious people, people with big goals and lofty dreams, and, in turn, a lot of other concerns other than love and me. I am attracted to people who choose their passions over dinner dates. I am attracted to people who leave an empty space in the bed every morning when I wake up, because they’re too excited about their own lives to sleep in a minute longer. So while yes, I like anyone, would love to be wined and dined, doted on, and left with flowers at my doorstep, I’ve come to learn that these opened doors, and love notes pinned to the fridge have never made my relationship wish list—as much as I thought they did.
I have realized that I love messy, broken people and messy, broken love. I don’t need someone who is good at relationships. I need someone who is good at being the best version of themselves. And if that means having to sit on the couch next to someone who is busy filling out Excel spreadsheets, then so be it. There is a sacrifice you have to make for passion, and I can only hope that my partners past, present, future will come to know this.
So before you claim that you want a “career woman” or “the business man” in your life, realize exactly what you are agreeing to love. You’re agreeing to love to late night flash card study sessions. You’re signing up to fall asleep to the bright glow of a laptop screen next to you. You’re welcoming a life where date nights are a rarity; but you’re also welcoming a world of dedication and strength. And after all, when you love someone, you’re supposed to love a person for who they are, not what they can do for you.