Thursday, September 13, 2012

Looking for the right fit

In a political vein, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the other day she didn't know how any woman could vote for Mitt Romney.  A part of her quote really spoke to me and my own experience,

"I think there are some who believe they are actually protecting women, you know, and that it is better for women to be taken care of. I think women want to take care of themselves, and I think having a voice in how that is done is very important."
 I actually know a LOT of women who want to be taken care of.  And plenty of men who think that's their role.  But even way back in the 70s, I bristled at this idea.  I felt a healthy adult relationship required two people capable of taking care of themselves and jointly taking care of their mutual responsibilities.  I didn't want my husband to be a father to me, I wanted us to be equal in every way.  As an active member of the Mormon church at the time, I was way out of step.  Men were the "head of the household," held the priesthood (like a private men's club in the Mormon church), and were essential to a woman being able to achieve the highest reward in heaven.  Women were in every way auxiliary to men.  It was a big part of my reason for leaving the Mormons.

I just can't be auxiliary in the most important relationship in my life.  I need to be truly equal.

This concept has been on my mind a lot relative to this crazy activity of  "dating" after 60.  Having been on my own for six years or so, I have become even more self-reliant and independent.  For awhile I dated, with moderate success.  The best results seemed to be with men who had more liberal views of women.  It never worked out so well with the ones who wanted me to fit into THEIR idea of the ideal woman.  They seemed to have a fantasy of what I should be like rather than seeing the real me with eyes wide open.  And some seemed unreasonably compelled to carry out old traditional male/female roles.  And they wanted me to like what they like and do what they do without being very curious about what I might like.  The last guy I dated would ask me out telling me to choose a restaurant and then upon picking me up, would tell me where we were going.  This guy opened every door, picked up every check, and was so gentlemanly.  How could I complain?  This is probably the ideal man for 90 percent of women.  Unfortunately, I felt awkward and uncomfortable.  I didn't like being taken care of that much.

It's my own problem, of course.  I know that.  But sometimes it seems so silly to sit in the car while the guy runs around to open my door.  And if we both work, why shouldn't I help out with the cost of having fun together.  I like reciprocal kindnesses and courtesies.  And I'm as likely to open his door as he is mine--it's more a matter of what makes sense at the moment and not some arbitrary tradition.  Is that such a bad thing?  For some men it matters a great deal.

So where is that nice companion who fits me as well as I fit him?  One who accepts me as I am and doesn't try to push me into his idea of what I should be?  Is there such a one?  I'm starting to realize I hate the idea of growing old alone.  But I may be too choosy for my own good. 

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