The Strong Woman Paradox: Independent But Needs Support + Strong But Wants to Submit

Right off the bat I want to say this article isn’t only for single women.

Because the truth of the matter is, there are many strong women who exist within relationships right now that ALSO share these paradoxes.

Let me start by defining what a “strong” woman is, ONLY in the context of this article (strong can mean many things):

  • Strong as in: She’s not necessarily single (although she may be), but she’s very independent. Independent-minded, mostly confident in her decisions, and strong-willed. She’s not a pushover, by any means.

  • Strong as in: She can make her own money. She has her faculties, is probably smart as they come, and possibly even multidimensional in her income streams.

  • Strong as in: Thick skin. She’s not a “yes man”.

  • Strong as in: She’s been through a lot of shit, but her resilience is off the charts.

All that said, the paradox begins…

In Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, she uses a phrase, “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.”

I love that. But how seemingly opposed in two things can you get than having a strong back & soft front? I mean, that seems counter-intuitive or productive, right?

There’s this paradoxical context that this certain type of woman I’m writing about lives within.

She has a strong back (a sturdy spine), but a soft front (open heart). She is open to new ideas and fresh perspectives. She’s not hard. She’s flexible, adaptable, yet not the one to trample on.

She’s independent, but craves care & support. She can pay her bills, work, & take care of her day to day activities just fine, yes. Yet, you can bet if she had help carrying her groceries in or making tough decisions every day, she’d love to have that.

She’s strong, but really wants to submit to the right partner. Submit not in the negative connotation of giving in constantly or catering to every whim or request. Submit in the highest respect of the word - to be led & shown by example, so she can follow & even WANTS to. Submit as in following a leader, not following a follower. Submit as in trusting a partner who has vision & sees her as an equal.

These paradoxes are what exist within her, yet many strong women who are dating or are even already in relationships find it hard to communicate this or strike this balance.

The yin & yang of these paradoxes is often difficult for her, for she knows how she’s perceived. As always having it together. As always being in control. As not needing anyone to help her. And none of that is true.

She wants to be supported & taken care of, yet not coddled. Fully respected, yet not babied or treated as less than. She wants & desires her strengths to be enjoyed & not seen as a competition with her partner.

It’s a tricky pursuit for the right suitor OR friend to intuit and act on. I can speak from experience that finding & keeping connections that achieve this balance are rare, but rewarding.

Most of the time, this doesn’t happen. This type of woman is either seen as too intimidating because the person doesn’t take the time to look beyond the surface to understand what else is there, OR ego gets involved and she’s seen as a threat to a partner or friend’s advancement.

She gets competed with instead of utilized for true partnership, growth, & multiplication.

Indeed, the strong woman’s paradox is to find those who can support her emotionally, yet not overwhelm her with demands; listen to her & provide just the right amount of guidance & advice; trust her, but ask for accountability; and lead by example so she has something to follow, instead of demanding submission to a double standard.

In that same vein, I think with this type, it’s also safe to say she wants to provide all of these areas of support & paradoxical ways of being as well.

None of us is going to do every bit of it perfect, but I think finding the people we can explore these paradoxes with is the true joy of relationship - romantic and otherwise.

Here’s to the strong woman paradox on International Women’s Day.