Strong Women Suffer

strong women

I am attracted to strong men.  Yes, I said it.  Strong men. I love them. 

So, what is my definition of a strong man?  Well, here we go…

  • strong man is a man that has the right amount of “swag” (too much swag can be a turn-off) when he is dealing with the world. Basically, when he walks in the room, you know he is comfortable in his skin. He has “presence”. (My friends, who find Jay-Z to be rather unattractive, tease me because when I look for a great example of a man with “swag”, I go to him. I totally understand why Beyonce would be attracted to him. Total “swag”).
  • strong man is comfortable with me and all my “layers”. I am not an easy person to love. I have come to embrace and accept that notion. It takes a strong man to truly love me. So, a strong man is a man that encourages me instead of discouraging me. He doesn’t try to make me fit into a box. He allows me to be. He wants me to reach for the stars and is my biggest cheerleader.
  • At the same time, a strong man is effective at reeling me in so that I don’t feel like I am being chastised or judged (We all need that person that can reel us in sometimes).
  • strong man is comfortable with my emotional side. He doesn’t make me feel like I always have to have it together (I put enough pressure on myself to do that).
  • A strong man is comfortable communicating his feelings.
  • Now, here is the kicker! As complex and independent as I am, a strong man is a man that is financially able to and feels it is his responsibility to care for his household.

Okay, stop clutching your pearls independent women, and, just think about it for a second.  Does independence mean that we should have to completely give up our desire to be taken care of?

Fifteen years ago I was that woman singing along with Destiny’s Child:

Always 50/50 in relationships                                                                                                                 The shoes on my feet
I’ve bought it The clothes I’m wearing
I’ve bought it
The rock I’m rocking
I bought it
Cause I depend on me
(If I want it)
The watch I’m wearing
I bought it
The house I live in
I’ve bought it
The car I’m driving
I’ve bought it
I depend on me
(I depend on me)


Flying around in my “Superwoman” cape, I was quick to let a man know they were not necessary.

I could do everything on my own. I could raise my kids on my own if necessary. I could maintain my household on my own. I could run a successful business on my own. As a result, I found myself doing most of it on my own.

As a woman, I would look down on women being taken care of by their men.

I labeled them as weak and wondered why they were disgracing the sisterhood. Didn’t they realize how hard we were fighting for gender equality? Their dependence was setting us back.

As a mother, I beat my girls over the head with the idea that they needed to make sure they could take care of themselves, financially and emotionally.

I taught them the key to attracting the right man was to be a strong, independent woman. And, they were breaking the “Superwoman” code if they could not go out in the world and kick ass on their own.

At forty-six, boy, am I kicking myself. Here is why.

That “Superwoman” mentality led me to live in a world where people don’t ever think I need, or want, help or support. Except for my dear mother, who is an “OG” in the Superwoman club.

While I seem to attract financially independent men capable of taking care of my needs, they don’t.

I don’t believe it is intentional on their part. It is all my fault!! I have entered into relationship after relationship with the mistaken belief that if my man saw me hustling and grinding, he would work that much harder to provide for me. Absolutely not true!

In reality, a woman must possess, or act as though she possesses, the “helpless gene” to get a man to kick into action.

The more helpless you are or act, the better the reward. Don’t want to buy groceries for the house? Don’t do it. Eventually, he will do it. Don’t want to pay your bills? Don’t do it. Eventually, he will do it. Don’t want to cook? Don’t do it. Eventually, he will do it. Don’t want to get out of bed to eat the food he cooked? Don’t worry. Eventually, he will bring it to you.

Helplessness works!

So, here is a thought.  The next time you start crooning with Alicia Keys:

I am aSuperwoman                                                                                                                Yes I am                                                                                                                               Yes she is                                                                                                                                   Even when I’m a mess                                                                                                                     I still put on a vest                                                                                                                    With an S on my chest                                                                                                                   Oh yes                                                                                                                                                I’m a Superwoman

Think about it. Do you want to spend the rest of your life having to put that vest on and figuring everything out? Or, would you like to have someone take some of that burden off of you? This feminist chooses the latter.

Oh boy, I can’t wait to hear from all of my independent women and strong men!

Much Love,


Published by Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

27 thoughts on “Strong Women Suffer

  1. Interesting theory! All laying in bed got me was, cussed out, talked about, and eventually FORCED OUT! Speaking of Alicia Keys, I think the helpless tactic may work for someone who looks like the songstress, rather than someone who looks like…well, the average American woman. Keys is well above average, as are you. Great read!

  2. I agree that I embraced the whole independent black woman thing too much out of law school. I was like i can do it all myself i don’t need a man to do anything. I realize now how draining that mentality can be. I should have demanded that all my needs were met too.

    I do kinda wonder though cause I haven’t met a man that will bring me food if I just lay in bed…. lol. And at this point in my life, I don’t know if I could learn to be “helpless.”

  3. Wow! I just don’t know if I could do it…play the helpless one! U make some good points but if I can’t just be me, strong willful superwoman whatever, I don’t know that it’s worth it. Women shouldn’t have to dumb down or dull their shine just to have someone on their arms or to bring breakfast in bed. I guess I need a strong man too…one strong enough to love & appreciate my independence w/o it threatening his manhood. I have nooo problem w/a man taking care of things…of me even but if he’s gonna do it then “do the dang thang” & do it well! Don’t go to the store for breakfast groceries & then forget the eggs & grits or burn the toast or ask me so many questions that I have to get up & fix the meal myself! 😄

  4. All we grew up hearing was about us being independent and self sufficient . Unfortunately, that came with a price. There has to be a balance. It’s about taking care of each other mentally, physically , and emotionally! Awesome read as always!

  5. strong women may suffer . but strong men suffer even more. life is about imbalance. the beauty in life is to find the balance as close to your significant other as possible. some people can find it, and live happily ever after…. then some don’t. the key to balance is everyone knowing their role, being comfortable in their role . and accepting their role. the significant other must be accepting of their position in the balance equation. some women/men are just genetically born leaders. it cant be taught or learned. you have it or you don’t

  6. I totally agree with what Jamal stated. It has to be a 50/50 relationship. Each having their own strong suites that the other understands and appreciates. This may sound corny but to me, you need to be willing to hand over your heart to the other person and ask them to take care of it. I know that’s deep but so is true love.

  7. At my ripe ole wise age of 54, I feel that the ‘right’ man will embrace who you are… wholesale! Independence is an asset to a relationship, not a liability. Although I feel that a woman should also realize that a man needs to feel like he is a man, and not some person living in his woman’s shadow, if he’s really ‘diggin’ her, he’ll smile at the fact that he was lucky…well, no, blessed enough to have found someone who knows who she is, recognizes her own value, and isn’t afraid to express it. Anything else is a ‘shackle’ experience! He has to be comfortable in his place/space to appreciate what God has blessed him with! We (some women) have to get in the mindset that we don’t have to settle into people we aren’t, to get what we not only want, but deserve.

    Enjoyed reading this post! 🙂

  8. I doubt that I could learn to be helpless in the true sense, but I am learning how to, at least, ask for help. That’s a major feat for me. Definitions 1- 3, had me literally laughing out loud! By the time I got to the last 3, I was almost choking up. So many parts of this blog touched on some sensitive areas of my past, as a strong, independent woman. With less than 2 months before turning 63, I don’t want to do ‘everything” anymore. This strong woman wants and needs the help of a strong man!

  9. I must admit that I had to chuckle when I read this post. I am glad that you have come to the reality of the truth. A strong man will take good care of his family. Thank you for being transparent and honest about your life. I think society has lost some of the old fashion values. Thank you for sharing.

    Sent from my iPhone


  10. Great Blog! I love the different responses. I sat and thought about this blog after I read it the first time. I have to admit that I was overcome by many different emotions. This blog took me back to a very painful time in my life. (not really sure why) A time where the “helpless me” was overcome by the mere need to survive, and not just my need to survive but also make sure that my baby sister survived as well. With no Village to help, my independence developed from a place of survival. I have been told may times that survival mode is meant for just a moment and not a lifetime but I have never learned how to switch modes. My life experiences are the result of my superwoman mentality. I have to say that this has hindered the growth of my relationships but it has also made me feel empowered and accomplished. I think some days that my superwoman cape has become a cross that I have to bare. I love having a man that is willing to help and know that it is his responsibility to help in any capacity that I need but he also knows that if he does not or can not I will. This is just how I am wired and I don’t think it will every change.

    1. T, it took me a long time to respond to this post because I know your story. For years I have often thought about how you managed to not only survive but rise above every obstacle and be the woman you are today. Many times people do not realize the influence they have over us. Your journey in life definitely had an impact on me. You are such a strong woman and I admire you so much for the constant strength that you exude. Much love to you !!!

  11. Love you and thanks for doing all you do to provide a platform for all your followers! You are truly an inspiration to me!

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