What sabotages the love lives of today's independent women? In an unconventional new book, German psychotherapist Maja Storch examines the ways that women (particularly those who we regard as successful, liberated and high-achieving) unwittingly undermine their intimate relationships. Dr Storch's work with women has enabled her to identify the unconscious reasons behind this process.
Many women have rejected the stereotypical female roles of their parents' era but now feel uncomfortable with their continuing desire for a loving partner. Instead of embracing this side of themselves and looking for a man to fulfill that desire, many women continue to fall for those men who are emotionally unavailable and who ultimately treat them badly.
Maja suggests that it is this rejection of their perceived weakness, which gets in the way of many women finding a safe and fulfilling relationship. She helps women unlock the fears that lie behind self-perpetuating patterns and achieve the necessary balance of independence, vulnerability, desire and strength that will enable them to succeed in a relationship.
In her bestselling book - The Strong Woman's Desire for a Strong Man, which has been translated into 10 languages - Maja Storch examines the ways in which successful, independent women (who she classes as 'strong') unwittingly manage to repeatedly undermine their intimate relationships, and their unconscious reasons for doing so.
She writes: 'When I say 'strong woman' I'm not talking about a kind of sexless, uptight, man-hating monster, or an academic who wears severe grey 'power suits' and lives alone with her two pampered cats. The type of woman I have in mind is independent, with a vibrant, energetic personality and an active sex life. She has learnt to rely on her own strength and is not waiting for a man to come along and save her.
'Strong women are capable of great love, and share a longing for a loving man. But their desire has caused them great pain, as their encounters in love have been unsuccessful in the past, and they begin to wonder if this capability for love is a strength or a weakness. Do you love films where the independent woman falls for the broad-shouldered hero? Do you yearn for a man to come along who won't be put off by your confident manner, who will treat you like a woman and protect and guide you through life? And do you secretly hate yourself at the same time for even having these feelings? If so, you're not alone. Welcome to the club!'
Topics discussed in the book:
Why we behave as we do in relationships: Maja Storch discusses how we are influenced by our understanding of traditional masculine and feminine roles and our childhood experiences, and how this can impact on our relationships.
The impact of the unconscious on our lives: Storch uses the Jungian idea of the unconscious or 'the shadow', to explain why strong women who may be independent and dominant in their everyday lives, may also have a more hopeful side in their unconscious that still longs for a close loving relationship with a man, but which they keep hidden.
How the battle of the sexes influences strong women in relationships: Storch explains that women have won significant territory from men through the women's movement - and there is no way they want to give it back. Women are no longer limited to the options of wife and mother. They have seen too many of these 'good women' lead productive but miserable lives, as they care for their husbands and families, but miss out on pursuing their full potential. They have also seen these 'good' women, perhaps their grandmothers and mothers, cast aside for younger women, and have now come to the conclusion that womanly virtues are not worth much.
Have women lost their femininity? Storch argues that by striving to forge their place in the world - a predominantly male world - women have taken on some of the traditional masculine character traits. And in the process they have pushed aside some of their true feminine qualities, including the desire for a loving relationship.
Why don't strong women fall in love with nice, uncomplicated men? Many strong women are afraid to drop their guard and allow themselves to pursue that loving relationship for fear of losing the independence and power they have worked so hard to establish. So they continue to fall in love with those men who will never give them the commitment, love and respect they want.
How to break the cycle: By coming to understand that her desire for a loving committed relationship doesn't have to mean sacrificing her independence, strength and power, the strong woman can learn to embrace and accept herself and her desires fully, opening the way for a more satisfying relationship without the heartache.
About the author
Dr Maja Storch is an analytical psychologist and therapist who works in the tradition of CG Jung and is based at the Educational Institute of the University of Zurich. She has an established psychotherapy practice in Germany and is a published author with books on youth, psychotherapy and personal development.
The Strong Woman's Desire for a Strong Man
Author: Maja Storch