I dug up a paper I wrote during my senior year of college when I was living with the man I planned (at the time) to marry. Based on Daniel Miller’s A Theory of Shopping, I had explored the author's hypothesis that purchasing could be motivated by love, and proved it by shamelessly charting a week's worth of my purchases. At the time, the list was comedic (I had a friendship with my very giving professor). But now looking at my list, I see a zeal and motivation I don't always find in my life now. In buying skim milk, bran cereal, flax bread, I was taking pride in eating healthy. With the new dishes and wine glasses, I added sophistication to our home. I recalled feeling satisfied and grown up when we began enjoying food on matching plates and not drinking Pinot Grigio out of mugs.
When I recently asked my friends about this idea of "being better with a man" or "needing a man," a good handful of them confirmed this belief. (Definitely not all, mind you.) One said, "I'm more organized, in control, and positive when I'm receiving male attention ... a relationship is enough to keep me motivated and excited." Another friend, Olivia, told me, "In a relationship, I have someone else to answer to. There is another person who is close enough to me to know when I'm being lazy or not living up to my potential, so that pushes me to actually be more active."
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For Olivia and me, efforts of self-sufficiency outside of relationships can sometimes fall short, or more often, turn into faking that whole "I'm an awesome single woman" thing. And I'm sorry, I do know that I'm awesome, but getting there is exhausting. I'm not saying this is everyone, but that perhaps there are women—and men!—who need sex with trust, or who rely on spouses for friendship rather than large social networks. And perhaps "needing a man" is an indication of the more basic human instinct—not for reproduction, but for companionship. The Frisky: Five Kinda Lame Things Single Women Do That Are Actually Fun