The following quote by Napoleon Bonaparte reflects the mentality that was at the forefront of the beliefs that enslaved women through the ages. What men have said about women…“Nature intended women to be our slaves…They are our property; we are not theirs. They belong to us, just as a tree that bears fruit belongs to the gardener. What a mad idea to demand equality for women! Women are nothing but machines for producing children.”

While most men and women have evolved to a higher plane, remnants of these beliefs are still daunting many relationships. I offer you the following contemporary examples:

  • the women who earn their own money, and yet have difficulty saying no or setting and keeping boundaries in an intimate relationship
  • the women who grow as individuals and yet, when a man comes into the picture, they change to become who they think the man wants her to be
  • the women who choose to stay in unhealthy or cheating relationships

From a present day cultural perspective, as long as women speak of themselves as the commodity and view men as the luxury, nothing will really change. In viewing the habits of boys’ and girls’ choices of play, the girls choose to play house, dress-up and with dolls. These choices teach nurturance and help girls to prepare for their future roles. Boys on the other hand, play sports, cops and robbers, cowboys, firemen…all that center on career goals and competition. These “play” choices mold children into certain belief systems about themselves and the opposite sex.

The outcome, as revealed in my private practice, is most women believe they need relationships in order to have a fulfilling life. Some women believe their self-worth will come from being loved the way they want to be loved. Women oftentimes are too invested in their relationship, making it easy for men to take them for granted.

Some men believe their self-worth comes from how successful they are in business. Therefore, men are too invested in business. Oftentimes men’s unavailability provokes women’s lack of self. Isn’t it ironic that Mr. Workaholic is usually married to Mrs. Low Self-Worth? What a vicious cycle!

Being loved enough on the outside, will never be enough for women to feel it on the inside. The lack of love for themselves therefore, contributes to being a slave to love.

In order to break this cycle, women must learn that loving themselves is the only anecdote to self-destructive love relationships. If their cup is already full, they do not go “thirsty” into a relationship in the first place, which allows her to be happy in her own skin with her own personal goals. This will allow a woman to know her “self,” have self-worth, and be able to tell her mate what is on her mind without editing or apologizing, knowing that she deserves love. In order to achieve this level of contentment, women may want to seek counseling to re-write their beliefs that created this cycle.

Karen L. Kaye, LMHC


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