The Decisive Value of Decentering Men from Your Life
I feel the buzz of excitement from within, in anticipation of the evening fast approaching. Anticipating a great date! I bought a new dress, a stash of alluring makeup, and even tried a new makeup technique. Despite hating it, I also plucked my eyebrows for the occasion. And oh, that perfume with the floral undertones is sure to knock him off his feet. He’s going to take me in and know, he has to have me in his life.
Okay, so I’m totally invested in this date with Mr. Cutelooking. I mean I’ve put in all this work. It’s gotta prove to him I’m a girl willing to put in the effort for our future relationship. I even went the extra mile and researched the ideal meeting place. A fancy-ish, Indian restaurant downtown. I checked out the menu beforehand — to ensure I could actually eat something. Being gluten-free and vegan doesn’t make restaurant dining an easy feat. The food choices can be a nightmare, but this guy seems worth it.
And so, the cycle goes.
It’s been repeated countless times, by countless women in the modern world of showing up for the Other, or dating.
We women are taught by society in overt and covert ways, that the emotional labor of making a relationship or marriage work rests on us.
Could it be that the prevalence of divorce is because we women are simply exhausted with this emotional upkeep of maintaining a relationship?
Is it any wonder some of us found ourselves in that situation?
I call BS to this modern trope. I say instead let women save their energy and sanity and recenter themselves as the main character of their lives.
Decentering men is a notion I’ve adopted recently and believe me, it’s a game changer. I’m choosing to focus on my needs, my mental well-being, and my values foremost in life. Here are some ways it’s changing me.
I’m recentering myself, without being a man-hater
The notion of displacing men and romantic entanglement from being the center of my life is liberating. It means I objectively can see men for what they are. Good and bad included. It’s not man-hating, but an informed detachment from seeing men as the prize and all-marvelous.
This perspective is crucial after a romantic breakup, or a life shifting like divorce. Putting the focus back on our needs as women; whether single and still looking, not looking or divorced; is empowering. Decentering men also removes any toxicity of despising men.
It’s not about man-hating but about self-respect and self-care.
Decentering men allows a healthy focus in and out of a relationship. It simply a refocusing as women on our emotional, and mental needs first, before outsourcing to others. Don’t we want to be well and balanced so we call in the good stuff? Because there are some good men out there — men who are indeed thoughtful, affectionate, and emotionally intelligent.
I’m okay with not being the Good Girl
Being a good girl is in all manner exhausting. Trying to constantly please a man and cater to his every need is not what we are made for. Our lives are meant for more than boosting the often-fragile egos of men. Women have a richness of emotions and powerful ideas that need to be asserted and nurtured. All the energy we put into being Miss Nice Girl to Mr. Jerk is wasted time and effort.
I don’t want to be the nice girl anymore. I just want to be more of me.
Men will just have to deal with it. Take it or leave it. I don’t care anymore. I’m not going to clip the edges of my character to shape myself into a version that is acceptable to any man. That’s simply nonsense and inauthentic.
Men are not that big a deal anymore
Okay, I know there are some genuinely great guys out there, with a high emotional intelligence and depth of thought and communication. But a lot of the ones I’ve met, absolutely suck at emotional intelligence and understanding the delicate needs of a well-rounded, smart woman. I’ve found many to be selfish, self-centered, and objectifying of women. Decentering men in my life forced me to step back and really see men for what they are. I realize they are just human beings, with often inflated egos. I don’t need to be huffing and puffing over them so much. They’re simply not that big a deal.
I know there is hope after a breakup or divorce
I personally do not want to ever married. Nevertheless, I hope the notion of decentering men is empowering for all women. Whatever their marital or dating status. I see too many of my divorcing or divorced friends emotionally crumble through the process. Or they prematurely get into toxic co-dependency relationships with new partners to recreate their lives. The trouble is when dating or another marriage is entered, without a woman fully centering herself (she doesn’t unpack her own values and needs from a man) she can quickly spiral into a similar toxic reality.
Breakups or divorce are heart-wrenching, even when initiated by women. Shifting the focus from men to ourselves, means as women we have hope always. We know that if we ever remarry or get into another relationship, we always have our backs. Even if the man doesn’t. We know clearly the boundaries of what we’ll accept and what we’ll happily walk away from. This is such a powerful place to come from in any relationship.
I have more time to focus on my goals
Previously, I put so much energy into relationships and men, constantly thinking about guys, dressing up for them, worrying about dates. Bitching about them to girlfriends, being angry at them, or secretly coveting the male gaze was a common cycle.
Now all that mental energy gets redirected into me. My dreams, my goals, and my own badassery. I truly believe women wouldn’t focus so much on men if they had meaningful goals to work towards. Life is a rich tapestry of friendship, career, family, interest, cultural, and artistic pursuits. Why hone in on just one aspect? I now have so much headspace and time to focus on career advancement and creative goals that matter to me. Recentering on me has released an abundance of energy to make things happen in my life.
I no longer seek male validation
Okay, I won’t say I’ve mastered this 100% percent, but I’m heading in the right direction. Since I let go of focusing so much on men, I care less about what they think of me. Whether they fancy me, think I look pretty or think I’m smart enough is really none of my business. We’re cultured as women to give a damn about the opinions of men. It’s easy to lose ourselves in a patriarchal system founded on male domination and female subjugation. Male validation is just a baseless opinion of what men think of you. What is so special about that? Let’s face it most men aren’t exactly Nobel prize winners. What we think of ourselves is way more important.
I value friendship a lot more
I recently read that being romantically coupled can alienate us from developing friendships outside the relationship. Because it’s been ingrained in women that their boyfriends or husbands should be the most important person to them, we often don’t nurture our friendships once coupled up. It’s a shame. For me, my friendships have been a profound source of joy, comfort, and connection. Why would I want to lose that? Not putting men as the focus of my existence gives me the clarity to see my meaningful friendships for what they are: emotionally nurturing! Why would I ever want to let go of that? For a dude? Hell no! During rough times, we can rely more on our true friends to help us stick it out, than we can with men.
It makes sense then that after a divorce, our friendships can be immense reservoir of love, and an outlet to vent or process our all over on any given day, emotions. This begs the question, if we lose our friends whilst in a relationship or marriage, because we emotionally displaced them, who will have our backs after the relationship ends? Friendships to me can be as valuable as any romantic relationship. They need to be nurtured and honored appropriately.
I value myself more
It’s easy to lose one’s sense of self trying to be everything for a man. His mother, therapist, lover, health coach, and career adviser. As women, we try or may have tried to be everything to support a man in our lives. That meant for a lot of us, giving up ourselves. Decentering men re-shifts the focus on our needs and inclinations. This increases our sense of self-worth and self-esteem. I now value my time, energy, and peace of mind way more than any man.
I’m cultivating an intimate relationship of self-love and self-care. It’s refreshing and empowering to know that I alone can be my ultimate source of love and care.
There are many reasons to decenter men in our lives and focus more on ourselves — especially after a breakup or divorce, when our emotional bodies are still raw and need soothing. Life can provide so many other avenues of meaning and love that we don’t have to get it all from a romantic relationship or a marriage. We can develop relationships with ourselves, friends, our pets, and communities. Let’s reclaim our agency as women. We are beautiful and capable beings who can make great things happen. Let’s become more intentional with our lives, we are our own hero.
Dr. Egypt Iredia is a multi-passionate creative, poet, and writer. She is also a holistic medical doctor, natural healer, and self-love advocate. Her work centers around exploring the intersection of female empowerment, authenticity, intentional living, and creativity. Find more of her writing at https://www.
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