Monday, October 21, 2013

You Complete Me: Why Many Women Still Believe They Need a Man to Complete Themselves by Anne McCarthy Strauss

Time has changed the need to have a partner, or a traditional partner, in our society.  Gone are the days when you declined a wedding invitation because you didn’t have a “date.”  Today, you can go alone or bring a friend – female or male.
Yet, despite this cosmic societal shift, there are still countless women who believe, despite having an education, a career, a plethora of friends, and their own financial stability, that they are incomplete if they lack a boyfriend or husband.
I’m all too familiar with this dynamic because I lived it throughout 25 years of dating the wrong men.  During those years, I experienced an almost gravitational pull toward men who were narcissistic, passive aggressive, or verbally abusive.  It took decades of therapy and reading such intelligent self-help books as Women Who Love Too Much, Smart Women, Foolish Choices and dozens like them for me to allow myself the gift of a loving and supportive husband.
Unfortunately, one of the last places the shift toward being a whole person without a relationship has occurred is in Little Girl Lit.  It is startling to me that “toddler women” who are in their most impressionable years are still being brought up on Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and stories of other fictitious young women whose lives don’t begin until they’ve met their prince.  The result is a new generation of women who think they are incomplete without a man. 
Many women gravitate toward men with obvious flaws.  Do they truly believe that a flawed man is better than no man at all?  And, once established in these abusive relationships, why is it so difficult for them to let the defective partner go?
In many cases, the road leads back to a childhood that was marred by abuse.  Classically co-dependent, many of these women date and even marry men whose flaws are mammoth.  The imprint of their childhood remains in their psyche, just waiting to be filled again.  And when it is, it feels so right – at first.  Initially, it’s like going home, no matter how dysfunctional that home might have been.
Statistics show that as many as 90 percent of women who accept abuse as adults report that they were abused as children.  Unfortunately, persons these women trust to help them with their addiction to abusive relationships, may abuse them even further.  There are far too many stories of psychologists and medical doctors who take advantage of women who come to them for help, in some cases, even incorporating sex into their therapy. 
These fragile women are as innocent as children who are molested by priests, teachers and other authority figures.  This is because the nature of the doctor-patient dynamic puts the doctor in a position of authority – not unlike a priest or a teacher – and the patient is considered less than an equal in the relationship.  Given that, she cannot truly consent to a sexual relationship with her doctor.
In my novel, A Medical Affair, a successful young woman has no memory of her childhood abuse.  When she experiences a life-threatening asthma attack she meets and falls for a doctor whose actions jog the memory of her hideous childhood experience.  Under the pretext of helping her, he convinces her to reenact the horrific scene.  The reader learns that any medical doctor who conducts an affair with a current patient is violating medical ethics and, in many states, the law itself.  The reader will learn just what to do to bring her doctor to justice if she finds herself involved in sexual activity with him, even if it is under the guise of love.
I wrote A Medical Affair and dedicated it “to every doctor’s favorite patient” for one overarching reason.  I want women to know that, when your doctor is paying more attention to you than he should, you are not being flattered, you are being victimized.


While under the care of her pulmonologist after a life-threatening asthma attack, Heather Morrison enters into an affair with her doctor. This affair violates the state’s code of conduct and his medical treatment violates the Hippocratic oath. Heather’s life is shattered as a result. After the doctor terminates the relationship, Heather begins research for her own healing, and armed with this information, she initiates a civil lawsuit. Although it is a work of fiction, A Medical Affair was extensively researched. A Medical Affair is a critical book for women who want to make educated decisions regarding their relationships with their doctors.


  1. This is a really interesting blog post Anne. I have read a lot of the books you have and spent several years on my own finding out how to be happy alone before I eventually met and married my husband. I am very interested in how repressed memories eventually work their way out and get replayed within our current relationships. A Medical Affair is just the sort of novel I enjoy. I'm off to check it out now!

    1. Hi Ruth,
      Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your experience. The tragically large number of women who are taken advantage of by their medical doctors is astounding. If A Medical Affair keeps one woman from making this mistake, I've done my job.
      Congratulations on allowing yourself the gift of a healthy marriage.
      I hope you will read and enjoy A Medical Affair.