“Like A Guy” – Gender Norms in Relationships

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Some thoughts on “gender roles” in relationships. As much as I would like to play the role of the girlfriend wanting/needing her boyfriend to protect her and hold out his hand for her and open doors and stuff for her, like I think it would be fun to play that role for a while, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the ultimate relationship goal for me.

I want to be treated like an equal. Here’s what I’ve realized. I have been socialized to want to be pampered and protected, but I’ve ALSO realized that I can be brave and protect myself “like a guy.” A guy looks out for himself and others, and I’ve realized that I can do that.

As petty as this sounds, I can kill my own bugs and carry my own bags. So while playing the role and having a guy look out for me in those things would be nice for a time, that’s not the kind of relationship I want to be in in the long run.

I want a relationship where a guy treats me like an equal and vice versa. Because here’s what I’ve realized.

I can be more “like a guy” than I thought. I haven’t had a guy around to kill the spiders for me, dispose of dead mice, or walk me home at night. I’ve done those things by myself/on my own. And as weird as this sounds, I think I sometimes actually like doing these things more because I feel empowered. Like “Hey, I can do these things for myself; am capable.”

A guy takes the lead and does the scary stuff because that’s what he’s expected/forced to do (I also acknowledge for some, both men and women, this may come naturally, yet I am pointing out that as a whole this is how males are socialized), and I’ve realized I can this it too; it’s just that I’ve never been expected/forced to do it before so it doesn’t come naturally at first.

I want to be allowed to be my best in a relationship, in life, and in general. Consistently deferring and depending on a man’s strength in a life-long relationship isn’t for me.

Anais Nin couldn’t have said it better:

“I, with a deeper instinct,

choose a man who compels my strength,

who makes enormous demands on me,

who does not doubt my courage or my toughness,

who does not believe me naïve or innocent,

who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

*Please note that I am referencing overarching cultural stereotypes and norms for men and women, but obviously acknowledge that these broad assumptions do not apply to all men and women.

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