Women endure their fair share of “shoulds” when it comes to romantic relationships. We’ve all heard it said that women ought to be unfailingly gentle, softspoken, and nurturing; we’ve felt the pressure to be meek and passive so as to fit a specific mold. But many women felt this mold didn’t allow for personality differences and the expression of our authentic selves.
So, on the other end of what women are told they “should” be, many women today are convinced that to display any of the traditionally feminine traits, such as tenderness, helpfulness, kindness, or supportiveness, is to be inadequate – second to masculinity.
Somehow, along the way to gaining equal rights, respect, and independence, we got it in our heads that our femininity had been the problem all along – that masculinity truly was the preferred method of being, and that any woman who wanted to be respected would have to quit being so feminine.
This has led us to a generation of women who, upon hearing the words, “embrace femininity in your relationship,” might recoil or cringe. But embracing your femininity in your romantic relationship is actually one of the best things you can do – here’s why and how.
Reframe Your Understanding of Femininity
As soon as the majority of young women were persuaded to believe that femininity is silly, weak, and useless, especially when compared to masculinity, sexism won. But sadly, it’s hardly uncommon to see this line of thinking with women today. Kindness is seen as worthless; instead, we’re encouraged to be aggressive. Emotionality is seen as unstable; instead, we’re told to be more ruthless. The pursuit of motherhood is seen as a waste; instead, we’re convinced to devote our life to work.
Here’s the thing – women can be assertive, stalwart, and career-minded. The issue is that we think the only way to be seen as capable is to become more masculine, rather than embrace these positive traits in a way that’s natural to us and honors our femininity and inclinations.
In order to embrace our femininity in our relationship, we have to reframe our understanding of femininity as unique from but equal in value to masculinity.
When women were persuaded to believe that femininity is silly, weak, and useless compared to masculinity, sexism won.
Learn To Love Your Nature
Maybe you’ve felt the pressure to be less sensitive; maybe you’ve been treated like you’re crazy for being upset about something; maybe you got advice to “man up” in order to be taken seriously; maybe your kindness and nurturing instinct have been taken advantage of.
Over the years, you might have learned to like your femininity less and less. But your femininity is worth valuing, embracing, and nurturing. Healthy femininity is sensitive and tenacious, compassionate and capable, warm and wise, lifegiving and confident.
When we see our femininity not as something to be a war with, but something to cultivate and be proud of, then we can begin to interact with it healthily and love it.
Seek To Balance Out Your Man Rather Than Compete
There’s a reason we think of our ideal boyfriend or husband as being the yin to our yang – we inherently desire balance. We want someone who will, both despite and because of our differences, make sense with us. And when we’re embracing our femininity in our relationship, this means we’re looking to balance out our man rather than compete with him.
This can look like seeking commitment and stability in your relationship, allowing yourself to be in touch with your emotions as well as being a safe place for your boyfriend or husband to express his own emotions, letting him pursue you, encouraging him to healthily embrace his masculinity, welcoming chivalrous acts that demonstrate real respect, and setting healthy emotional/sexual boundaries in the relationship.
So you might be thinking, all of this sounds great, but how do I actually embrace my femininity in a relationship, in a real life situation? What does it look like from day to day, or on a date? To give you a clear idea, here are small ways you can begin to lean into your femininity when you’re dating someone:
Let him open the door for you/be chivalrous
Graciously accept compliments (when they’re given respectfully)
Let him take the lead when it comes to initiation/be open to receiving and letting him set the tone
Encourage him to be emotionally open with you
Be a person from whom he can expect gentleness and empathy; seek to be a grounding, soft presence in his life
Allow yourself to nurture him (without becoming his mother)
Make him feel like a man (offer compliments, talk him up, support him)
Be spontaneous; follow his lead and ideas with optimism and enthusiasm
Relationships need balance in order to thrive. Because of this, femininity isn’t something to wish away, but instead, something to learn how to bring into your relationship.
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