Thursday, February 18, 2016

Downside of Equality

A romantic relationship is a partnership. Like any partnership, the parties may be equal but they are not the same. Each has individual roles and responsibilities. Those roles and responsibilities may change per circumstance or even over time. Those roles and responsibilities should be determined by the parties involved, not outside influences (e.g. family, society, etc). The parties may choose to have "traditional" roles and responsibilities, but it should actually be a choice and based on what is best for the relationship rather than due to outside pressures.

In many parts of the world, the rights of women have increased. While I am an advocate for women's equality and would even suggest more improvement is needed in many social areas (not just geographical areas), the social equality of women has come with an unfortunate downside.


One downside is some women have transitioned to a competitive relationship with men. "What men can do women can do better." While that idea might be useful and motivating in the workplace (or not, depending on your perspective), it has no place in a romantic relationship. A successful romantic relationship cannot have any kind of male-female competition in it.

Unlike men who can often be competitive and still maintain a very close relationship (though not always), competition for women almost always results in negative feelings associated with the other person. These negative feelings will result in a breakdown, or break-up, of a relationship unless very decisive steps are taken to prevent it - which rarely happens because the negative impact of the competition is not even recognized until it is too late.

Which brings me back to a romantic relationship being a partnership. A close partnership, even a business partnership, cannot survive long-term direct competition. Competition suggests winners and losers. Continuous tallying of wins and loses in a close relationship will eventually cause either arrogance by the winner or resentment by the loser, maybe both. Even just one will cause the relationship to deteriorate. This is human nature, whether male or female.

In general, the only person anyone should be in competition with is themselves. Strive to make your future self better than your present and past self - for yourself.


The second down-side results from women taking the lead in the relationship from the beginning - initiating the exchange of phone numbers, asking him out on a date, making the first move for physical intimacy.* I am not suggesting women cannot, or should not, do these things.

What I am suggesting is that women should be confident but must be smart. Showing initiative is how we get what we want in life - at least that is the common belief today. To some extent that is true. You usually do not get what you do not ask for or work for.


I find it amazing that many people seem to think that accepted human behavior in life does not apply to intimate relationships. For example, to suggest the dating ritual, even the marital relationship, should have some elements of challenge will cause some people to turn purple with outrage over sexism or accusations of manipulation, while others will simply ignore it as archaic thought.

But the reality is that men really do get emotional boosts as a result of challenges. Some women do as well - I am one of them. I need challenges in my life and get bored, even sad, if I do not have some project I am working on or some goal I am working toward. While I often have large projects, like a book, in the works, even rearranging the furniture or reorganizing my office files will fulfill that need for me. Further, I think all people appreciate things they worked for more than things that were handed to them or came "too easy."
  • Initiating contact with someone you are interested in can demonstrate your confidence and make a man feel flattered.  Rejection is also possible, or you might just have a nice conversation and widen your circles of friends or social contacts. 
  • Offering your phone number or initiating the exchange of phone numbers can also demonstrate your confidence as well as help a guy out who is hesitant to ask for your number. However, there are several potential red flags here.
While some men will be appreciative of the overture and follow-up, other men will take this as too easy, lacking challenge.

If a man interprets a woman's overtures as too easy or unchallenging, his reaction will be either no interest at all, or only a short-term sexual encounter interest.  Unless that is what you want as well, be very careful how you proceed (e.g. not having sex on first date) because players will particularly take advantage of this opportunity without a thought about you personally. Just because a man calls you or joins you on a date, does not mean he is interested in you beyond a sexual encounter.

Male Hesitation

A man's hesitation to ask for your number, other than just not being interested, usually has two sources. Either recent social trends have caused him to worry about offending women by asking for their number, or he is shy.

We as a society have definitely sent mixed signals to men about how to pursue women. If the hesitation is the result of social mixed signals, there is rarely a reason to worry. Once the numbers are exchanged, communication is the best method for letting each other know how you want to be treated. His interest, if he actually has any, will become evident after this initial hesitation.

If the hesitation is due to shyness, you need to pay attention very early to what that means. Slightly shy or introvert personalities are only hesitant with people they do not know. Once they get more comfortable with a person, the shyness and hesitation will lesson. Again, his interest, if he actually has any, will become evident once he gets to know you a little.

If, however, the shyness is due to a lack of self-confidence or lack of motivation, it is a red flag that should be explored. Everyone has some self-confidence issues. However, a very low level of self confidence, or lack of personal motivation, potentially means the initiating women may end up being in the driver's seat for the entire relationship. She will always be making the decisions and pushing him to do more, personally and professionally.  The load will become heavy from constantly carrying him and the relationship.

While the strength of women, what they can handle, is well documented, women's shoulders are not built for long-term carrying of men. Doing so will eventually, even if years down the road, lead to exhaustion - manifesting into resentment and disrespect of the man. No woman will stay with a man once she loses all respect for him, unless she just likes being miserable or enjoys total domination. No woman wants to be in a relationship where she is constantly carrying the man or leading him by the nose. Few men in this position will be willing, or able, to provide any woman's needs - emotional or otherwise.

Do yourself a favor by determining up front if your confident behavior is simply opening the door for him or leading him by the nose.

Physical Intimacy

It is best that a woman deeply consider what she wants and pays attention to whether what she does results in what she wants. She can do some initiating in the start of the relationship, but she will learn more about the man (e.g. his character, his intentions, his motivations, etc.) if she simply opens the door rather than becomes the driving force, or worse, his plaything.

  • Being the first to initiate sex in the relationship is also totally acceptable for a woman (from an equality and liberation standpoint), especially if the relationship has already been established or the woman has consciously decided she is only looking for a short-term sexual encounter.* Otherwise it has the same downsides as initiating the exchange of numbers: too easy (no challenge), just sex (being used for sex), or setting yourself up as the heavy-lifter in the relationship. This is in addition to the multitude of other emotional issues that attach for women once sex is introduced into a relationship.

If you are important to him, you will see it in his actions - especially during the dating stage because everyone is on their best behavior in the dating stage. If you do not see it in his actions, you are not important to him. It is that simple.

Men and women are equal but they are not, and frankly can never be, the same. Women must understand that men think differently than women. That men interpret things differently than women. That actions by men do not have the same meaning for men as they do for women.

We can be mad about it, feel it is unfair, even give it negative political labels all day, but it is still the reality.

Making decisions based on false information or assumptions (including the other party's intentions), and especially not being honest with yourself about what you want, will lead to negative consequences - whether emotional or physical.

* Regardless of any moral code, men have been openly having sexual relations outside marriage since the beginning of time. Also since the beginning of time, women have been having sex secretly and only recently have been more open about it. (If women weren't, who exactly were men having sex with since the beginning of time?) This is true in absolutely ALL cultures even though many pretend it does not, even today. I am neither advocating that a woman have, or not have, sex outside marriage. This is a personal choice. My intention is to help women understand themselves, issues that are (or could be) part of any dating ritual (regardless of the inclusion or exclusion of possible physical intimacy), and how men think differently. My role is to provide information so that women can make more informed decisions.

** Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a diversity expert and motivational speaker for The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

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