December’s rolling in, signaling the end of another year and bringing with it all the holiday vibes and reflections. This month’s been a whirlwind for me—I’m packing up from my two-year stint in the USA to head off to a whole new country next year. (More on that in my upcoming stories!)
Between all the hustle, I managed to catch up with friends, and it got me thinking about the importance of kick-ass relationships in our lives and how they fuel our growth. As a feminist navigating the realms of entrepreneurship, I’ve often encountered prevailing misconceptions. I’ve heard whispers that “Feminists die single” or that “No man can handle you,” as if being a fiercely independent, imaginative, and ambitious woman is somehow a deterrent to partnership.
Apparently, being a go-getter woman with big dreams is a man-repellent! Truth is, I’ve been flying solo for a bit after a long marriage that taught me some hard lessons. I’ve been steering clear of diving into anything new, afraid of winding up in the wrong kind of thing again. Yet, recent encounters with remarkable couples have reignited a spark of hope within me. Peering into the intricacies of relationships I deeply admire; I’ve discerned intriguing patterns that challenge conventional stereotypes. Sneaking a peek into their relationship magic, I’ve noticed some seriously interesting patterns!
Being a partner to someone who identifies as a feminist can bring unique dynamics and considerations to a relationship, but at its core, it’s fundamentally about respecting and supporting the principles of gender equality and equity. So, here is an 11-point list which John and Jannet (A pseudo couple name and this could be you!) follow in their relationship, which I noticed during my interactions with them!
- Active Listening & Open Communication: Active listening builds trust and intimacy. When partners listen attentively, it validates feelings, fosters understanding, and strengthens emotional bonds, creating a supportive environment. E.g. John noticed his partner, Janet, had a stressful day. Instead of multitasking, he put aside his laptop, made eye contact, and actively listened to her. He asked clarifying questions, showing genuine interest. Janet felt heard and appreciated, strengthening their connection.
- Respect for Boundaries: Respecting boundaries signifies respect for individuality. It fosters a sense of safety and trust, allowing partners to be themselves without fear, which is essential for a healthy and secure relationship. When Janet needed alone time to work on a project, Her partner, John, not only respected her space but encouraged and supported her endeavor. His understanding reinforced their trust and brought them closer.
- Equal Responsibility Sharing: After a long day, Janet found the house messy. Without hesitation, John took charge of chores and dinner. It wasn’t seen as “helping,” but rather sharing responsibilities equally, making Janet feel supported. Sharing responsibilities equally cultivates fairness and teamwork. It prevents feelings of resentment and imbalance, nurturing a partnership built on cooperation and mutual support. What’s more interesting is that Janet never had to shout or nag John for putting the dishes into the washer or remind him to switch off the kitchen lights!
- Commitment to Education: John displayed a remarkable willingness to engage in discussions revolving around Janet’s passions and interests, particularly in gender equality matters. His openness to actively listen, contribute meaningfully, and partake in these conversations without a hint of judgment spoke volumes about his support for Janet’s endeavors and his genuine interest in understanding her perspective on these critical issues. A commitment to learning about gender equality and her interested subjects demonstrates an investment in the partner’s experiences and a shared goal of creating a more equitable world, fostering shared values and understanding.
- Challenging Norms: Challenging societal norms creates a space for open dialogue and growth. It shows a willingness to evolve, fostering an environment where both partners can challenge and grow beyond societal constraints. During a gathering, Janet’s partner, John, challenged a sexist joke. His willingness to confront such behavior, even casually, made Janet proud and showed his dedication to equality.
- Allyship: At a work meeting, Janet noticed her partner, John, amplifying the ideas of female colleagues. His advocacy for women’s voices in professional spaces showcased his support beyond their relationship. He supported promoting women’s leadership in his organization. Being an ally demonstrates unwavering support, not just within the relationship but in broader social contexts. It fosters a sense of solidarity and shared values, strengthening the foundation of the relationship.
- Encouragement of Ambitions: When Janet hesitated about a career opportunity, John was her biggest supporter. He not only encouraged her but also helped outline a plan to achieve her goals, showing unwavering support. Janet also shared how John was willing to work around his career shifts to suit her ambitions as well. Supporting each other’s ambitions encourages personal growth and fulfillment. It builds confidence and reinforces the idea that both partners are invested in each other’s success and happiness.
- Empathy through Emotional Openness: John openly shares his feelings with Janet, seeking comfort during overwhelming moments. Janet, in response, listened attentively, validating John’s emotions without trying to immediately solve the issue. Their mutual emotional openness and understanding created a safe space for vulnerability, strengthening their bond through empathetic connection. Practicing empathy creates an environment of emotional support. It allows partners to feel seen and understood, strengthening the emotional connection between them.
- Respect for Autonomy: Despite a differing decision, when Janet chose a different path, John respected her choice without attempting to sway her decision, fostering autonomy within their relationship. Respecting autonomy fosters independence and mutual respect. It acknowledges each other’s agency, promoting trust and a sense of freedom within the relationship.
- Quality Time Together: John and Janet found solace and strength in spending meaningful moments together. Whether it was exploring shared interests, engaging in heartfelt conversations, or simply enjoying each other’s company, their commitment to quality time fostered a deep connection and understanding between them. Quality time together is vital as it builds emotional intimacy, strengthens communication, and creates shared experiences that form the bedrock of a lasting connection between partners. It reinforces commitment and reduces stress, fostering growth and a deeper bond within the relationship.
- Commitment to Growth: John actively sought out resources, initiating conversations to deepen his understanding of mutual growth. His dedication to personal growth continually reinforced shared values with his partner, Janet. Their joint exploration of these topics not only strengthened their bond but also underscored their commitment to evolving together and fostering mutual understanding and growth. Committing to personal growth together encourages continuous improvement. It demonstrates a shared dedication to evolving as individuals and as a couple, fostering mutual support and understanding.
As we reflect on these insights, I encourage men to step into the role of supportive allies for their feminist partners. And as John Gottman, the famous relationship expert says, “ What men do in relationships is, by a large margin, the crucial factor that separates a great relationship from a failed one”. When the world is moving towards more empowered women, men’s role as allies becomes more and more significant.
As the new year approaches, my heartfelt wish is for men and women to flourish together. Let these principles of equality, empathy, and mutual growth guide us toward relationships rooted in respect and understanding.
Here’s to a year where stereotypes are shattered, where communication and shared values reign, fostering a future where we uplift each other in every endeavor.
Here’s to thriving side by side, embracing the beauty of unity and equality in the coming year.
Universal Love and Abundance