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Abandoning Gender Rules to Find Love

Part Two

written by Ken Page, LCSW December 3, 2019
Abandoning Gender Rules to Find Love

There are specific gender rules that men and women have been led to believe that they must follow. And these stereotypes are hurting your chances of finding love. However, these stereotypes are finally being questioned. No one is sure how they are supposed to behave. Additionally, they are affecting modern dating and making it difficult for people to connect with another person. The LGBTQA community is trying to find where they fit into the gender roles and stereotypes. Luckily, these roles are being questioned. It’s time we learn to be authentic and stop hurting our relationships.

Let’s revisit Susan’s date.

Go for Authenticity Even When It’s Scary

Scenario one: Susan decides that she’s going to let herself share all of her excitement with Jim. She’s just going to be her. This is who I am. It’s who I want to be, and I’m really proud. If that makes him uncomfortable, then I am dating the wrong guy.

So she does this; she’s herself, and Jim is kind of awkward. You know, he congratulates her. She could tell, though, that he feels intimidated or maybe not even interested. She leaves the date feeling kind of disappointed but clear on who she is and what she’s looking for.

Scenario two: Susan decides once again that she’s going to be her full self, and she’s going to let herself share all her excitement with Jim. And he is thrilled. He’s thrilled for her. He’s really proud of her. She could tell that he really likes her for the story that she told. They celebrate together, even kind of loudly sometimes. She feels seen and appreciated while in her power, and they both feel closer. Best of all, she feels like Jim gets her.

Susan, in scenarios one and two, has learned one of the greatest lessons of modern dating and healthy love: When you’re faced with a choice between gender conformity and authentic expression, try to go for authenticity, even when it’s scary.

We’re in Such a Weird Place

Culturally, we’re in such a weird place because the toothpaste is partly out of the tube, and it can’t go back in. It’s not all the way out, though, and we’re all kind of confused. Women who are very empowered say and feel, “You know, I like it when a guy offers to pay for the first meal. I think that’s a really nice thing.”

We have to honor where we are in the process and be authentic even in those ways, too. The thing that breaks my heart, and I’ve seen it again and again, is when women feel like if they’re really themselves, they’re going to scare men away.

I remember a man saying to me once, a really wonderful, competent, attractive person who was in one of my groups, who said, “You know Ken, I know I’m an Alpha Guy, and I’ll always be the last or middle in line, never first in line.” And I looked at him, and I knew that he was so wrong. There were countless women out there who would have been interested in someone just like him.

So, when it comes to gender roles, we have been taught terribly, horribly wrong. For example, we’re taught that opposites attract, and yes, they do, but there can be all different kinds of opposites. They don’t have to be gender-typical opposites.

There Is No One Size Fits All

There can be opposites in different areas. Someone can be wildly creative, and someone else could be very planted in the ground, and that could turn the hell on about each other. It doesn’t have to be gender opposites, stereotypical gender opposites, that attract each other. But similarities also can attract each other.

Two predominantly expressive people of any gender can totally fall deeply in love, as can two predominantly instrumental people. In fact, there’s fabulous research showing that spouses with similarity in gender roles are actually more happily married. Why does nobody tell us this? How are we still believing these same crazy myths?

Masculine qualities and feminine qualities exist in every one of us. There is no one size that fits all, and we cannot assume that all women are essentially feminine or all men are essentially masculine, or that all men are attracted to women and women to men.

The choice of personal expression is fluid, and it’s limitless.

The goal is freedom from any kind of hardwired fear of expressing who we really are. Research backs this up. For example, really masculine husbands and really feminine wives actually typically feel less understanding, less love, and less contentment in their marriages. On the other hand, couples with nontraditional gender roles are shown to have more satisfying sex lives.

You know, again and again, I have watched clients cross those electrified tripwires of gender taboo and discover that the parts of themselves that they were frightened to embrace actually held a key to their finding happiness in love.

Take a Drop of Risk

Now we’re going to do what we always do and kind of bring this to you and your journey. I’m going to ask you some questions here.

In your relationships, in your creative pursuits, in your sex life for that matter, have you ever felt timid to express something because it crosses some subtle or not so subtle gender taboo roles? I’m raising my hand. That’s for sure. I suggest that you take just a drop of risk in breaking or bending those gender rules, and just watch what happens, what power emerges, what depths of the self.

It’s really true, folks. Those qualities that we feel timid to reveal because we feel too masculine or feminine, when we don’t reveal them, we’re on that wobbly ladder, cause we’re not us. And when we reveal them, I promise you there are folks who are going to love you for just that. When we reveal them, and we decide we only want people who are going to love us for just that, our world’s change. And when we find those people…that’s happiness.

Finding Happiness

You will be happy once you meet that person who loves what they see. When you meet that person or let’s say that you’re in a relationship already and you like to stretch a little bit in these areas. And you find that your partner likes it. Oh, you will be so happy. You really will.

So thankfully, there are more and more psychotherapists, teachers, experts, and coaches who value authenticity over traditional gender roles, embrace and welcome the LGBTQA community, encourage their clients, patients, readers, and students to cross the lines of gender taboo in their own journeys of discovery.

We’ll be talking about all of this a lot more in future episodes. I’m going to be talking about how women and men can experience breakthroughs in their intimate lives by breaking free of outdated gender roles, and what psychotherapists, coaches, and dating experts can do to help their clients do that.

It’s a wide, wide world and we’re held back around gender taboos in ways that really hold us back more than we even realize.

There is liberation when we embody the taboo, expressive and instrumental part of ourselves in our relationship. Here’s another thing, it’s really sexy to do that. Because it’s scary. And a little bit of scary is really sexy in the right kind of context. You will feel a sense of thrill as you do this.

The Missing Link Toward a Level of Fullness

I remember being in a workshop once where the most macho guys in the workshop (I was not one of them) had to wear dresses. They were told to put on dresses and go out into the street. These were like some really tough guys. And they did it. They later said that it was one of the absolute most liberating experiences of their lives.

I’m not telling you to do that. What I’m saying is those orphaned parts of you that are a little more expressive than you feel comfortable with, and a little more instrumental than you feel comfortable with, are actually the missing link toward a level of fullness and intimacy and eros and joy and meaning that may have previously alluded you.

It’s a rich world out there. Please subscribe to the Deeper Dating Podcast, and meanwhile, please leave reviews and comments. Thank you all for being part of my community.

This is Part Two of a two-part series. Find Part One here.

Transcript Notes: This article is essentially a direct transcription of my talk or interview. Subscribe and listen to the podcast here.

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