Five weeks ago, I began a coach-coachee relationship with a woman who did not believe that she deserved an equal relationship. As you will hear her describe, a lot of her views were based on her upbringing and the types of men she was used to dating. I am happy to say that after only a couple of sessions, she has completely turned around. As a homework assignment, I asked her to write an essay that described her change in perspective. I found her words and her passion for those words to be so inspiring, I just had to share. I have cut and pasted that essay in its entirety below, unedited.
“But he really is a great guy.”
“I don’t want to be selfish.”
“No one is perfect.”
Do these statements sound familiar? Let’s ask another question. Do I deserve equality in a relationship? No matter how foreign this may seem to you, the answer is a resounding yes. So, why do I deserve equality in a relationship? The following article will explore reasons why women deserve equality in relationships and why that equality is a necessity. Let’s start with the most basic reasons:
I am a human being, created by God, equal in standing before Him regardless of gender. Different, but equal. Don’t confuse the two. Even writing this, it’s sinking in. I grew up with a skewed view where the man basically gets to do whatever he wants and the rest of the household should just go along with it. A relationship like that is only at its best at survival status, with one person at the mercy of another’s thoughts and emotions. There is no basis for anything other than equality. Lies built around faulty views of submission are just that, lies. This is not a license to feel the need to be better than a man, nor to demean him or his entire population. In perfect confidence of who I am as a loved, purposeful creation, neither my gender, nor my future spouse’s carries any weight in the qualification of giving and receiving love and respect. Each of these relationship necessities must be pursued and held in esteem equally by both people in order for any relationship to achieve a thriving unity based on mutual love and respect.
I am a smart, capable lover of life. Why should that be stripped from me in a relationship? Although I am a frog personality, as validated in the “What Animal Are You?” quiz on mazeoflove.com, I don’t tend to give in a romantic relationship unless the guy has initiated and has given and pursued. This can be a very good thing, especially in light of my personality tendencies, which lean towards empathy and service. However, while I can be exuberant in friendships and enjoy generating ideas, I have felt shut down in this area in a dating relationship. Why? Because I was programmed not to steal the guy’s thunder in any way. Sure, there is no problem with a guy having to pursue, but not at the expense of losing a valued part of myself. I love experiencing life and trying new things, doing new things. If equal does in fact mean equal, then to have a healthy relationship, I need to let this part of myself shine. IF (Yes, that “IF” is in caps for a reason.) he is actively giving in the relationship as well, I don’t have to freak out about bringing up ideas or expressing experiential passions and activities. I personally need to date someone who is energized by the mutual sharing of ideas, and not hide that, just as other women may need to not hide other aspects of themselves for the “good” of the other person. Each person needs to be spurred on and excited about themselves, their partner, and life because of shared enjoyment and collaboration.
Inequality hides and removes the ability of individuals to remain true to themselves, which is imperative to wholeness. By removing the full potential and personhood of one half of the relationship, well, it’s like having a bike with two tires, but only one has air. If I am viewed as a lesser person or part in the relationship, neither my partner nor I will ever become the best we can be individually or together. I am undeniably worth equality. The man I am dating is also worth relational equality, if he is, in fact, a man worthy of potential marriage. If he’s not, then I should not be in that relationship anyways. Inequality can go both ways. I am a great catch, but only if I’m true to myself. If I deny the very things that make me me and make me a successful friend and employee, I am denying both of us of the best catch either of us has ever met. By subduing the potential that is held within the layers of each of us, I lay the foundation for overall deflation. Lessening myself to make someone else feel better about themselves will never lead to a quality relationship. Me being me will attract the kind of guy I want, not the kind of guy I can justify.
Equality is not a favor or an added bonus. It is a must and one we are created for. On a plane I was once sitting next to an older couple who were clearly still very much adoring, connected, and comfortable with themselves and each other. I asked them what the secret was. The man, whom I was sitting directly next to, said, “Each person has to give 110%. Sometimes you’ll end up giving or getting more or less, but you need to shoot over the mark to hit it.” Obviously, this mindset worked for them. Personally, I want…just kidding…need someone with this mindset. I love to give, but if I feel out of balance, I will shut down and/or feel resentful, which creates walls. This hits on one of the negatives when equality does not exist. True love is only realized when both people feel loved, heard, and valued in the relationship.
To put it simply, and as renowned relationship coach Chris Armstrong says, “You teach people how to treat you.” If I want to be with someone who wants to love me, which is the only kind of person I will date, I need to let him know how to love me…and how not to. Too many times in the past I have justified, ignored, or simply kept quiet. Equality celebrates the best of both genders, cultures, and personalities with the intention and freedom to create one open, honest, and of course, fun, relationship by joining two dynamic and different, but always equal, people.