As strong, successful women, it can be challenging to let our hair down, even in our own relationships. I spent the better part of 2 years interviewing relationship coaches and psychologists for my upcoming book, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. During that time, I realized just how misguided I’d been in my own dating life as I tried to find Mr. Right.
Like you, I’m someone who’s extremely passionate about my career. It was natural for me to share details of my ambition and drive on first dates. As someone who was also raised to stand on her own two feet, I felt that chivalrous acts – like letting him pay – sent the wrong signals.
Now I realize why those first dates rarely carried to a second.
It’s because I wasn’t exactly “stepping into my feminine,” and playing up the fact that, at the end of the day, I’m an alluring woman with charisma, charm and a love for things beyond just my career… and the person across the candlelit table (or bar) ought to learn that. Because as a man, he’s attracted to that.
By emphasizing my femininity, I complement his masculinity.
Women sometimes equate being feminine with men to being weak. But it’s still important to claim the feminity. Men want to be men and are often worried about women turning away from that. It’s up to us to give them permission to follow their instincts.
This topic can be slightly controversial, but relationship experts tell me it’s essential for men and women to connect.
Men these days don’t know how to act around women. Couples coaches and therapists encounter men who feel insecure, or like failures because they feel like they “just can’t get it right.”
The women need to take the lead in letting them feel comfortable in treating us like ladies.
There’s a way to maintain your self respect while still playing up your femininity.
Even as we throw gender roles up in the air, some of our instincts and expectations as men and women must be respected and nurtured, if for nothing else, to establish healthy and lasting relationships.
Consider these 4 simple and effective ways to play up your feminine power and build intimacy with your partner.
1. Talk up your passions, not promotion.
You should be extremely proud of your professional success, but talking up your work accomplishments is not exactly the best first date material, says relationship guru Marni Battista. It can kill the potential for connecting on a personal level.
We don’t want first date conversations to be about work. Then it’s a business meeting. You’re networking,” Battista says.
Of course, mention what you do, but steer the conversation towards a discussion about your passions and discuss specifically what it is about your career that’s meaningful to you.
When you talk about the personal part of your job, it’s a whole other conversation, says Battista. And one that’s sure to create more sparks.
Try saying this, instead: “One of the things I love about my job is I get to make an impact. I love what I do because I get to be on the forefront of change.”
Or, if asked what you do, turn it into a game at first and act coy. Start with this: “What do you think I do? Take a guess!”
No need to get down to business so fast on the first date. Leave the nitty gritty for next time, says Battista.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Chivalry.
His chivalrous acts (opening doors for you, offering his jacket when it’s cold outside) and letting him choose the restaurant or pick up the tab can be tough to accept when you’re an independent lady. It may seem like you’re “letting go of control,” being vulnerable and stepping backwards in time.
But these gender-driven gestures – no matter how antiquated – can benefit the relationship.
They help him feel more masculine and you, more feminine. And there’s absolutely nothing shameful about that.
In our relationships, it’s important to remember how biology and social conditioning shapes our expectations and instincts. Men generally feel the desire to be the “alpha” in order to feel attractive. Women, no matter how much money we make, still want to be “taken care of” in some capacity by their mate.
So, “step into your feminine,” as Battista coaches, and allow him to take the lead sometimes in social settings. It’s an easy way to respect each other’s instincts and grow closer.
3. Ask for His Help…Even When You Don’t Really Need It.
As women, we’re exceptionally good at asking for help. We’re strong in that way.
In our relationships, though, we can sometimes forget to involve our partners and ask for his help.
Truth is, we can probably handle most things on our own, but when you’re in a partnership, asking for his help, even when you don’t quite need it, is another way to demonstrate respect.
As couples coach Kavita J. Patel explains, in order to feel deeply satisfied in their relationships, men want to make their women happy and provide for them in some way. So, take advantage of that!
He may not be taking care of you “financially” but what are some other ways – big and small – that he can provide? “Get vulnerable and let him in some way, whether emotionally or physically,” says Patel.
Together, it’s important to have this conversation and position the talk in such a way where you are clear that by him taking on these responsibilities or tasks, it’s a huge, huge help. That word has proven to be very powerful.
4. Continue to find ways to play up your feminine.
Gender roles are very much up in the air right now. And that’s a good, progressive thing.
But it’s also good to have some comforting reminders of what you can do that’s exciting for both the woman and the man.
Take a look at how you operate on a daily basis, and have some fun finding the spots where you can play with your femininity.
For example, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of putting on sweatpants as soon as I get home. It’s to the point where my husband will jokingly say, “Sweatpants already?” But when I get dressed up to go out, he always tells me how nice I look. So, as comfortable as those sweatpants are, I could make more of an effort to bring the sexy back.
Farnoosh Torabi is the author of the forthcoming book, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. If you want to thrive in your relationship (and in your career and motherhood) as the top-earner or as a money-savvy woman, then this book has the goods you need.