Gender Expectations in Modern Relationships: Are We Really Capable?

Hey there, I’m Trudy Gilbert, and for nearly two decades, I’ve been the relationship confidant for countless couples. Picture this: a cosy office, two people sitting across from me, their stories of love, frustration, and hope unfolding before my eyes. That’s been my world, and let me tell you—it’s been an eye-opener.

As demands on the modern successful single increase, you feel well within your rights to expect more from every aspect of your lives. Your relationships are no exception. We work hard to have wonderful lives but in our need to have everything in our relationship, I raise this question… Are we pricing ourselves out of the market? 

Now, let’s cut to the chase. Today, I’m pulling back the curtain on a hot-button topic that keeps popping up in my sessions: the tangled web of gender expectations in today’s relationships. In a world where traditional ‘rules’ are being tossed out the window (and rightly so), men and women are both scrambling and struggling with what they ‘should’ be as partners. We’re stuck in this whirlwind of wanting our partners to be both our strong, dependable rock and our sensitive, nurturing, equal companion. It’s a conundrum, and it’s rearing its head in relationships everywhere.

So, here’s the million-dollar question: Are we setting ourselves a trap with these expectations? Are we asking for the moon and stars from our partners, setting them (and us) up for inevitable disappointment? Are we demanding a paradox—a partner who is equal parts leader and supporter, protector and best friend?

Well, today we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of what men and women are demanding of each other, and I’m calling it like I see it. Time for a reality check on what these demands do to our love lives, and whether they’re helping or hindering the love story we’re trying to write.

Buckle up—it’s time for some real talk.

The Modern Man’s Paradox

Let’s start with the gents. Picture this: a modern man who’s caught in a peculiar tug-of-war. On one side, he’s asking—no, demanding—that his partner step up her ‘masculine’ game. I’m not talking about a wardrobe switch-up or a new haircut; I’m talking traits. He wants her to be as chill as a Sunday morning, to love football like it’s her second religion, and to be the kind of woman his mates would high-five him for landing.

Here are some of the modern man’s ‘masculine’ demands for his partner:

  • “Be chill.” Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life’s a wave—ride it.
  • Be his best mate. Share a beer, cheer for his team, and win over his friends.
  • Keep the tears in check, especially over what he dubs the ‘little things.’
  • Stop ‘overthinking.’ Not everything is a deep, cryptic sign—sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.
  • Be exciting and adventurous. Surfing at sunrise, anyone?
  • Be financially independent. Split that dinner bill, or hey, maybe even pick up the whole tab sometimes.

But wait—plot twist. In the same breath, he’s yearning for that age-old feminine charm. He still wants her soft & nurturing… a queen who treats him like her king.

And so come the ‘feminine’ demands:

  • Be soft and sensitive. Make him feel needed, cherished, like he’s the hero in this love story.
  • When his mates are over, he wants that house spotless and those nachos legendary.
  • In bed? He’s looking for submission and a willingness to play out his fantasies.
  • When he’s down or unwell, he wants her to morph into the world’s most caring nurse.
  • And she must ace motherhood, juggling a stellar career and being there for the kids 100%.

Now, is it just me, or does this sound like a tall order—a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ kind of situation?

Gentlemen, I’m putting it on the table: Is this a fair ask, or are we venturing into the realm of fantasy here? And while you’re insisting on this fantasy are you trapped in the disposable dating app culture where you’re fooled into believing that with sooo many options on the apps, the perfect everything girl MUST be out there?

The Modern Woman’s Tightrope Walk

Alright, ladies, before you start a revolution maybe a check in the mirror is in order. It’s our turn in the spotlight, and let’s be real—it’s quite the spectacle we’re putting on. We’re asking for a modern-day ‘prince charming’, who’s both in touch with his feelings and ready to slay the dragons at our gates. Is this multi-talented hero a reality or a fantasy we’ve concocted in our heads?

Here’s the rundown on the ‘feminine’ traits we’re asking our men to embrace:

  • Equality is our mantra. We want our voice and our opinions, no matter the topic, to weigh just as heavily as his.
  • Listen—like, really listen. Not just nod and smile, but understand our deepest thoughts and feelings.
  • Don’t play Mr. Fix-It all the time; sometimes we just want a sympathetic ear, a glass of wine, and a warm bath waiting for us… (dinner in the oven)
  • Be thoughtful and sensitive. Show love with actions that scream, ‘I’m thinking of you’ around the clock.
  • Eyes for us only, please—no matter how low cut that smoking hot girl’s dress is.
  • Father of the Year awards? We’re secretly, or not-so-secretly, expecting you to win them.

But don’t hang up your armour just yet. We still have that lingering desire for a man who exudes that classic, strong presence.

And so we throw in the ‘masculine’ demands:

  • Be the leader when chaos reigns. Take charge when the going gets tough.
  • Be the handyman, the protector, and the unwavering rock amidst our storms.
  • Pick up the bill—especially on dates and holidays. Who said chivalry is dead?
  • Maintain that unwavering exterior, even when I’m unleashing my own emotional tempest.
  • And in those intimate moments, be the assertive, passionate lover that romance novels rave about… in fact…rock my world in a way that would make Christian Grey blush… 
  • Oh, by the way, make sure you have Christian’s car and apartment too.

Are we teetering on a fine line here, trying to blend two vividly different portraits of a partner into one?

Ladies, time for some candid self-reflection: Is this wish list achievable, or are we scripting a tale that sets both us and our partners up for a plot twist we didn’t see coming?

Balancing Act – Navigating These Complex Demands

So here we are, standing at the crossroads of modern romance. It’s a tricky place, isn’t it? We’re flipping the script, tossing out old norms, but then fishing them back in when it suits us. Men and women, we’re both culprits in this game of teetering expectations. We’re ordering a custom-made partner, as if we’re dropping them into an Amazon shopping cart.

Let’s break this down:

  • We’re asking our partners to step into our world, to adopt our gender’s traits—and that’s beautiful in many ways. We’re breaking down walls, fostering deeper understanding and partnership.
  • But then, we’re also aching for that ‘opposites attract’ magic, the kind that keeps our pulses racing and our eyes sparkling at each other.

Now, here’s the pinch: Our demands are intricate, sometimes contradicting, and often a hefty load for one person to shoulder.

The potential fallout?

  • These demands can strain our relationships, causing tension and disappointment when our partner can’t morph into our idealised ‘all-in-one’.
  • Sexual chemistry might take a hit. As we blur the lines of traditional gender roles—which can be empowering in many contexts—it’s essential to recognize how it may influence our desire for each other.

But I’m not leaving you in the lurch. Here’s the olive branch—a potential way forward:

  • Talk. Simple, right? But, oh, it’s the golden key. Sit down with your partner and lay it all out. What are the non-negotiables, and where is there room for flexibility & understanding?
  • Understand the trade-offs. Asking your partner to be more like a friend has its perks, but it might cost you a dash of that fiery, romantic tension. Are you both cool with that? Or if gender inspired passion is a top priority, should we love them for being different and ask our friends to fill the gaps?

Life and love—it’s a balancing act. Crafting that perfect blend of ‘best friend’ and ‘swoon-worthy partner’ is an art, not a science. It’s a dance we’re all still learning, a script we’re writing together, in real-time.

So, let’s ask the hard question: Are we setting a stage for love to thrive, or are we directing a play that’s bound to close its curtains early?

The Reality Check and The Road Ahead

Let’s drop the act for a moment. We’re all humans here—flawed, evolving, and striving ‘to love and be loved in return’ (as the song goes). We’re traversing uncharted territory in our relationships, attempting to be each other’s everything, in a world that’s constantly redefining itself.

But it’s not all storm clouds, my friends. We have tools at our disposal:

  • Communication. An oldie, but an essential. Our love stories aren’t written in stone; they’re living, breathing narratives. Talk with your partner. Not just surface-level chit-chat, but deep, soul-baring conversations.
  • Negotiation & compromise. They’re not dirty words; they’re the path to clarity. Decide together what you’re willing to flex on and where your hard lines are drawn.

The Silver Lining:

  • Flexibility. Contrary to that voice in our heads, we’re not confined to rigid roles. We can enjoy our partner’s tender touch one moment and their assertive confidence the next—it’s not an either-or scenario. In your understanding don’t ‘settle’ for we can inspire each other to be more.
  • Empowerment. This is our chance to sculpt relationships that suit us, not some outdated script we’ve been handed down.

Let’s face it: No silver bullet exists. There’s no one-size-fits-all model of love that we can order off a shelf. Instead, we’re presented with a beautiful, albeit challenging, opportunity—a blank canvas. And it’s up to us, and our partners, to decide what masterpiece we’ll paint together.

Remember this: love is resilient. It stretches, it bends, but it doesn’t have to break under the weight of our modern complexities. We are as capable as we allow ourselves to be, as united as we strive to become.

So, as we pen this ever-evolving story of modern love, let’s do it with intention, compassion, and a dash of realism.

After all, aren’t we all just looking for a love that’s as beautifully authentic as we are?

Love in a Modern World – It’s Our Story to Write

In this modern age, we’re navigating a sea of expectations, blending and bending the roles we’ve known. It’s complex and at times bewildering, but also rich with opportunity. Are we demanding too much, or are we finally demanding what we deserve? That’s the question we each need to ponder in our own relationships.

Let’s not lose sight of the heart of the matter: Love, at its core, is about connection and understanding, tenderness and strength, in measures that are uniquely our own. It’s not about fitting into a mould, but about creating a mould that fits us.

So here’s to us, to our partners, and to the authentic, unscripted love stories we’re courageous enough to write. Let’s pen them with care, with respect, and, above all, with love.

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One Comment

  1. This is such an important topic Trudy thank you for sharing. I find that in our strive to have it all, we can fall into a sense of entitlement that is a cancer on any future with your potential someone.

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