With the ever-changing socioeconomic landscape, men and women alike are struggling with how to balance traditional gender roles within their relationships. For most of the 20th century, men were the head of the household. They were the breadwinners and the protectors. Women were the primary caregivers and stayed home. They often deferred to their husband's authority in matters of discipline--"Wait until your father gets home," they would say. He set the tone and direction that the family would take in life.
Fast-forwarding to 2017, divorce rates and single parenthood have reached an all-time high and more women have assumed the role of breadwinner. They sit at the head of their own dinner tables, though sometomes not always by choice. Women are more educated and hold more positions of authority on their jobs. They are business owners. They are independent. Some folks say that this independence has made the world of dating and marriage complicated, to say the least.
Actor Rainn Wilson from "The Office" reveals through his video series, "That's What He Said," some insights into how modern men are coping with this new normal when it comes to dating. And it's very telling. Men and women share many of the same concerns regarding appropriate amounts of assertiveness, the impact of insecurity, pressure from family and peers, and even ego.
Men, for example, are expected to be hunters who are aggressive and strong. Their challenge is to regard women as people, not prey. Men want to respect women's boundaries without appearing weak. Women, on the other hand, are pressured to be more assertive in the workplace and to take charge of their families when they are single. This seems to be more socially acceptable behavior now. Yet, in their relationships, they wrestle with being either too "independent" or too "easy" as men can find either of these qualities unattractive.
Insecurity and ego are common problems on both sides of this discussion. Having low self-esteem leads to chasing people who do not reciprocate romantic feelings. The hope is that convincing someone to love and accept you will affirm who you are as a person. It opens the door to promiscuity, accepting disrespectful behavior, and being used.
Men and women both struggle with what being masculine or feminine means. How does that look? It seems to be very situational and varies depending on whom you ask. Cultural expectations play a role in what traditional roles have become, but so do peer influences, media depiction, the evolving religious landscape, feminism, and finances. It is confusing and the answer to this question is seemingly harder and harder to pin down.
The burning questions on the minds of many are: When is it okay for a woman to ask a man out? If she does, should she pick up the check? Should women be required to help support the family financially? Should men feel less important in a relationship is his wife/girlfriend earns more money? Who should stay home with the children when they get sick? Does cooking meals make a man more feminine? Should men hold doors for women? Should women let them?
The more conversations that we have about these matters, the better we can at least start to understand each other and start working toward some common ground. It makes no sense to walk around having the same concerns about gender roles when we could just talk it out.
That being said, what are your thoughts on the subject of gender roles in relationships? Discuss in the comments below. Inquiring minds want to know.