Is there a more loaded word than feminism? It seems like the definition changes daily and at any given time a think-piece is trending on Twitter, usually with a sound bite from Taylor Swift or Emma Watson. But whatever you believe the term means, the general gist is that if you’re a feminist, you believe in a woman’s ability to succeed and do anything just as well as a man can. That’s all well and good – until it comes to dating, and then things get kind of complicated. Despite many of the outdated ideas that are still floating around out there, it’s totally possible to believe in feminist ideals and yet still want a relationship. Here’s how to fall in love when you’re a feminist.
Separate your self-worth from your dates. Nothing bruises the ego more than a string of bad dates or rejections. We all go through it and it sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. As long as you can see that who you are has nothing to do with how unlucky you are in the dating world, you’ll be able to retain your feminist beliefs with your desire to find The One.
Let go of the need to put yourself first. Here’s when things get tricky. When we love someone, we want to take care of them and help them. That’s when people get all cheesy and swept away by their intense emotions and say they would do anything for their guy. Sorry to break it to you but that’s going to happen to you too when you fall in love. So embrace it. Realize that cheering your BF up when he’s got a terrible cold has nothing to do with your feminist beliefs.
Stop thinking you have to be a Career Girl or a Relationship Girl. Of course it seems more feminist to fly solo forever and rise to the top of the corporate ladder. But how is that any way to live? You’re not destined to a life of loneliness because you believe in women’s rights. You can love your career and your man, too. You never have to choose.
Make sure your guy is on the same page. There’s nothing worse than getting all excited over some good news in the world of women’s rights and telling the guy you’ve just started to date… who then promptly makes a sexist comment. Ouch. You need to date someone who’s with you on this stuff. Never, ever date a sexist guy. Luckily, it’s 2015 and many guys are total feminists, too.
Forge your own path. You might have a freakout the day you realize that you actually want to get married and have babies because you think that’s not what feminists do. But doing exactly what you want when it comes to love and relationships is the definition of a feminist act. If you want to walk down the aisle, go ahead. If you want to live with someone without a ring, that’s cool too.
Stop the judgment. Allow yourself to love someone and don’t worry about making sure you’re still strong and independent. Having a guy in your life won’t change the fact that you’re always strong and independent. Just as you need to stop judging yourself, you need to stop shaming other girls, too. Just because your friend is acting like a crazy loon because of her new BF doesn’t mean she’s ruining it for women everywhere. She’s just in love.
Accept that your choices may change. We’ve all heard of shifting priorities – but what about the choices that you make? You may think that being a feminist means having a blueprint for your entire life: you’re going to be your person no matter what, you’re not going to let marriage and kids get in the way of your career and your life. But you might fall in love tomorrow and wake up in 5 years wanting to start a family and decide to put your career on the backburner. Give yourself room to grow.
Know that feminism looks different for everyone. Some of us love pink, others can’t stand it. Some of us are pretty domestic and love to stay home and bake on the weekends and even kind of like cleaning our apartments (just me?). Others consider a stack of take-out menus their dinner BFF. It’s all good and it doesn’t make you less of a feminist if you enjoy some housewife stuff.
Always have principles. Be ready to say goodbye if a guy is negative about your dreams or treats you badly. There’s no point having a certain belief system if you’re not going to apply it to every aspect of your life, including dating.
Have fun. Don’t spend so much time analyzing yourself and wondering what something means. If it’s not fun, don’t do it. That should totally be everyone’s life motto.
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