By Kat Winny - a Dating and Relationship coach specialising in helping smart, single women find committed relationships. You can find out more about Kat's work at www.katherinewinny.com and @katherinewinny on Instagram.
4 minute read
Workplace dynamics have shifted dramatically in the last 100 years - far quicker than our physical evolution. The likes of feminism, equal pay and the #metoo movement have had a dramatic effect on the role of women in society - both in and out of the workplace.
But as men and women find a more equal footing in the workplace, where does this lead the traditional male/female relationship?
Here, I explore five ways that your role in the working world could be affecting your love life - and what you can do about it.
1. Suppressing Vulnerability
Vulnerability and its association with weakness has long been suppressed in the corporate world. Tears at the boardroom table were (and still are) a way to lose respect quickly rather than win it. Drive, chasing results and fearlessness have all been valued as ways to get ahead in the workplace. Many women at the top say they have to demonstrate these traits more than men just to be taken seriously.
What does this have to do with relationships? All of these traits, and the associated personas we adopt in the workplace lead us far away from vulnerability, the very essence of deep intimacy.
To achieve true intimacy in any relationship, we have to be willing to be open and vulnerable. Loving someone deeply is one of the most risky things you’ll do - it opens you up to the risk of heartbreak (which, according to Jane Austen, could be quite fatal for young women a couple of centuries ago).
Spending an increasing number of hours in a workplace where we’re indirectly taught to be anything but vulnerable, makes vulnerability in our relationship seem more alien, even more risky and something we are increasingly likely to run away from.
As Brene Brown, the queen of vulnerability, states:
“...The unwillingness to engage with vulnerability often leads to making excuses, dodging the question, or - worst case scenario - bullshitting. That’s the deathblow in any relationship.”
When faced with the risk of true intimacy, we find ways to avoid it - it’s easier to run back to our laptops than cry in the arms of a lover.
2. Increased societal pressure
Managers can simultaneously ask a female employee why she is still single when she’s so successful, whilst refusing to let her leave work in time to go on a date.
Entrepreneurs must constantly dance the fine line between spending time in their business and having a personal life - for many, it is the latter that suffers.
Along with the traditional pressure to get married, have kids and fill the family home with the scent of freshly baked bread, women are now expected to retain a fulfilling career or build an income-generating business in their few remaining hours.
This increasing pressure, often combined with the inevitable biological clock, leads to tears and misery. Overwhelmed by the prospect of trying to do it all, or shamed by the fact that they would happily drop their career, these women hide their authentic self in favour of presenting their best self - on dates, and even to committed partners.
Is it now weak for a woman to express her strong desire to start a family? Or should this be the very thing she is prioritising? Is this acceptable chat on a first date? Will it diminish the respect of a partner who has always encouraged professional success?
We’re feeling the pressure, but we don’t understand what to do with it.
I like to look at time for relationships (whether that’s finding or maintaining one) as a chicken/egg scenario.
Is it work that consumes the time needed for dating and strengthening a relationship in the first place? Or does work become an acceptable excuse for not having to spend the time on these?
Going on a first date, or admitting there are cracks in a relationship, requires strength and vulnerability in equal measure, neither of which come easily. Staying late at work under the guise of strengthening your career is a much easier option.
Either way, it’s frequent to see a cycle of escapism through dedication to work leading to the sacrifice of time spent nourishing your relationships (family and friends included).
4. Stress and exhaustion
Just as vulnerability has not been recognised in the workplace, stress and exhaustion are still not respected enough by employers, employees or entrepreneurs.
Stressed and exhausted is not the vibe to bring to a first date. Nor is it the vibe to bring to your rare date night without the kids.
Learning to prioritise our own needs, manage stress and get some much-needed rest is not only crucial for our health, but also for our ability to show up and get the most from our relationships.
5. Redefining male and female roles
As women become increasingly self-sufficient, have the ability to be the bread-winner and build their muscles in the gym, where does that leave the traditional role of men?
Men are biologically wired to need a purpose and to provide. No longer in the form of bringing home more buffalo carcasses, but financially. If this is no longer required of them, what is their role in a relationship?
If women are able to support themselves - financially, emotionally and physically - what role do we need or want our men to have in a relationship?
The conversations around women have been lengthy and progressive. But somewhere along the line we forgot to think about what that might mean for men.
Again, Brene Brown summaries this nicely:
“We ask them to be vulnerable, we beg them to let us in, and we plead with them to tell us when they’re afraid, but the truth is that most women can’t stomach it.... in those moments where real vulnerability happens in men, most of us recoil in fear.”
So what do we need to be thinking about?
- Embracing vulnerability - in the workplace yes, but most importantly in our intimate relationships
- Increasing our awareness and reframing the societal pressure we are receiving and giving
- Prioritising time on our relationships - with our own self, and with others
- Re-evaluating the male and female roles in relationships and figuring out what works best to allow both partners to thrive
- Checking in with our feminine side - are we finding time to allow for creativity, flow and joy?
Kat Winny is a Dating and Relationship coach specialising in helping smart, single women find committed relationships. Working with (and without) the wisdom of horses, Kat gently guides women to define the relationship they want, release old patterns from the past and find their Mr. Dateable. Kat has a number of upcoming events, as well as working with clients one-on-one. You can find out more at www.katherinewinny.com.
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