What you want matters.
Existing as a woman in a patriarchal society is hard. It often leaves us females feeling as if (or, rather, we’re conditioned to feel as if) we must behave in certain ways and do certain things if we wish to “have it all.” For some women, being seen as “less than” men for most of their lives leaves them accepting that treatment into their adult life. This can lead to insecurity and accepting less than you deserve.
I’ve been observing that women, especially women in their 20’s, tend to slowly give up little things until they become big things. Eventually, this can lead to a struggle with happiness and knowing who they are once life finally slows down a bit. It starts with time (not a huge deal) and eventually ends with the very fabric of who they were as a person. And, the scary part is, it’s SO easy to do! Especially since it tends to be, it seems, that they lose themselves the most in their relationships.
Eventually, women end up approaching their 30’s or their 40’s and realizing they don’t know who they are outside of their relationships.
I’m not saying that it is universally always bad to do some of the things on this list. If a woman has given it a lot of thought and knows without a doubt that it is what she wants, frankly, she should be able to whatever the heck she darn well pleases! My main point is that I feel like some women just do some of the following things because they think it’s what is expected of women in our society and THAT is NOT ok.
Women should never give up who they are and what they want just to make others happy. It’s time that we learn how to stop being a people pleaser. It’s time to be you without apology. So, here are seven things that might mean you’re secretly sacrificing yourself to make others happy (at the risk of losing your own happiness):
1. You’re the only one making sacrifices in your relationships.
I think often the pitfall women fall into in their 20’s (and sometimes even into their early 30’s) is losing themselves in the men they fall in love with. It seems that they tend to get caught up in this romanticized idea of what being with a man looks like and let it take over. The woman gives up more traditionally (her time, her opinions, her body, and if it works out, her last name, and then eventually basically 80% of her time and life to caring for the man and their children).
It doesn’t seem like a bad fantasy. That’s why we get caught up in it. Who doesn’t want an adoring husband and adorable little babies? I know I always have. But we must be sure not to get caught up in it so much that we lose our individuality and who we are outside of our marriage and children. We, at the very least, should never be giving up more than him.
There isn’t anything wrong with making sacrifices in a relationship. In fact, it’s a huge part of a successful relationship — a little give-and-take and a lot of compromises. However, if you’re the only one making sacrifices, or are making way more than the man you’re with, that’s NOT OK. This will almost certainly lead not only to a failed relationship, but to you slowly sacrificing who you are and what you want to be with someone who doesn’t do the same things for you.
To clarify, I’m not suggesting “keeping score” either (I think that’s bad for relationships), but I am suggesting that you are being aware of this tendency and that once you’re in a committed relationship, you two are constantly talking about what it will take for BOTH of you to be happy in the long-run.
2. You still allow your parents’ ideals to dictate how you make decisions.
Losing ourselves in relationships is a serious concern, but it’s not the only danger when it comes to losing our identity. Another trap that many women (well, really everyone) can fall into at this age is allowing what your parents think to dictate the decisions you make. This is easy to do for multiple reasons. Either we let the need to be “nothing like them” make the decision for us or we are still so hell-bent on seeking their approval that every little decision becomes based on seeking that approval until everything we do ends up being influenced by them instead of being what we ACTUALLY want.
It’s important to make sure we’re NOT doing this. This is the time to make sure that everything we do, we’re doing to end up living our most fulfilling and happiest lives (regardless of what your parents will think about it). So, ask yourself before making big decisions WHY you’re doing it. Is it to make YOU happy? Or because you think mommy and daddy would be proud?
3. You see your career as secondary to your significant other’s
To clarify, I am not against the stay-at-home mom, the mom who only works part-time and cares for her children the rest, the moms who work full-time with childcare, or any variation of these scenarios. BUT I’m only okay with it IF that is absolutely what she wants to do. I think a lot of times women get overwhelmed in their 20’s (and 30’s) by finding a work/home balance and take on too much because they think they “have to” because the man’s job is “more important.”
Sure, sometimes, the man genuinely makes more money and you need his job to afford your living situation (and I sympathize). However, it’s important to not let your career get swept under the rug because of this. A good relationship is where two people work together to be as happy as possible. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your happiness because everything is “working this way.” If you’re not happy, it’s NOT “working.” It’s important to think about what YOU want outside of his wants and to be honest with yourself about it. You deserve to be happy both inside your relationships and outside of them.
4. You think a woman should be a “helper.”
I’ve noticed that it seems like in a lot of 20- and 30-something relationships, the woman seems to see herself as more of a “helper” to the family unit, rather than a person. While it’s less common nowadays, I’m still seeing women do WAY more of the child care and WAY more of the cooking and cleaning. Chores and childcare responsibilities should be split up as equally and as fairly as possible.
This attitude can also be present from women who are actively less outspoken for the sake of “attracting a man.” She feels as if she must build him up, help him out, and basically just exists to make his life easier. That is NOT a woman’s purpose and it’s important to not fall into that ideal based on the romanticized idea of taking care of “your man.” Happy relationships are where two people work together as equal partners who build each other up, take care of each other, and genuinely love each other. Make sure your relationship isn’t one-sided.
5. You think you need to ask your man for permission before doing something.
While there isn’t anything wrong with being considerate and asking your significant other’s opinion before making big decisions (especially in committed relationships), it’s NOT okay if you think you MUST ask his permission before you can do things. It’s still YOUR life, YOUR body, and things that directly affect you are still YOUR decision. You should never HAVE to ask. Honestly, if you feel you do, it may be time to call it quits.
6. You have no problem working less once you have children.
While this isn’t a problem necessarily (if it’s what you want), you still should see a problem with it if it’s assumed (by anyone) that you will give up working to stay home with the baby. If you want to commit your life to being a mother, that’s great. But you must be SURE that’s what you want. Once that baby has grown up, then what? It’s important to always be making sure you know who you are outside of your roles as a wife and mother because those might not always be enough (and that’s okay).