Sharing the reigns of the relationship

By Valerie Chen

My girlfriend likes to think she’s in charge of our
relationship and sometimes even me. I’m not bothered by this
because I’m a man, but because she seems to have a lack of regard
for our equality. I grew up in a household where my mom and dad
were equal partners and that’s how I’ve always tried to manage my
relationships, but even my previous girlfriend liked to say she
“owned” me. Without coming off as a testosterone-laden chauvinist
and defeating my purpose, how can I communicate the “equality”
spiel assertively? I feel like “gentle” talks and reminders aren’t
enough, and I’m not convinced I want to cut it off with her over
this just yet.

– Not a doormat

With Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey and Wonder
Woman boldly paving the way for females to hold significant roles
in history, society, culture and entertainment, let’s face it:
Women have earned the right to be divas (or the female version of a
hustla as another strong female by the name of Beyonce Knowles put
it) every once in awhile.

However, it seems like your girlfriend has taken diva-dom a
little too far by commanding your obedience and subsequently,
possessing the overwhelmingly dominant role in the

Typically, one dominant role in the relationship is supplemented
by a more submissive relationship, and your girlfriend may expect
you to be more submissive to her dominant nature -strictly a beta
to her alpha.

Firmly – instead of gently – explain to your girlfriend that
being “dominant” does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, but
it does depend on how you take and employ it.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “dominant” is
“commanding, controlling or prevailing over others.”

But in terms of romantic relationships, someone being “dominant”
can be construed as self-assuredly being in control of your own
life, rather than anyone else’s life.

A dominant individual does not demand respect, but earns it through
his or her well-thought out decisions and fortitude in character
and stability.

Thus, the two of you can both be dominant in your relationship.
There does not need to be an individual who is perpetually more
submissive than his or her partner; it can be a give-and-take,
mutual affiliation.

Together, you and your girlfriend should be able to contentedly
share the reigns of your relationship.

No one needs to cross the fine line between the positive
interpretation of being dominant into the unattractive area of
being too aggressively controlling, selfish and possessive.

If “gentle” talks and reminders with your girlfriend are not
enough, actions speak louder than words.

Monotonously and meekly requesting your girlfriend to change her
ways may sound like a broken record to her, and she most likely
will continue to ignore your inquiry.

The fact that “even [your] previous girlfriend liked to say she
‘owned’ [you]” implies you have acted similarly in past
relationships and you may be enabling your current girlfriend to
walk over you.

Put your foot down, and be assertive in standing up for
yourself. Do not allow her take advantage of your less demanding

If she orders you to do something against your will, refuse. Be
confident in what you want and do things on your own accord.

If her habits do not change and what she tells you is
incessantly degrading instead of constructive despite your
insistence on being equals, perhaps it is better to end the
relationship. Then, in the future, you can find a significant other
who treats you as an equal and with respect, which everyone –
regardless of gender – deserves.

Don’t hesitate to ask me a ques-chen at or send an email to

Valerie Chen

Valerie Chen

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