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What Is a Female-Led Relationship?

A female-led relationship is one in which the woman shares the responsibilities with her partner and where a woman has a certain degree of freedom vis-a-vis her partner

Many of us want to have that special someone, romantic partner, or significant other, that someone we want to spend the rest of our lives with. If we are lucky, we find that someone and enter into a relationship and try to work it out as we go on with our lives.

Despite all the simplicities of a relationship, in truth, having a life partner, and being in a relationship, is a complex, intricate process. Differences in personalities, attitudes, and beliefs may further complicate it.

Finally, social background and context may also play a role. Love may be the ultimate determinant, but it is not the only variable involved and, sometimes, may not even be the most important one. Society does play a role in relationships, and the social and cultural context factors a lot in being a relationship, whether one admits it or not.

A patriarchal or male-dominated society has consequences in a relationship, especially in one involving heterosexual relationships. Whether we admit it or not, most relationships are male-led relationships. We mean that men have dominant status and usually have the final say regarding the trajectory of relationships and decisions.

But with progress in women’s social standing and advancement of women’s rights in society, women now have a say and are beginning to assert themselves in a relationship. With more women asserting their rights, enforcing their choices and decisions, there now emerge what most people call female-led relationships.

What is a female-led relationship?

A female-led relationship can be seen as the opposite of the male-led relationship where you reverse the roles, but it is more. A female-led relationship is one in which the woman shares the responsibilities with her partner and where a woman has a certain degree of freedom vis-a-vis her partner.

In short, it does not necessarily mean an exact reversal of power relations between a man and woman, but more or less a shared engagement between the two of them. The female-led relationship is not for everyone, it may be more challenging in some traditional cultures. A female-led relationship entails that both men and women have an equal stake in their relationship. Thus, they have an equal say in decision-making and the direction the relationship will take.

By shared responsibilities, it means that the woman is not a passive partner and actively engages him. She is proactive in their relationship. She takes the initiative independently, particularly if both of them, or even her partner, will benefit from what she has in mind. There is mutual agreement that it takes two to tango.

A female-led relationship, in short, recognizes the role and the importance of the female partner in the relationship. It runs against the common notion of gender roles in a relationship. In a female-led relationship, partners both realize that they do need the initiative of each other, not only that of the male partner.

Male-led relationship vs. female-led relationship

What are the fundamental differences between a female-led relationship and a male one? Here are some of the points of divergence between the two:

A male-led relationship subscribes to the traditional notions of gender in a relationship and society as a whole, like men being the breadwinner in the family, etc. Thus, one can expect men to be more proactive, have more pronounced roles in decision-making. Deferring to women is usually an afterthought, and the final say usually belongs still to men.

A female-led relationship, by contrast, does not subscribe to those traditional notions. In most aspects, they ran counter to it. Thus, a female-led relationship has women more engaged and active in sharing responsibilities with their male partners.

Men usually subscribe to the typical stereotypes associated with males in a male-led relationship and are acting based on it. You have loving and caring men but are aloof and do not show affection or emotions to their children. They conform to the usual norms about gender and masculinity.

A female-led relationship has no such baggage. Both men and women have freedom from the need to conform to some particular values and stereotypes. Thus, men can be affectionate, whereas women can be disciplinarians, depending on the need and personal disposition or personalities of partners.

Again, roles in relationships and family are regimented based on traditional norms about family and gender in a male-led relationship. So you have men not doing anything at home during days off, with women doing the household chores and attending to their partner’s needs, which, probably under the setup, is the breadwinner and sole provider.

Men and women do switch roles in a female-led relationship. Thus, chores are not only for women but also for men. Women help men or their partners in providing the material and financial needs of the family. It does not need to be the sole burden of the males.

Those mentioned, though not exhaustive, are the typical characteristics that differentiate a male-led relationship from a female-led one. In a nutshell, adherence to traditional norms characterizes male-led relationships, whereas departures, if not opposition, to those norms usually characterize a female-led relationship.

Advantages of a female-led relationship

The benefits of a female-led relationship are evident based on what we discussed. The foremost advantage, of course, is that it allows the family to have more financial capability and affluence by having females sharing responsibilities. If you have both partners working and providing for a family, they will be better financially and materially.

Shared responsibilities also allow more participation from both sides in rearing up the family and children. An emotional attachment could be forged between men and their children, allowing for stronger family ties between its members.

A female-led relationship frees both men and women from their regimented social and gender roles dictated by traditional norms and mores. By not being entrapped by those values and stereotypes, they can maximize their capabilities to benefit their relationship and family. It allows for optimization of whatever it is that they could contribute to their relationship and family.

“Democratizing” decisions and choices also allows men and women to share the burden emotionally. It is emotionally and psychologically helpful, for it also shares and divides equally the stress between them. Men should have only shouldered it if they are the only sole agent in the decision-making process.

Finally, but certainly not the least, it empowers both men and women. Sharing burdens and taking up responsibilities allows them to work together for their relationship and family. And work together according to their strength and capabilities. For this reason, it does not put unreasonable demands on anyone, and both can work in tandem or separately to achieve goals in their lives.

Important things to watch out for in a female-led relationship

There are some things you have to look at in having a female-led relationship.


A female-led relationship requires that partners be open and honest to each other. Since they move beyond the stereotypes, there might be misunderstandings regarding roles. They must address the issues, and in doing so, they must be as honest as possible about their problems and how they feel about them.

Part of being open is that they must be communicating a lot. They need to because they act not according to traditional values but rather according to their established rules. So they have to seek out each other and talk as much as possible.

Never mind the others

Some may frown upon those who have a female-led relationship setup. Please do not be concerned about what others think. People have their values and ideas about what is better and best for their relationships and family. We talk about the advantages, but aside from it, one must indeed be in a setup that is beneficial to all concerned.

Never cross borders

Roles may be swapped, reversed, and switched, but partners must not cross the agreed-upon borders. A female-led relationship is one based on ideas of equality and shared responsibilities. Partners must still do what is required or expected of them and know where to draw the line. 

And whatever kind of relationship or setup, there must never be abuse, and no one must ever tolerate abusive behavior.


A female-led relationship benefits both partners and gender, and not just the other. It frees them from the stereotypes and empowers them to benefit themselves, their relationship, and family. Having more female led relationships can improve social cohesion, because of more diversity of thoughts. Those who want to have a successful relationship and a loving, caring family must consider having it.

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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.