Who gets to decide what being 'feminine' means?
You see it everywhere — article after article telling strong, successful women they need to be more feminine if they ever hope to find love.
It reminds me of the old school days when a girl didn’t really know how to act around a boy and someone said “just be feminine,” to which we all responded with OK, but no one really knew what that meant.
To me, 'being feminine' means a woman wearing sweet, pretty dresses and making sure her hair and makeup are 'just so' and sitting dainty and making sure she's not too loud. She certainly "shouldn't" stand out against her potential partner, right? I mean, this advice kind of feels like the way a woman was told to behave in the 50s. The Stepford Wife ideal almost.
And I'm not far off here. The dictionary defines 'being feminine' as:
- "Having qualities, or an appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.
- Of, or relating to women or girls.
- Characterized by, or possessing qualities traditionally attributed to women, such as demureness."
So there you have it. 'Being feminine' pretty much just means — be a woman. But, um ... we already ARE women. So, that's literally the worst advice EVER because it doesn't mean anything.
So let’s tear this sage advise apart a bit, shall we? Let's drop the vagueness and the 1950s implications and redefine it for ourselves. Here goes! From this point forward 'being a feminine woman' means ...
1. Be yourself.
Don’t change yourself for someone else, trying to be another person always gets messed up in the end. It’s way too difficult.
2. Don’t be too sexy.
If you want a long term relationship and you arrive at a first date looking like you want a one night stand then that is what you will get (there is a definite difference between being sexy and being feminine — take Audrey Hepburn feminine vs. Kim Kardashian sexy).
Also, FY: New research shows that men prefer a slightly masculine look for long term relationships and the overly feminine for short-term relationships.
3. Listen to others.
A quality of being feminine is 'receiving' and in communication, that means the art of listening well. So do that, ask questions and wait for the answers, don't interrupt because that can get really annoying and gives the message that you don’t really care.
4. Share things about yourself.
Fine details are not required, just share the big picture now, details he's worthy of hearing at this point. Hint: if he does not listen in return, you may observe that as a red flag – trust yourself here.
5. Balance being both strong and demure.
You don't have to be a delicate daisy 24/7, but being hardcore 24/7 is just as extreme.
Remember, we're talking about long-term relationships, there is no need to tell your potential other all about your most intimate and "out there" sexual experiences on the first date, let him learn about that when he deserves to know the real you, otherwise, again, you run the risk of becoming the one nighter.
So to sum up, don't let all of that "just be feminine" advice out there throw you.
What it really means is be yourself! All sides of yourself, the strong woman and the sweet woman.
Don't try too hard to impress him with your sexual prowess, he will have plenty of time to figure that out if he's the right one. Women have so much to offer ... let the best of all of your shine through.
Having trouble believing that “Just being myself” is enough? Leanne Allen is a Psychologist and Life Coach at Reconnect Wellness Centre. She can work with you to build you confidence and help you manifest your ideal partner. Want to know more? You can get her book “Get your Head Straight to Attract a Date: The Mindset of Online Dating” here.