What Is A Female-Led Relationship & How To Set One Up

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Female Led Relationship: What FLR Means & How To Set One Up

Modern love, though more progressive than the relationship our parents might have been in, is often dictated by heteronormative, patriarchal gender roles that subject women to subservient positions in relationships.

But a female led relationship, also called FLR, is an opportunity for couples to transform gender norms and establish a less male-dominated relationship. 

As children, we learn our gender roles through socialization. Every single social interaction that we have teaches us about our place in society and how others interact with us based on our genders.

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Because of school, work, the media, our families and any other path in life, we develop a set of expectations about our gender, norms that we may choose to adhere to or subvert.

Since our society is still largely controlled by men, often, the gender expectations we are subjected to place the power in male hands. Women are typically expected to occupy a more subservient role, often becoming the main caretakers of children or becoming primarily responsible for domestic duties.

In times gone by, these roles were rigid and sometimes even enforced by law. Today, as more women pursue careers and ambitions outside the home, some couples feel misrepresented in traditional relationships.

FLRs give couples space to explore alternative options of dominance in their relationships and may create a more egalitarian set-up than what society typically allows for.

Here’s everything you need to know about an FLR, how to pursue one, and why this type of relationship might work for you.

What does a female led relationship mean?

A female-led relationship has no rigid definition and is more easily defined by what it’s not, rather than what it is. It's essentially any divergence from traditional patriarchal relationships.

Male-led relationships traditionally see men as the primary provider and view women as dependent on their partners for survival.

In male-led relationships, women stay home to look after children, make meals, and care for the home while men go out to work. Even in a lot of modern relationships, where both parties work, domestic duties still fall on women. 

A female led relationship is any relationship that doesn’t follow this pattern.

Couples may take equal responsibility for all finances and domestic duties — or, in some cases, the roles are flipped entirely so men follow rules set by their partners.

Female-led relationships vary from couple to couple but usually operate on one of the following levels:

1. Low control

Responsibilities are even and decided mutually.

Both the man and woman work together to establish roles. The woman takes the lead in certain situations, while the man dominates in others.

2. Moderate control

The woman controls slightly more of the relationship and rules the man.

He enjoys a partnership in which the woman is the central decision-maker and prefers to be less dominant. The woman sets boundaries on how far she is willing to go with her control so he still takes the lead in certain scenarios. 

3. Defined control

The woman makes most of the decisions and takes on traditionally male-roles, like work and financial support.

The man occupies a more subservient position, taking on domestic duties. The rules and boundaries of the relationship are clearly marked to ensure demarcation. 

4. Extreme control

The woman has the ultimate power in the relationship, controlling all aspects of the male’s life, including finances, social life, and his schedule.

Like in male-led relationships where the woman is controlled in this way, this may be considered abusive or manipulative in cases where one party is dominated nonconsensually. 

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What does FLR mean in dating? 

Because a lot of relationships slip into male-led relationships, it can be hard for women to assert their power. If you’re looking for an FLR, it's important to establish this early on in the dating process.

For men, FLRs can release them from the burden of being the sole provider in a relationship. If their goals are to be fathers or home-makers, given their partner more control allows them to move away from the oppressive expectations of a society that insists they dominate their relationships.

Some men, like some women, just simply don’t want to be decision-makers and are better suited to partners who like to be in control.

For women, an FLR may allow them to pursue their career ambitions without compromising their chance at a family or relationship. It allows women to feel more respected and powerful in her relationship than she may feel in society. 

When pursuing an FLR, be clear about your intentions from the outset. This is about more than just refusing to let the man pick up the check or allowing a woman to be the one who pulls out your chair.

Men might opt to be clear about their goals to give up work and stay at home raising children. Women might tell their partners that they want financial independence or desire to control their partner’s bank account.

It might be necessary to write out rules or slowly progress through different levels of an FLR. You might also choose to ban undermining pet names or refuse to take each other’s name in marriage.

FLRs require clear and frequent communication about the boundaries in your relationship.

How do you set up a female led relationship?

When it comes to establishing these boundaries, here are some guidelines you might choose to follow. 

1. Be transparent.

Ideal relationships look different to everyone.

When setting up an FLR, like any relationship, it’s important that both the man and woman are upfront about their intentions and goals. By everyone laying their cards on the table, the relationship is automatically more egalitarian than a traditional, male-led relationship.

2. Reverse gender roles.

At it’s core, an FLR requires women and men to abandon their traditional roles.

The extent to which they do may vary, but it's essential that women take on some level of control, and that men allow them to do so in order to build an FLR. Couples in an FLR should allow the woman to make more decisions and set more rules than society might traditionally expect her to. 

3. Establish boundaries.

In order to ensure both members of the couple are happy and fulfilled, rules must be set.

This might mean that even though the woman controls the finances, she does not control her partner’s social life. Or, it may mean that the man offers his opinion as frequently as he desires, and she chooses whether or not to listen.

Every couple will have their own boundaries that vary based on their goals.

4. Review often.

Aspirations change and what might start out as a happy relationship may lack fulfillment for one or both members as time goes on. Consistently adapt your rules or change your agreement so both the man and the woman are satisfied with the relationship. 

5. Prioritize love.

Attempting to establish rigid levels of control or firm rules can take the romance out of a relationship.

Building a solid FLR should not compromise your love and passion for one another. Always give each other space to express love and care, even if it alters your rules slightly. 

6. Be aware of abuse.

Abuse can occur in any kind of relationship from either party.

Asserting dominance may cause a partner to feel they are being non-consensually controlled. Equally, insisting on being subservient can make a partner feel they are being manipulated into making decisions.

Open and honest communication is essential to ensuring power dynamics are not being used to perpetuate abuse. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer with a passion for lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.