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What does equality in a relationship look like and how do you know if you have it or not?
Can you be happy in a relationship without it?
What do you do if you feel like you don’t have it but want it?
Equality in a relationship is about seeing your partner as having an equal amount of influence and importance as you. At its heart, it lies in the amount of respect you show each other as individuals as well as the other half to your relationship
Inequality in a relationship means that the power and influence you each yield falls out of balance. One of you starts becoming more dominant, overpowering, or dismissive towards the other, causing them to feel disrespected, undervalued, and even resentful.
If you’re not sure how much your relationship is built on equality, look out for some of the signs below to check.
If however, you know that equality is a problem between you and your partner, it’s not too late to try to make a positive change for the sake of your relationship’s future. As long as you are both receptive and willing to work together and make some changes to how you interact, then you can still try to create more equality between you.
Keep reading for some tips on what you can do to encourage more respect and equality between you and your partner and why it’s an important part of any relationship.
5 Signs That Your Relationship Isn’t Built On Equality
1. You question what value you bring to the relationship.
How do you measure whether or not the value you and your partner bring to a relationship is equal?
One of the easiest ways people think they can create a sense of equality in a relationship is by measuring financial value. In other words, do you split all the bills or does one partner hold all the financial power?
But even if you’re splitting the bills 50/50, this isn’t what makes you equal in a relationship. Having equality in a relationship is about how valued you feel, not what you’re worth. It’s about whether you feel as valued by your partner as you show them they are valued by you.
Do you feel heard? Do you feel considered? Are you in your partner’s thoughts?
Your worth isn’t about what you can physically bring to the relationship or about offering something your partner can’t. If you always feel the need to question your worth or prove yourself to your partner, then you know you’re feeling the negative effects of the inequality in your relationship.
Feeling uneasy around your partner all the time will drive you to second guess yourself and lose your confidence. This isn’t how a relationship should feel for anyone, and it’s why building a relationship based on equality is so crucial.
2. Your needs are never put first.
In an equal relationship, you should never feel as though your needs come second to your partner’s.
There may be times when you have to make sacrifices and choose to put the needs of your partner above your own. The difference in doing this and being unequal in your relationship is that you are choosing to put your partner’s needs above your own rather than being expected to.
In a relationship built on equality, you know that when you choose to put your partner first, your actions are appreciated and acknowledged, and that they would do the same for you if the situation were reversed.
If the expectation is there that you should always defer to what your partner wants rather than what you want, then you aren’t building a culture of equality.
As much as you are a couple building a life together, you are also individuals with your own needs. Your partner is there to support you as much as you support them, and you should always feel that there is an equal respect for the individuals you are.
3. There are double standards in your relationship.
If you feel as though it’s one rule for your partner and another for you, then there is an inequality in your relationship that should be addressed.
There shouldn’t be a situation where the same rule for you doesn’t apply to your partner. It’s not fair to feel as though something you’ve been asked for, be it not staying out so late with friends or doing more around the house, isn’t something they are expected to uphold too.
In a relationship founded on equality, there should never be an expectation of either of you that you don’t have of yourself. There is no place for double standards in a relationship that values fairness and equality, and if double standards do occur then it’s going to cause resentment and arguments later down the line.
4. There’s no compromise in your relationship.
There are going to be times in any relationship where what you and your partner want don’t align.
Compromise is part of any healthy relationship. You may want different things, but through compromise you can find a solution that means both of you can reach an amicable agreement.
Sometimes it will just be one partner who has to do the compromising in a given situation, but it’s when it becomes just one partner doing all the compromising that the relationship loses a sense of balance and equality.
It should never be the case where just one of you feels as though your needs are never put first and you’re the only one having to make sacrifices for the sake of the other. Your partner needs to show you that they are willing to compromise for the sake of your happiness as much as you are for theirs.
Compromise is about both of you adjusting your expectations to allow each of you to get something out of a situation. If one of you never benefits, that’s not compromise or equality, it’s manipulating your partner to get what you want.
5. You’re living your partner’s life.
When we’re in a relationship, a lot of our decisions are dependent on our partner. It could be that you live somewhere you’d never have imagined for the sake of your partner’s job. Or maybe you go on holiday to places you’d never have considered because your partner wants to. Or perhaps you give up time with your own friends or family to spend time with theirs instead.
All these decisions are fine if that’s what you actually want to do. Just because your partner may be more vocal or organized about their choices doesn’t mean that what you want and enjoy shouldn’t also be considered by them.
As a couple, your life naturally intertwines, and you have to make room for all the things each other needs and enjoys. If you feel as though you’re being strung along by your partner’s choices rather than actively voicing your own, then you need to practice more equality in the way you interact and the decisions you make together.
Working as a team, you need to focus on merging your previous lives together, rather than giving up who you were for who you’re with.
Make sure you’re taking the reins in your relationship and having an equal say in how you live your life to avoid being a passenger of someone else’s.
Why Is Equality Important In A Relationship?
We’ve gone through some of the most obvious ways you can tell that you’re lacking equality in your relationship, but why is it important to have in the first place?
To feel valued.
A lack of equality in a relationship can manifest itself in controlling behavior from one partner over the other.
If you feel talked over, dismissed, or bullied into going along with your partner’s decisions, then they are trying to have too much control over you and not valuing your input into the relationship as an equal.
You shouldn’t feel as though you come second to your partner or that what you have to bring to the relationship is in any way inferior to them. If they are treating you as their equal then they will give your opinions as much attention as they expect you to give theirs in return.
A relationship should make you feel loved, secure, and happy. If one of you isn’t feeling valued, then you aren’t getting the amount of love and respect you deserve.
To feel heard.
As much as you might think you listen to each other in your relationship, do you really?
Listening to each other isn’t just about hearing one another speak; it’s about giving your partner your full attention, thinking carefully about your response, not rushing them to finish talking, and taking on board what they have to say.
Feeling that your partner listens to you is essential in a strong relationship because it’s how you create a safe and trusting environment between you to be able to share your highs as well as your lows.
If you’re not giving your partner the attention they deserve when they talk to you but expect them to listen when you need them to, then this isn’t treating them as an equal.
Anything either of you have to share should be given the space to be heard. Nothing you or your partner have to say should ever be thought of as insignificant.
If you want equality in your relationship, then you need to feel as though your partner gives you the same level of attention and respect you give them when they talk. Your voice counts just as much as theirs.
To be the best version of yourself.
Having equality in a relationship doesn’t mean doing or even wanting the exact same things as your partner.
A great partner will bring out your best qualities through their love and support for you. In a relationship founded on equality, you are both trying your hardest to bring out the best in each other.
It shouldn’t be the case that just one of you supports the other because you like different things.
You shouldn’t feel as though you have to sacrifice who you are or what you like for the sake of your partner.
If this is the case, with all the emphasis being on their happiness rather than yours, then you need to work on finding equality in the way you make each other feel.
Your role in a relationship is to lift each other up, sharing equally the attention, love, and encouragement between each other. Only by doing this can you get the best out of yourself, your partner, and your relationship.
To show you respect each other’s boundaries.
We know that equality in a relationship is rooted in having an equal level of respect for each other.
As partners, you share almost everything in your lives, but you still need boundaries to be able to have your own space. Remember that there is more that defines you as a person than your relationship.
If you feel pressured by your partner to do something that you don’t want to, or you feel as though they don’t allow you time on your own when you need it, then they aren’t respecting the individual needs you have to just be yourself.
If they take this behavior to the next level and invade your space by going through your personal possessions without your consent, then they’ve stopped respecting your boundaries and privacy in the way they should.
In a relationship, you should be able to trust each other completely and not be disturbed by your partner needing some time and space to themselves. If one partner is trying to dictate how the other spends their time and feels like they have a right to anything that is theirs, there isn’t the level of trust and equality there should be in a healthy relationship. One partner is trying to control the other because they feel like their opinions and needs matter more.
Expecting anything of your partner that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself isn’t treating them as an equal. It’s important to feel as though your partner acknowledges your boundaries, that they respect you as an individual, and consider your rights to your own choices and possessions as important as theirs.
To be able to depend on each other.
One of the most important reasons you want equality in your relationship is to be able to depend on each other in any situation.
Carrying an equal weight of responsibility in your relationship means that at any given time, one of you can step in and be the person the other needs them to be in that moment. If you’re the one who is giving more to the relationship – emotionally or physically – then you can’t trust that your partner will be there to help keep everything together if you need them to be.
Your relationship will only hold together if you’re each putting in the work to keep it that way. Your partner needs to be someone you’re able to trust and rely on implicitly because you never know what life will throw at you.
A relationship can’t rest on just one person to keep it going because eventually they’ll crumble under the weight of it. Make sure that you are both giving equal time and energy into your relationship so that you can work as a team to make it strong and lasting for the future.
8 Ways To Create Equality In A Relationship
What do you do if you know that equality is something you need to work on in your relationship? How do you make a change to try to improve the situation between you and your partner? Where should you start?
1. Make sure you’re happy in your ‘role’ in the relationship.
A very natural way of creating equality in the physical aspects of your relationship is to divide it into ‘roles’ for both you and your partner. Each of you should have responsibilities that you feel require equal time and effort.
A good example of this is splitting up the housework so you feel as though you are putting equal effort into creating a nice environment to live in. Another example could be that you decide that one of you will go to work while the other puts in work looking after your family at home. It could be as small as taking turns in choosing the destination and activities you do on your next holiday together.
If you’re doing this, it’s not really about what tasks you divide between each other, it’s about recognizing that both of you need to put an equal amount of effort into keeping your relationship going so one of you isn’t overwhelmed with the pressure of it all.
Assigning roles in your relationship only works if the both of you are happy with it. If you feel as though you’ve assumed a ‘role’ in your relationship that you didn’t want or agree to then you need to talk to your partner about what you can both do differently so you can be more comfortable.
Don’t let yourself be boxed into a part you no longer want to play, and be open to adjust as time and your relationship moves on.
2. Communicate with each other.
If you feel like there is inequality between you and your partner, then the first thing you should do is address how you’re feeling with each other.
Your partner may not realize how their expectations or behavior are affecting you. This is why good communication is essential in every relationship so you are able to talk through how you feel with your partner and work on finding a solution together.
If your partner is defensive or resistant towards the changes you want to make, then it’s a red flag that they may have very different expectations of the relationship than you do and the roles each partner should play.
Relationships take work to make them last. Having a good line of communication between you and your partner will help you face almost any issue you come up against and make you stronger as a team.
3. Make sure you’re both satisfied in the bedroom.
Equality isn’t just important in the bedroom, it’s essential.
It’s not about who’s dominant or who initiates, it’s about making sure that both of you leave equally satisfied.
Try to be equally attentive to each other’s wants and needs. One of you shouldn’t ever be feeling neglected and unable to ask for what they want.
If you feel as though you’re being pressured or your sexual needs are being ignored by your partner in favor of their own, then this sense of unfairness and inequality will start to make you frustrated and create tension between you.
Enjoying a sexual relationship is a key part of a healthy relationship, but it’s also where you’re most vulnerable around each other. You need to be able to trust your partner completely to fully relax and enjoy the experience together. For that to happen, you have to know that your partner respects you as an equal and cares about your experience as much as their own.
4. Embrace each other’s differences.
Basing your relationship on equality doesn’t mean there can’t be any differences between you and your partner.
Equality is about feeling supported in your own interests as you show your partner you support them in theirs, even if you don’t understand or enjoy the same things.
To show that you respect their individual pursuits, try joining them in an activity they enjoy that maybe you’ve never tried before. Talk to them about what they prefer doing and take an interest in it even if you know nothing about the subject, rather than forcing them to only take part in activities both of you like.
Try putting yourself in your partner’s shoes to view situations from their perspective once in a while. This will make sure you’re being as supportive and understanding of their pursuits as you can be.
Two individuals make up this relationship. Equality isn’t about being the same person, it’s about respecting each other’s own individuality and celebrating it because of the variety it brings to your relationship and your life.
5. Be willing to compromise.
Compromise isn’t always easy, and although you want your relationship to be perfect forever, life isn’t as simple as that.
It’s likely there will not just be one instance but many over the course of your relationship where you’ll have to compromise on what you want for the sake of your partner’s happiness.
If one of you is always compromising rather than both of you, then you’re not basing your decisions on equality; one partner is dominating the other.
Compromise is necessary in a relationship and good communication between couples can help you reach a fair solution that will benefit everyone as much as possible.
Compromising for your partner shows that you have an equal respect for each other’s needs and are willing to make sacrifices for their happiness.
6. Put the effort into your relationship.
Relationships are not always smooth sailing. At the beginning, it may feel like the easiest thing in the world to be around each other, but to make what you have last takes constant work.
For your relationship to stay strong, both of you have to put equal effort into keeping it that way. If just one of you is putting the time and energy into your relationship, then the pressure will become overwhelming.
Feeling like the time and love you put into your partner isn’t acknowledged or reciprocated is going to eventually make you feel neglected, resentful, and start to question why you’re trying so hard to keep the relationship alive when they seem to show so little interest.
However busy life gets, you should always try to put your relationship first, not just expect your partner to make it happen for you. It’s the equal responsibility of both of you to keep the spark going and prioritize each other above everything else.
7. Show more affection towards each other.
Physical affection keeps the chemistry between you and your partner flowing, and who doesn’t enjoy being complimented once in a while?
Affection from the person we love makes us feel good, it boosts our confidence and helps us to feel relaxed however stressful other areas of our life have become.
If it’s always just one of you showing physical affection to the other and it’s never being returned, then there isn’t a sense of equal appreciation being shown.
Everyone wants to feel as though their partner desires them and misses them when they’re not around. Even if your partner isn’t used to showing as much affection as you do, you need to feel equally wanted and loved as you try to make them feel.
It doesn’t matter if you show your affection in different ways, you just need to see that your partner is making the effort to show you they care. If you value equality in your relationship, start by making sure both you and your partner feel equally appreciated and loved every day.
8. Focus on the long term goal.
When you’re in a long-term relationship, sometimes you have to put your own individual goals to the side for the sake of a shared dream both of you have.
As you discuss your future plans with your partner, you might realize that it’s not just going to take time, but also compromise from both of you to achieve the future you’re hoping for.
One of you might have to sacrifice your personal aspirations right now for the sake of a future plan both of you are working towards in your relationship.
It takes huge amounts of trust to know that sacrificing your own individual comfort and independence right now will be worth it in the end to achieve a dream you share.
Sometimes you have to focus on the bigger picture to make sure you’re not putting more importance on what you want for yourself now that you’re sharing your life with someone else.
It shouldn’t just rest on one of you to make all the compromises, and if you’ve built your relationship on the basis of equality then you should know that although you might be sacrificing something right now, your partner is also willing and ready to do the same.
It doesn’t mean your own dreams aren’t important or that you’ll never have a chance to achieve anything individually now you’re in a relationship. It just means that you may have to focus harder on what’s important right now for the both of you and make choices that benefit the future you’re dreaming of as a couple rather than just yourself.
Having equality in a relationship is about altering your state of mind to appreciate the other person you’ve chosen to spend your life with.
It’s not always easy and you’re not always going to get things right. It takes constant work and thoughtfulness to make sure you’re being fair to your partner and respecting them as an individual, all while trying to build a life together.
There’s no set way to make sure you’re treating each other equally because every relationship is totally unique. You can’t measure equality in a relationship in a physical way, it’s much more to do with how both of you feel.
There will always be parts of your relationship to work on to make sure both of you are equally happy with the life you’re building together, but being content in the love you share and secure in how you feel about each other is a good place to start.
Still not sure how to make your relationship more fair and equal? If things currently don’t feel equal, it’s going to require changes from one or both of you. These changes are often easier to identify and commit to when you have the guidance of a relationship expert to help. So why not chat online to one of the experts from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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