where she is” and reminds him of his hard-working mother. Men like Gerald work to find ways to move away from the ego stuff that can unnecessarily hinder enjoyment of their partners and relationships.
The findings of this and other studies are troubling for many reasons, but mostly because there seems to be little we can do to change how men process the success of female partners. Partners should encourage each other regardless, and no one partner should have to hold back from sharing achievements to protect the other’s ego; that’s unfair and unhealthy.
What might help is if we accept that for thousands of years, men and women have been socialized to believe that men are supposed to do better than women, and that this belief heavily informs our views on sex and relationships. From there, we can work on deconstructing some of the ways these constructs impact our lives. We’re working against societal norms that have barely shifted a few inches in the past couple of decades.
I discourage women from throwing their income and success in their partners’ faces in ways that humiliate or degrade them. But I encourage women to feel confident in their success, and seek partners with whom they feel comfortable sharing and with whom they’ll face little backlash just for being successful. I discourage men from taking their partners’ success as a detraction from their self-worth, and I encourage them to become comfortable with celebrating in their partners’ achievements. A win for one is a win for both. Rather than let ego get in the way, push it aside and focus on building a strong future together.
*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.