How To Combat Internalized Misogyny When You're Dating

Fighting sexism can get discouraging; after all, we can't always influence the beliefs of the people around us. Sharing our perspectives with those who think differently is worth it, but sometimes, the easiest battle to fight is the one within our own minds — and combating internalized misogyny when we're dating is one way to do this. The sexist beliefs we direct toward ourselves might escape our awareness, but the good news is that once we're aware of them, how we choose to address them is within our control.

Internalized misogyny is essentially all the sexist beliefs that women and gender minorities hold toward themselves and other oppressed genders — things that our culture has taught us from an early age and which have become deeply ingrained as a result. It comes up a lot when we're dating because society's prescriptions for dating are largely based on gender roles, even in LGBT relationships. For example, we often assume that one person in a relationship should be dominant and one should be submissive — frequently in ways that unnecessarily gender both roles — rather than both being equals.

It's not our fault that we've internalized these ideas we've grown up with, but it is within our power to challenge how we think about then. Here are some ways to push back against the internalized misogyny that comes up when you're dating.

Forget About How You Look

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I know this is easier said than done, and to a certain extent, thinking about how you present yourself isn't a bad thing. (If it makes you happy, you do you.) But contrary to what many women are taught, it's OK to go on a date without shaving your legs or putting on makeup first. If you find yourself obsessing, it may help to set a time limit, like "I'm only going to spend 15 minutes getting ready for this date." And if you feel bad about that, think of how little time some men probably spend getting ready for their dates. You're good.

Be Unapologetically Yourself

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If you notice yourself trying to be "feminine" by acting agreeable or not eating too much on your dinner date — or trying to be "masculine" to impress a guy you're dating with your sports knowledge or "cool girl" status — remind yourself that anyone you date in the long term will want to see the real you eventually, so you don't need to hide who you are now. If they dismiss you because you're too feminine or not feminine enough, that's their problem, not yours.

Advocate For Yourself In Bed

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Of course, advocate for your partner too. But for many women, this goes without saying, and what they really need to remember is to focus on their own pleasure. It's OK to be a little bit selfish and make sure that you have a good time, and your partner will probably also want to know how to please you, so don't be afraid to speak up.

Advocate For The Kind Of Relationship You Want

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Women are taught that they're "needy" just for wanting attention or a relationship from someone they're dating. But it's not "needy"; it's totally normal! On the flip side, women also get taught that if they don't want to have a monogamous relationship, get married, or have kids, something's wrong with them. Whatever kind of relationship you want, know that you deserve to have it just as much as any man would. Even if the person you're dating can't offer it to you, it's better to learn that now and find someone else who can.

Give Yourself Permission To Be Picky

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Whether due to pressure to get into a relationship ASAP or the belief that dating someone who respects you as an equal is too much to ask, women often get the message that they are being too selective. But being single is better than being with someone who either doesn't respect you fully or just isn't the right match for you. So don't settle! It's OK to choose singlehood over a less-than-ideal relationship.

Make Sure You're Not Giving More Than You Get

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You don't have to put up with someone who sends one text for every two you send, consistently shows up late, or just isn't putting a lot of energy into the relationship. Women are taught that relationship upkeep is always their responsibility, but a truly healthy relationship can't happen unless both members participate equally.

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