By Brazen Edwards

You may have heard of the term “female-led relationships” or FLR as it’s commonly known, but what exactly does that mean? Is it simply a dynamic where the woman wears the pants in the family, or is there more to it? For some women in heterosexual relationships, life can get complicated due to uneven power dynamics and the distribution of emotional labour between men and women. Or worse, some partners use weaponised incompetence to escape the day-to-day obligations of running a household and raising a family.  

Thankfully relationships are evolving and becoming more equal. However, issues such as uneven finances (like the pay gap) and household gender expectations still disadvantage women. 

With that in mind, female-led relationships look to create a collaborative stance where women are on equal footing or take a lead role traditionally occupied by men. While there are varying degrees of control, it has expanded beyond sexual fantasies and transitioned more into mainstream relationships, where feminism becomes an integral part of the value system of the partnership. 

So although the practice was initially established within the BDSM community, where it’s explored more thoroughly, as long as the dynamic between the man and the woman goes against the norm, the relationship can be defined as female-led. 

What is so Unique about Female-led Relationships? 

Since these relationship structures are more matriarchal than patriarchal or they’re on equal footing, both parties benefit. I don’t know about you, but that’s far preferable to being a Commander’s Wife (hello, Handmaid’s Tale!). Who wouldn’t love a man to take on more of the emotional labour and have an equal share of chores without being asked?! 

Before broaching this relationship style with your partner, it’s worth reflecting on whether it would suit your lifestyle and your mutual goals, as it needs to be a consensual agreement. So what are some of the benefits of this style of relationship? 

  1. There’s less power struggle when there’s more equality. This relationship style could work for couples where the woman naturally has a more dominant personality or has a more demanding career. It also works when the man wants to give up more control in his life. It’s never a pleasant experience when couples experience power struggles over making decisions and exercising authority. This lack of tension leads to an overall happier life for both.
  1. More transparent communication. This relationship style is built on the foundation of honesty and understanding from both partners and the willingness to adapt to the needs of each individual. Whereas traditional relationships leave little room for evolution and growth. A female-led relationship gives both partners the room to tell each other what they want and expect from each other. With a relationship built on authentic communication and discussion, there will be a greater chance that the entire family benefits more.
  1. Equality leads to less toxicity. When one person has sole authority to make the decisions in a relationship, this can often lead to an unhealthy dynamic in which a person forgets to prioritise the well-being and happiness of those around them. Traditional male-led relationships often fall into this trap where the man gets so accustomed to only caring about themselves that they often don’t consider broader implications. When both partners have an equal, say it minimises behaviours that lead to passive aggression.
  1. Less pressure on culturally defined roles. There is the traditional stereotype of a man being strong, emotionally withdrawn, and the provider. The conventional woman is seen as loving, obedient and quiet, putting the needs of the family first. The problem with these traditional roles is that we don’t always fit into them. This means we can feel pressured to fit into something that doesn’t suit us, leading to unhappiness. An alternate relationship structure allows people to act out in the roles they were naturally born to do versus what’s expected.
  1. Far better intimacy. One of the most critical parts of a relationship is how connected we feel to our partner. When a woman feels empowered and respected, it leads to wanting their partner more, and ultimately sex becomes more satisfying. Outside the obvious perks of having a partner dote on them when a man shares in household tasks, women are less exhausted and have more energy to invest in the bedroom.  

No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, each has its own set of challenges, so maintaining balance is crucial. Ultimately you would struggle to be happy in a relationship if only one person makes all the decisions and the other has no input. 

Mutual respect is necessary to sustain any relationship, whether female-led or not, so it’s essential to encourage your partner to take more initiative and contribute to the relationship as much as possible.