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Gender Roles Are Impacting Modern Relationships More Than You Think

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

When I was eighteen years old and a senior year in high school, I remember a guy that I was romantically involved with telling me that the ideal future that he envisioned for himself was one in which he lived in a one income household, married to a wife with the primary task of taking care of the household and kids. Crazy right? Nowadays, most people can identify the blatant misogyny in expecting women to be full-time housewives. However, us Gen-Z women are aware that these outdated ideologies unfortunately still play out in romantic relationships — even in the year 2024.

I remember feeling incompetent for not fitting the description of my past romantic partner’s ideal future wife. I had no desire to spend my adulthood confined to managing household affairs such as endless loads of laundry and changing diapers. My distaste for gender roles and lack of conformity to the expectations of society soon lead to feeling insecure that I wasn’t “womanly” enough. My insecurity soon manifested into not speaking up about my needs and boundaries in hopes that being submissive would make me more “feminine” and therefore more loved by my ex-partner. However, squeezing myself into a box that I did not fit in only made me unhappy in the end.

This insecurity is not uncommon amongst women, as countless conversations with female friends and expert sources have led me to believe that the insecurity of not being enough of a woman stems from the gender roles implemented within our society.

In this article, I will discuss how gender roles are negatively impacting our generation’s dating culture through the findings of scholarly works as well as my own personal experiences.

The damage of tik tok dating advice

We live in a day and age where trends online show us that some men are not even willing to peel an orange for their girlfriend, and that noncommittal relationships — otherwise known as “situationships” — are becoming increasingly more popular over healthily functioning romantic relationships.

Research shows that social media has a large influence on our generation’s dating culture, as I mainly see this influence take place on TikTok where both men and women create dating advice videos that are riddled with misogynistic values. Popular online phrases such as being “wifey material” and embodying “divine feminine energy” glorify the limiting housewife lifestyle and promote unhealthy relationship dynamics that ultimately lead to power imbalances.

what research shows us

Expert sources show that gender roles often cause dissatisfaction on both ends of a romantic relationship. Jeremy Nicholson M.S.W., Ph.D., a doctor of social psychology who specializes in relationship dynamics, explains that this feeling of dissatisfaction is not uncommon as gender roles make it “more difficult to figure out when someone likes you, more uncertain as to how to find a good partner, and more challenging to identify satisfying romantic relationship goals.”

Gender roles also create power imbalances within romantic relationships, causing unclear communication and overall mutual unhappiness between both partners. The Psychowellness Center, a mental health wellness clinic based in India, states that, “men who hold more traditional gender role ideologies are more likely to perpetrate violence in relationships” and that “women who have traditional gender-role attitudes tend to put much more effort and resources into the household, which can lead to a power imbalance in the relationship.”

Further research from the National Library of Medicine shows that traditional gender stereotypes lower marital satisfaction and constrain authentic intimate expression.

My Takeaways

It feels as though the information that we receive online is causing us to move backwards as a society, promoting ideologies that reflect outdated concepts. After both experiencing and witnessing the detrimental effects of gender roles in romantic relationships, I would advise you to ask yourself this: what qualities do I bring to the table in a relationship, and what qualities do I expect out of a partner?

I have found freedom in not restraining myself to a singular role in a relationship, but rather appreciating and expressing the many unique qualities that I possess as an individual. I encourage other women to find the same freedom by no longer conforming to the unrealistic and harmful expectations of society.

Although sexist trends online are often discouraging, there is still hope in moving towards a future where our romantic relationships are no longer negatively influenced by the patriarchal structure of our society. It is important that we educate ourselves on the impacts of gender norms to partake in more loving and harmonious relationships.

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Kyla Davis

U Mass Amherst '27

Kyla Davis is a Freshman at UMass Amherst majoring in Journalism with a Public Relations concentration.