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I Was The “Bossy Girl” & Here’s How It Impacted My Dating Life For The Better

Content warning: This article mentions sexual assault. No matter how much I try, I’ve never been known as a “nice girl.” That doesn’t mean I’m blatantly rude, though — I tip well at restaurants, hold doors open for people, and never forget to say “sorry” or “thank you” (I actually say the former way too much). My friends and family know I’m fiercely loyal and more generous than I need to be.

The problem is, simultaneously, I’m assertive. I’m loud, and I express my (usually strong) opinions whenever the situation allows it. I’m also, admittedly, not the easiest person to work with because I have super high standards for all my projects and no hesitation in creating an awkward situation if it means we end up with the best final product.

Growing up and into today, I’ve been deemed a “bossy girl.” I’m the person who, during my elementary school plays and dance rehearsals, told my peers they were in the wrong spot even though it was totally not my job (my mom used to make fun of me in these instances by calling me “the director”). I also relentlessly corrected people’s grammar before realizing it made me extremely dislikeable. 

When it came to my dating life, though, I wasn’t always comfortable just saying what I thought. In my mid-teenage years, societal standards and peer pressure at sleepaway camp taught me I should be uncommunicative, and that men should take the lead. That was all I knew, so I figured the bossy part of my personality had to go if I wanted any guys to like me.

In my experience, most men see a confident exterior and think, that’s a challenge that isn’t worth it today. But honestly, do you really want to give in to someone like that?

This mindset led to two still-scarring experiences in which I took the backseat for the first time in my life, consequently letting men (or really, boys) take advantage of me: The first turned out to be an elaborate, embarrassing prank, and the second was a circumstance I now classify as sexual assault. I’ve come to realize I did nothing wrong in these instances — just another young, vulnerable girl facing the consequences of a male-dominated world — but they might not have happened if I applied my strong attitude to the romantic part of my life.

It took leaving that toxic environment to realize how sexist it is that society deems many assertive, outspoken women as “too bossy” or “too aggressive,” and discourages us from expressing our emotions in favor of men’s. While people have long made excuses for men’s emotional, aggressive behavior, women are criticized for being too loud and argumentative. I’ve been conditioned to be more polite and agreeable, which meant complying with men’s wishes and getting hurt in the process.

Embracing my role as a “bossy girl” meant that, for a while, my dating life was… quiet. In high school, I learned I’d been unintentionally scaring off guys just by looking at them because they could sense my confidence (and it also helps that I’m 5’9″, a short guy’s worst fear). I later used this quality to my advantage — now, whenever I sense a guy about to hit on me, I flash them a death stare and they never dare walk in my direction. But initially, it felt like a stab in the gut every time a guy didn’t want to talk to me, instead pulling aside one of my shorter, more polite, and soft-spoken friends.

So it’s understandable that being bossy as a woman often comes with worries of pushing guys away. But this fear only stems from societal, systemic sexism that elevates quiet, polite women instead of assertive ones, because the latter is a trait more accepted in men. In my experience, most men see a confident exterior and think, that’s a challenge that isn’t worth it today. But honestly, do you really want to give in to someone like that?

Insecure, patriarchal men are like pests, and being assertive and confident is like wearing bug spray.

Although I never experienced the benefits of being an assertive woman in high school, this quality has only boded well for my dating life in the long run, especially in college. Starting in my freshman year, being my true self attracted someone who’s a better match for me: someone who doesn’t feel threatened by confident women. Because someone who isn’t afraid to have a “bossy” girlfriend is one who would rather have an equal partner than a submissive one; they’d rather put the same amount of effort into the relationship. And before you say you’ve never met one, these people do exist — we just have to attract them with our attitude. Insecure, patriarchal men are like pests, and being assertive and confident is like wearing bug spray. Scaring them away prevents us from being hurt and manipulated, leaving the men who were raised correctly to treat us right.

Truthfully, my boyfriend doesn’t want to be pampered. He enjoys hearing me talk about my opinions. Instead of having someone who constantly agrees with him, he loves that I can talk back and playfully argue with him. Unfortunately, these traits can’t be said of all men (not even close). But being a “bossy girl” is what led me to find a relationship I deserve, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

So let me be the first to tell you: As long as you’re still being kind, you can and should embrace all your bossiness. Go for what you want, and don’t be apologetic about it. Step up and be a leader if the role calls to you. Give someone a death stare. Say what you feel, without overthinking. It’s our role to challenge the narrative that’s been placed on us.

Abby is a National Writer for Her Campus and the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at Waterloo. As part of the Wellness team, she covers topics related to mental health and relationships, but also frequently writes about digital trends, career advice, current events, and more. In her articles, she loves solving online debates, connecting with experts, and reflecting on her own experiences. She is also passionate about spreading the word about important cultural issues such as climate change and women’s rights; these are topics she frequently discusses in her articles. Abby began producing digital content at BuzzFeed, where she now has over 300 posts and 60 million overall views. Since then, she has also written for various online publications such as Thought Catalog, Collective World, and Unpacked. In addition to writing, Abby is also a UX and content designer; she most frequently spends her days building innovative, creative digital experiences. She has other professional experiences ranging from marketing to graphic design. When she’s not writing, Abby can be found reading the newest Taylor Jenkins Reid book, watching The Office, or eating pizza. She’s also been a dancer since she was four years old, and has most recently become obsessed with taking spin classes.