I’ve always told myself that I needed to be the breadwinner for my future family. Why? So I could independently support myself and my children if the marriage didn’t work out. Some might call me a pessimist, but I consider myself a realist. Things don’t always work out as planned, and preparing for the worst is sometimes the best method. I took pride in knowing that I’d never have to rely on a man, or a husband, when it came to the livelihood of my potential children.
For whatever reason, my future fairytale family has never included a husband on an equal playing field. And although my plans for marriage are lightyears away, I’ve consistently dated men unable to graduate from adolescence. Regardless of age, my exes have savored every lasting youthful moment in order to continue their “straight chillin’ like a villain” epic lifestyle.
I was hit with a major reality check after I moved into an apartment with my most recent ex-boyfriend. I knew it was a huge risk, but I thought I’d calculated everything out perfectly. I chose the apartment, I covered the security deposit, I provided all the furniture, and I paid for every shared item down to forks and knives. All he had to do was live, work, and support me and our relationship. I had everything else covered. But there was one significant detail that slipped past my OCD brain – expected gender roles within the home.
Because I was the breadwinner, a stereotypical male quality, my boyfriend thought he had an easy out. He expected me to take on the stereotypical roles of both male and female while he took on the role of lazy, unmotivated, selfish teenager living in a Frat Boy fantasy. He moved into our apartment thinking he’d scored a money-making 50’s housewife while he kicked back, smoked pot, worked a part-time job and bled my bank account dry. Everyday I’d work my full-time job and two writing internships to come home to a dirty house, no groceries and a boyfriend propped up on the couch, beer in hand, blasting Trailer Park Boys, surrounded by fast food bags.
This wasn’t the fairytale family I’d imagined it to be. This was my absolute worst nightmare.
Was this my fault? Did I unintentionally strip away his masculinity by taking the reins financially? Did I set myself up for failure by assuming he’d respect me enough to contribute with the “female gender roles”? Can I be successful and independent without a man taking advantage of me? This is an easy one. Yes. But first, I have to stop choosing the nightmare known as the “man-child” as my significant other.
On second thought, why can’t I have someone on my same playing field? When did I decide I needed to overpower my future husband in order to be deemed a respectable woman and mother? Did I teach myself this after numerous failed relationships with men who didn’t appreciate me? Am I trying to over compensate for years of feeling undervalued?
Maybe I just need someone to show me that I’m successful, special and valuable just the way I am. Maybe I need someone to show me that I’m worthy of an equal partnership and I don’t need to spend my life proving that. And maybe I need someone to finally cater to my needs and show me that I don’t always have to be strong and independent.
For the first time in my life, I think I finally found that person.