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Men, Assertiveness, and Relationships: Breaking Down the Stereotypes

There are many stereotypes about men and one of the most prevalent is that men are dominating and aggressive within a relationship; they rule the roost. Sure, all stereotypes have a little bit of truth behind them. But what if I told you assertiveness within a relationship can be difficult for men, surprising? Many of the men I have worked with and known personally have struggled to find the balance between caring for their partner (feelings and all) and knowing when to stand their ground.


Relationship Dynamics

Oftentimes relationships can fall into a parent-child dynamic and this is especially the case when a man is in partnership with a strong, independent woman. A man who can be vulnerable and open with his partner may be more open to feedback about unhealthy habits, opinions on how he can live a fuller life, or ways that he might improve as a partner. Although these are all good to be open to, it can become a bit overwhelming when you start to feel as though your partner is always waiting to criticize you. Now your need to please your partner and live up to your “full potential” is creating animosity and defeat.


Steps To Be Taken

So how do you maintain your vulnerability without it becoming a weakness? Here are some ways to demonstrate assertiveness in a way that is respectful to your partner, your relationship, and yourself.


  1. Express your thoughts and feelings calmly. It can be appealing to raise your voice or shut down once frustration sets in. Instead, allow yourself to assess what is on your mind and how you are feeling. Then take the time to express that to your partner.

  2. Say no. People pleasing is the nemesis of assertiveness and breeds avoidance. There might be parts of yourself that you truly enjoy and that means it is not up for negotiation. It is okay to disappoint your partner when it comes to asserting boundaries.

  3. Respect yourself. Your wants, needs, and opinions are just as important as your partner’s. Ask yourself what self-respect looks like for you and how you demonstrate that to your partner. As long as you are keeping those things in tact then the fear of being rude, hurtful, inconsiderate may lessen.


I hope this blog was helpful to someone and understand that these are small, but effective techniques to gauge where you are within your relationship. If you are struggling with identifying your emotions or would like help developing the language needed to communicate within your relationship, we are here for you.


At Mind Works Counseling Services, we specialize in working with men and men’s issues.


Learn more about the Men's Counseling services we offer.


Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.

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