Stereotypes & Relationships

It’s normal to hold expectations of ourselves, of other people, and of relationships. Sometimes, however, such expectations seem unfair. The expectations people hold of you come from images they have of who they want you to be or how they want you to act. People hold images of many different kinds of relationships.

We all have images of what dating relationships are supposed to be like. These images, or scripts, are very important because they influence how you treat someone you’re dating and how you expect to be treated.

Gender stereotypes are generalizations, mental pictures, and beliefs about what all masculine, all feminine, all transgender, or all cisgender people are like.

Gender Stereotypes:

  • Come from television, movies, song lyrics, parents, friends – everywhere!
  • Aren’t necessarily negative.
  • Box people into a specific way of acting rather than allowing them to be individuals.
  • We can hold gender stereotypes whether or not we know we do.
  • Affect the way we think about interactions between and within genders.
  • We use them to create expectations about how dating partners should act.

If you or your dating partner feel as if you have to live up to these images, then there might be conflict, disappointment, and frustration. Gender stereotypes can even lead to abuse or harm.

If you’re aware of the messages being sent to you, however, then you can choose to accept or reject them. You can design your own relationships with your partner. You can set up a relationship that fits your personal beliefs about how you want to be treated and how you want to treat others. We each have the right to decide how we treat others and how we want to be treated by others. We have the right to these decisions even if they don’t fit into the mold made up by gender and dating stereotypes.

When you’re in a relationship, think about your expectations for your dating partner. Are they reasonable and fair, or are your expectations based on gender stereotypes?

Check out this graphic to think about gender as a construct and as fluid.