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“You don’t need me,” my now-ex said, all casual and matter-of-fact. He was stubborn about his independence, he told me, He also once said, “There are so many things I want to give you, but I’m not sure where my life is going yet.” I remember him saying this to me with a faraway look, like he was performing an open monologue to himself.

We’d been talking about the real meaning of commitment and all the reasons he didn’t feel he could truly commit to me. I was obsessed with my career, which was moving full speed ahead. , more American women have bachelor’s degrees than American men.

just support and belongingness (level 3), where it might have slotted back when commitment was more about baseline stability than anything else.

Today, men and women alike repeatedly told me they wanted a partner who “makes them better.” We are a generation focused on self-actualization: fulfillment, satisfaction, reaching our highest potential (level 5, peak #goals).

For my book on dating and relationships, I talked in depth with many men who date women, and polled Americans on gendered expectations.

Male and female survey respondents said they felt the two biggest stressors for men were still “supporting their family financially” and “being successful in their job or career.” I learned a lot of heterosexual men still want to be a full contributing partner — someone who has the capacity to support a significant other financially and practically if needed, and someone who brings home at least their fair share of the bacon in a dual-earning household.

And here’s where one of my basic theories on modern relationships comes in.

For those of us in pursuit of a relationship, we’re more often than not looking for an equal partner — a “team” dynamic.

As humans, we move all over the hierarchy every day. But in general (and as the theory goes), all needs must be fulfilled eventually, and when a need is unfulfilled, it’s activated and we’re motivated to work on that need until it’s met. Physiological and safety needs come first (you’ve gotta survive) before esteem and love (to help you thrive).

Enter modern-day romance and relationships: Hey there, idealism! Not only do most of us want to explore and expand personally, but we want couple-with-your-best-friend, do-life-together loves, too.

And in relationships, more women are breadwinners than ever before; the number of family units with female primary or sole breadwinners That doesn’t mean old societal expectations have completely fallen by the wayside, however.

They still play a role in dating between men and women — subconsciously or consciously.

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