I am 25. I work in finance, and have for 2 years. My feminine side was squashed so much that the idea of even trying to pull mine back out sounded exhausting.
I did it anyway, and it was, in fact, exhausting, but is now something I find so much joy and freedom in.
I began by slowly implementing some of the lifestyle changes I’ve read on the sub. I started really leaning into and embracing my feminine side by dressing nicer, putting some lotion on, making myself do my skincare routine no matter how done I was with the day, etc. I wasn’t dating when I started any of this because I wanted to become secure in myself, and I wanted to learn how to maintain these habits for myself first, so that I wouldn’t lose them in a relationship if they went unnoticed or anything.
I went about this for several months, then decided I was ready to start dating. I approached dating FAR differently this time around, and focused on holding myself to higher standards, while giving men validation for their kindness, efforts, successes, intelligence, etc.
Y’all. The number of times I have heard, “You’re the only woman who has ever said that to me, thank you!” is actually heartbreaking. The number of times I’ve been thanked for being “different,” when, after reading the sub, is really just leaning into what feels right by being supportive and genuine, is scary. It’s scary because I realized I used to be the kind of woman who didn’t lift men up, and still expected to be lifted up, and I am ashamed of that. I’m ashamed that I was so afraid of being a “pick me” (ugh), that I was willing to sacrifice years of happiness and fulfillment within marriage or motherhood in the name of liberation and freedom, when I had that within myself all along. I just needed to be myself, which, for me, meant regaining the femininity I had lost and losing the entitlement I held.
I really needed this sub, and that’s why my immediate reaction was not great. And yet, I couldn’t help myself from coming back, because deep down, I SO wanted the peace, love, joy, and humility you all had. I’m proud to say that I’m a lot closer to being the kind of woman I want to be, and I have all of you to thank for that.
Thank you for being such an uplifting group of women. I appreciate you more than you know.
Edit: it won’t let me comment yet, but I wanted to reply to u/throwawayisathing who said they’d love to see examples of validation. This is how I do it, feel free to let me know if I can improve!
I use both online dating and in person, so I’ll try to include both.
I focus in a lot on the things they bring up, as well as anything in their photos or profile that they’ve made a point to show. If they’ve made a point to fill out a bunch of questions and allowed their personality to come through, I’ll say something along the lines of, “I appreciate how much time you put into your profile! Your personality really comes through, and I like that you’re funny/witty/driven/etc.,” depending on what qualifies and traits I see. I assume those are the qualities they’re most proud of, so I want to encourage that. If they mention they’ve just gotten a new job, or just moved here, I always congratulate them and ask how they’re adjusting and if they need any recommendations for anything, since I’ve been in the area for years and know a bunch of places for food, tires, home repair, etc.
If they say something nice to me about my profile, I’ll tell them that I appreciate the compliment, and that I love xyz about their photos and profile. I accept it, give my appreciation that they noticed and complimented me, and turn it around to compliment them right back. I usually aim to follow it up with a question, too, that way they’re not having to carry everything.
I’ve found that asking questions and trying to listen more than I speak, and being sure I don’t turn it back to myself and focusing in on what he’s needing/talking about/doing, has helped me to uncover a lot of great things about the men I’ve met, serve them appropriately and respectfully as someone who isn’t their girlfriend or wife, and made it easier for us both to determine whether a second or third date is warranted. My goal is to always make them feel better than when they came into the conversation, regardless of where it leads. :)
I also wanted to thank everyone for the sweet encouragement and guidance in the comments. I’m not surprised that this was met with a hug and a warm welcome because everyone here is so kind, but it means a lot regardless. Thank you.