Some of the lists provided here were found on About FLR.com, a website devoted to female led relationships. For more information, instructional classes, and course for purchase, visit their website.
While watching The Crown on Netflix a few days ago, I started reflecting on what it must have felt like to be in a relationship during the Fifties and Sixties that went against traditional gender norms. What must it have been like for Prince Phillip to bow to his wife, to submit to her, to recognize her as his superior in every way? Not just by title and birth, but her capabilities. Elizabeth II was smarter, led a fuller life, had hobbies that contributed to the world, travelled more, knew herself, met with more important people on a more frequent basis and was just… better.
It motivated me to read up on the royal family, to find out more about not just Queen Elizabeth II and her consort, Prince Phillip, but their children and how echoes of their relationship can be seen in subsequent generations. Might Phillip’s frustrations be seen in the dynamic between Charles and Diana, or William and Katherine? Or Elizabeth’s comparatively progressive role as a powerful woman?
For those of us who know about the history of pornography and erotica, it is an amusing aside that after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, there was a comparative interest in subverted roles in America. Women like Betty Page became icons because they were photographed dominating men, for example. This wasn’t especially novel. The French politician, philosopher, and general ner’do’well Marquis de Sade had previously written erotica depicting powerful women – women who learned how to “master” men and, in some cases, defecate on them as a very intentional representation of their authority over men. There have always been powerful women, and there have always been those who sexualized powerful women. But something about a woman ascending to the throne of “Christendom” and challenging the patriarchal authority of the time created a new wave of Femdom literature and erotic depictions. This, more traditional voices claims, was the kind of thing that needed to be suppressed coming out of the Victorian Era. Not the porn, necessarily. But powerful women. Women needed to be “put in their place” and reminded – at times, through physical violence and at other times through sermons that legitimized the patriarchy – that they were to be submissive. When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, we see another wave of this – conservative voices in society juxtaposed with erotica and pornography subverting, challenging, and eroticizing such a narrative. I am sure there were other factors in this, such as after World War II, when men returned to the workforce to replace wives who had filled their vacancy in production, we see another rise in social literature reminding women to submit. But in Queen Elizabeth II, there was an icon. If Phillip had to bow, a man well established to have descended from the great names at the turn of the century on both sides of the Atlantic, surely something unique compelled this new interest in female domination. The post-war period was confusing, not just politcally and internationally. It was confusing on a personal level, in how people loved and lived their lives. What might it mean, for example, for a woman to have more say in a relationship? To tell a man what he could and could not do? This is the history of gender: when women are powerful, traditionalists suppress it and underground culture fetishizes it. That’s why Queen Elizabeth II is something of an icon in gay and transexual communities – she is a woman who subverts a “traditional” gender role. Her life, her very existence, challenges traditional cultural narratives.
In my own relationship, I wondered, how would I feel if my partner took a more proactive role in our dynamic, transgressing and (in whatever way she saw fit) subverting the “traditional” roles we have established? Historically, I have taken a more caring and nurturing role in my relationships punctuated by intense times of trying to recapture a more traditional role, to “be the man” in a relationship followed by migration back toward a more “feminine” role. What can I say? I like doting on my partners. I like cooking and baking. I like shopping with and for my partner. I like buying soap for them, washing their laundry. Not all the time, but it seems a part of my personality to embody in some ways the traditionally feminine role. What might it mean to take this position in other ways? To give up all “control” to her? To sit down with my partner and tell her I wanted her to “take over” the relationship? To be “led” by her? To, like Prince Phillip, bow to her and divest myself of authority subsumed by her? To be led and ruled by her, in submission and devotion?
I have to say… it’s a bit of a stretch. But not an altogether unpleasant one.
When I was getting my first Master’s degree, there was a professor who wrote erotica. Because I was the “resident expert in all things religious and sexual” (so voted by my classmates), our paths crossed several times. Her husband was not the most masculine of individuals. He talked with a fey voice, gesticulated effeminately, said he would prefer to “be a housewife” to anyone who would listen, and that his wife was “forcing him out of the nest.” That proved very true. She divorced him shortly after settling into a professorship. In the weeks that followed, everyone in the department heard the details: she had taken a lover, her husband was not well endowed, he liked to watch and often expressed interest in her male companion. When given the divorce papers, he celebrated her as a “queen” who “deserved better.”
After some amount of time, maybe a year, we met and I heard his version of the same story. Full disclosure: I thought the man was suffering from emotional trauma. He took the divorce too well, praised his (now ex) wife too much, and seemed rather adrift without her. At the time, I worked for a law firm and moonlighted as a student but curiosity got the best of me. I had to ask what had happened. This was the first time I heard the term “Female Led Relationship.”
During the last few years of their marriage, but despite his best efforts, he wasn’t enough for her. They both knew it before they married, and it was confirmed with the birth of their children. She was “disappointed” to have children with him, he said, and he wasn’t sure why she married him in the first place. “Maybe it was pity,” he said. “But I loved her more than anyone else will be able to.”
I have thought ever since that perhaps this was why she allowed him to live in the same house with her after the divorce, to “watch the kids” while she dated new men, and why he never seemed too depressed by the situation he found himself in. There were times, even initially when the rumors were flying around them both, when he seemed sublimely happy. I recall him skipping in the hall once, which struck me as atypical given everything going on at that time. Both agreed it was the insistence on having a new lover, not the power dynamics in the relationship, that killed whatever romance had existed previously. “We struggled at first to really name what is was, but it was always [a Female Led Relationship]. There was no way I was ever in control of us, and we both knew that.” What remained with me from that conversation was the dynamic itself. It seemed like he and his wife had a good thing for a while there. He hadn’t had a nervous breakdown. He wasn’t “taking it too well.” There wasn’t some kind of sexual thrill from public humiliation. He may not have been traditionally masculine, but the love he had for his wife was deep and strong. In the end, he was just a man deeply in love with someone, willing to sacrifice himself for her to establish her own life. The sad part wasn’t that things ended with her, it was the knowledge that he might never find a love like that again.
Simply put, a female led relationship or “FLR” is when women take the more prominent role in a relationship, making the decisions financially, spiritually, and practically in the daily affairs of how and where she and her partner spend their time. As the title indicates, the female “leads” her partner, or at least one who wants to be led by her.
Of course, this happens every day in all types of situations such as business, education, healthcare and home. Men have taken more female-held jobs like nursing and teaching while women have taken more seats of power in law, medicine, the arts, religious leadership, and politics. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2008 there were 72 million women age 16 and over who were part of the labor force, either employed or looking for work. That was nearly 60% of the female population at the time, estimated at 121 million. Since then, women have continued to dominate industry.
In pursuit of diversity, women have emerged since then in “non-traditional” jobs and, according Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap – and What Women Can Do About It, earn 5% to 43% more than men in the same job. It’s not just the medical profession (where women account for 92% of nurses). This includes sales engineers (who make on average $89,908 – 43% more than their male counterparts earning $62,660) and automotive service technicians and mechanics (average earnings $40,664 for women, $31,460 for men – a difference of 29%). According to Linda Lowen, “With far fewer women working in scientific and technical fields than men, they may be more able to pick and choose job offers from companies eager to recruit women and fulfill diversity requirements frequently specified by government contracts. Existing societal expectations – that women are more verbal, more eager to please, and easier to talk to than men – make them ideal candidates for jobs that combine technical expertise with sales.”
That we express surprise at women (gasp!) working at all, especially in a “man’s field” is indicative, perhaps, of a social fear of subverted power dynamics. In America, the fear of powerful women has become somewhat mythologized – witches, “uppity” and “bossy” women who need to be “put in their place.” Flipping that script and finding an empowered matriarchal authority goes against traditional gender norms, social norms, even perhaps “biblical” norms.
Instead of discussing the politics of gender or the emergence of Feminism, we might simplify all of that. Some men want women to lead in their personal lives, find the courage to ask them to do so, and find great satisfaction in a woman leading them. Because many women already contribute to the leadership of men and men readily accept it, for example the social schedule or divvying up of household responsibilities, there must be a difference. Something to set the FLR apart and make it notable. Namely, that the passion men feel is deep and varied. Imagine a strong man, say an attorney who does well for his firm and is otherwise successful in many ways asking his woman to lead their relationship. He might go a step further and “dote” on her, perhaps even push the boundaries of that and allow her to spend his money and schedule his time as she sees fit. This is what we might call a “typical” relationship, right? But many men want the woman to rule over him, making demands and exacting punishment for any infraction. This scratches the surface of where men want to go for FLR. As Queen Elizabeth II says in one episode of The Crown, “Powerful men still need a nanny to threaten to spank them if they step out of line.” But the FLR is deeper and richer than simply being led by a woman or following in a supportive role. It is erotic.
- Femdom – a brief or prolonged sexual experience or scene where the female partner dominates
- Typical Relationship – both partners, regardless of gender, share responsibilities and regularly “check in” with one another for the furtherance of the relationship.
- Traditional Relationship – the male partner takes the majority of responsibility for the shared income of the household, allocation of resources, final say in major decisions for the relationship (housing, jobs, whether to have children), and frequency (and type) of sexual experience.
- Female Led Relationship – the female partner takes the majority of responsibility for the shared income of the household, allocation of resources, final say in major decisions for the relationship (housing, jobs, whether to have children), and frequency (and type) of sexual experience.
You should note that any man asking for FLR is communicating his personal desires for how to live life. He is not suffering from a form of psychosis or arrested development. He is not inherently weak, or less manly. To the contrary, he may be expressing a healthier state of mind, according to a recently published meta-analysis conducted by the Univ. of Indiana, Bloomington. The collection looked at over 20,000 men through 78 different studies.
The new meta-analysis, which was published Monday in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, synthesized 78 studies on masculinity and mental health gathered between 2003 and 2013. The participants ranged in age from 12 to over 65, and the vast majority were men. A little more than half of the studies involved predominantly white men, although some focused on African Americans or Asian Americans. Most of the studies didn’t ask respondents’ sexual orientation, but among those that did, most of the participants were straight.
Researchers then identified 11 norms considered to be “traditionally masculine” — desire to win, need for emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity or playboy behavior, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and pursuit of status — and looked to see whether they were associated with particular mental health outcomes.
In general, the men who stuck more strongly to these norms were more likely to experience problems such as depression, stress, body image issues, substance abuse and negative social functioning. They were also less likely to turn to counseling to help deal with those problems. The effect was particularly strong for men who emphasized playboy behavior, power over women and self-reliance.
Lead author Y. Joel Wong of Indiana University wasn’t surprised by the results. “It’s not rocket science,” he told Popular Science. “It’s something that’s been demonstrated over 20 years of research.” Wong noted that many people might argue that being self-reliant and acting like a playboy are just what it means to be a man. [He] disputes that understanding: Men have changed their interpretation of masculinity throughout history, and they still can. “Just because you’ve always behaved in a particular way doesn’t mean you’ve got no choice,” he said.
As with all power negotiations in relationships, there are some real or even imagined issues that are solved by FLR. It may be an issue of safety, motivation to be a better mate, an obsession with kink, a deep desire to serve, a penance for something he did wrong, an effort to save the relationship, a statement of unworthiness or fanatical idea to worship a woman, even women in general. All of these, combinations of these, and other motivations are the reason for his desperation. A man is, in a very profound way, setting aside the social expectations placed upon him by his gender, even on him personally, and willing to forego those for an alternative that he hopes will satisfy some internal need. I hesitate to say “desire” because that seems to indicate the need is temporary. An FLR is not a kink that can be satisfied in a fun sexual experience and set aside post-coitus. An FLR is something between an ongoing, sustained relational dynamic and a prolonged (days, weeks, even years) form of foreplay. Desires come and go, but needs remain. This is something that he has clearly put some thought into, struggled with, and is now mustering up enough courage to discuss with a partner. He is taking a big risk here to communicate a relational need. Failing to recognize his “desperation” to know and be known in this way is harmful to the relationship and to him, individually. What he is asking for does not present a failure or some shortcoming on his part, but rather a testament to courage and an admirably high degree of investment in the partnership.
FLRs are, like all relationships, unique. It ranges from bossy women “shaking things up” at home to voluntary slavery on the part of the male. To better understand the scale, it’s helpful to think of an FLR in four distinct ways.
- A woman leads informally, derives little benefit from leadership, but has limited interest in FLR and would avoid it if directly pressed.
- A woman formally leads with benefits, has little to moderate interest in kink, and moderate interest in formal FLR.
- Formal FLR where the woman has taken control of the primary axes of the relationship (see below), has an interest in some or perhaps all kink, and has a high interest in formal FLR.
- Extreme FLR where the woman is elevated to ruler, has a high interest in kink and formal FLR while the man is reduced to a slave.
Each of these levels likely has a place where women naturally nurture, give, and serve their partners at some level, though the way that care is given, the intensity of control and how discipline is administered varies. Again, we are speaking generally of four levels of intensity here, though in each, she makes the rules, she sets the boundaries, she has final say and he both loves her and supports her in this role.
Some feel that the FLR dynamic provides a freedom and safety for the woman not possible in most relationships where equality is emphasized. In my own relationship history, there have been times when I stepped away from “leading” the relationship so that she could take a breath and determine whether she felt safe and loved. An FLR works well, whatever the level, for many who have experienced emotional or psychological hurt in a previous relationship so that they feel in control. I think we have all known someone who has been a bit more invested or controlling in a relationship because that is the way that they feel safest. Some of this is not possible for some individuals in traditional relationships, with the emphasis on equality and shared responsibility. One needs to take the lead while another needs to go with the flow. Still, the FLR offers benefits for any woman wanting more control and less strife. Those benefits include:
- A varied and interesting sex life.
- As much control over your relationship, him and your life together as you want.
- Being able to be bitchy, angry and condescending without conflict.
- Becoming a better lover to your mate.
- Building a formal relationship agreement.
- Expanding your leadership as you please.
- Expanding your sex life as you please.
- Getting him to do as much of the housework as you like – and the way you want it done.
- More consistent respect from your mate.
- Growing confidence as a leader.
- Having a more confident man who “knows the drill” and what is expected of him.
- Helping him to become a better lover by teaching him how to please you.
- Helping him to improve his health and well being by regulating his diet.
- Helping him to stop bad habits. (ex: masturbation, time management, etc.)
- Indulging in your kinks and his as you choose.
- Intimacy as desired and on demand.
- Nurturing and emoting as much or as little as you want.
- Pampering from your man and receiving as much as you want.
- Promoting togetherness, connection and relationship longevity on your terms.
- Satisfaction of pleasing your lover, even training him in new ways.
- Teach and create change as much as you want at the pace you want.
- Working towards goals together.
For him, the FLR means he can find freedom in submission.
- He can indulge her fantasies, even his own – especially if those fantasies involve submission.
- Surrender to female authority.
- Get closer to his mate by serving her body.
- Become a better lover to his mate.
- Remain confident by knowing the rules and what is expected of him, together with consequences when he doesn’t follow through.
- Knowing her expectations.
- Expressing his willingness to submit.
- Learning new things.
- He is guided in becoming a better lover.
- He brings harmony and stability to the family by serving.
- Has motivation (incentive and discipline) to change bad habits.
- Encourages his mate as a successful leader.
- Helps normalize female led relationships.
- Learns greater intimacy, connection and vulnerability.
- Promotes togetherness, connection and relationship longevity.
- Works towards goals together.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, I believe a great deal of pornography, underneath the different displays of “misogyny” and “debasement” still prioritize women. Not all, certainly. But think of some familiar tropes – the slutty schoolgirl? Empowered to make her own decisions and act on them. The MILF? An older woman, not prized by most cultural depictions of sexiness and youthful beauty, perhaps even unsatisfied in her marriage, who is desired and perhaps even “teaches” a younger man how to be a better lover. Even offensively racialized depictions of sex in porn are, in some sense, a celebration of difference. Where most of society is geared towards minimizing women by emphasizing small bodies, telling them to “be good” and stay quiet, to never assert themselves, there is an entire underworld in porn that subverts these narratives toward a particular end: the empowerment of women. The “liberated woman” who makes her own choices, puts men in their place, and achieves equality if not entirely turning over convention.
A sexually empowered woman who controls a man isn’t something “new,” that is. As Alyssa Goldstein points out, “The idea that men are naturally more interested in sex than women is so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to imagine that people ever believed differently. Yet for most of Western history, from ancient Greece to beginning of the nineteenth century, women were assumed to be the sex-crazed porn fiends of their day. In one ancient Greek myth, Zeus and Hera argue about whether men or women enjoy sex more. They ask the prophet Tiresias, who answers ‘If sexual pleasure were divided into ten parts, only one part would go to the man, and and nine parts to the woman.'” In 1903, Austrian gynecologist Enoch Heinrich Kisch, wrote that “The sexual impulse is so powerful in women that at certain periods of life its primitive force dominates her whole nature.”
In my own relational history, I have found that women are far more sexually capable and experimental than I am and that, rather routinely, straight male friends have indicated the same in their relationships. Sexologist Marta Meana was interviewed in the book, What Do Women Want? by Daniel Berger. There, she says “There were lots of messages from high-powered women thanking me for allowing a discussion of elements of sexuality that don’t fall neatly into an ideological box.” It’s long been believed that women need to feel emotionally connected in order to feel attracted, to want sex. But a recent study by sexologist Meredith Chivers shows that when it comes to desire, women are as visually stimulated and more easily turned on than men.
A group of straight women were hooked up to a device that measures genital blood flow and listened to a series of tapes in which pornographic scenarios were described: couplings between men and women, women and women, strangers. The subjects reported feeling most aroused by sex between people in long-term relationships, but the machines reported the opposite — blood pulsed faster during sex between strangers.
These findings tracked with another study in which women watched both gay and straight porn and were aroused by every conceivable scenario, while straight men were aroused only by women, gay men only by men. Chivers theorizes that the gap between what women self-report and what actually happens to them physiologically is a byproduct of socialization — that women don’t feel as much permission to be as open as men do. Her colleague Terri Fisher at Ohio State agrees. “Being a human who is sexual, who is allowed to be sexual, is a freedom accorded by society much more readily to males than to females.”
The challenge to all these stereotypes of women not wanting sex as much as men do, or wanting sex to be polite and quiet continue to be overturned with the availability of social media polling. According to a recent study conducted by fertility app Kindara, the majority of them are just flat out wrong. Kindara asked 500 women questions relating to common sex stereotypes, including the importance of an emotional connection; what, if any factors impede their sex life; and how often do women desire sex. The survey found that 53.2 percent of the women did not have sex as often as they would like. Almost three quarters of the respondents said they’d like to engage in sexual activity more than three times per week, and 13 percent of respondents reported wanting sex more than even six times per week.
In her book, The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family, Liza Mundy suggests not only that women will soon be the primary earners in a majority of American households but that their new economic position means they will have unprecedented sexual freedom. According to Mundy, women will unquestionably have a sexual advantage in this new economic landscape.
In February 2012, the Hamilton Project, a Brookings Institution initiative that tracks trends in earnings and life prospects, found that marriage rates have risen for top female earners — the share of women in the very top earning percentile who are married grew by more than 10 percentage points — even as they have declined for women in lower earning brackets. (The report also suggested that the decline in those lower brackets may be because women can support themselves and are dissuaded from marriage by the declining earnings of men.)
We got the first indication of a major shift back in 2001 with a study by University of Texas at Austin psychologist David Buss that showed that when men ranked traits that were important in a marital partner, there had been a striking rise in the importance they gave to women’s earnings and a sharp drop in the value they placed on domestic skills. Similarly, University of Wisconsin demographer Christine Schwartz noted in a 2010 study in the American Journal of Sociology that “men are increasingly looking for partners who will ‘pull their own weight’ economically in marriage” and are willing to compete for them.
Indeed, men may be readier to cede their role as breadwinner than they are given credit for. In 2011, Stanford University economist Ran Abramitzky, working with two European colleagues, published a fascinating study that suggested exactly this. Looking at demographic records for the French population after World War I, they found that men in regions that had suffered higher mortality rates (and were therefore short on men) were more able to “marry up.” Given the opportunity to marry into a life with more resources and prospects, the men hastened to do so. To Abramitzky, the surprise was “how flexible this marriage market was” and how quickly men were able to adapt to the changing demographics.
Economically, relationally, and sexually, women already exhibit more control and the degree of variety in their relationships – committed or otherwise. What is interesting, perhaps, is that men fail to admit this.
Let’s come back to those four levels of engagement.
It is a strong assumption that women prefer to have an ideal relationship where she and her partner are relatively equal and they make decisions together, have common interests, and of course a great sex life. Most women don’t like the idea of controlling a man. He is her partner; she is not his mother or babysitter. When presented with the idea of a Female Led Relationship, she might scoff or turn mean. “I did not sign-up for that,” or “What’s wrong with you?” might slip out of her mouth if her man were to ask for some of the things other men want from the FLR dynamic. Sure, a woman might be willing to go a little ways down the path, take more responsibility and control, exert herself but the majority are not willing to go all the way. Almost every woman I have ever known who has shared about her relationship with me has resented those times when she had to “wear the pants” in her relationship. They shame and mock other women who “put a man in his place” or “have his balls in her purse.”
Women might develop a curiosity in a Female Led Relationship over time because they love their man, but it is not because they are naturally interested in it or even kink. This kind of woman leads informally, deriving little benefit from leadership even if she has some interest in FLR. Another woman might be more interested in formally leading and enjoying those benefits, but has little to moderate interest in kink, and only moderate interest in formal FLR. Both women might allow the man to take on more housework and pamper her a bit, but the moderate to extreme kink and fantasy are left out entirely, making the experience satisfying for no one and often frustrating for all. It doesn’t “feel right” somehow. From the woman’s perspective, she is attempting to make things better but is not committed to the program. It’s not interesting to her for whatever reason. That’s great – as long as she is able to acknowledge what is happening and why. It’s important when starting down this path that the partnership is the priority. Once things get going, the couple may find that the entire endeavor won’t work for them but they can still tease each other about power dynamics from time to time. As with any interest, within a relationship both parties need to be able to name what is happening and discuss it openly.
This second category, where she holds an interest in leading and enjoying the benefits, takes the request for leadership seriously. She is willing to indulge her man and see where it goes. She may have several motivations, like knowing she is better at managing the money for example, and this rationale combined with interest to see where it goes makes the experience worthwhile – even if they ultimately decide to stop. Moderates indulge their men in service and kink, but often don’t understand why someone who wants to serve must be indulged or punished. They cannot understand “the extreme things.” They most often don’t want anything to do with punishment or kinky activities, but are willing to try and see. This level shows a real interest in trying FLR and pleasing their partner. Men with obsessive behavior sometimes push the envelope trying for more only to find that the more they press, the more she will back off and give less. From the woman’s perspective, she is trying to see if she can make things better and receive some benefits. She cares deeply for the well-being of her mate and is showing it. She is curious to see if it can work. At some point, he may require more from her though, especially if he has not divulged all of his desires. This may prove problematic for her, as she feels it has taken great effort on her part to meet him where he originally requested. Because he was not fully forthcoming initially or because the experience has woken new desires in him, she may begin to rethink the relationship and her role in it.
Formal Female Led Relationship
The third category, Formal FLR, is where the woman has taken control of the primary axes of the relationship, has an interest in some or perhaps all kink, and has a high interest in formal FLR. She enjoys being in control and fully embraces it.
What are these axes? From the meta-analysis, and really from common sense and experience more than that, we locate the primary areas of any relationship as finances, free time, household responsibilities, life direction, and sex.
- Finances – Financial control has long been the domain of men, it is ultimate control of a relationship when a mate has no control they find it difficult to impossible to invoke change, take care of themselves or leave.
- Free Time – Time doing what you want comes after the decision to make time for others, time together, time apart, time for our common interests, time with friends — all take away from our free time. Free time also includes decisions we make for our time that take an effort — will he put the toilet seat down or clean up his socks; will she? It takes time to take the garbage out. His choices affect you, if you feel you must do something because he did not.
- Household Chores – if you have a maid, a gardener and a handy man then this just got easier but if not there is a lot of work to keeping a house going. There is laundry, shopping for food and sundries, taking the trash out. If you control time you likely also control chores because they can be added to a schedule and you can train someone to do it as you would. Management 101 – delegation of responsibility.
- Life Direction – A decision to move, improve one’s education, have children, take on renting borders, make or leave friendships. Of course this takes time so one can control it with free time such as spend your free time in class improving our education. There is also the personal/spiritual/cultural/sexual direction of a person’s life.
- Sex – We all want spontaneous sex but most of us have it at night in our bedrooms and it is likely something you have done before. Control of sex can mean yes or no, what and when, how, who, how much or how hard. Sex takes time too so controlling time is key to controlling sex.
These are, to be sure, merely an introduction to important areas of relational health, but they are the primary seats of power in any relationship – how you spend money, how you spend free time, where you are going and what you are doing, etc. are routinely the “fracture lines” of a relationship because so much of our identity is found in these areas.
Getting back to it. Formal FLR relationships are led by women who are now sold out on the idea of leading and have a higher need for and understanding of control. Formal FLR women have digested the psychology of motivation for their men, then weighed the benefits and risks of the various activities she could participate in or lead. Formals often have very servile mates (or submissives) who indulge in kinks and fantasies at whatever level feels most comfortable for the female. Their relationship looks very much like a reverse traditional relationship where the man is instead the submissive/supportive “wife” and perhaps includes the added features of male chastity, indulged kinks and servant like attention. The woman likely still serves the man as well, providing a more nurturing or motherly touch to him, though I think it is worth noting that “motherly” is an adjective that shows the limitations of language regarding the activities of women. It’s not definitively “motherly” to care for someone, even though this adjective allows us to understand things rather well. Formals have taken charge of the primary areas of a relationship, those areas of life that men and women can negotiate successfully: 1. Free Time (how he spends it), 2 Finances, 3. Life Direction (where they are going as a couple/family), 4. Sex, and 5. Household Chores. Formals may have a few extreme elements in their program, things that she enjoys controlling. Motivated to make it work, she understands she is in control of the ‘ship and must steer her agenda forward. From the man’s perspective, he is content with the relationship and will be satisfied for some time. If he has not divulged all of his desires, there may be pressure for more from him as they experience new degrees of dominance and submission. This pressure is already under the control of the woman, however, who could grant the addition or shut it down with little or no consequences. It is here that most successful Female Led Relationships stop.
Extreme Female Leadership
Those couples that press forward, or continue towards in an effort at continued control, Extreme female leadership is difficult to describe to an observer because it is so intense. Women who practice this likely have taken their man and made him into a servant, object, pet or slave. She likely enjoys elements of BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sadomasochism, and Masochism) as they benefit her and are negotiated entirely on her terms.
Last night, I found myself talking about “consensual non-consent” with someone and I think that discussion applies here as well. The submissive male (both sexually and relationally) has voluntarily given up his opinion and articulated consent to the relationship. As in BDSM, voluntarily giving up consent can be a very rewarding experience for a submissive but it also subjects them to a form of psychological incongruence. They must now do things over which they have no control. While that may be pleasant at times, it also has the potential for harm. Regular check-ins and stabilizing conversations are crucial for continued relational success. Those desiring to develop an Extreme FLR should be mindful of this, exercise patience and understanding, and make the transition intentionally with periodic “walk backs” to knit together the levels and experiences – especially for the sadistic female.
Those in BDSM practice things most people don’t want to know about or discuss. If you can, imagine your man naked, wearing only a dog collar, or even a chastity device. Kneeling very still while his leader places a leash on him and trains him with a whip to obey her every word, you can visualize the extreme nature these relationships can take. I hope people will understand it’s what these couples want and they should not have to deal with outsiders creating feelings of guilt because it has been agreed upon. Here, from the woman’s perspective, there may be several scenarios where she is indulging herself in dark dreams and desires for power, control, surrender and sex. She is controlling her life so she can expand her agenda with other partners, perhaps even cuckold him. She has a desire to “break” and “rebuild” him for her own purposes through a boot camp experience so that she gets the man she wants as she wants. From the man’s perspective, he will either finally balk or he will entirely submit and likely cannot think of anything else. He is now devoted entirely to her and, should she ever reject him, he will feel lost and disoriented as she has become his whole world, subverted social roles, and will likely be unable to discuss it with most people he comes into contact with so will experience a profound sense of loneliness and self-loathing. That’s not a judgement call; it is a recognition that losing the source of your new identity will have a dramatic impact on psychological health.
One last thought: He may or may not get everything he wants, but he can take satisfaction in the knowledge that he is doing everything she wants as she wants. Because he will be satisfying her sexually and relationally, it is only the sadistic woman who will continue “disciplining” him past the instructional period. Once the new arrangement is settled into, the female – now satisfied entirely on her own terms – will be able to love and nurture more fully. It is entirely possible to humiliate in a loving, sweet way after all and one should hesitate to see this final stage as “all beatings and venom” except when the female is sadistic, deriving pleasure from inflicting pain. Instead, what is more likely is that the couple will settle into a new comfortable arrangement where wholehearted love and devotion on their own terms is possible.
VI: Supplementary Info
Remember this is a man who is likely willing to beg you for the privilege of serving you. This is not some passing sexual thrill. It is a subversion of masculine identity – he is communicating a deeply held need or interest to you, not a desire. Because of this, you will want to be sensitive to his thoughts which are probably tumbling out faster than he intends and will be a bit scattered. You may very well be the first person he has ever talked about this with and the relief of finally saying it out loud will make him emotional and vulnerable. Proceed gently. Listen and encourage him to keep talking.
But focus him where possible. Funnily enough, that’s what he will want. He wants you to ask him questions, to understand and be understood. To define his view of FLR, it is wise to get to the bottom of things, investigate exactly what he wants and get him to give full disclosure. A word of warning: Full disclosure may include things you might not want to know about your mate. For your part, focus on the essence of what is being said and return to specifics as you are able to process them. In my own relationship, which is not an FLR and more traditional, there will be moments where my partner gives me a great deal of information about something and I will have to tell her, “Okay. That’s enough. Let me think about that and we can come back to it.” Feel free to do the same thing here. If you feel overwhelmed, you won’t be able to listen well and process information as it is intended. “Put a pin in it” and come back to the specifics later. Let him say what he needs to say, but focus him. Allow yourself to capture the essence and refocus as you are able.
Woman’s Guide to getting full disclosure about your man’s desire to have a Female Led Relationships
Getting him to talk
I think we are all aware that guys are not good at sharing their feelings. To fully understand where he is emotionally, you will need to create an atmosphere where he can be vulnerable and you can remain supportive of his coming clean to you. Remember he is asking for your help and your leadership so don’t wait to take charge; just make it happen and assume he will follow. If he does not follow, don’t shrink away or show frustration. Remind him that he wants your leadership and it would give you confidence if he would follow your lead in this effort to understand him. Tell him you want to “have a serious talk” about FLR and when you want it to happen.
Ask if he would like to talk about it. Make a date to meet. Set up a room where you both can talk freely – the bedroom perhaps. Light one small candle so the room is dim. Sometime before the discussion, give him a hand written note with a few instructions on it (playing to his desires). Instruct him to shower and come to you naked and when he arrives you want him to stand at attention with his hands behind his back and his head slightly lowered. This will play to his desires but not commit you to anything just yet. Prepare yourself with questions from your intuition about him or from things he has shared in the past. This is your first meeting so make sure your leadership helps move the process forward and does not derail it.
Setting the mood for his fantasy will help you get information out of him that he would not have shared otherwise. You must remain clothed like you were dressed for work. A flattering skirt or dress is best. Showing your legs is important to his sense of fantasy. Style your hair. When he arrives, remind him to stand at attention and keep his hands behind his back, not to attempt to touch you until you ask. Spend sometime kissing and fondling so he is aroused. His mind is now on his body and you so you have him focused and slightly disarmed.
Tell him you are going to ask some questions and he can tell you anything. If he wants you to [talk] about an FLR, he needs to be frank, open and forthcoming with his answers. Tell him you are testing him. Then ask away. Anytime he begins to lose his arousal, touch him lovingly and kiss him as you would to make love but don’t let him climax and don’t get overly erotic, don’t play the role of his dominatrix fantasy if he has one – it goes too far because you are not committed to the idea of FLR yet. You are his mate, who he has asked to lead; remember that and remind often. Occasionally move him into another positions to reinforce his fantasy and keep him talking. Try having him kneel, facing the corner, laying on the bed, laying on the floor etc. Use your imagination. Remind him not to touch you unless you ask.
Things you should ask in the first meeting
- Ask him how long he has been thinking about FLR. This will give you an idea of how much catch-up you have to make up.
- Ask him why he wants you to lead him: this will give you an idea of the depth of willingness to share. He likely will choose only positive things and may even minimize those.
- Ask him if he wants you as his leader to punish him for misdeeds: this is a key milestone pointing to how much focus he desires from you and what level he wants you to aspire to.
- Have him move to a different position and spend time touching him again
- Ask him how many times a week he masturbates: this will tell you the passion of his obsessions and fantasies.
- Ask him to think back to the last time he masturbated and what he fantasized about: this will give you a look into his perspective of how he sees women in FLR. Ask him for details. What were you wearing? What was he wearing? Was their anyone else in his fantasy?
- Ask him if he thinks about other women or men dominating/leading him. If he does, you can see that it is not just focused on you but on the “idea” of dominance and submission.
- If you are hurt by this, tell him so and demand he apologize for thinking about sex with other women, you can tell him you want him to think about you alone.
- Probe for more details, especially about what acts of sex he wants.
- Has he ever thought about being naked in front of your women friends? This is servile where he has to follow your commands and likely points to some form of volunteer slavery. Remember, he may be feeling shame about this.
- Has he ever thought about you and another man while he watches and serves? This is the fantasy of cuckolding, common among men who want extreme FLR. Remember, he may be feeling shame about this.
- Has he ever thought about being forced to perform oral sex on another man? This is the fantasy of slavery, sexual slavery and cuckolding. Remember, he may be feeling shame about this.
- Ask him for his promise not to masturbate or spend time fantasizing for 7 days (assuming you want to have further conversations about this with him)
- Tell him he is doing very well. Have him move to a different position. If you can, spend time touching him and kissing again. Try to remember why you both are there.
- Ask him if he has looked at femdom or BDSM/BSDM porn on-line. This will tell you where he is enhancing his fantasies. This will be an embarrassing admission, so he will tend to minimize his response.
- Ask him how often each week he looks at femdom or BDSM/BSDM porn on-line: this will tell you how intensely he is enhancing his fantasies.
- Ask him when and with what computer he is accessing these web sites.
- Ask him for his promise not to look at any images of sex, femdom, porn or BSDM for 7 days.
- At the end tell him you have committed to nothing yet and you want to have further conversations about this when you are ready (assuming you do). If you are done, then finish gracefully. If you want to pursue further, then finish this script:
- Have him reinforce the promises he has made to you and ask him to confess immediately if he fails to keep any so you can maintain a level of trust. Promoting openness/transparency from this time on is better for you.
- Ask him to dress for bed or go about his day, whichever is best.
- Ask him to give you some space to think.
- Separate yourself from him.
- Now you will want to think things over.
You may be blown away. You may be hot. You may be disgusted. Women react differently and to what their men confess. Keep in mind, you don’t have the full story yet.
Keeping your relationship vital – Things you should keep asking
Okay, now what? You have some answers. You may need to spend some time licking your wounds. Most of all, you will need to decide if you still want him or not. You can approach him and say you don’t want anything to do with FLR but that wont solve the issues created by his desires. You are in a relationship, that takes two and at least one of you is looking for FLR. We recommend follow-up discussions with your mate. These discussions could lead to:
- Intervention (we don’t recommend this one).
- Ignoring the problem (we don’t recommend this one).
- Some kind of counseling (if he agrees and you won’t want anything to do with FLR).
- Greater interest in FLR (assuming you are interested).
- The drastic move of finding a new mate.
Discussion may be hard work for some women and may be a pleasure for others. After all when is the last time you had an intimate conversation with him where he was vulnerable to you. If you want it to happen, it will because you can make it so?
- DONE! – If you are done with this and the relationship, then take appropriate action. If you are going this way:
- We recommend you do not provoke anger in him.
- We recommend you discuss your exit strategy with him.
- You were friends before and you can be friends again.
- If he stalks, begins behaving irrationally or you see signs of mental illness, act appropriately and publicly to protect him and you.
- I WANT HIM BUT NOT IT! If warranted, and he agrees, get a third party to help you, counseling may normalize your relationship again. If you are going this way:
- We recommend you do not indulge any fantasy.
- We recommend you get his agreement for help.
- We recommend you both talk to find the deltas in your relationship that allowed his FLR desires. What is it that you as a couple are doing wrong.
- We recommend you help him remove temptation (block the internet, stop secret masturbation).
- We recommend you take caution not to embarrass him beyond measure by openly discussing his situation publicly, he may lose trust in you to discuss difficult things in the future.
- Some couples find having more sex where the women taking an active role in making sure he has sex with her on a daily basis – normalize the relationship by reducing sexual tension.
- Remember, obsessive behaviors are difficult to end.
- I WANT IT! If you are beginning to like the idea then take stock, learn all you can, create “your agenda” and grow. If you are going this way:
- We recommend you only simulate fantasies until you have decided what you want.
- We recommend you have several more planned meetings and add increasingly less stimulation to his body while you are talking. You both will become more comfortable talking openly.
- We recommend you remind him FLR is on trial. He must remain humble, frank, forthright and open. Less than that tends to derail growing.
- We recommend you educate yourself and join communities where FLR is discussed openly.
- We recommend you get full disclosure from him by keeping the dialogue alive.
- We recommend you figure out what you want to try or do and craft your FLR to enhance things you like. Experiment.
- We recommend you learn his motivations/triggers for the success of your FLR, which will to help him grow.
- It is fun being the leader when you have a good follower.
- Settle in, make some goals for yourself, your man, and you both as a couple.
- Find out what his goals are.
- Set your agenda, allow time for experiments.
- You don’t have to be perfect or an expert. You are you and he is he – just keep moving forward.
- Set boundaries, rules and a way to correct problems.
- Create a plan for adjustment.
- Create a training plan.
- Enjoy the perks and benefits.
- Learn more about his motivation and motivate him.
- The more you work his service into your relationship, the better he will like it.
- Don’t be afraid to back-off.
- Sexist Men Have Psychological Problems, by Sarah Kaplan
- Myths About Men, Women, and Relationships, by Gwendolyn Seidman
- Being in a Long Term Relationship Kills Women’s Libido, by Lea Surugue
- Women Report Not Having Sex As Much as They Would Like, by Ali Venosa
- When Women Wanted Sex More Than Men, by Alyssa Goldstein
- Surprising Secrets of Female Sexuality, but Maureen Callahan