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Ask TherapistMaryAnn Your Own Question

TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1675
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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I have been in a long distance relationship .5 years.

Customer Question

I have been in a long distance relationship for 2.5 years. We are very much in love. I am an executive and used to leading people in my profession. I am afraid I am doing the same in my relationship. I always end up being the one to suggest and make plans, in all areas. My boyfriend is wonderful but I need to shift the balance back so that he takes the lead, or I am fearing that the relationship will fail. Any advice?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr-A-Green replied 5 months ago.
Well, it kind of depends on how you perceive your relationship to be going right now. If this dynamic works for the two of you, is there a compelling reason to change it? There are many types of personalities out there and it's not uncommon for one to be more assertive and take the lead. If this works for both parties, then it's sustainable. Has your boyfriend ever mentioned that this was bothering him? Does he think it needs to change?
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
No he hasn't said anything and seems to go along with it fine. I just have my own fears that me taking the lead becomes emasculating to him. I only do this out of efficiency, but I know that it is sometimes badly received by men. My boyfriend thinks the relationship is going great. I just don't want him to grow tired of my assertiveness.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
on my side however, I do think that it would be nice if I could relax and just go with the plan that he made.
Expert:  Dr-A-Green replied 5 months ago.
Well, I hear you. I, too, have that personality style and work a job where it's required most of the time. It can be worrisome that the gender roles will kick in and he'll become 'sick of it,' etc. But, unless he professes some discomfort with the situation, I doubt that's the case. And, I want to be sure we're looking at the totality of the relationship variables too. For instance, I'm assuming you're talking about planning dates/outings, etc. Are you also talking about in all other areas? Examples might include how you do things like train/discipline pets, or chores around the house. How about initiating intimate time - is that also always you? If you just want to change the dynamic - because you want to relax (I hear you there too!), you could approach it several ways. The first, and most obvious would be to ask him to plan an outing for the two of you. But, if this doesn't work, you could try planning something around something he's an expert in, and ask him a ton of questions throughout (for example, if he's an expert chef, book a cooking class and ask him to teach you). The more you defer, the more he should naturally pick up the reins a bit. If you continue to shift the focus to him and defer to his expertise, he'll likely get the hint eventually. Additionally, praising the heck out of him for little surprises should nudge him in that direction without having to be overt about it. I agree that men like to feel 'manly' and that part of that is taking the lead sometimes. Just remember that it doesn't always have to be on the big things - it could be something small like agreeing that his pick on Survivor is going to win this season, you know?

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