real life

An Open Letter to the men behind career focused women.

“Behind every great man is a great woman.”

I’ve heard this saying my whole life, but never have I heard the flipside: Behind every great woman is a great man.

Neither are true ALL of the time, of course but the connection between women’s long-term professional success and being in secure, happy relationships is well established. Sheryl Sandberg even went as far as to say in Lean In that “The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.”

Whether you choose to make it legal or not (you can read my thoughts on marriage here), our love lives and work lives are clearly connected. It’s as simple as this: Human connection is the single-greatest predictor of happiness in our lives, and happier people are shown to be more hardworking and productive.

Emilie and her partner. Image via Facebook.

On behalf of my fellow career-focused, proudly ambitious women out there, I want to acknowledge the special kind of love it takes for a dude these days to show up and support us in the way a modern ambitionista like me needs, wants, and loves.

And yes, I’m talking about men. In no way do I want to discredit the loving partnerships that exist between ladies or the love and support many of us are lucky to have amongst our friends and family members, but right now, I’m fascinated by how heterosexual men are navigating a feminist revolution. These guys are experiencing the shifting nature of men’s gender roles as much as we are breaking the glass ceiling in the workplace.

It’s take two to tango on the balance beam of gender bias.

And so, as 2014 comes to a close and I’m struck by what I’m most grateful for—the love in my life that’s made it possible for me to take big professional risks, start my own business, learn from my failures, and own my achievements—I present to you an open letter of thanks to the men behind lady bosses:

Thank you for believing in us, even before we do. Turns out, you were right about us being right all along.

Thank you for being one of the few people we can come to with our self-doubt. Confidence is key in all we’re daring to do at work, but with you, we can fall apart and know we’ll still have your love and respect.

Thank you for cooking, doing the dishes (lately I’ve become convinced that this is the sexiest thing a man can do), for changing diapers, and for caring for the kids—or in my case, the pup.

Thank you for questioning assumptions. For not blindly following some arbitrary relationship track just because “it’s the way it’s done.”

ADVERTISEMENT

And thank you for thanking me—and acknowledging the work behind housework—when we do that stuff in return.

Thank you for taking paternity leave wherever, whenever it’s possible, despite knowing that men still face social penalties for doing so.

Thank you for recognizing gender bias in your workplace like this guy did—and doing something about it to show your boss it’s not OK.

Thank you for questioning assumptions. For not blindly following some arbitrary relationship track just because “it’s the way it’s done.”

Thank you for taking the lead on organizing our outings. For making the reservation. For looking up the movie times. For being the date-instigator. After a crazy day at work, we love just having to show up.

On the flipside, thanks for being willing to dive into our date ideas too. (Trapeze class turned out to be awesome, didn’t it?)

Thank you for finding powerful women sexy. For finding ambition desirable. For not being intimidated by our opinions, of which there are many.

Thanks for not opening the door. For not picking up the cheque. For treating us as equals and letting us help without it calling your masculinity into question.

Our favourite male feminists.

And yes, thanks for the times when you do. Because by not making those macho moves a norm, we can recognize them as the gesture of kindness they are, not the blind following of outdated gender roles.

Thank you for forgiving me of my tardiness when the conference call runs over or the meeting gets out late. Or for understanding that our hair is still wet and face without makeup when we arrive for dinner, because it was the only way we could make it there on time.

Thank you for seeing our careers as a joint venture. For finding opportunities with us and serving as our partner in crime. And thanks for respecting my attempts to the do the same, even when we might not fully understand the nature of each other’s work.

Most of all, we want to thank you for pushing us. Boss ladies don’t get where we’re going alone. We cultivate a community of growth that enables us to dream big, and take risks bravely.

That takes a very special kind of partner: the kind who unwaveringly believes in our potential, will love us despite our failings, and helps us figure out how to pull it all off.

Thank you.

This article first appeared on Role Reboot and has been republished here with full permission.

00:00 / ???