Like many women, I was trained by my family and culture to always put others’ needs first. I was taught that sacrificing my own wants and needs was a virtue, and that my adult identity should revolve around my romantic partner (and possible children). I was also taught to trust others’ judgment above my own, because I was automatically more “irrational” because of being a woman.
Most of these messages weren’t communicated directly, but indirectly in a thousand subtle expectations and microaggressions. They got through to me very clearly, nonetheless. So when I started dating, it took me a long time to realize how many of my basic personal rights I was giving up in my relationships.
The rights I’ve listed below are basic things that everyone should have in a relationship. Many of them are things that I found myself letting slip away in my early relationships, or things that I’ve seen many friends struggle with.
When we don’t have these basic rights, our sense of self is undermined. Instead of growing and developing in our relationships, we feel trapped and stunted. And in some cases, denying these rights is the first step in a pattern of abuse.
With a couple of noted exceptions, the rights I’ve listed below apply whether your relationship is casual or committed, monogamous or non-monogamous, ase’x’ual or se’x’ual. If you are a submissive in a D/s relationship, you may choose to waive some of these rights, but you always have the right to renegotiate and take them back.
While these rights are valid for all people, women in particular often find them undermined in relationships, because of the way we’re socialized to prioritize others over ourselves. If you’re a woman who has romantic relationships, I strongly encourage you to read these over, internalize them, and stand up for them in every relationship you have.