Benevolently Sexist or Chivalrous? Whichever, More Please!

life coaching los angeles

I have missed you and am so excited to get back to writing you!

Let me preface by saying I know for some; this post might stir up big emotions. My intention is to offer you a wider lens with which to view some well-meaning men that live by a set of traditional masculine morals. I won’t be focusing on what I believe to be the exceptions; men that pay for dates expecting sex in return or those that offer to carry heavy grocery bags implying we are too weak to do it ourselves.

I’m speaking of gentlemen. Yes, I know, they actually exist! The well-educated men that respect women’s professional drive and accomplishments but simultaneously feel good about taking the initiative of asking a woman out on a proper date, paying for most and making sure she is safe by walking on the traffic side of the street.

I can hear some of you thinking “great Irene but what the hell is benevolent sexism?” I’m glad you asked because I had never heard of the term before last night, but felt inspired to learn more. It refers to a theoretical framework developed by social psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske which reinforces traditional gender roles signaling women need to be protected by men.

One study posted on published by Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker explains that even though previous research proposes benevolent sexism as an ideology that sustains gender inequality; some very much support it, as it has also been linked to greater life satisfaction. Besides these findings Connelly is against it as it presumes “women are wonderful but weak.”

Although the second- wave feminism movements overarching goal was to achieve gender equality, it confused the hell out of many men that value more traditional behaviors. Gentlemen in the baby-boomer generation knew how women expected to be treated. They had a more courteous approach towards women. Men wanted to lead and believed it was their role to provide a certain type of security; financial and physical towards women they loved. Today roles are undefined both men and women aren’t sure how to act, what to say and what is actually desired by the other.

I had such an interesting coaching session last week with a charming Gen-X male entrepreneur whose topic of conversation sparked my curiosity and moved me to dive a little deeper on this subject. He said he was raised to believe it was common courtesy to open doors for women and pay for dates but sometimes felt torn to act with integrity as he didn’t want to be viewed as a sexist ass.

As a result of this conversation, what really sparked my interest was, what do women, especially devoted feminists feel about men that express some old school courting?

A study of 782 women in 5 experiments conducted by Pelin Gul a post-doctoral research fellow in the Dept of Psychology at Iowa State University found that women were more attracted to benevolently sexist men than their counterparts, despite knowing these men were more likely to be patronizing and controlling.

The findings show women interpret men who confidently go after what they want and cherish women as signs of a partner that will commit, protect and provide. The reality is, women want men who make them feel physically, emotionally and financially safe, period. This is the case no matter how professionally successful they are.

Drinking the Kool Aid of women don’t need men and we can have and do it all on our own came with the cost of believing we should be doing everything on our own. This led to a whole lot of high-achieving but lonely women.

There has never been a time in history where women had more pressure or expectations on their shoulders. We’re juggling building businesses, managing employees and doing whatever it takes to keep up with the ridiculous cultural beauty expectations while simultaneously taking on twice as much on child care and housework. How much more fulfilling would our lives be if we released some of our control and allowed these men to take the lead and do more for us?

Wishing you a wonderful rest of your day!

P.S. I would love to be connected with you on Instagram and see what you too are up to.

You can find me @Irene.abbou


Irène Abbou

The Magic of Letting Go

Hello Rockstar [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]!,

I am so excited to be writing you its feels like it’s been forever! There have been so many pivots in my world recently I’ve almost developed thigh muscle definition- almost, and I couldn’t be happier to be here with you right now.

In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. Deepak Chopra

Letting go of almost anything even if it’s something we’ve been desperately trying to release is hard. There is a certain comfort to our discomfort. Have you ever had a powerful urge to floss your dog’s teeth? No? What about one to scrub your refrigerator draws? Well, that’s exactly how my inconvenient resistance to letting go rears its ugly head. Just like that, I’m about to complete a lengthy project and scrubbing bubbles hijacks every molecule of my brain.

Fortunately, today I realize, that the source of my fear of success originated from the meaning I gave my slightly strained childhood experiences. In my head, the freedom acquired from monetary wealth equaled sad, neglected little ones. My dad was very successful. Me, my baby sister and brother were neglected, so thats how my kids would end up if I made real money, right?Absolutely not! This accepted belief-I kept snug in the back pocket of my five year old OshKosh B’gosh was the biggest roadblock to my professional growth. I can almost guarantee that your wildestest longings are also being held back by the tainted lens through which you see yourself and what youre capable of.

This shows up in our grown-up life by sub-consciously finding evidence for this belief which reinforces its perceived truth. This keeps us stuck in an endless cycle of recreating the same outcomes.

Visualizing my kids as poster children for a Jerry Springer episode left me terrified, so my business excelled at the speed of a baby turtle. The frustration of not reaching my potential challenged me to make a real attempt at releasing my inner-child’s beat-up old baggage. Encyclopedia Britannica’s definition of old baggage aka belief is: a mental attitude of acceptance without the full intellectual knowledge required to guarantee its truth.


Common Old Baggage:

  • I’m not worthy of…
  • I’m only worthy when…
  • I cannot be loved as my true self
  • I cannot have what I actually want
  • I am underving of love…
  • If I do what I want others will be unhappy


My business goal was transforming the quality of people’s lives by teaching them the foundational skills of intimate human connections. I finally understood that inherent to reaching my goal was releasing my association of career advancement with a collapsed home life. This led me to get reacquainted-yet again- with the most important relationship I’ll ever have, the one with myself.

Shortly after identifying what was holding me back, I made a commitment to a daily practice of prioritizing my mental health. When we are fully conscious of who we are and attuned to our self-worth; we are unstoppable.

My full time job is my mental health. I am most interested in mental health for without it, we can lose life. The quality of our life is directly related to our attention to our mental health.

Elizabeth Gilbert

In 2020, I hired a business coach, began group therapy, and like a sign from the universe; beautiful human connections and opportunities started presenting themselves to me. Collaborations with businesses in fields I didn’t know much about knocked at my door. Meaningful friendships were created and bloomed despite not being able to physically be near one another. Tami Holzman the Queen Connecter thank you for being such an integral piece of my growth and holding my hand through so many new-isms.

If there’s anything certain in this human chop salad we call life, it’s change. If we have a longing for something that never goes away, listen to it! That is a power greater than yourself guiding you towards what you always knew was meant for you.

Let go of the old and follow your heart to the place where anything is possible!

Rumi once said, what you seek is seeking you.

There is an inextricable bond between gaining something extraordinary and releasing old versions of ourselves. It’s simply part of the process to the crazy amazing new chapter of our life.

My question to you is…


Biggest Hugs,

Irene Abbou

Irene is the creator of the Happiness Within Reach program which coaches driven men and women to open their hearts to self-love while forming deep and meaningful interpersonal relationships with others. She is an ICF, ACC Certified life and business coach who holds two certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. She is also an Amazon best-selling co-author of the book How To Be Crazy Amazing During Difficult Times.



Hello My Gorgeous [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]!

My greatest professional dream has been consistent since age fifteen. The idea was crystal clear. Remind women of their undeniable self-worth so they could achieve their dreams. I’m a believer that self-worth is the fuel to women living their most authentic life, and these women do not raise the white flag in the face of adversity. They are flexible, agile wild cats that know it’s only a matter of time before they fall on their feet. They do hard things, scared.

Most people would say I was a late bloomer to the taking scary action part of achieving my dream. I was slow but steady, until something out of a Tony Robbins documentary occurred that shifted everything I believed was possible for me.

It was February 10th 2020, a gorgeous afternoon in Los Angeles.

My heart is about to pound onto the hardwood floor in my living room, which would royally suck since my husband is a germaphobe.

My palms are bright red and on fire.

My mouth is so cotton ball dry I can barely get sound out.

The mean girl in my head starts again “who do you think you are being an interviewed expert on a live summit with guests like Jack Canfield?” She had a point. What if they realize I’m having trouble speaking without tears about to well up like traitors exposing my ultimate fear of looking stupid.

Me. The enthusiastic coach, preaching like a practiced priestess on her pulpit, “What you want is outside your comfort zone,” about to be on the receiving end of her message. I speak this comfort zone phrase daily with a whole heart and an unwavering belief. I wasn’t prepared for the ultimate challenge that tested my courage to step into the arena when it came to my biggest fear of public speaking.

Public speaking was a few 100 miles past the comfort zone yard line of what my ego could handle. It became crystal clear, that in order to support women to achieve their greatest dreams (with the impact of my dream), I would have to break down my armor and risk being seen. I knew I had to face my dragon to encourage others to meet their own.

The interview was a 30 min surreal experience. I couldn’t help being distracted by my own stoic reflection on the Zoom application displayed on my screen. The interviewers’ questions were rhythmic and each sent a low grade current down my belly. At about halftime, my responses seemed to come from outside of me. My practice of becoming the observer magically kicked in at the perfect time. I was able to see myself in conversation with a carefree confident Oprah-Esque ease. My heart took the reigns and my fear subsided.

The magic words were spoken, “where can people find you” and the highest sense of accomplishment seeped through my veins.

I felt bulletproof.

It didn’t matter that it may take years before I make the impact of my dreams. What counted was, that after all of these years of mastering the art of live video escapism, I showed up and did my version of hard.

Fast forward a few weeks, one of my biggest dreams of being interviewed on a podcast came true. Twice! With my momentum at an all-time high, I also signed two separate consulting contracts.

We all have our personal fear dragons.

The next time yours shouts “who do you think you are to (fill in the blank)?”

Stand tall and simply respond “who am I not to?”

And continue ruling you my sister.

With Love Always!!


Preview of my first Podcast first interview

Irene is the creator of the Happiness Within Reach program which coaches high-achievers on how to create a more holistic approach to success. This teaches leaders evidence-based techniques to building more meaningful interpersonal connections while simultaneously growing their self-confidence and productivity. She is an ICF, ACC Certified life and business coach who holds two certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. Irene has helped hundreds of professionals get reacquainted with their hearts most affirming personal and professional desires and supports them to take action despite their fears. Her mission is to remind her clients of their indisputable worthiness and capability of creating an extraordinary life aligned with their highest truth.https//


3 Relationship Hacks for Real Love Right Now!

Hello Beautiful,

I hope you are staying healthy and remembering to believe in big things!

The below blog is on how to build your character and confidence to bring in your perfect partner.

Harvard’s longest running study proved that the quality of our relationships are the single largest predictors of the quality of our lives. After nineteen years of marriage and relentlessly examining the findings of relationship experts; I can say without hesitation and a huge dose of gusto that the most important relationship of our lives is the one we have with ourselves. Taking the steps to creating the most irresistible version of our self is the portal to being ready for the magical and meaningful love story we desire.

Nourishing our inner child, being responsible for our happiness and letting go of the sexual patterns that do not serve us, play an essential role in the satisfaction of our romantic relationships. We make more insightful partner choices when we’ve invested in our personal development bank account. Settling for crumbs is no longer an option when we know who we are and feel enthusiastic about the trajectory of our life.

Instead of wondering what it takes to stop repeating unhealthy relationship cycles put your focus on the three fundamentals for real love right now, and watch what real transformation looks like!

  • Embrace your inner child’s needs. Often, we dive into relationships wide eyed and bushy-tailed expecting this new romance to be the missing link to the life of our dreams. In the movie Jerry Maguire Tom Cruise’s famous quote “you complete me” was a perfect depiction of how so many of us expect our love interest to transform our lives. This will usually end up looking like a Picasso painting. I know since I’ve shared many not so romantic evenings with spatulas of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream before acknowledging that I had to do the uncomfortable inner-work. Prior to feeling emotionally safe in any relationship it was necessary to learn to love myself and meet my needs so I could stop repeating painful love patterns. Maybe your inner child’s greatest fear is losing your freedom so you perpetually sabotage relationships when things get too close. This is a classic. Whatever your pattern, it’s worth paying attention to what situations and emotions trigger (an emotional response that is not equal to the event) you most. These are great indicators of childhood trauma that hasn’t yet been resolved. Awareness, belly-breathing, witnessing your reactions as an observer and listening to the messages of your body are great stepping stones to finally ending unsatisfying relational loops.
  • Be the sole provider of your happiness. Happy women are irresistible! Women who are intentional about creating a life they feel excited about are radiant and confident. According to Martin Seligman, one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology, the five building blocks to happiness can be remembered by the acronym, P.E.R.M.A; Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment. Make a conscious effort to show up from a place of abundance by loving your life prior to meeting your one. Schedule weekly recurring time for activities that evoke positive emotions and get you into flow state (pleasurable experience’s that seem to stop time and shuts down our inner critic). Even one hour a week of in real life time with friends or family has the power to transform your emotional state from black and white to technicolor. Accomplish small goals daily that will move you closer to your long-term dream. Add meaning to your life by being of service to a cause greater than yourself. Performing acts of kindness, volunteering for an organization you feel connected to or creating fun, non-tech rituals with your children can be hugely gratifying.
  • No sex before commitment. This fundamental is especially for heterosexual women that desire a monogamous long-term relationship with a masculine man. I know, I know, I’m going to get a lot of resistance here. There is a real modern-day treasure in Dr Pat Allen’s old-school teachings on “no free sex.” This encourages women to avoid being sexually intimate with men prior to a commitment. Dr. Pat Allen is a sought-after transactional analyst, relationship expert and author who has made four appearances on the Oprah show, need I say more? On a physiological level, when a woman has even just one sexual encounter with a man, the hormone oxytocin is released which causes her to feel the magic bonding high of falling in love. This will keep her emotionally attached and ruminating about him, sometimes for years despite him having no intention of pursuing anything more than that single evening. Dr. Allen’s definition of commitment is, an agreement that you are both sexually and socially monogamous (it is clear to friends, family and social media that you’re not single) and you have negotiated continuity (how often you’ll see each other and talk that is comfortable for both of you). Sharing our bodies this intimately, too early in a relationship is like offering our most feminine gift to someone that has not proven they are worthy of it yet. This takes our power away and never feels good the following morning. In a world where everything is instant maybe there is something to be said about waiting and really getting to know each other. Maybe old school should be new school.

Sending you love and light!

Heres to taking our own breath away,


Irene Abbou



Irene is the creator of the Happiness Within Reach program which coaches ambitious women to open their hearts to self-love while forming meaningful interpersonal relationships with others. She is an ICF, ACC Certified life and business coach who holds two certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. This integrates forty years of scientific research, based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. Irene has helped hundreds of women get reacquainted with their hearts most affirming personal and professional desires and supports them to take action despite their fears. Her mission is to remind women of their indisputable worthiness and capability of creating the extraordinary soul on fire life that is their birthright.


Image by: Nathan Fertig


Once in a while we are given a moment when our hearts soften and we dare to imagine an even more inspiring existence than we ever have before.

Despite my imagination taking me to dark places during this craziness, this morning was one filled with grace. As I sat weary-eyed warmly wrapped in my pink blanket sipping my coffee, I felt a rush of hope and dare I say a glimpse of excitement for the near future. It was as if my inner relentless three-year-old who tirelessly pushes me to keep on keeping on, found a moment of serenity of her own.

The wiser part of me was reminded that with some stillness and silence our innate fairy G-D mother has the courage to sit beside us, hold us warmly and show us that life can still be full of magic, even in the midst of uncertainty.

I know we collectively fear the ground beneath is crumbling. What is really happening is the roots of our beautiful earth of mother nature are resourcing and re-energizing to create an even more solid ground for us to feel safe on. I also know these current circumstances are not easy. I have days where I feel like I’m going to lose my mind but in the center of my heart I know we are all so much more resilient and capable of adapting than we give ourselves credit for.

Being physically separated from our loved ones, the ambiguity of keeping our jobs combined with the anxiety of not knowing when we will be able to leave our homes without feeling suffocated by a mask will not last forever. This will end. As we speak it is slowly coming to an end.

So, if right now your logical brain took a trip to burning man leaving you in a state of mush-brain cabin fever funk, be compassionate with yourself.

If you’re feeling scared, angry or confused…. its ok.

If your work-outs have gone to shit ……its ok

If your evening glass of wine has turned into two ….. its ok

If you haven’t washed your hair in three days….. its ok.

If, in a few days or a couple of hours you have a little more energy, its also ok to take a ten min yoga class on YouTube, start the first page of your book, brainstorm a more exciting career path or simply take a soothing shower. Warm showers always make such a difference for me when my mind needs friendly reminder that it’s not the boss of me. Do whatever feel’s right for you at this moment, with an open heart and zero judgement.

Old unhealthy energy is clearing, new inspiring energy is entering and wonderful things are on their way to you.

We really are all in this together.

You are not alone!

If you don’t have anyone to reach out to, I am here. Email me at and we can share a conversation over a cup of tea.

If you know someone that may feel alone, please reach out and remind them that they too are not alone. Let’s be there for one another and remember that there is no greater healer than the power of human connection.

Sending Love & Light,

Irene Abbou