Benevolently Sexist or Chivalrous? Whichever, More Please!


Hello Beautiful

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 old school ways of being?

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. 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 (after work) 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, let me know you’re a member of my blog community and I will follow you back 



Irene is the creator of the Happiness Within Reach program which coaches single, freedom loving women on the foundational skills of building a meaningful relationship with themselves so they can attain the love they dream of. She is an ICF, ACC Certified Personal Development coach who holds two certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. Irene is an advisor to the Keeepr app as well as a dating coach to the Three Day Rule Matchmaking Company. She is also an Amazon best-selling co-author of the book How To Be Crazy Amazing During Difficult Times and has been interviewed on podcasts such as Chat With Leaders and Beyond Barriers. Her mission is to remind women of their indisputable worthiness and capability of creating the extraordinary soul on fire life that is their birthright.

3 Relationship Hacks for Real Love Right Now

Expert advice on how to build your character and confidence to bring in your perfect partner


Written by: Irene Abbou

Photograph by: Ben White

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born” Anais Nin

When I think about some the happiest times in my life, the moments where I felt the most a part of, belonging to a special tribe of sisterly love, where I could unapologetically be my introverted donut dreaming self, I think of moments shared with my soul sisters.


To clearly define these sisters and sometimes it was just a sister, it would be the friend I call at 8:15am when my 10 year old has me unraveling because he angrily slammed the door at carpool without saying good-bye but also the friend I reach out to when a Starbucks stranger boosts my confidence with a simple hello.


I was inspired to write this article because many of the women I have been blessed to interact with in my line of work have expressed a desire to expand their circle of friends and experience closer bonds. Although the dynamics of true friendships are complex, social researchers have been able to narrow down some key ingredients necessary to forge these meaningful mysterious connections. I will share with you some of these findings as well as other reliable tips on growing your friendship circle.


Be Approachable


Think about the characteristics of people that attract you and those you enjoy spending time with. Then, emulate these traits. People are much more apt to want to engage in a conversation when you give off friendly vibes (smile, make eye contact, ask people questions about themselves, speak positively, compliment them). Challenge yourself, make the first move and most importantly leave people feeling better about themselves because of your interaction. This becomes easier with practice and you’ll feel empowered stepping out of your comfort zone!



Join Groups/Classes that meet regularly


Studies showwe are likely to form friendships with people we see on a regular basis. Joining a group or class that meets on a structured day and time (that is interactive) is a great starting point for sewing the seeds of friendships. It adds another important element to forging friendships, which is being exposed to people with shared interests and passions. Think about activities you enjoy or have always wanted to try, and then research where you can connect with others in your area. Some places you can look into are local Meet-ups (, gyms, volunteer organizations and continuing education classes.



Cultivate Self-Compassion


Self-Compassion is treating ourselves with the same non-judgmental understanding we extend to those we love most. It’s being our own best friend and acknowledging that we are all connected! This is key to friendship building, since it has been shown to boost feelings of positivity, increase self-worth and perceived life satisfaction. With these elements present we are naturally more joyful, recognize the best in others and engage in healthier more enjoyable relationships.



Allow for Self-Disclosure


Self- disclosure in friendships is the ability to have a meaningful conversation on a topic that goes beyond everyday surface talk. Progressing from acquaintance to friendship is often expressed by allowing people in to the deeper waters of our lives and them responding in the same way. I can remember when I knew Rochelle was someone I could see myself becoming close to. One afternoon she came to pick her daughter up from my house and she said, “I feel like the worst mother in the world and my girls are ass_h___s!” That was it. She had me at the pure courage of being truthful about a topic most moms put up a front with. Not everyone you feel comfortable enough to extend personal truths with, will become lasting friends; but with self-disclosure and reciprocity you are creating the potential for super-sized bonds.



Embrace Interdependence


Healthy interdependent friendships are a gift from the universe. It is when both parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of the other and embrace each other’s humanness. It’s about an equal amount of give and take. It implies being ok expressing vulnerability and relying on someone other than you once in a while. It also implies that both have developed enough self-awareness and emotional stability to not be draining the life out of the other or always taking. If you feel like you’re possibly too self-reliant to have developed this type of friendship, begin by pinpointing the root of this. What fears are holding you back from being more vulnerable? What beliefs or thoughts could you shift to become a better friend and allow potential friends to truly see how wonderful you are?



Elizabeth Gilbert author or Eat, Pray, Love and a woman that never ceases to inspire me, once wrote To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow- this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”


4 Powerful Principles of Intimacy Women Need to Know

We’ve all been there, romantically disappointed, wanting to find a committed partner to share our lives with or desiring more connection from an existing relationship. There’s no doubt intimate relationships can sometimes feel like we’re navigating through a carnival maze with blindfolds on. The good news is, whether we are single, dating or married there are guiding principles we can follow to jump-start our feminine energies and have men desiring genuine connection and closeness.


Below are several game changing intimacy truths that can transform your relationship today.


  1. Be Intentional with Your Energy– All women radiate a unique personal energy, which either draws men towards them or causes them to run for the hills. The essence of the energy we extend, which is formulated by our thoughts, will determine the types of relationships and opportunities we attract. The behaviors, thoughts and vibrations of people closest to us are mirrors of our own. Openhearted frequencies will pull towards us openhearted people. Albert Einstein once said, “Everything is energy. Match your frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. This is not philosophy, its physics.” The more intention we put in to guiding our thoughts to identify what’s perfect about imperfect situations, the lighter and more attractive our essence. What do we do in the presence of a man who emits an aura of tension or anger? Exactly. Men are no different, they desire being in the presence of women that give off positive light-hearted energy.


  1. Identify Shared Values– One of the cornerstones of a happy intimate relationship is shared values. Values are what are most important to us. They drive us forward and we identify with them in a positive way. When we share our lives with a partner that has similar values we feel in sync, for values are a critical part of who we are at our hearts’ center. For single women, taking the time to recognize our own values will save us from investing too much time with Mr. Maybe’s. If we know tranquility is high on your values list and a potential partner thrives on big rollercoaster emotions, this could be a good indicator to evaluate long haul compatibility. Women in committed relationships will also benefit from pinpointing personal values as well as those of their significant other. Acknowledging that our partner’s actions stem from a different set of values than our own, makes it much easier to understand their point of view and resolve conflicts.


  1. Get Off the Bad Boy Train– Most often women gravitate towards emotionally unavailable men when they’ve experienced some form of rejection or abandonment as children from one or both of their primary care givers. As adults these women often seek out these familiar painful childhood emotions in their intimate partners. According to Dr. Harville Hendrix best selling author and co-creator of Imago Relationships International “we look for someone with the same deficits of care and attention that hurt us in the first place.” A preliminary step to breaking this cycle is acknowledging we are not predestined for these types of relationships. An effective option for stepping off the bad boy train is investing in our personal development and self-love. This can be achieved through self-healing books, joining spiritual groups, practicing mindfulness meditation, working with a certified life coach or cognitive behavior therapist. Taking consistent steps to shift paradigms that are no longer serving us can become our biggest point of power. For more in depth information on this subject read Keeping The Love You Find by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D or visit Dr. Margaret Paul’s website com


  1. Respect Him– Extending respect to the men we love is essential to establishing and growing intimacy. According to Laura Doyle relationship expert, the #1 thing men want is respect. She believes that for men respect has greater value than even sex. This means honoring his decisions even if we do not agree with them. It can also be expressed by accepting their personal “man” time, having consideration for their work, family and interest in their ideas. It is natural for us to want to express disapproval when we feel he is doing something wrong, but this quickly turns us in to nagging mother figures which is everything but sexy. It comes as second nature for most men to desire feeling like the king of their jungle. They want to protect and provide for their women. In order for men to naturally engage in their basic instinct, we in our beautiful feminine spirit should feel encouraged to treat them like capable human beings. When we express our confidence and expect the best from them, often times they will present us with just that.