Insights

What Exactly Is a Female-Led Relationship (FLR)?

By  Karen Banes

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals and firms not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

We’ve come a long way since men went out to work and women meekly waited for their husbands to hand them the weekly housekeeping allowance in order to run the home. These days men and women both tend to work, and gender roles are, on the whole, a lot more balanced.

There are also plenty of relationships where there is still a division of labor, responsibility, and power between the man and the woman, but these are no longer necessarily based on traditional gender stereotypes. In fact, they may flip those stereotypes completely.

Female-led relationships (frequently abbreviated as “FLR”) are becoming increasingly common in many cultures. In a female-led relationship, as you might expect, the woman takes on the dominant position, with the man taking a more submissive role that has, traditionally and for many, many years, been seen as the female role.

In such a partnership, the woman makes all or most of the decisions within the relationship, exerts more authority, and holds more power in the relationship. This tends to mean that the woman takes the lead in every area, from family finances to marital intimacy. In fact, she may well be the one who proposes marriage or initiates new levels of the partnership, such as moving in together.

Women in female-led relationships may or may not earn more money than their male partners, but they will certainly tend to be in charge of the finances, making decisions about spending, saving, and investing, with no, or minimal, input from their partners. In a female-led relationship, the woman will take on managing the couple’s money and have the final say on personal finance decisions.

It is, of course, not unusual for couples to appoint one partner or another to manage finances. Often it’s simply the one who’s best at it or who likes to do it, regardless of gender. In a true female-led relationship, however, the role is definitely linked to a balance of power within the relationship that’s the opposite of what we expect from traditional gender roles.

Just as in a traditional, male-led partnership, there are variations within female-led relationships, and while there are no rules to how you run your romantic relationship, couples in female-led relationships will probably find they fit into one of the following categories.

Mildly Female-Led Relationships

In this relationship, the couple may appear to have fairly balanced roles, but on closer inspection, the woman is calling a lot of the shots a lot of the time. She may, for example, control the joint finances and make most of the decisions when it comes to household spending. It’s the type of relationship that may suit a couple if the female partner likes to have the final say on things and the male partner doesn’t like to have too much responsibility. This is a fairly common situation and may go some way to explaining why research consistently shows that women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing decisions in the US and other similar economies.

Moderately Female-Led Relationships

As you would expect, in this type of relationship, the woman has a moderate level of power and responsibility and will tend to take on more of the major household decisions, including how the household income is spent, saved, and invested. There may still be some discussion and compromise, but ultimately the woman has more impact on most important decisions. This may suit couples where natural personality differences mean that the woman is far more comfortable making major decisions than the man is, and the man is happy for the woman to have the majority of both the power and the responsibility in the relationship.

Extremely Female-Led Relationships

In these relationships, the woman tends to have total control and shows extreme dominance, often not asking for or considering any input from her partner. As most of us are aware, an extreme imbalance of power and control in a relationship is not generally a healthy thing, but there are relationships where one partner may completely control an aspect of a relationship, such as finances, with the full consent of the other partner who is simply not interested in money management and doesn’t want to be involved.

Even in this situation, many would argue this is not a healthy relationship. All adults should know the basics when it comes to managing money and should be aware of where their money is and how it is used. Apart from anything else, it can leave the non-dominant partner vulnerable in the case of divorce or bereavement, unable to budget for themselves and manage day-to-day finances, and even unaware of where some of their investments are.

Are There Advantages to a Female-Led Relationship When It Comes to Finances?

It is, of course, never fair to individuals to make generalizations based on gender. Some people are good with money, and some people are terrible at making financial decisions, regardless of their gender. However, statistically, there are reasons that a female-led relationship makes sense when it comes to the average couple’s finances.

Research shows that overall, women are more financially responsible than men, more likely to stick to a budget, and less likely to spend on impulse purchases.

Further research shows that statistically speaking, women spend less and generally handle money better than men. Some might argue that this could be because men are more likely to make big purchases, such as buying homes, but again, statistics suggest that simply isn’t the case.

In fact, after couples, who make up the majority of home buyers in the US, women are significantly more likely to buy a home than men are. Single women account for 19% of home purchases, whereas single men only account for 9%. And that is in spite of a gender pay gap that sees the average woman earning significantly less than the average man.

Ultimately, the best person to take on the power and responsibility that comes with being the major decision maker in the relationship is simply the person whose personality, skill set, and natural tendencies suit the role. This doesn’t, of course, depend on gender, but there are still plenty of traditional ideas out there that tell us that the guys should be in charge. If you’re in a female-led relationship and it’s working well for you both, don’t let society tell you you need to do it differently.

Hiring a Financial Advisor for Female-Led Households

Whether a household is led by a man or woman, hiring a financial advisor can be a smart move. Beyond their role in designing a personalized financial plan for couples they work with, financial advisors can also help bridge communication gaps and ensure both partners in a relationship gain confidence in their money situation no matter who is calling the final shots.

You’ll likely find dozens of nearby financial advisors well-suited to help you reach your money goals with a personalized plan. But it may be more difficult to find a financial advisor who specializes in serving female-led households.

Fortunately, many financial advisors offer virtual services so you can meet online no matter where you (or they) live. This means you can choose to hire a specialist financial advisor who lives hundreds of miles away if you decide their knowledge and experience working with couples in female-led households is more comfortable and a better fit to help with your particular financial planning needs.


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Karen Banes

About the Author

Karen Banes

I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog TheSavvySolopreneur.net to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website KarenBanes.com or follow me on Medium.com

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals and firms not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

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