We are (usually) trained in our sense of gender roles within heterosexual families. There, still, the feminine becomes associated with the female, the masculine with male. There are norms concerning how men and women may acceptably behave. Those norms remain and have, to a greater or lesser extent, been learnt and internalised by gay men. Within gay relationships, it is worth asking how differential gender roles may become manifest. To put that another way, does one partner become Da, the other Ma?
Research suggests that, as might be expected, the roles we play are less pronounced than among heterosexual couples. Yet they do exist.
One partner may become associated with more ‘masculine’ tasks and traits. He may earn more. His work schedule may be more traditionally ‘male’. He may not be able to cook, or have distinctly non-queer-eye taste in clothes. He may have a more dominant personality to which the other is prepared to submit. He, therefore, may take on more broadly the masculine, male role.
The differences, initially, may be slight, but can become pronounced as polarities develop within a relationship. It can be as if the partners are unconsciously aping their initially heterosexual view of marriage and marital roles. The two partners may find themselves slipping towards extremes, where outside of the relationship they would be more balanced.
The problem? Well, research also suggests that partners in gay relationships are less satisfied where such gender-role-playing sets in. This applies to both partners, though the dissatisfaction is more pronounced in the subservient, female-role-playing partner.
We are brought up on ideas of equality, are brought up, furthermore, as males, then find those ideals cheated. Frustration results.
We might suggest solutions, yet these would largely stem from reflection on the relationship you might happen to be in, and on the ability to identify, discuss and resolve any issues you might have with your partner.
If you feel that you are being pigeon-holed as something you don’t want to be, then it’s time to make your case and have your say, not aggressively, but in an attempt to achieve greater happiness and proper self-esteem and develop the relationship.