Who Wears The Pants In The Relationship?

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What does it mean to wear the pants in a relationship? Who should be wearing the pants in a relationship? And what’s the situation like with the two of you? Is the balance right? In this post, we’ll help you get to the bottom of who wears the pants in the relationship and whether you need to make any adjustments. Sounds good? Alright then. Let’s start from the top.

What Does It Mean To Wear The Pants in a Relationship?

So before we look at who wears the pants in the relationship, what does it mean to wear the pants in a relationship?

Well essentially, wearing the pants in a relationship refers to dominance. The person who wears the pants in a relationship is the one who has more control.

They usually “call the shots”, make the decisions, take charge of situations, aren’t afraid to speak up about how they feel.

They have more “power” if you like, but that doesn’t mean that their feelings are stronger or weaker. You can still have a relationship where someone “wears the pants” and it’s still perfectly healthy.

Why Does Someone Wear The Pants in a Relationship?

No-one HAS to wear the pants in a relationship but someone usually does. It just naturally pans out that way. However, it’s not necessarily black and white or set in stone.

For example, your partner could be a dominant character, and take control in other ways. But you know that, ultimately, it’s you who wears the pants in the relationship – even if, most of the time, you let HIM think that he does!

A healthy relationship also has a healthy power-balance, which means control is passed between the two of you – based on different things, different circumstances, different times.

Fundamentally, if one of you wears the pants, they will be the one who – as a whole – has more “say” in the relationship. But that’s okay. It’s just how the dynamics have worked out, and how the two of your characters fit together.

The difference is not always significant or even especially noticeable. In fact, you may be UNSURE as to who wears the pants in the relationship for that very reason.

So It’s Not a Bad Thing?

No, it’s not a bad thing if one person wears the pants in a relationship. However (and this is a big however), it depends to what extent.

  • Are they wearing the pants in the relationship because they don’t love or respect their partner as much?
  • Are they taking their “role” to extremes and becoming overly bossy or controlling
  • Do they still allow their partner to speak up and have their say? 
  • Do they care about how they feel and what they want? How big is the unbalance?
  • Do they still make decisions together? 
  • As a whole, is the relationship still equal? Are they still a team?

To understand if the balance is right, let’s break down the signs in more detail, to better understand who wears the pants in the relationship and to what degree.

Who Wears The Pants In The Relationship?

Who Wears The Pants In The Relationship?

Okay, let me ask you some questions to determine who wears the pants in the relationship. 

Grab some paper, grab a pen and create two columns. On the left side, write your partners name and on the right side, write your own. Draw a line through the middle then get ready!

For each statement, I want you to put a bullet point summary of who best “fits the bill” for that.

Start from the top, work your way down, then see – by the end of it – who has the most points and whether it’s fairly balanced or totally uneven.

Got to a statement that isn’t really true for one side and one side alone? Then jot it down in a circle in the middle of the columns and link it around both sides. If there’s any statements that aren’t relevant for either, simply leave it out. 

Makes sense? Okay, great. Then let’s jump in.

You Wear The Pants In Your Relationship If…

  • You make the key decisions for the relationship and generally speaking tend to “call the shots.”
  • You control the money and finances. You budget, pay the bills, do the food shopping, etc. It’s essentially on your shoulders.
  • You give instructions or direction, and feel like you have to to “get things done.”
  • Your partner asks for your permission to do things, or checks with you that it’s okay before saying yes.
  • You tend to do more with friends / family than he does. It’s like, you get on with your life how you please, but his life revolves a little more around you.
  • At the start of the relationship, you’ll probably have found that it was him chasing you. OR, you knew what you wanted and you was sure going to get it!
  • It’s usually you who chooses what the two of you are doing on your days off / date days. And your partner very rarely says differently. He just goes with what you want to do – but is generally pretty happy with that.
  • Your partner tries not to argue or disagree too much, even if he’s doing it to “keep the peace.” 
  • It’s usually your partner who’s doing most of the apologising, or backing down.
  • You’ll tend to find your partner is more relaxed than you – that’s why he doesn’t especially mind about you wearing the trousers.

Let’s Keep Them Coming…

You wear the pants in your relationship if…

  • If you’re honest, you feel like you usually always get your own way – and it’s unfamiliar / strange if you don’t.
  • You express your wants or needs, but your partner very rarely does. It feels like your needs sometimes come above his, or are more prominent in the relationship.
  • You know you can be pretty demanding. You know what you want and you’re not afraid to express that.
  • You’re also not afraid to put your partner “in his place” or call him out on things you think he’s done wrong.
  • You don’t always take responsibility for your mistakes – or acknowledge these with your partner anyway.
  • Your partner does a lot for you. You know this, and recognise it. He’s good to you, you have to admit.
  • Generally speaking, if you ask your partner to do something, you know he’ll do it.
  • You might find that it’s always you doing the ordering, or the waiter addressing you at a restaurant. It’s like they KNOW who wears the pants in the relationship. In fact, you may also hear your friends / family saying that you “clearly wear the pants! Others are noticing the dynamics.
  • Despite the dynamics – possibly – being a little bit off, you’re very protective over your partner. You love him, like crazy, even if you sometimes have a funny way of showing it. And you won’t have anyone disrespect him!
  • You tell him how much you love him and aren’t afraid to express how you feel.
What Does It Mean To Wear The Pants in a Relationship?

Who Wears The Pants In Your Relationship?

So there’s 20 signs that indicate who wears the parts in the relationship. How did it start to add up? Is one of you especially more dominant than the other? And how does that sit with you?

See, from here, I want you to ask yourself:

  • Am I happy with how this looks?
  • Are there any things in particular that I DON’T think are healthy?
  • Are there any things that surprised me, or that I wasn’t even fully aware of?
  • What isn’t quite right? What should be worked on? Or what – at the very least – could be improved?
  • How can we make changes to better balance it out from here?
  • Am I happy? Is my partner happy?

See if there’s things that you don’t think are healthy – now that you’re aware of them, you can do something about them, you can try to get that balance right.

Remember, this is a team effort. Talk it through with your partner – hear their thoughts, how they feel. Then look at what changes you want to make TOGETHER. This means it’s coming from the both of you, right?

Relationship Review

Who Should Wear The Pants in a Relationship?

When it comes to who should wear the pants in a relationship, there’s no “right” or “wrong”.

Studies do show that men seem to care substantially less if their female partner wears the pants in their relationship than if the roles were reversed.

But everyone is different. It’s better to see how the dynamics naturally unfold. You can’t “plan” for someone to wear the pants. It just happens.

You can balance it out once it does, but there’s always going to be one of you who in naturally more dominant in the relationship in key ways.

Don’t try to force things. Just see how things fall into place for the two of you, then assess to see how well it’s working.

What Does It Mean To Wear The Pants In a Relationship?

So we know what it means to wear the pants in a relationship by definition. We’ve also ran through the signs of what it typically looks like when someone wears the pants in a relationship…

But my challenge to you? To redefine what that means.

See someone wearing the pants in a relationship doesn’t have to be a negative thing – something that’s unfair, unbalanced or unreasonable.

You can both wear the trousers but in different ways. For example, maybe one of you is a “beast” in the bedroom, maybe the other is the “boss” of finances.

Perhaps one of you is the “trouser-wearer” when it comes to planning, but the other is the “king” of romantic gestures.

It can alternate. You can get the balance. Have a think about it…

That’s All For This One

So there we have it – what it means to wear the pants in a relationship and a quick exercise to establish who wears the pants in your relationship… plus, how to change this if you think it doesn’t quite fit.

Keep learning, keep growing, keep working on the things you need to. Because like everything in life – you really do get out what you put in.

Wishing you all the best in your relationships!


Who Wears The Pants In Your Relationship?
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Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

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