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dating and relationships

How to take the lead in a relationship

Whether you’re single or have been married for years, here’s how to be a leader in your relationship.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

No one wants to be with someone needy, passive, and floating aimlessly through life.

Especially women.

Studies show women who are more attractive and, in short, have more options, are likely to want a husband who is her equivalent or better.1 So a lack of purpose is a red flag for women looking to get into relationships.

Your power as a leader (in the world or within a relationship) is tied to your ability to influence others.

You might ask why men need to lead. It’s the principle I’ve shared before—women have historically married for security and social mobility.2 Call it a side effect of the evolution of society, but it doesn’t make it less true.

This security women seek is both physical and psychological and completely unrelated to “good or bad.”

This security women seek is physical and psychological, completely unrelated to “good or bad.”

That’s why we see women who stay with bad dudes because being strong and wrong is better than being right with zero might.

It’s also the reason you see young men that need security teaming up with the “wrong crowds.”

But taking the lead in your relationship is not about forcing the other party to blindly follow you.

Taking the lead is less controlling and more fostering an environment where you and she thrive off mutual respect and support. It’s also about knowing when it’s time for you to take the lead and when it’s time for you to take a step back.

If you struggle with this, keep reading and I’ll tell you exactly how to take the lead in your relationship.

Define your intentions upfront

Men and women play many roles in relationships. This includes everything from traditional gender roles to counselor, cheerleader, financial planner, confessional, seducer… you get the point.

In healthy relationships, both of you will take your turn in each of these roles.

However, most people don’t give any thought to _how _they want to be in a relationship. They never make it past the initial feeling that they want to be with _someone _after getting tired of random hookups.

If that sounds like you, you might even make it a point to define the person you’re after.

But if you happen to find the right person, that’s where any thought on the type of relationship you want ends.

I wrote a blog outlining how to get into a relationship that goes into more depth. It all starts by setting your intentions for the new relationship and vetting the partner you want to be with.

Here are a few examples on intentions to set upfront:

  • How regularly you want to try new things
  • How you speak to each other and solve conflicts
  • How you want to feel physically, emotionally, and even sexually

This doesn’t mean you should show up to the first date with a checklist. That’s an attempt to force the natural development of a relationship.

Simply put, you can’t set the tone in a relationship if you don’t know where you hope to take it. Knowing you want to be happy isn’t enough. You need to know what each of your ideas of a successful relationship are, then actively introduce those things into the relationship.

Don’t try to fix when it’s time to listen

When creating an environment of security, it’s easy to view everything as a fire that needs extinguishing. And as a masculine male, you might be inclined to try to fix something that your girl is complaining about.


A primary skill of a good leader is your ability to step back and be an active listener. Don’t allow your ego to cause you to go with your first instincts or not see a situation for what it truly is.

Actively listening strengthens your relationships and makes you more trustworthy.3

Often, women need to talk through things to come to their own resolutions. When you try to fix everything, you not only impede this process, you guarantee that…

  1. You’ll end up in a perpetual loop of putting out imaginary fires and/or…
  2. You demonstrate a lack of caring and listening, which causes perpetual arguments

Your ability to listen helps those seeking your advice to trust you more. If you’re completely clueless about when it’s time to offer a solution, ask what the intention of a conversation is upfront.

This is probably one of the most important skills to keep a relationship strong.

Exit the emotional rollercoaster

Men lacking mental toughness are ruled by their wives’ and girlfriends’ emotions. This same lack of mental toughness is why you see lots of women who are manipulated by their over-emotional or ego-driven boyfriends.

Women routinely experience several emotions throughout a day, week, or month.

Your role as the masculine energy in the relationship is to create an emotional “home base.” This means you are driven by purpose and don’t fall victim to the emotions you feel in the moment.

You don’t have to own her emotions to empathize, no matter how upset she is.

Now, most high-value women are not emotional terrorists. But don’t be fooled, even a good woman can manipulate a weak man emotionally. Even strong women need to trust that you have an emotional baseline that doesn’t occupy the depth of their feminine space.

She needs to trust that your masculine energy is a safe place for her and that you don’t fall apart when life gets tough.

Trying to be the “nice guy” in a relationship will ultimately lose her respect for you and prevent the development of a healthy relationship.

Demonstrate leadership over talking about it

In short, you gotta bring some ass to get some ass.

Weak men lead from a place of ego and fear without ever demonstrating they are capable of making sound decisions, not responding emotionally, or being a leader.

If a healthy, romantic relationship is what you’re after, you can’t coerce someone into following you. This quote perfectly sums it up:

A mind changed against its will is of the same opinion still. — Les Brown

You can’t breed lasting loyalty through force. Instead, try this:

  • Be decisive in making the first move
  • Continue to grow your mindset and hard skills to improve your confidence
  • Know your ideal relationship/leadership traits and intentions upfront, then embody them

Do what you say you’re going to do

Be impeccable with your word. The marker of a strong man or strong woman is integrity. It breeds the predictability and reliability essential to take the lead in a healthy relationship.

Without integrity, you’re going to have a hard time forming any kind of lasting bond, whether in friendships or romantic relationships.

Beware, anyone who starts a sentence with “I’m not the type of person who…”: Read this article to understand why that’s a new relationship red flag.

Integrity with the world creates loyalty. Integrity with yourself creates momentum.

Do what you say you’re going to do. Be who you say you are.

When she doesn’t trust you, the relationship falls apart.

Avoid one-itis

It might seem counter-intuitive, but always be willing to walk away.

Too often, I see men fall victim to one-itis. They’ve got such low self-esteem or have gotten so comfortable in a relationship that they don’t believe they’ll ever find another girl. Sometimes this even happens before a guy ever goes on the first date with a girl.

You can’t be afraid to be alone. Desperation looks desperate and empowers bad behavior. When you don’t have any boundaries, women can do anything they want to you without risking a break-up.

And that’s a bad place to be. A person with boundaries is a person that knows what they want.

Keep your own separate interests, do your own thing, and don’t make your partner the sole reason you are happy or sad or fulfilled in life.

Don’t be a one-hit-wonder

Over time, it’s human nature to settle into routines.4 You stop building and growing. You start to notice you aren’t as exciting as you once were.

Suddenly, you and your girl are more best friend gal pals, than friends with benefits.

Getting comfortable and not being a leader in your relationship means you’ve stopped intentionally growing. It can also happen as a result of ceasing to learn from your decision-making and experiences.

It can be tempting to try to hold onto a leadership role due to history, but little things will start to show you that your girl doesn’t regard you the same. You may find you start to argue more or you simply feel like the “spark” is gone.

The solution?

Always be working on yourself.

Remember this for taking the lead in a relationship

90% of life is showing up and course correction and showing up again. The other 10% is being intentional about the man you want to be. Women want safety and security within the realm of a romantic relationship. The type of woman you want is not going to find that security in a man without purpose or confidence.

Whether you are starting a new relationship or are deep into your marriage, do this to take the lead:

  • Know what you want upfront
  • Be an active listener
  • Lean into your masculine energy, don’t ride the emotion-coaster with her
  • Bring some ass to get some ass, embody leadership
  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Be willing to walk away
  • Learn from your mistakes

Get even more help here.


  1. Dye, Lee. Study: Beautiful Women Want it All. ABC News. 

  2. Esteve A, Schwartz CR, Van Bavel J, Permanyer I, Klesment M, Garcia J. The End of Hypergamy: Global Trends and Implications. Popul Dev Rev. 2016;42(4):615-625. doi:10.1111/padr.12012 

  3. Mishra, Sudha. Listening as a Leadership Tool: A Survey of Subordinates' Perception towards Listening Skills of Effective Leaders. Xi'an Dianzi Keji Daxue Xuebao/Journal of Xidian University. 14. 1410-1417. 10.37896/jxu14.6/170. 

  4. University of British Columbia. "Hardwired for laziness? Tests show the human brain must work hard to avoid sloth." ScienceDaily. 

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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