Help Dr. Liz share Great Sex with the world. Get insider perks. All in one place.
give now (opens in new tab)

Are relationships supposed to be 50/50?

Feb 16, 2024

Are relationships supposed to be 50/50?

This is a great question because I think that it is – I get to give another therapist answer, which is a big like “It depends.”

When we talk about a relationship being 50/50, what I will often talk with about clients or friends is, is your relationship equitable?

Not equal, equitable.

And the reason I look at equity rather than equality is that it is going to be very rare that you have a relationship with someone who has exactly the same amount of need as you do all of the time.

Most likely over the course of a relationship, there are going to periods during which one person has greater capacity and the other has greater need and vice versa and it kind of like flows back and forth over the course of your relationship.

What matters is whether it feels like it is balancing out over time.

50/50 could mean I do the toilet this week, you do the toilet next week.

Or an equity approach might be, “I really cannot do cleaning because the feeling of it on my hands is just really fucking hard so you do the cleaning and in return, I do all of the cooking and I fold all of our laundry.”


And I think when we look at this more of equity, what it’s about is negotiating with our partners about what makes something feel like it is balanced for us.

Is alternating weeks of doing the toilet something that feels balanced for you?

Are there other ways to find balance?

Because I think when we get stuck in this like 50/50, completely equal, must be exactly the same kind of model, we can lose track of the ways that every task doesn’t always feel the same to everybody.

I had two herniated discs.

Washing the bathtub is something that is like very difficult for me on a physical level and can cause me a whole lot of pain and end up with me having days or even longer that I am physically in pain and unable to do other things.

If I have a partner who is fully physically abled, the task of doing the bathtub does not have the same impact on us.

And so equity might look like they always do the bathtub but I always do the vacuuming.

Equity might look like we hire someone to come in and do cleaning.

I think that relationships are supposed to feel balanced.

We should feel like we are getting as much from our relationship as we are putting into it.

But what that balance looks like is going to be highly subjective and is going to vary a ton from day to day, month to month, year to year based on where we are at, where our partners are at, what our capacity is, what feels easy for us, what feels hard for us, what we need, what we don’t need.

And so, I think that like, are relationships supposed to be 50/50?

Yes, but not in a like being counting, exactly balanced kind of way.

In a more, are we clearly negotiating with our partners how we are finding and maintaining balance within this connection?

Are we being attuned to ways in which things are becoming imbalanced and either noticing them and correcting it quickly or determining that it’s something that has to happen for a short term, medium term, long term, and figuring out what that means and how can we restore some form of balance?

Because there is always a way to get balance, right?

Balance again is not about I do this number of chores, you do the same number of chores.

Balance is about how are we doing something where it feels like both people are putting in to the relationship what they are getting out that we are supporting each other, that we are being there for each other even if it doesn’t look equal from the outside.

So yes, relationships should be balanced.

They should be equitable.

And what that means and how that looks is going to be very personal to the people, the relationship, and the point in time that they are at.

And it’s important for us to remember that we are all going to have times where we just don’t have a ton of capacity and we need a lot more from our partner than we are able to give back.

And there are going to be times where they don’t have a lot of capacity and need a lot more from us than what they are going to be able to give back.

And that is part of a natural flow of relationships.

And so, how do we look at equity in the short term, in the medium term, in the long term, and make sure that we are finding a balance that feels good for everybody involved and is honest about relative capacities and relative abilities.

Sign up now for special content and exciting news delivered to your inbox.



Help Dr. Liz share Great Sex with the world. Get insider perks. All in one place.
big thanks to my sponsors!

Get the Book

Your practical, no BS guide to non-monogamy.
Buy it now
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram