The stubborn disrespect
Amber Wise, Chicago, IL

An energetic world-traveler, doctor of chemistry, and avid salsa and capoeira dancer, Amber Wise wields a fearless self-confidence that seems to inoculate her against disrespect.

Except for the year when she dated a man who couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to be a housewife.

“We had a couple conversations in which he was like, you’re going to be old and lonely, and who’s going to take care of you?” she says. “He didn’t respect my life choices, that I wanted to work hard and have a career and not have kids.”

Sometimes, she excused him on the basis of cultural differences around gender roles; he’d grown up in Cartagena, Colombia, and she is from the Midwest. Still, she figured she could open his eyes. She told herself: “I can show him how much this means to me, show him that it’s possible to live a happy adult life without children.”

But he didn’t seem interested.

“If I told him that I had a lot of work to do, that my work was stressful, he didn’t seem to care at all,” Amber says. “It was always about his situation, and not about my struggles professionally.”

Amber doesn’t regret the adventure and learning the relationship brought her, but, looking back, she would advise herself to practice more self-respect.  “I was allowing myself to be in that situation,” she says. “That’s sort of on me, letting the disrespect continue. And I realize now how important it is to see eye-to-eye about values in a relationship. Because those things don’t change.”