Sheryl Sandberg is celebrating Valentine’s Day by encouraging women to be as proactive about their relationships as they are about their careers.
“There’s a conversation I keep having. I meet an amazing young woman. We talk about her career and goals. She’s full of plans and energy. Then we talk about her relationship — and the vibe changes,” the Facebook COO, who recently got engaged to Tom Bernthal, wrote on Instagram, noting that when it comes to matters of the heart, women aren’t always so willing to take charge.
“‘I’m waiting for him to propose.’ ‘I don’t want to pressure him.’ ‘I hope I’ll be engaged soon,’” Sandberg, 50, continued, listing some of the responses she hears from other women. “It seems to me that many women take charge of their lives in every way except dating and marriage. I mean dating between men and women. Same-sex couples aren’t bound by the idea that one gender should propose.”
Although many women are taught from a young age through fairy tales that “men are supposed to sweep us off our feet,” Sandberg noted that it’s important to “speak up” about what you want out of a relationship.
“Many women who want to marry their boyfriends are nervous to say so. They don’t hand the reins of their educations or careers to someone else — but they wait for their boyfriends to make this huge decision for them,” she wrote. “It’s like we want Prince Charming on a white horse. We’re taught gender stereotypes: men are supposed to sweep us off our feet. Women learn that when we speak up for ourselves, we’re less likeable.”
“But Prince Charming has no horse,” she continued. “We need to walk into our futures on our own two feet.”
Sandberg went on to reveal that while “part of me wanted the fairy tale” when it came time for her own engagement, it was important to help plan the special moment.
“I think you can have it without taking yourself out of the decision,” she wrote. “@Tom_Bernthal and I talked it out (and those talks were quite romantic). We chose the weekend together. Then he planned the trip, hike, and picnic.”
“Yes, he got down on one knee. And when he proposed, he had a letter for me — and I had a letter for him, because we took this step together,” she continued, emphasizing their partnership. “Tradition can be beautiful. If you want that surprise proposal, I hope you get it. But if you can’t talk to your boyfriend about marriage, you’re either dating the wrong person or you’re not giving him credit for being the right person.”
Referencing her 2013 book Lean In, Sandberg emphasized that “equality at work depends on equality at home, and that starts with equality in dating.”
“Equality is romantic,” she added. “This Valentine’s Day, my wish is that half of candlelit dinners are prepared by men and half of proposals are made by women. And that Prince Charmings send their horses back to the barn.”
The happy couple — who were set up by her late husband’s brother Rob Goldberg — got engaged after a mountain hike and picnic lunch at Vermejo Park Ranch on Feb. 1, a source close to the couple previously told PEOPLE.
“They took a hike together on their very first date, so they recreated the moment and got engaged at the end of a long hike this past weekend,” the insider said.
Bernthal, the founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based strategic consulting agency Kelton Global, popped the question with a ring featuring five tiny hidden diamonds underneath the setting to represent each of their five children — Sandberg has a son and a daughter, while Bernthal, 46, has three kids.
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