I live in Washington, DC, a city that is overrun with successful men and women. And when I was single, success was a surefire way to increase your attractiveness — unless you were a woman.
To be fair, I never had a conversation with a group of guys who said anything like, “I could never date her. She’s just too smart, industrious and upwardly mobile.” Instead, we said things like, “She’s too intimidating” or “She’s too into her career” to explain our aversion.
It’s interesting. Most men are happy to be with a woman who is exceptionally beautiful, even if her beauty overshadows his attractiveness. In fact, I’d say many men actually prefer that. But when it comes to a woman whose successes outpace those of the men around her, her prospects seem to shrink.
Before we explore the reasons behind men who are turned off by successful women, let’s clarify whom we’re not talking about. First, we’re not talking about a man who’s simply not attracted to a woman, and she just happens to be successful. Second, we’re not talking about a man who’s turned off by a career-driven woman because she has made it clear that she doesn’t want a family. We are talking about situations where men get around successful, assertive women and find that to be a net negative.
Here’s the thing: Success is an area of acute insecurity for a lot of us men. Many of us feel like failures in our work, even when we’re doing well. We wrestle with irrational fears of getting fired when we’re actually excelling. It’s unhealthy, yes, but it’s real, and it’s a daily struggle for a lot of guys.
Now if an insecure guy gets around a successful man, he usually does one of two things: He tries to compete with him, or he lets the more successful guy be the alpha dog. But if an insecure man gets around a successful woman with whom he can’t complete, he shuts down. I mean, he can’t let her be the dominant one (not that she asked to be), so all he knows to do is withdraw and blame her for being too “intimidating.”
For the successful woman, it’s kind of like the burden of being a beautiful lady (like my mom) who’s taller than average. She needs to meet a man (like my step-dad) who’s self-confident enough to be OK with the fact that he’s shorter than her. Many men don’t have that kind of confidence when it comes to height, and they surely don’t have that kind of confidence when it comes to success. And successful ladies, I have news for you: This is not your problem to fix.
It’s not even a problem.
Keep Being You
You don’t need to downplay your goals or pretend to be dumb so that men can feel slightly more confident in your presence. A healthy man is going celebrate your strengths, not scorn them.
So here’s what I suggest for the hard-working, successful women out there: Pray for a man who actually wants a Proverbs 31 woman. That woman is ambitious, talented and industrious. She works hard (Proverbs 31:13, 27); she’s got business savvy (Proverbs 31:16, 24); she’s charitable (Proverbs 31:20); she’s talented (Proverbs 31:22) — I think she might even work out (Proverbs 31:17). And here’s the thing: a Proverbs 31 man will join his children in rising up and calling his wife “blessed.” That man will praise his wife — he won’t resent her.
To the hard-working, successful ladies out there, be the hard working woman God made you to be, and then pray for a Proverbs 31 man. Confident guys like that are out there, and if you end up with one, your success won’t be something he’s intimidated by, it will be part of the reason he finds you so attractive.