Are Men Intimidated by Smart and Successful Women?
I have many smart, strong, high-earning, highly talented women as clients who come to me seeking support with their love lives.
They run companies, have MBAs and buy their own houses. They can fix their own cars, strike deals worth thousands of dollars and organize international conferences.
However, on the personal front, many of them are still waiting to meet their forever man. They also find dating to be a nightmare. With their repeated failures at dating, several of them feel afraid that they have “grown too big” in their success to ever find a man who will love and accept them for who they are—glory and strength included.
A common burning question these women ask is, “Are men intimidated by my money, my success, my brains, my smartness? Do I have to ‘play smaller’ than who I am to get a man to love me?”
It’s a great question and my answer is no!
We don’t have to play small to get a man to love us.
In fact, we don’t have to play anything, small or big, to get a man to love us. A healthy male, with a good sense of self-esteem and confidence and his own set of goals and accomplishments, will not be intimated by our success and power. However, and this is where the big catch lies, he will not fall in love with us for it either.
Let me take an example from my own life and break this phenomenon down a bit as to why women experience men as being intimidated by their success.
During my Master studies I made clever comments during my seminars, which were full of eligible bachelors from different countries. While part of my cleverness was natural engagement in class, If I’m being honest, a part of it was also to impress the men in the room.
I was single, I was looking and I wanted to win men by showing them what a great and smart catch I was.
While they were impressed by my intelligence, they never seemed to ask me out. I felt frustrated and angry and told myself the same thing that my clients tell themselves today—“These jerks! They are intimidated by my smartness! They want a meek and demure woman to toe their line.”
Today, being a happily married woman and working in my soul career as a love and relationship coach, I know the truth is completely different than what I thought back then.
These men weren’t intimidated by my smartness. They truly did appreciate my intelligence and intellectual merit, but that was it. That is where it ended. I was connecting with them at a superficial mental level and that was the only level at which they could respond to me—“Wow, she’s smart” and not, “Wow, I want to see her soul.”
Come to think of it, it wasn’t their fault. I was the one blocking them from connecting with me because I felt afraid to be seen. Vulnerability scared the hell out of me. If you were to suddenly take away all my external achievements and honours from me, I would feel naked, insecure and worthless.
Back then, I did not even remotely think that I could have inherent worth just as a woman—that I could be loved for just being who I was inside, the frills and feathers excluded.
In other words, my self-worth was attached to what I did and not who I was.
The problem wasn’t that I was smart and accomplished and men were intimidated by me, but that I wanted to be loved for it at the expense of who I actually was. Today I know men just don’t connect that way, in fact nobody does.
As a smart and ambitious woman, I’ve been through a lot of trial and error in my love and have learned this one fundamental truth:
We are loved for who we are and not for what we achieve.
Our souls, Our weaknesses (yes, those too!), our fears, our vulnerabilities, our passions and our dreams—our inner content is what inspires a man to get to know us, to connect with us in deeper ways. He needs to be able to see us and we need to allow him to do so. A man does not fall in love with us because we have travelled over 20 countries, speak five languages, wear Chanel make up and run a company.
“We are loved for who we are,” might sound like the most cliché statement to read here in writing, but trust me when I say that it is a rare thing to find a successful woman practicing this knowledge—practicing vulnerability.
When was the last time you just sat on a date with a man without an urge to narrate how great you are and project how great your life is?
When was the last time you shared with a man, what makes you afraid, what brings tears to your eyes and what brings a smile to your lips?
Even the thought of letting a man really see us and being vulnerable before him would make us, especially the strong and guarded part in us, feel icky and activate our defense systems. The fear of appearing imperfect and weak overtakes and all of a sudden, all we want to do is get back to appearing strong and together.
For many of us, this becomes the pattern of relating to others in our lives. We cut off the possibility of connection with others, not just men. It is therefore not surprising that many successful women—like me—experience disconnection with men and attribute it to the man feeling intimidated.
Two disclaimers are in order. What I have stated above does not mean in any way—
1. That our achievements don’t carry value and that there is no place for them in the world. There absolutely is a place for them and we should take full pride in what we accomplish. In fact, a quality man in the modern world will get pretty turned on by a confident women who goes for what she wants and gets it. And yet, what we want to understand here is that he will not fall for us because of it.
2. I refer to quality—healthy men who want and crave connection and commitment with a happy, healthy woman. There will always be those sore spots among men who will cave into their insecurities, seeing how strong and capable we are. But those men are simply not the ones for us.
When it comes to quality men, connection is inspired through vulnerability and not through success and accomplishment.
When we approach a man and try to show what a great catch we are by the things we do, he experiences a wall being put up and it makes it hard for him to connect.
In my opinion, it is a wonderful thing to be loved for who we are—not for our houses, jobs and bank accounts—but for our individual, shiny, beautiful, soft, vulnerable, womanly selves.
Unless you are attracting toxic men who specifically want you for the money/power/status you have, most good guys out there will not feel intimidated by your achievements. So get wildly successful dear ladies and get really good at what you do and enjoy doing it and fill your life with it. Just remember—don’t expect to be loved for it.
We are always and only, only, only loved for who we are and not what we do.
Author: Sami Wunder
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant journal archives