Are Men Intimidated By Independent & Successful Women?

Are you a well-educated, intelligent, independent, and successful woman… who is still single? You’re not alone (no pun intended).

More and more women are getting advanced degrees and pursuing their careers. And staying single. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily.

Wait, involuntarily? Why is that? What’s preventing them from being in a relationship?

Before we answer that, it’s important to realize that many women are staying single because they want to. They’re focused on their careers, are very ambitious, and are pursuing their dreams. Their hectic schedules don’t offer much time for the hassles and turmoil of dating.

Many do ultimately want a relationship, but are independent enough—financially & emotionally—to postpone it until the right man comes along. They hold high standards for their men, just as they hold high standards for themselves. Although these standards weed out most of the men they meet, they don’t mind; they’re willing & able to wait.

But what if you don’t want to wait anymore? Maybe you’re ready to settle down now. Maybe you’re lonely and want companionship. Maybe your biological clock is not just ticking anymore, it’s pounding. What to do, what to do…

The easy answer is: go out and find a man. Yea, sure, and while you’re at it, pick up an extra million dollars on the way home too.

Why do well-educated, intelligent, independent, and successful women find it so hard to find a man? Is it because men are intimidated by them?

To answer that, let’s look at three real-life anecdotes from women I know.

Women with MBAs

Within a local, prestigious MBA program, two girls noticed that most of their male classmates going for girls without advanced degrees. Instead of dating within their sizable pool of beautiful, sexy, and intelligent MBA classmates, the guys were dating, and even marrying, girls outside of their program. “Guys with MBAs just don’t want girls with MBAs,” one lamented. They seemed to prefer less educated women.

Women in Triathlons

After meeting a great guy, one girl was shocked to find him suddenly pulling away after a few successful dates. This was shortly after talking about her rigorous triathlon training program. He cited her busy schedule (which included work and triathlon training) as the reason to slow things down. She sensed it was more about her triathlon than her work, though he denied it. However, he would occasionally make comments about how much stronger she was than him.

Women as Doctors vs Teachers

A group of female doctors often went clubbing together. Each time, they’d try an experiment. On some nights, they’d tell guys that they were doctors. On other nights, they’d tell guys that they were teachers, librarians, and interior decorators. Guess which profession the guys gravitated towards? “It’s funny; every time we told them the truth, they’d disappear. But if we told them we were teachers or something, they’d flock around us and try to get our numbers.”

Sure sounds like men are intimidated to independent and successful women to me. We can even add physically fit to that list. What’s an independent and successful woman to do?

A Solution and a Silver Lining

Kris Frieswick of MSN Money has a solution. In her article “Too successful for a mate?” she notes that many successful women hold unrealistic expectations for a relationship. They look for a partner who is just as successful as they are, if not moreso. She suggests adjusting those expectations and seeking only those that are relevant to a happy relationship.

“I abandoned the expectation of many ‘must-have’ items in my years of dating before I met my husband.” Frieswick writes. “It’s not that I couldn’t find a man who possessed the right qualities, but it turned out they were irrelevant to a happy relationship. Was it crucial that my husband have a master’s degree? No. Would it be a deal- breaker if he didn’t love mountain biking as much as I do? No.”

Even Kathleen Gerson, a Professor of Sociology at New York University, agrees. “Women have increasingly high standards for who that partner might be, and because they have the ability to support themselves, they can afford to wait. They can apply those high standards.”

Aside from adjusting expectations, there are really many men who are not intimidated by independent and successful women. (Yup, right here on Earth!) A good buddy of mine actually seeks out highly intelligent women. The girls he dates typically have advanced degrees, are highly ambitious, and are successful in their careers.

Another good buddy won’t settle for anything less. “If I can’t have an intelligent conversation with her about things like economics or world culture,” he says, “then I can’t go out with her.”

As for me, I’m attracted to well-educated, intelligent, independent, and successful women too. I’ve dated girls who are eleven donuts short a box of dozen and those relationships never lasted too long. I can’t date a woman I don’t respect, and I have a lot of respect for intelligence, autonomy, and ambition. Plus, big brains are sexy. Mmm mmm mmm.

I realize that my friends and I are not the norm, however. But men with this mindset do exist. The majority of them are successful too. The challenge isn’t one of simply adjusting standards, in my opinion (though it’s helpful for everyone to at least have realistic standards). It’s also of trying to find one who’s compatible with you.

It’s not an impossible challenge either. As Gerson happily notes:

“The more highly educated a woman is, the more likely she is to ultimately marry. But it’s also true that she’s more likely to postpone marriage until she gains a foothold in the workplace and feels more secure about her working life until she’s a chance to figure out who she is, so she knows what kind of partner she wants.

“And ultimately, women who do postpone, especially if they’re highly educated, are more likely to find a partner who is right for them. [It is] more likely for that marriage to work, to last, and to create that balance between personal autonomy and commitment that they desire.”

  • Tbuffaloe

    These issues are not new. In reality every social movement in this country have usurped the progress of the black man. Men are intimidated by these women when they measure their worth by material standards. Successful black women have “high standards” that also have material things high on the list of qualifications. The Europeans murdered the Indians and took their women as wives. The slaves were treated the same way though marriage didn’t come until much later. I’m not suggesting that anyone change their standards, I’m saying that the field has never been level.

  • Guest

    I did listen to the link “somethingsomething” posted and Tom Leykis sounds very bitter and really out of the 1950’s.  He indirectly points out a double standard: basically a man wants to be in a relationship with a woman who is always there for him (apparently a woman who has nothing to do but be there for him – paging Donna Reed”)  Also men/boys who call women swear words or derogatory words probably don’t like women very much.  I don’t call men derogatory names however, I don’t chose to spend my time with men who aren’t looking for a committed relationship that involves connecting on a mental, emotional, physical, spiritual level. I also understand not everyone (male or female) is looking for this and that’s fine.  
    The anger/hatred Mr. Leykis has isn’t about men and women it is really how he views women and he sounds un-datable. 
    I think another possible double standard is that women used to have to give up everything to marry and have children, follow a man and his career.  For example I knew a woman who’s husband’s dream was to be a doctor.  So she had to put up with a guy who was never home, often tired, while she also raised three children for many years.  She is there for him and sacrificing a great deal for him where the impression I get is Mr. Leykis would not do that for a woman he cared about nor most men. The roles between men and women have changed and broadened and everyone can celebrate this. Both sexes can express both their male and female sides and ultimately become more textured/layered human beings. 

    But let’s forget him.  
    It seems men and women do want the same things: to be fulfilled in their work (whether s/he works on bicycles or run a Corp.) support, love, sex, and emotional connection.   My belief is there needs to be room for both peoples, dreams, desires and wants in a relationship. 

    I do think a man who rejects a woman because she has goals or ambitions is insecure. Just as a woman who doesn’t want her fella to be all he can be too is not very loving.  I don’t think there has to be competition between the two nor subjugation of one at the expense of the other.  

    I personally feel boys who still see women as only sex objects to please them as antiquated and bordering on extinction and girls who only want men as a meal ticket missing the boat.

  • Whitnt

    I’m an engineer, I own my own boat, I can use tools, speak three languages and have a nerd streak a mile wide. I would call myself a successfull and intelligent young woman, and I get far more male attention than I want.

    I don’t think it’s success or intelligence that men find intimidating. I think it’s the personality type typically required for “success,” and it’s true of both men and women. Napoleon complexes just arn’t attractive, no matter the gender.

    So ask yourself how you would like a guy to act, and compare your behavior: would you rather him brag about how successful he is, or ask about you? Would you like a guy that was constantly trying to show you up?

    Don’t blame “independence” when it’s really poor social skills.

  • Tldygolfer
  • Kimbrown254

    what is your problem men you are loosing out on some really lovely women because you can’t stand it when they are smart ,pretty and intellegent .i say to you that i wouldn’t have any of you gift pand go find yourself a thicko who lazes about all day eating !