A recent study from researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Virginia found evidence to suggest that a woman’s level of accomplishments can greatly affect her relationships. As success and ambition are qualities most women take into effect when selecting a mate, a man’s ego can suffer greatly when he feels as though he is not seen as superior in these categories. These feelings, in turn, can cause him to project these insecurities into the relationship, making its long-term success unfavorable.
If a couple meets in college or at the earlier stages of their careers, these insecurities will not arise until the woman begins to experience a greater level of success. When a woman is dating and already advanced in her career, she might notice these insecurities much earlier. This is especially true when the woman is older than her partner.
If a man feels threatened by your success, you will likely feel this power struggle in one way or another. However subtle, when you know what you are looking for, calling out these insecurities can help you to avoid choosing a partner who may not have your best interests at heart.
Back to Me
Although less obvious in many situations, diverting the conversation back to oneself can be a clear indicator of insecurity. Here’s the scenario: You sit down with your partner to celebrate your big promotion. You pop the champagne and get ready to tell him all about the meeting, your significant raise, and your new corner office. The next thing you know, you’re an hour into his day, his accomplishments and his plans for future advancement. Although it’s OK for your partner to be proud of his success, a mate who truly supports you, will allow you to have your moment in the spotlight.
Me Tarzan, You Jane
When a man feels threatened by you, he will find ways to assert his authority into the relationship whether it be “mansplaining” proper maintenance on your new Mercedes, or reminding you that as “the woman” you are to cook, clean and maintain the home on top of your already busy career schedule. A man who truly values you, will not feel threatened by you. He will feel blessed to have such an amazing woman by his side. He will not only acknowledge your intellect, but value your time. He will have an open mind about the roles of men and women and offer to share in the responsibilities of the home. Whether this is cleaning or doing the dishes and laundry, a man who truly respects your talent and accomplishments will forgo his ego to nurture a healthy and supportive relationship.
Looking Into the Future
Relationships must be based on mutual respect. Before anyone can become a supportive partner, they, as the ancient Greeks advise, must “know thyself”; who they are, how they fit in and what they want from a relationship. A person is happiest when he or she feels authentic in their role. If a person is disconnected from his or her truest wants and desires, it can be quite difficult for them to contribute to a long-lasting partnership.
If both parties are willing to discuss their needs and wants, this can be a clear indicator that each feels that the relationship is worth their time and effort. The questions they ask and the understandings they come to will, no doubt, have a significant impact on the stability and longevity of their relationship. If the man earns less than the woman, for example, will she continue to respect him? Will he respect himself? Are they strong enough to swim against the current of what society expects of men and women?
As the husband of a successful female executive, I am quite familiar with this quest for self-discovery and my role in our relationship and family. In my book, Lean On, I explore the stigma of swapping traditional roles, the prevailing societal attitudes of what a “real” family looks like and how you can make it work for your relationship and family.