All my life, I’ve heard people say that men feel emasculated around strong, brilliant, and financially independent women. It’s one of those misogynistic statements that have persisted for years, and after countless arguments with my girlfriends about how true it was, I decided to take the question to the men. Here’s what some of them had to say.
“I don’t want a woman who minimizes me.” According to one of my colleagues, it’s important to him that he’s the more successful one in a relationship. Being with a strong woman is just going to constantly remind him of his failings, so as long as he has a choice in who he dates, strong women are a no-no.
“It’s more about the possibility of rejection…” Another coworker claims he’s not intimidated by strong women but he feels less inspired to ask them out. Apparently, they radiate a certain no-nonsense energy that makes them seem unapproachable. It’s like he can tell just by looking that he’s going to be rejected, so he never makes a move until they show interest in him first.
“I’m more attracted to women who don’t need me.” Jay, a 28-year-old architect who lives in my building, says that he only dates women who are strong, successful, fiercely independent, and seem to have their lives figured out. “Any woman who walks into anywhere like she owns the place, who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go get it, has no trouble winning my love and attention,” he says.
“Sometimes I feel inadequate, but I’ve learned to shake it off.” For this guy, feeling intimidated by women is one of those pieces of social conditioning that sneaks up on him sometimes. He knows that it’s stupid to feel that way and it stems from a sense of insecurity. That’s not on the woman, that’s his cross to bear. He tries not to let any feelings of intimidation linger long enough to be a problem.
“If they make it their entire personality, then yes.” My brother’s friend Harry said that he’s not intimidated by strong women on a normal day, except for the ones who go out of their way to show just how much they do not need men. “I dated a woman like that. She never wasted any opportunity to remind me that she could live without me. Well, go ahead then. I’m out.”
“I love strong women and I also like being needed.” Dan, a longtime friend of mine, had this to say: “I think some men’s struggle with strong women is that they feel they won’t matter enough. Like other things are always going to come first in the relationship. As long as I can be a priority and she lets me take care of her even if it’s just for show, then I’m good.”
“Give me a self-assured boss lady any day.” Jared, my computer engineer/aspiring actor friend, falls hard and fast for strong women. He says, “I grew up around super smart and bold women. My mother built her own company from the ground up and my older sisters are at the top of their fields. I don’t see myself dating any woman who isn’t ambitious, driven, and in charge of her world.”
“Don’t care if she’s strong, can she vulnerable with me?” Mali, 25 and completely over playing dating games, is a guy I met through an anonymous email match-up. “It doesn’t matter to me if she’s the smartest, most successful or daring woman in the world. None of that moves me. I just want someone I can pour out my heart to without judgment and have her do the same with me.”
“Female power is hot AF.” “There’s nothing hotter than a woman who is confident, successful, and totally on top of her game,” says Garrick, a 30-year-old acquaintance of mine. “Seriously, even if she’s not pretty or attractive on a physical level, I’m still going to want to worship the ground she walks on.”
“They make me really self-conscious.” Scott, a guy I’ve known since freshman year in college, explained, “I get nervous around people and it gets worse when I’m around women. If I meet a woman who’s independent and really smart and successful, I just become this wide-eyed boy who suddenly can’t string words together.”
“Any guy who is intimidated by strong women needs to be shamed.” “I know there are men who need to date a woman they think is “below them” so they can feel all macho and powerful. That’s toxic masculine energy and I don’t roll like that,” says Jordan. “Guys like that need to be ashamed and dragged every day from Sunday.”
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