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Are Men Afraid of Successful & Superior Women?

This topic has been discussed all over the interwebs.  It's something that was recently brought to my attention because I was out at a bar with some buddies when a couple of them were laughing about this other guy they were out with who clammed up when finding out the woman he was hitting on was a PhD and a frequent guest-speaker surrounding the topics of Forensic Psychology.  So what's the big deal, I asked?

The story goes that my friends and this guy, Peter, were out at a local happy hour.  Peter had picked out this tall and attractive woman at the bar with some friends.  He apparently dashed right in and smoothly began a conversation with her.  He was over there chatting this lovely woman up for the next hour or so… That's when “it” happened.  They discussed their jobs and education, Peter is an Electrician and is licensed as a contractor but hunkered down into his shell when his woman of interest told him about her PhD and her various jobs and pursuits.  Peter became immediately intimidated, by the sounds of it and pretty much shot himself in the foot, if I go along with the story.

It got me to thinking, have I been in such situations?  I have.  For the most part, I'd say I'm a fairly confident person. That hasn't always been the case, but in my more recent dating pursuits of the years I've been fine dating women with a more refined education than my own.  I know that I have my share of things to offer.  I've been around and seen a few things.  I may not be able to tell you what it's like to cliff dive in Hawaii, but I could tell you what it's like to have no heat or electricity during the winter because I grew up poor… I can't tell you what it's like to build a house for Habitat for Humanity, but I can tell you what it's like to lose loved ones to cancer and then participate in events that give to cancer research knowing what it truly means to myself and others dealing with the ramifications of such an affliction… My experience is neither better nor worse than anyone elses; it's just my experience and I'm not ashamed of knowing less or having done less than anyone else.  I think that's where men may get hung up.  A man meets a woman who is more educated, more confident and more worldly and forgets completely those things that have gotten him through life to get to this point to be chatting it up with such a woman.

I will state that, yes, men are intimidated by successful/superior women.  I think the feeling is natural, this goes for the ladies, too, of course.

I don't have a college degree, myself.  I've many women with the Bachelors or Masters degrees and I've been out with a couple doctors here and there.  I've dated a woman that could bench-press a hell of a lot more than me… I've also dated women that, some have told me, are way out of my league and that they're taking pity on me.  My current interest falls into this category, too.  I'm lucky like that.

As if it wasn't hard enough for a guy to go pick up on a woman he finds attractive now this guy feels that he has to contend with her brains, beauty and brawn… I think  this is a key point and I can only speak from my own experience; but I have never felt like I had to compete with the women that I've dated.

Sure, I've competed for attention; I'm not going to lie about that.  What I mean is that I don't need to start hitting the whey protein and HGH to out lift this one gal I dated briefly, Katrina.  Women will date who they feel secure with; Katrina felt secure dating me and not some other dude that eats cars and punches buildings down for a living.  That's her prerogative. Perhaps the real key to note here is that a woman feels secure with a guy who is secure with himself.

One of my good friends, Todd, is married to a brilliant woman who is a jet setting executive for a tech firm in Orange County.  To list her accomplishments would be a several hours long task… My buddy's accomplishment list would entail not dying before meeting his bold, pretty and brilliant wife.  This super-wife's name is ‘Tammy.'  I talked to her about this recently and I asked her how she felt about having done so much more with her life than her hubby.  She rolled her eyes and really thought about it.  She admitted: “You know, my family, especially my father, was very much against me marrying Todd.”  Tammy listed the things her family said and, as you might expect, they had to do with how much money did Todd have.  What kind of family did Todd have.  What was his upbringing like and so on and so on…  Tammy said those things simply didn't matter.  Those were the things that made her love her husband.  She's never felt like she had to apologize for her success around Todd and that was something that made her swoon.  “It was always a contest, it felt like,” Tammy said of her other failed relationships.

I won't say that learning not to be intimidated by a successful and superior woman ends and begins by not “feeling compelled to compete” with said woman.  What I would say is this: if you've managed to spark the interest of a lovely, well-educated, well-travelled woman in spite of your stinky, stupid, ignorant yet charming ways then good on you!  Don't worry about what you don't have and haven't done.  Be in the moment and be happy, ya big tool.

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Alex is the founder and managing editor at the Urban Dater. Alex also runs: DigiSavvy, for which he is the co-founder and Principal. Alex has a lot on his mind. Will he ever get it right? If he does, he'll be sure to write.

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  1. I don't think it's a question of a guy wanting to compete as much as it's latent feelings of inadequacy. I'm totally comfortable w/the idea of dating a woman that's far superior to me on a base level, but the thoughts of "why the hell is she with me" would inevitably kick in at some point, more so than they usually do in relationships due to the inherent imbalance here.

    You can be there all you're supposed to be in supporting their endeavors, pointing out their amazing abilities, and even hold down the fort for them as a househusband should they prefer, but at some point in time, I think people, guys in this case, allow the question of "wouldn't she rather be w/someone as amazingly perfect as she is" begin to cast doubt over whether they can truly handle this type of relationship. It's only the strong ones that survive it, in my humble opinion.

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  3. @brewers_rule – I think @jackfrombrkln said it best "There's something amazing about being wanted by a woman that doesn't need you." I really like that statement. Obviously a successful woman doesn't need a man, but she wants one and can look past the things a guy doesn't have, from a material stand point, and can really decide what is most important to her.

    @heathecliffe – It could very well be. Architects are successful and skilled. IT can intimidate a number of boys. However, that you're an architect, I would think, only makes you more attractive because you are "more of a catch." What would you say your experiences have been?

  4. This is well written. I am 20-something, attractive, sweet and nice, fairly successful for my age (straight A student, won some academic awards, doing an advance degree) and I am dating a guy who feels that I am out of his league. I can relate to this article.

    The guy I am dating is not confident enough to make things "official" as he's afraid I will reject him. If I think he's not my match, I would have rejected him waaaay earlier! God, men are so complicated sometimes.

  5. On the other hand, why would a successful woman date a common Joe? The answer: his contentment. She does not need the financial support nor his big strong arms. The common Joe often carries no pride (or smartphones) around, and his contentment makes you feel at ease. A common Joe won't feel bad to be in the background while the social butterflies flutter out front. When a common Joe is content and rooted, he is most definitely very wanted 😉

  6. I have to say that I have no such issues. I often go after women "out of my league" on a regular basis. Why not?

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