By Krisha Chachra – published in the September 2008 issue of Bella Magazine
This month I started a new chapter in my ongoing quest for knowledge, ideas and opportunity. After completing a graduate degree and working for eight years, I somehow convinced myself that going back to school to pursue a PhD at this point in my life would be a good idea for expanding the diversity of my own human experience. Like so many other women of my generation, I have the ambition – and the desire – to be highly educated, well-rounded, independent and interesting to others. So many accomplished women travel the world, own our own homes, are leaders in our communities and are happy. As single women, we think independently in an interdependent world and, for the most part, are proud and think highly of ourselves. But when we try to share our lives with the opposite sex, the question often arises, “What do men really think of women like us?”
Let me start by clarifying that I’m not trying to speak for the entire male population when I write my opinion on what men think about successful, independent women. These insights come from my own personal research, reading and experience with all types of men. I agree with columnist Cliff Young at www.crosswalk.com that there are three major impressions men with different personality types may have when it comes to how men view accomplished women. Here are the non-scientific results in order to help women to better understand men, as well as attempt to educate some men out there, if willing.
Attraction and Admiration
Many men are actually attracted to and admire women who are independent, self-assured, and established, no matter what some of you may think. Some men respect women for what they’ve been able to accomplish in their lives and who they are as people. Young says that although some of these skills women have may have been obtained out of necessity, many men find these qualities quite attractive.
Men who are drawn to independent, successful women usually fit into one of two categories. They are either themselves independent, self-assured, and established, or they are very dependent, unsure of themselves and basically looking for someone to take care of them.
Men in the former group are more confident, know what they want and enjoy what they do. They are usually ones who enjoy doing things for women out of desire rather than out of obligation. Men in the latter group are those who may want a stronger type of woman who might enjoy taking care of them. These types of men are often directionless and seem to be drawn to successful, independent women in order to find a purpose for themselves. Young says that with the latter group of men, women often enjoy the attention and company of these types of guys for awhile but soon realize these men have nothing to bring to the relationship.
The most common reply from women as to why they are still single is that “men are intimidated” by them. Many men can be intimidated by a woman who is capable of doing everything for herself. Being with an independent woman can expose weaknesses or challenge a man’s abilities, thus injuring his ego. Men may look at women like this as threatening to their manhood. Young references that nobody wants to be shown up by others, and our society has made it a weakness for a guy to not be able to do something better than a woman.
Although the type of man who is intimidated by successful, independent women may lack self-confidence and security himself, he also just may have a preference for the “old fashioned” type of girl. On the other hand, Young points out, the successful, independent woman might actually BE “old fashioned,” but has had to fend for herself over the years due to her circumstances and has learned to become successful and independent herself out of necessity.
No Need Perceived
Without knowing it, some successful women give off the impression that they are so independent that they don’t need anyone else, especially a husband. Many times this may not be the case, but a self-assured personality along with a settled lifestyle of having a home, career, and everything in order can make a man feel as if there’s no place for a man in her life. Even if they feel this way, some men pursue women who ‘don’t need them’ because they believe these women aren’t interested in a relationship and therefore the men need not promise anything. Casual relationships with no commitment appeal to many men who aren’t interested in anything serious – therefore successful, independent women often find themselves with long-term boyfriends but never any marriage proposals. Even if men are sincerely interested in these types of women who emphasize their independence, there are still left thinking, “Where would I fit in?”
So ladies, this is what I say: be your foxy, well-rounded, educated, traveled, knowledgeable selves. Be independent and successful. The times and rules have changed. But remember, especially if you don’t plan being single all your life, biology hasn’t. Guys still want to be the “man” in the relationship. They still want to feel needed. They still want their (successful and independent) significant other to admire and have confidence in them. Sure, part of being a successful woman is the ability to excel at a multitude of things at the same time, but the other part is knowing how to successfully make a man feel like a man.
Krisha Chachra is author of the book Homecoming Journals and a communications columnist who focuses on the social and relationships scene. She airs a podcast on the same subject and invites you to listen, comment and read other social talk columns at www.socialtalkers.com