Why Super Successful Women Struggle in Love

This article was originally published at the Washington Examiner.

Last week, Gerard Baker, editor at large for The Wall Street Journal, committed the unpardonable sin of writing an uncomfortable truth: that women outpacing men in the educational sphere may have positive economic consequences, but it comes at a price.

“In the much larger game of life, love and relationships, the growing educational disparity between men and women is a problem.”

Baker received an onslaught of hate for this observation—which can only mean one thing. He’s right.

As women have become richer and richer, love has indeed become more and more elusive. Here’s just one example of an email I received recently:

Dear Suzanne,

I’d like to talk to you about my daughter who’s a high achiever. She’s a thirty-eight-year-old, well-educated (two Ivy League schools), creative, intelligent, sophisticated, loving, successful, attractive, with a model-like body, and surprisingly can’t find a desired partner. I must say she wasted many years on several senseless relationships. She is now extremely unhappy that she doesn’t have a partner and, most importantly, she wants to have children. She has consulted with a few relationship coaches, but she is still single. All of her friends are married with kids. I’m clueless why she can’t find her desired partner. Thank you in advance for your help.

My emailer’s daughter is not alone; I hear from or about women like her daily. And it isn’t just successful single women who struggle. Women who are the primary breadwinners in their families are notorious for having unstable marriages. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule—there always are. But according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, if a wife earns more than her husband, “the couple are 15% less likely to have a “very happy” marriage, 32% more likely to report marital troubles, and 46% more likely to report separating.”

There are several reasons why love becomes a struggle the more successful women become. One, the pursuit of a post-secondary education and career are all-consuming endeavors. Jumping in full throttle and making work the center of one’s life, as young women are encouraged to do, invariably means this group will be unable to take advantage of their greatest marital bargaining power.

When a woman is in her twenties, she has beauty and fertility on her side. By the time she hits her thirties, she has to compete with younger, more beautiful women. Not only are the pickings slim, a woman’s attractiveness peaks in her twenties. The same is true for men, except their power and status rises over time—which makes them more, not less, attractive to women.

That’s called hypergamy, and it’s alive and well, despite the fact that women today earn their own money. Turns out women’s newfound wealth hasn’t eliminated their desire for a man on whom they can depend. And therein lies the rub.

As men get older and richer, they become more eligible. We cannot say the same thing about women.

We often hear in the media that men are “threatened” by women who earn more than they do, but gender role reversal is far more nuanced. When a wife out-earns her husband, it’s not his ego—which suggests self-importance—that gets damaged but his sense of purpose. A man’s identity is inextricably linked to his job, or his ability to provide and protect.

If women have the babies, raise the babies, and provide for the babies, what’s left for him to do?

As one Twitter commenter on Baker’s article wrote:

“Men must evolve or go extinct. Women will simply have families excluding husbands or male partners because they are capable of taking care of themselves already. Enough sperm is banked for every woman on earth to have two kids for the next 100 years. You are now obsolete.”

And here’s the real irony: turns out women don’t like this reverse sexual dynamic any more than men do! Every fiber of a woman’s being calls out for a man with whom she can feel safe, and money is part of that equation. Should she want to stay home with a baby someday, she won’t have that option if she doesn’t marry a man who can carry the financial load, if only for a few years. That’s why a man’s education and work status matters so much in the mating dance.

But a woman’s socioeconomic status isn’t a selling point. In fact, it determines almost zero of her attractiveness. As Baker aptly notes, “Men are notoriously undiscriminating.” (Unfortunately, where he gets it wrong is his assessment that women are more “choosy” because they’re more “refined and sophisticated” than men are. One could just as easily note that women harbor unrealistic expectations.)

At the end of the day, super successful women are up against sheer math: there are no longer enough men in their same sociological status from which to choose. Which means the only options these women have are to hold out for an older and richer man (and deal with the considerable baggage he’s likely to have from a previous divorce or two) or to marry “down” and learn how to be content with a good man who’s less educated and/or less rich than they are.

Of course women can always remain single. Either which way, super successful women need to ask themselves this question: Which do I want more? Power in the world or power in bed?

Because few, if any, women have both.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an author, columnist and radio host known as The Feminist Fixer. She helps free women from feminism so they can find lasting love with men. Suzanne's newest book, WOMEN WHO WIN at Love: How to Build a Relationship That Lasts, will be published October 2019.

Reader Interactions


  1. Michael M says

    This reminds me of the joke. A building with a number of floors. On the first floor were men who had a job. Second floor men had a job and a house. Third floor job, house and car. Fourth floor job,house, car and good looking. However, if any woman went to the next floor they returned to the ground and weren’t allowed back again. Most women returned to the ground.
    Then the building for men. On the first floor were good looking women. Second floor were good looking women with a job. Third floor good looking women with a job and a house. Etc. No men ever went past the first floor.

  2. Kenneth says

    The family court system needs to be changed first and foremost. Men get screwed in divorce. There is zero incentive to get married for men while women have a lot to gain. This is a great article though and it’s the TRUTH!

  3. János Kovács says

    Hi Suzanne

    I admire your wisdom. I am 65 married (40 years) to Suzanne (same name). I want to encourage and support your work and philosophy. You are speaking the truth. I work as a psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist. Professionally I am witnessing all that you talk about. What many of the single ladies do not realize is that time and energy is not limitless. I think there will be lots of depressed, lonely people living with themselves in 10-20 years.
    Warm regards

  4. MalcolmN says

    Sorry – but – ladies – the feminists claim to speak for you. There has been no reverse message, and frankly the damage to boys education has been visibly celebrated without concern.

    It is that there will be severe social consequences for the next generation of girls, and at the root of this is the reality that the message has been sent loud and clear – women do not care about their sons, brothers, fathers or husbands. The reality that we constantly hear – only how women are hurt – even when the direct injury was to men – sends a clear and potent message. Our daughters are going to suffer, because our sons have been in effect told that women – never care. Shortage of marriageable men, career women struggle, etc – is all just a reflection of the reality of ignoring the reality of boys and making it clear men are disposable in family. It is in not recognizing the humanity of men and boys, that you are saying that you do not care. “Men must evolve” is an issue, when women are seen to refuse to recognize where men are, their issues, or care to more essential truth of women as predator.

    I would also note – that sperm in the event of a power outage? Those boys – should they decide that they will only entertain their interests- it is that it is increasingly clear that women are suffering huge psychological damage, and that boys appear to be able to carry on, no worse than their current situation – so. Sorry – yes men are committing more suicide – but that is mostly the men who got involved- not those who remained clear. Also – that harm – is already present…. and frankly the understanding that is building that women do not care- actually appears to help men and boys. It brings a clarity, an ability to move past. It is one reason that men’s happiness has not fallen – because it is easier to move on, when you believe women do not care. Sorry but – it is that it was a choice to assert women were the primary victims – even when it was a man who died… it was a choice to let these messages be the source of political success -not failure.

    It may turn out that it was a disaster for women- but please – understand women cannot say now they are the better nurturers, or are more caring – having allowed for 2 generations endless hate to be pushed in their names.

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