Why Strong, Smart, Successful Women So Often Struggle in Love

Why Strong, Smart, Successful Women So Often Struggle in LoveIn my last post, I wrote about women who like to be in control. (If you’re wondering whether or not this applies to you, you can take this short quiz to find out.)

Women who like to be in control tend to be smart, strong, and very successful at whatever they do since they’re highly efficient and goal oriented.

You can find these women at the office, or you can find them at home with the kids, juggling the myriad of tasks associated with being a mom and running a household. How these women spend their days doesn’t matter—what matters is how they behave.

Simply put, they’re women who like to be in charge. They can’t let go because they don’t trust anyone but themselves.

That may work fine in some domains, but it doesn’t work in love. It’s not that men don’t like strong women—they do. But all too often, this strength gets used against them. And that’s when the problems start.

The only thing standing in the way of smart and successful women finding the love they seek is their attitude. They don’t trust others, so they put up a force field that lets the men in their lives know they are in charge. Surrendering control is never an option.

Such women dig their own graves—because good men can be trusted. All most men want is to love their woman and make her happy.

But you have to let him.

Love is really very simple. In most relationships, men want—and indeed, need—to drive the bus. And women, though they’re increasingly loathe to admit it, like it when they do.

“Men chase, women choose,” writes Kitten Holliday. “Men use their drive, single-mindedness, goal oriented traits in both the boardroom and on the way to the bedroom. These traits suit them well in both arenas. Their intelligence and creativity are used to entice and seduce the opposite sex. Their desire and pursuit attracts the woman.
But a woman who is driven, goal-oriented in dating comes off as desperate, pushy and aggressive. It’s not that these are bad traits, but they go against the grain of natural sexual tension and attraction.”

In other words, the problem men and women have today is they’re trying to adapt to sex roles that don’t match their biological constitutions.

It’s a universal phenomenon that when a man and a woman first get together, the man almost always takes the lead. Classic love stories rarely, if ever, begin with a woman in the dominant role. When the dynamic is reversed, when the woman is dominant, more often than not the relationship won’t work.

That’s why the more successful a woman tends to be, or the more money or power she has, the more she struggles in love. It’s not that men are intimidated by them (though the culture will insist otherwise). It’s that such women are used to being the one in charge, and they don’t know how to turn it off.

In Jeanette Walls’ novel, The Silver Star, the main character says she struggles in her relationships because she’s ‘pathologically independent.’ I thought that phrase was a perfect embodiment of what’s happened with modern women.

Women today pride themselves on being independent, and as a society we revere this trait in women. But we never talk about its flip side: that this pathological independence women have acquired undermines the love they seek.

To have love in your life, you have to give up control—and learn to become interdependent.

Interdependence means two people depend on each other, and that requires trust. The culture has conditioned you to believe that trusting a man equates to giving up your identity and forsaking your ability to think for yourself. But that’s pure propaganda.

Some time ago I copied and pasted a short exchange between two commenters on my site about the topic of gender and gender roles. Here’s what it looked like:

“Why aren’t women like they used to be?” a man asked.

“Oh, you mean drones, slaves,” a woman responded. “Poor silly creatures who devote themselves to men and then get tossed aside ever so lightly.”

“No,” the man wrote. “I mean warm, caring—like my mother used to be.”

This dialogue perfectly encapsulates what has happened to the relationship between the sexes, thanks to a feminist culture that teaches women to think so poorly of men and marriage. It’s such a waste, and so utterly counterproductive.

All most men want is what they’ve always wanted: a soft, feminine creature who’s kind and caring. And all most women want is what they’ve always wanted: a man who’s stronger than they are, who can protect them and keep them safe.

But women have been taught that being soft and nurturing (presumably, the opposite of being smart, strong and successful) makes them weak. So they stopped being those things and became like men instead: hard-charging, career focused and self-protective.

What they don’t know is that it doesn’t have to be either-or. A woman can be smart, strong and successful and be soft, feminine and kind. But to do the latter, she must first learn to trust her man.

For women who like to be in control, this is a tall order. Nevertheless, it’s the first step.

After that, it’s all downhill.

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. Brian says

    My wife of 11 years was a strong independent type this is what originally attracted me to her. I own a small business and it’s pretty all consuming of my life. We have a 10 years old son. The first five years of our marriage were exceptional the last 5 – 6 years were utter unbearable. In September 2018 I decided to divorce my wife. She had become so independent and self-sufficient there was simply no space for me and we simply turned into roommates that share household chores. I was in a sexless marriage and I realized we had simply grown apart, never to return.

    Reading your story drove home some good points: power, control, and dominance. I simply feel free at last and she is happy to control my 10 year old son. The message I would like to drive home is strong independent women need to make space in there lives for there men to exist. The attitude of “I don’t need a man in my life”….will keep them single “FOREVER” if that is the goal they have achieved this 100% great what now….. Women don’t need to express neediness, but to keep a man in your life you need to express vulnerability and gratitude as a men needs to feel a functional role and not just none at all. This expression of independence will drive a man away and he will simply feel ineffectual. Many women that are control-oriented simply lack the appropriate tools to switch to feminine energy and two people existing in the same household that are in there masculine energy will cohabitation as roommates, which you don’t need to be married to have a roommate.

    What I think will work is to have two really independent people who share there life and work on trusting relationship with each other leading to interdependence where it’s a 50/50 road you walk down. Both parties need to relinquish some control and welcome the other party in and make space for one another.

  2. John Doe says

    Strong independent women really want control, and are very selfish, greedy, spoiled, money hungry, and very picky as well. They will only want the very best of all and will never settle or less. Real losers altogether since they really think they’re all that too.

  3. Daphne Gomez says

    Great article. The struggle is trust. I have a very hard time trusting a man, seeing that I have left with nothing twice. I had to reassemble my life twice because I wanted my ex-husband and ex-boyfriend to be the “man”. I find that women have to happy being single and providing for themselves or have to be happy being in a relationship, married or not, living with a risk. Risk of losing your home, risk of losing retirement funds, risk of being left with surprises like credit card debt, or risk of learning a couple years down the road he isn’t the man you once fell in love with. I’m not sure which option is better? Learning how to be happy, successful, and single or living with a risk. I included successful because I feel that when you are an attractive, successful, single woman, many assume you are married, society assumes there is something wrong with you, and/or society treats you differently.

  4. Iko says

    According to my opinion many things are mixed up…strong women does`t need to dominate because they are strong enough to give space, pull back. I don`t think anybody is born strong, it is a survival tactic. They don`t need to be in the middle they can handle that. (Normally they are not the drama queens. ) Dominance for me is a sign of insecurity.If someone is self-confident, do not need to dominate. I don`t see strong women independent but autonomous. I think that these discussions are great and we (male and female) should talk about how we see each other and how should we find to each other on new ways. We can do whatever…and that might be scarily too much. Especially if we al the time talk about what we don`t like or what annoys us. We should focus on what we appreciate in each other and that will bring more of it. Old roles are not helping us, life has changed for both genders and the new ones we need to create together.

    • E J says

      I think you are right on. I’m a business owner, single mom, and I’ve been on my own and completely independent by necessity since the age of 16. I have trust issues with men. I also have issues with being told I have to “be nice” all the time or “let the man lead”- I’m a mature adult who has valid emotions and the need to express them, especially to my partner. Women are basically told that we have to always be nice and soft and feminine for a man to love us and want to marry us. Maybe in fairytale land where stress and obligations and disagreements don’t exist- but how is it even realistic to suggest that? I have never heard anyone telling a man something even remotely similar. So basically women have to have a certain type of personality and approach to life to be happily married. I don’t accept that box. I am and always have been motivated, strong, independent and successful because I “work smart” and I work hard. This should not be held against me from the male gender. When life gives you lemons and you make some pretty badass (but at times a little sour) lemonade, shouldn’t we be admired for that? Was I supposed to just find a rich guy and throw myself at him because I had no family? I instead took the much harder route of becoming self sufficient and successful on my own terms- things men are praised for. I’m tired of it being a double-edged sword. I think both men and women need to be open to redefining gender roles. Is it impossible for it to just be 50/50? I have no problems conceding for the good of the family. I am not addicted to being in control; I just need a man to step up and share the control. Take a chance on someone who looks like they have it all- everything except a man.

      • John says

        “Take a chance on someone who looks like they have it all- everything except a man.”

        The problem with independent women such as yourself is an unwillingness to accept the emotional needs of a man.

        A man needs to feel like he is NEEDED by his woman. A man does not want to feel like an unnecessary accessory.

        Think about it…would you feel sexy in a relationship where the man behaves and talks in ways that constantly remind you that you are not needed in his life and easily replaceable ???

        And I am not talking about once a month sexual favours…you have to constantly make your man feel like the man.

        Would you like it if your man were to only be romantic on Valentines Day, and spent the rest of the year hanging with his boys ??

        Make him feel like he is the boss, in control…even if you are the boss in all other aspects of your life.

        If you make your man feel like a King, he will treat you like a queen.

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