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 is an author, columnist and relationship coach committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.

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