Do You Really Have To Be Better Than Her?

I recently met a very attractive woman who told me that she scares men off when she tells them that she has two Ivy League degrees, a P.H.D. in mathematics from Yale, and her own company that develops sophisticated mathematical algorithms for investment and trading firms. They feel intimidated by her intelligence and success.

Just yesterday I heard a similar story from another great woman who owns her own, successful, social media company. Her then fiance felt he had to match or surpass her level of success to feel like a “man” in the relationship. I don’t know if he ever reached his objective, but I do know that he destroyed his relationship in the process.

This same sort of story repeats itself all the time. A confident, successful woman dates a less financially successful or professionally accomplished man. The man becomes resentful of the woman’s success or accomplishments and sabotages the relationship. He just can’t handle feeling like he’s “less” of a man.

What a sad shame. It’s unfortunate that the modern, cosmopolitan, enlightened society we live in chooses to define a man by what he does and how financially successful he is at it. But it’s not the woman’s fault. No, for once I’m not going to lay blame on the fairer sex. Despite what I’ve written in the past about how many women focus on a guy’s income statement and balance sheet, a large percentage of the single ladies out there don’t.

I hear the same thing from the successful women that I work with: what they really want is a man who is passionate about what he does and is successful at it, regardless of what that thing is. Sure, the guy has to be making some dough, enough to make ends meet, but these woman don’t really need his money; they’re doing quite well on their own, thank you. What they want is a confident man who is passionate and driven to succeed at what he does. They’d rather be with an enthusiastic teacher or motivated social worker than with a burned out corporate lawyer or miserable investment banker.

The blame lies squarely with the men on this one. If a man feels less of a man because he doesn’t make as much money as his girlfriend (or spouse) he is buying into this trash that society is selling us, that your self worth and manhood is directly related to your financial success. Bull Sh-t!! (As a rabbi I feel more comfortable inserting that hyphen between the h and t, so just put the i in their yourself.) Stop buying into this dastardly lie. Is an army private on the front line less of a man than a general? Is a high school teacher less of a man than a Wall Street trader? Only if he sees himself that way.

Your self esteem is determined by only one person: you. Nobody can touch it or damage it unless you give them the power to. This is true for men and women. Don’t give other people the power to bring you down and make you feel bad about yourself. If you truly feel that you want to change and do or be something else then, by all means, go for it and succeed. But don’t let others make that choice for you. It’s your choice. It’s your self esteem. Own it.

Gentlemen, if you are in a relationship with an accomplished, successful woman (or have the opportunity to enter into one) who you like, don’t destroy it by thinking that you need to be something that you’re not. If she’s with you she doesn’t care what you do or how much you make. All she wants is to be with a man who is confident and passionate in whatever he does. You can be that man. Don’t screw it up.

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