Do Men Really Resent Successful Women?

successful-women-bethenny-frankel

While walking in the supermarket a couple weeks ago, I spotted a headline that made me do a double take. It was about Bethenny Frankel, whom I do not care for one bit, but has been going through a semi-highly publicized divorce with Jason Hoppy. Normally, I wouldn’t care at all about the state of her relationship, but in this case, I couldn’t help it; the headline stated that Frankel was left by Hoppy because he resented her for seeing more success than himself.

At first, I was irritated — how could somebody think such a stupid notion that the primary reason a man would divorce a woman is because she’s more wealthy, famous and respected than he is. Well, maybe not the “respected” part, but being well-known and rich can go a long way. And then I started thinking about how successful women have been told for, well, forever to be modest and never emasculate a man or outshine him. Why? Essentially for this very purpose: so his ego will remain intact and he won’t run home sobbing about how somebody built a bigger sandcastle next to his. But part of being a successful woman, in my opinion, is always building the better sandcastle regardless of what people think of it, nor how they feel about you because of it (as long as you’re not crushing theirs in order to do so). METAPHORS!

Anyway, according to “sources,” this was one of the main issues between Hoppy and Frankel. On an episode of her spinoff, Bethenny Ever After, he even states, “You’re right. There has been a little resentment. I’m trying to be [happy] but I feel like I’m being judged for the fact that I didn’t make it,” and on another, “As a man, I never thought I’d be in a situation where my wife, financially, was this successful.”

First of all,

Second, and very sadly, amid the numerous pieces I read about their relationship, it seems that many acknowledge Frankel’s desire to fix their relationship and attempts to do so by taking off time from her busy schedule, it seems that she’s still being blamed for their split because, um, she should’ve just avoided being so successful in the first place…or something. After all, men > money > self-fulfillment.

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    • Lastango

      I can’t help but notice that this piece puts the responsibility almost entirely on the men. Some people think the opposite is often true. First, these observers think successful women often fail to lead with a side of themselves that would appeal to men. They suggest giving the man a chance to know you apart from your education and career. Tell him about your other interests. As one writer put it, “Think about what really defines you as a person, and then share that side of yourself with your date. Whether it’s a funny story about your childhood or a story about your love for volunteering, let the real you shine through.”

      Second, bring your feminine side forward, through the way you act and the way you dress. The reason for doing this has been summed up as “When a man goes out with a woman, he’s not as concerned with whether she’s articulate and on track to make partner at the law firm. That’s what women want in men and they assume it’s of equal importance to them. It’s generally not. Men do value intelligence, but they also want from their girlfriend what they can’t get from their business associates. Warmth, affection, nurturing, thoughtfulness.”

      Apparently, professional women often show the wrong side of themselves. They have been described as seeming to be credential-worshiping, status-measuring, keeping score on everything, brittle, self-conscious, competitive, and hard-edged. This runs directly counter to the things the man is interested in; no wonder they can’t get a second date. But for the woman, switching gears and taking her game face off may be easier said than done. One businesswoman wrote, “There’s certainly no reason why a hard-charging and successful woman can’t stow her tough ways for a while on a date and show the side of herself that is kind and empathetic. There’s certainly no reason why a man can’t take the time to really get to know a woman executive and discover her softer attributes. There’s no reason why, but I suspect it often doesn’t happen.”

      So, if a woman had a problem with a man backing away from her professional success, it might be worth her while to ask herself what she had shown him that he might be attracted to, and how she had made him feel.

      It’s worth remembering that men are doers, and need to feel like they have a real
      contribution to make and a job to do. (Perhaps that’s partly why men are debilitated by long-term unemployment.) When a man meets a woman who has her worldly needs provided for, he may be unable to see that he can add value. But he is not threatened or intimidated. Rather, he is without purpose. I think a professionally successful woman who also wants to also be personally successful will find ways to deal with the realities of what draws men to women.

      Here’s Evan Marc Katz on the topic:

      http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/why-dont-men-like-smart-strong-successful-women/

      http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/are-smart-strong-successful-women-too-busy-for-love/

      And Bobbi Palmer:

      http://datelikeagrownup.com/2012/10/two-simple-things-smart-women-over-40-can-do-to-magnetize-men/

      ==========

      Relationships are surely different than dating, and age seems to matter. But here again, some folks who have given the problem some thought have concluded that the women’s attitudes are at the root of some of the most severe problems in LTR’s and marriages. For instance, here’s something about women who earn more than their husbands:

      “You want me to tell you that it will get better as you get older and the pool of dating men mature in their jobs. You will be happy if the man is secure and motivated in his own field. Not so, says Michael Cunningham, a psychologist at the University of Louisville. He says, ‘When you talk to women who have been out of college long enough to be hardened and what you hear is ambivalence, if not downright hostility, about the income disparity.’”

      Some of the many possible issues may include:

      == Her social prestige needs are not met because she cannot be publicly proud of her husband. Her girlfriends think he’s ridiculous, and she knows her own status is sinking with each smirk from her female and male acquaintances. Yup, she’s a loser because she couldn’t do better. That’s especially true if he’s a stay-at-home dad.

      == She can’t sustain sexual interest in a dependent man she neither respects nor admires. She is also denied the opportunity to feel feminine, because, in her eyes, the man is no longer sufficiently masculine. He simply has no standing in the relationship to take on that leadership role.

      == If the income disparity is large and permanent, it dawns on her that she will never be able to stay home and raise her children. Nor can she return home afterward; she will have to keep working, full-time, year after year, decade after decade to maintain the household. If she harbors an unrealistic hope for another outcome, this will eventually surface as bitterness as it becomes obvious he doesn’t have the drive or the career path to ever catch up.

      == If her income is not stratospheric, a steady financial contribution from him would be welcome. If he’s underemployed or an SAHD, he’s not providing it. This is grating, especially if she has status needs associated with lifestyle and consumption. When the woman stays at home, the man thinks it’s his job to be the provider. When the man stays home, she often thinks he’s freeloading.

      == When the man is the breadwinner, it’s their money. When the woman is the breadwinner, it’s her money. She resents that she isn’t free to spend it how she chooses, and she is really, really angry about having to give him money. That makes the relationship maternal, defeats her desire to feel looked-after, and drains whatever is left of the sexual energy from the relationship.

      Several of these attitudes are not very flattering to women. No wonder they don’t get much press.

      To sum up, blaming men may shut the doors to finding solutions. Relationships still seem to take a lot of work, even for have-it-all women. It’s not enough to say, “Why can’t you respect and accept my accomplishments?” or to start from the basis that he’s the one who needs to do all the soulsearching.

      • anya

        so women have to aplogize for the fact that they are becoming more equal to men?? Men are allowed to discuss their jobs and what they do on dates but successful women can’t? You are making ridiculous generalizations about both sexes here. When you say men can’t see how they can add value to a relationship with a successful woman, you are basically saying all women are greedy gold diggers who only know how to measure value in wealth

        What I think is especially ridiculous about this comment is
        “She can’t sustain sexual interest in a dependent man she neither respects nor admires”

        Are you saying women cant respect or admire men that make less money? You say this article blames everything on men, yet you are no better because you are blaming everything on women. Blaming successful women in this instance seems no different to me than when people blame women for being raped. It’s sexist and antiquated. Men like you can’t stand to see successful women because you have a need to feel superior. For the record, my parents have been married for over 20 years and my mom is much more successful then my dad. He has absolutely no problem with it

      • wile coyote

        Most men don’t have a problem with successful women. It’s your big mouths and arrogance that makes them want to run! If men behaved the way women do these days, OMG!! You would dig a hole and not come out! Personally, I can’t stand women, I think you’re sexist, misandrous, selfish and ugly people. Women walk around like they are the only ones on the planet who have problems and feelings. If you don’t need men, works for me! I appreciate that. Be as big of a success as you want, just stay out of ‘my’ way.

      • CMJ

        Could you please explain the reasoning behind your apostrophes? I must be too busy running ‘my’ loud mouth off that I just don’t understand ‘your’ use of the English language.

    • Semir

      Success is sexy. Any woman that can handle her business and take care of herself shows me that she’s capable of helping me out if things ever get too difficult. Furthermore, it’s a boost to my manhood that she’s with me not because she needs me for anything, but because she wants to be with me. How could any real man resent that?

      • Lastango

        I don’t know if “resent” is the right word, but here’s one who didn’t think that would do it:

        ===

        “And one of my female friends said this to her (now ex) boyfriend who had complained to her that it bothered him that she could take care of herself and
        didn’t really NEED him. She said (and I paraphrase), ‘Doesn’t that make
        it even more special that I WANT to be with you and that I’m with you because I
        WANT you and not because I NEED you?’

        The answer was a resounding NO.”

        http://www.city-data.com/forum/relationships/1053840-why-do-successful-women-struggle-relationships-4.html

        ===

        Justified or not, when a man doesn’t have a sense that he’s making a contribution, or he doesn’t know what it is, there seems to be a problem. (I talk about that in my long-form comment).

        Anyway, here’s an account by a successful woman (Kira) who discovered by accident that her former boyfriend had never drawn close to her because “What I realized in retrospect is that although he really liked “awesome Kira,” it wasn’t enough. I had never really given him a reason to really be there and contribute something to my life.”

        She had been showing him only her capable, can-do side, and found belatedly that had defeated intimacy.

        http://kirasabin.com/2011/04/11/are-you-too-awesome-for-love/

      • http://www.facebook.com/kristina.marchant Kristina Marchant

        I understand what you are saying and I think that it’s important for a man and a woman to let down their “i can do anything” armor and allow themselves to lean on a partner and be vulnerable. Sharing your vulnerability with a partner can only make you a stronger person. If, however, you don’t share your vulnerability with a partner, it can not just feel to them that they are not needed, but that they are not emotionally connected to you. Emotion connection happens when two people can bond over shared emotional experiences (including negative ones) and soothe one another with words, touches and other loving behaviors.

      • Lastango

        Here’s another example of men’s need to be needed:

        ===

        “In the middle of their hushed argument, Alice blurted, ‘You have no idea how much I need you.’ After a long silence, Dan said, ‘I would have never known.’”

        ===

        The author of the article, who listened to that exchange, continues:

        “This was an incredible lesson for me. We strong women often feel we need to tough it out on our own. We forget to give others the gift of letting them help us.”

        http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wander-woman/201107/the-greatest-weakness-strong-women

      • kj

        Furthermore, it’s a boost to my manhood that she’s with me not because
        she needs me for anything, but because she wants to be with me. How
        could any real man resent that?

        THANK YOU. That is all.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        <3, Semir. That's why you're fantastic.

    • Linda Rosales

      I am happy you were able to put this article on perspective. It reminds me of Miranda from SATC, when she said that she was a lawyer graduated from Harvard, the guys on the blind date, quickly moved away, she had to lie and say she was a stewardess and then a guy got interested in her. It was really pathetic.
      Bethenny and Jason, their relationship was complicated but if you are rational you will notice that Bethenny has always been witty, a loud mouth, abrassive, a ball buster, super drive and all those qualities are the ones who took her to the top as far as financial sucess. Jason never minded Bethenny and all she was, but as soon as she became a huge sucess and was in the cover of Forbes and not only reality Tv magazines but financial magazines took her seriously, Jason attitude towards her changed as well, he became confrontational, passive aggresive digs meant to put her back in “her place” , so while I do believe that the demise of this marriage is both of their faults, it is clear in my mind that Jason resented her success and like he said himself “the fact that it didn’t happen for him”
      Your metaphor of the sand castle was spot on.
      Posters think that as soon as Bethenny got her big pay off from the sale of her cocktails, she should had quit and become a Stay at home mom, I wonder how many would have asked Jason the same question had it been him who made the big time money.
      It is sad to notice how stereotypical roles and gender roles are still at a high time double standards.

      • wile coyote

        So what’s the point of men and women being together? If a man makes more money, he’s an oppressor, If the woman makes more, she thinks he’s going to be emasculated. So why do men and women try? Feminism has really screwed you morons up. LOL!! You can’t get a date or keep a man because you’ve become ugly people and then blame the men?? Where would this lady learn wife skills from? A bunch or misanderers and bra burners?? Today’s women have no business trying to marry men! You don’t have the tools!

        Oh, And by the way, many men will chose a stripper over a Forbes woman, I’m sure they’re more fun , have sex more often and don’t walk around with their noses in the air. That’s why a man would make a choice like that. Geeezzz women are stupid. You know nothing about men, yet want to comment on how you think a man thinks. Women are pathetic.

      • kj

        Your comments make it seem like you didn’t really read the article.

        Also, seek help. Please. I’m sorry about whatever it was that happened to you that makes you think that all woman are morons out to destroy the world. You are clearly not a happy person.

      • wile coyote

        Very happy, just don’t have a need for women. I’m very thankful that women don’t need men, because of this, men can be free from that 1940′s BS chivalry crap! And that oppressive societal ‘job’ that they want to throw men into because of their gender!!

      • kj

        Sounds delusional, is what it sounds like.

      • http://twitter.com/Tobi_Is_Fab Nerdy Lucy

        Trolls are bad for that…commenting without reading the piece.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Your use of “LOL” disqualifies everything you said. Boom.

      • CMJ

        This. So many times people write comments on FB and try to make their serious/racist/crazy argument and then end with “LOL” or an emoticon. For reals? You just made a ridiculous comment that I am supposed to take you seriously while you’re using emoticons and text speak?

    • wile coyote

      I only resent women who feel that if a man doesn’t make as much money or at least the same, then he’s considered a bum, non dateable, detestable or lazy. Because we all know that if a man treated women this way, the whole world would call him a sexist douche bag!

      Anyway, ‘independent’ women have no business trying to date ( a man at least) Independent and relationship is an oxymoron and ‘today’s women are too moronic to get that fact. And women must truly be moronic to think that a man’s ego may be crushed because a woman makes more money than he does, Is this author for real? Who told her that garbage? A woman can NEVER emasculate me! It’s no wonder I hate women, I can’t stand your ego, narcissism, bogus arrogance of superiority and ugliness!!

    • kj

      “He said it meant that I could never let any discussion go, or concede a flawed argument;”

      …to be fair, this doesn’t sound like a fun person to date.

    • wile coyote

      Women know nothing about men, yet want to date them or marry! LOL!! ‘Today’s’ women make better wrestling partners than wives!

      And as far as barefoot and pregnant? LOL!! Please, the last place you morons need to be is in the kitchen, and pregnant! First, men rule the kitchen, where would women learn cooking skills from, wifely skills, homemaking skills or how to take care of a man? From a bunch of misandrous, sexist, bra burners? Second, pregnant? If you’re working 60 hour weeks and are a single parent, you’re an idiot to bring children into the world!

      No, men don’t want you dumb, we are not intimidated by your little success, (there are plenty of women out there), we are not intimidated by what ‘you’ call strength either. It’s just that we are sick of your boring, arrogant, big mouths, attitudes and chips on your shoulder!!!! No one man wants to be around that garbage! Women are pathetic insecure losers, I don’t see how any man would want to be with one. I’d rather be alone.

      • anya

        sounds like the reason you don’t “need” women and have none in your life is because you could never get a woman to actually like you. Live your life without women, we don’t really care. Also, it sounds like you are the only “loudmoth and arrogant” commenter on ths page, which is something you said men hate women for. You are acting as though only women want marraige and not men, which is not the case
        besides I’m pretty sure tis is a joke because no one could be as “pathetic, insecure, and a loser” as you make yourself out to be

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I like that he put “you” in quotations as though I’m proverbially talking about myself.

        BRB, being a pathetic insecure loser who comments 7 times on a stranger’s article and insults women to get a reaction from people on the Internet because I can’t find somebody who likes me on a Friday night and — HEY WAIT A MINUTE.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Your use of intelligence makes all this perfectly qualified. Boom.

      • wile coyote

        Why in the hell would I want women to like me??? I see, you’re too stupid to get it, typical.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Your use of “LOL” disqualifies everything you said. Boom. (Oh, and your lack of facts.)

    • wile coyote

      It’s good to see women carry their own weight. Men die seven years sooner because of women!! Now go cut your own trees, move your own garbage, do your own roofing etc! Wheewww!! Thank goodness you don’t need a man!!!! I’ll be out getting my massage bytches!!

      • Linda Rosales

        We do not need to go and cut our own tree, or do our roofing, now that we make more and more money we can hire someone like you to do it and as chauvisnistic as you are , you would had to do it with a smile on your face or be fired.
        I hope you are not married because I just can imagine you call your wife, girlfriend or whoever rocks your boat a bytch, seems like you love the word anyway.

      • wile coyote

        Yeah, and you’d be hiring a man! Personally, I have my OWN business loser and can pick and choose who I want to deal with and rest assure, It isn’t female.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Your misspelling of “bitches” disqualifies everything you said. Boom.

      • wile coyote

        My misspelling of the word was so that YOU understood what was said instead of it being edited out, moron, Boom that!

    • wile coyote

      Men, don’t even comment on this article. One, a female wrote it, so she’s going to be biased and arrogant. Two, women don’t have the skills anymore to even understand men. Their mommies were to busy being misanderers and burning bras, to tell them about men, so they know nothing.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Your misspelling/misuse of “too” disqualifies everything you said. Boom.

      • wile coyote

        Is that the best you can do as a female?

    • Ikea

      I think a relationship is a team effort, and team members need to have different roles so that the relationship is complementary, not redundant. If both members are trying to be captain, then that’s a recipe for conflict. I’m not saying one person has to be dominant and the other submissive all of the time, but certainly if both people measure themselves by how much money they make (for example) then they’re basically competing against each other in their quest for self worth. Not a good plan in my opinion.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I agree. I think there’s an ebb and flow to relationships, and to push that or force it in one direction or the other by competing constantly is silly and will only wind up damaging things.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kristina.marchant Kristina Marchant

      Instead of worrying about the financial success of the individual in the marriage, why can’t the focus be, “Together our accomplishments as individuals make us a successful family.” Sometimes the man earns more, sometimes the woman– but as long as the family is thriving, there is room for each individual to further succeed.

    • Jonie Bell

      But what about when it has less to do with income than stature? My boyfriend and I, in the same graduate program, earn the same income through our stipends, but I have had work published and he hasn’t. He tries to disguise it, but the resentment is becoming more apparent. I want to say that it’s especially complicated because we are supposed to be partners but are also competitors since we’re in the same field and with the same level of experience. I suppose that if the tables were turned, I’d be resentful of his success over mine. But on the other hand, I would also be happy for and proud of him. Is this an exception to the scenarios expressed in the article or am I too apologetic for him?

      • Lastango

        Well, if your search for a solution leads you to orient by the sort of material I’m reporting in my own three comments here, you might start by asking yourself what side of yourself you’re presenting.

        The underlying dynamic of the male-female relationship is that he’s fundamentally attracted to you as a woman, not as a colleague. If you’re leading with the “colleague” (professional) side — or have let the female side fade into the shadow — the point of view of the writers I’m citing is that he’ll inevitably see you as a competitor. This is the opposite of attraction, and he’ll start to back away. Competition seems natual to professional environments, and comes to the forefront if steps aren’t taken to make sure the relationship is primarily on a male-female basis.

        I’m not offering that as a magic bullet; he might be resentful no matter what you do to get the relationship onto a non-competitive footing.

        ==========

        A bit of background for readers outside the academic world:
        For some grad students, being published is a big deal. If this guy aspires to an academic or research career, being published it a huge plus when it comes to applying to PhD programs, getting scholarships, being included in events, and building connections to key people. If his goals involve in the university environment, no wonder he’s nervous. If he can’t get published, he doesn’t have a future. He needs to get mentoring help to fix that problem, or find another line of work.
        Even if he doesn’t have academic aspirations, grad schools can have a kind of pecking order, trumpeting the achievements of students who get published and participate in research. Sometimes the schools play up these students to be stars, because their success reflects well on the school. This puffery can have the effect of positioning everyone else as second-best, which irritates lots of people.

      • Samantha_Escobar

        I don’t think you’re being too apologetic at all. It makes sense to be frustrated that your partner has done better professionally (including being published), in the same way one might feel a little resentful of a best friend who’s received more positive critical attention.

        However, it’s what he does with that resentment that’s important. He should try to discuss it with you rather than conceal it if it’s becoming difficult to ignore. Since you’re in such similar positions, who better than you to help him figure out a game plan regarding how he can get published himself? As long as he also ensures that you know he’s proud, then being honest about his increasingly frustrated feelings probably won’t cause damage to your relationship.

        While being competitive is not something I find works for myself, it does work for a lot of couples I know. I have friends who both work the same jobs in the film industry and absolutely love being a bit competitive with one another, as well as trying to find ways to help each other, so there’s no reason to see this relationship as somehow doomed because you both are reaching for the same goals in the same places. Just be as truthful as possible while staying respectful.

    • MR

      I was lucky in the sense, the wage gains for women over the last 20 years – granted there is still more to achieve – happened a lot earlier in my work sphere than in society in general, so this guy’s comments seem so outdated to me. The woman who I spent little over a third of my life with’s career has been as equally successful as mine. Since her, I’ve been dating again and have encountered women who are looking to me for economic security, which I have no problem with, or are more successful than I am, again which I have no problem with. I guess it’s the circuit I hang out in.

    • JB

      My wife makes 4x what I make. guess what, she is smart and successful and it allows me to go on some cool vacations. She is stressed as hell and retiring in six years.

    • Sean

      Two questions, why is the troll being spoon-fed, and why is a misogynist troll reading a women-centric e-zine?

    • tylerj

      Nothing sexier than a strong successful woman! A man makes a mistake in being envious of her success and should embrace it and realize her successes are your successes as long as the man is there to support her mentally and emotionally because success is very stressful. Don’t shut her out because of a bruised ego and also don’t emasculate yourself and act less than a man. She in turn will respect you even more.

    • Guest

      The theory that “men are intimidated by ‘strong, independent, successful’ women” is flawed. While no doubt some individual men may be, so are many women… such is the nature of both men and women beset by insecurity. The truth is that the hardcore career, feminist woman is simply less attractive. These guys are not dumping these women out of “intimidation”… rather, they’re using the “you’re too good for me” excuse to run from an irritating, nagging, and simply unattractive partner.

      This is one of the major flaws of feminism, which has largely lied to women.

      • Guest

        Men are simply not attracted to ambition in women the same way that women are attracted to ambition in men. Women project their own feelings onto men and assume, “Well since I like a guy’s ambition, they’ll like mine.” But that is not the case. There is also the issue that feminist women tend to have spent their younger years in promiscuity and pursuit of a career, and only wait to “settle down” until their biological clock is ticking and they’ve had many past sexual partners, both of which is also unattractive to men. No doubt there are some men that have no problem with this, but they are the exception, not the rule. The broader trend of “strong, independent women being unable to find a good guy” reflects this.

      • http://twitter.com/laurenislost Lauren Lever

        “Men are simply not attracted to ambition in women the same way that women are attracted to ambition in men.”

        Sounds sexist for both genders!

      • Guest

        Men are not “intimidated” by Oprah, they are just not attracted to her. Those women that would seek to be Oprah relegate themselves to Stedman-quality guys. No offense to Stedman, but he’s not exactly the alpha male that women clamor over. Relationship-minded women ignore this dynamic at their own peril. The more that a woman pursues a career and success, the more she detracts from her attractiveness to the alpha male that she desires. What’s in it for him? He doesn’t care about your career or money, he’s fine in that department. What he wants is a wife and mother for his children, and a woman obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder is distracted away from that.

    • M.M.

      Tangential, but can I just say I find it absolutely amazing that with all the trauma you dealt with (that you wrote about here on The Gloss) as a child and your mental health issues, that you were able to work the hours-equivalent of a full-time job AND do well enough in school to get into a really prestigious university! [unfortunate that this needs to be clarified, but: I'm not being sarcastic or questioning the veracity of what you've said]. You say you’re not successful, but I think that’s a staggering (not even being hyperbolic) achievement.

    • M.M.

      Sorry if this was posted twice, but you balanced basically a full-time job (your 2 jobs) with extracurriculars AND you managed to get high enough grades to get into a really exclusive college? Even without the trauma and mental health issues (which you’ve written about here), that is pretty amazing. [Unfortunate that this has to be said, but I must also note that I am NOT being sarcastic or doubting the veracity of what you've said]. How did you even…I’m sorry, that’s just incredible. You’re really amazing.

    • Amy

      Amen, sister.